One Church; Two Campuses
However you came to us, wherever you may be on life’s journey,
We are glad you found us.
Grace Church welcomes you.
To love God is a call to action. Strengthened by prayer, worship and study, Grace Church embraces and serves all people, the earth, and every living thing.
- Our Vision
Maintain our two-campus model which offers a complementary variety of spaces and places to serve the greater community. Nurture, strengthen and grow relationships within Grace by increasing involvement in ministry and mission and integrating Grace more robustly into the community through service.
- Our Strengths
Grace Church is a marriage of realists, who have spent the last ten years discerning, reflecting and affirming that we are truly better and stronger together. The challenges of Covid and the opportunity to find new ways to worship together solidified our bond as a unified parish.
- Our Ability to Adapt
During these last 2 years, our lives at home, work, and in our community, are very different. Traditions like going to church, celebrating high holy days, vestry meetings, and social events became mostly remote. We are grateful for those happier times as we pivoted to learn new skills, embrace technology, and develop solutions regarding our worship. Everyone from our Priest, Deacon, Verger, Choir members, musicians, lay leaders, ushers, greeters, and vestry, all had to adjust and wear several hats as they assumed new roles to ensure that our worship on Sundays, Compline, and Morning Prayer would safely continue either via a pre-recorded video or live stream; (Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube). Behind the scenes, much time, and energy was focused on the logistics related to our merger which was officially completed in November 2021, when Grace Episcopal Church, Ossining was formally recognized at the 245th Diocesan Convention of New York. We are boldly going forward to face the future as one new church (189 years of history) with our new relationships, our updated skill sets and a new vision of what we can become!
- Our Challenges
Our newly minted parish has a myriad of moving parts, and the integration of these parts is delicate. Our historic congregations, landmark properties and financial assets await the direction of a strong, nimble and visionary leader who can make effective decisions in a respectful, compassionate manner so we can thrive and survive. While we are blessed with Diocesan support we are still very much in uncharted territory.
Grace Episcopal Church, a History
Grace Episcopal Church in Ossining is a newly formed congregation created by the merger, in 2021, of St. Paul’s on the Hill and Trinity Episcopal Churches, both in Ossining. These two parishes shared a common founding, split in dissension after the Civil War, but have long since collaborated as sister parishes, sharing clergy since 2012. By formally joining again as one parish, we have come full circle. We seek to further the common purpose shared by the two former congregations, and we have pledged to strengthen the ministry of the Episcopal Church to the people of Ossining and the surrounding area.
Grace Church is now one Episcopal church on two campuses: St. Paul’s on Ganung Drive overlooking the village and Trinity on South Highland Avenue in downtown Ossining. Back together again, we are learning from each other and sharing our gifts in a growing, wonderful, and loving relationship.
The Episcopal Church in Ossining
The first Episcopal church in Ossining was founded in 1833, as St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on St. Paul’s Place, in the village of Sing Sing (later renamed Ossining). The village itself is built on the ancestral lands of the Sint Sinck people, members of the Mohegan nation.
The original St. Paul’s church building (now Calvary Baptist Church) was constructed on the Potter Farm, land that, in the 17th century, had been part of the landholdings of Dutch colonist Frederick Philipse, who acquired land from the Native Americans beginning in 1672. Philipse farmed his land using African slave labor.
St. Paul’s Church was divided into two parishes during the aftermath of the Civil War. That war, fought over the enslavement of Africans brought forcibly to this country, represented a peak of division in the United States. These divisions were reflected at St. Paul’s, where emotions ran high, especially because the priest at that time was a Southern sympathizer. Matters came to a head in a dispute about whether to vest the church for Easter or to decorate with funeral bunting in memory of Abraham Lincoln, whose funeral train was to travel through the village.
A breakaway group of St. Paul’s parishioners, led by returning Civil War veterans, founded Trinity Church in 1868. First a tenant in the original, wooden First Presbyterian Church, the new congregation constructed the present Trinity Church gothic-revival style building at 7 South Highland Avenue in 1891.
Despite the original, rancorous division, by the end of the nineteenth century, the two parishes had developed an amicable relationship, jointly celebrating various ceremonies.
Rapid growth in Ossining’s population after World War II led to the building of a housing development on the old Donald estate on Torbank Hill in Ossining. St. Paul’s congregation converted the old Donald barn and outbuildings at 40 Ganung Drive into new church buildings in 1961, taking the name of St. Paul’s on the Hill.
Both churches have a history of community service. As early as 1895, what is now the Ossining Children’s Center was founded by the women’s association of St. Paul’s as the Christ Child Day Nursery and Bethany Home, to care for children whose fathers had been killed working on the railroad or building the Croton Aqueduct. In recent decades, St. Paul’s and Trinity have fed the poor through support of the Ossining Food Pantry and Loaves and Fish, both housed at Trinity; provided a Youth Music Program for children who could not afford private music instruction at St. Paul’s; and were among the founders of the Ossining Emergency Shelter for the homeless, among other things. Both were heavily involved in creating Rivertowns Episcopal Parishes Action on Inclusion and Race (REPAIR), an organization founded in Lent 2015 devoted to bringing healing and justice to a society divided by unconscious bias, willful blindness, deeply ingrained systems of oppression, and the burdens of history.
We Recognize Our History
As the new Grace Church, we have re-dedicated ourselves to service to the community. We recognize that our shared history is tainted by aspects that are inconsistent with Jesus’ teachings of love and respect for all people. We recognize that our buildings and the town in which they were built are on the ancestral land of Native Americans, taken forcibly by European colonizers.
We acknowledge that our prior history is stained by the practice of slavery, which resulted in enslaved people working as laborers on farms in the area. We pledge ourselves to the amelioration of the individual and systemic wrongs that those actions created and sustain up to the present time. We are not our forebears; but we must recognize their faults, as well as their strengths. We realize that we are not our past, and we acknowledge our past so we can move forward.
Grace at a Glance
Who is Grace?
Grace is a newly formed community, created from two parishes within the same town, reunited after 150 years apart. Having healed the schism of the past, we desire to move forward as one.
Where is Grace?
In time, we are at a historic crossroads. Before us is a vision of renewed spirit and energy: a synergy of faith and action to serve the greater good. In place, we reside in a small and diverse community set along the eastern shore of the Hudson River about 30 miles north of New York City. We inhabit two distinct neighborhoods: one in the center of the village and the other set in the highlands on the outskirts of town.
What is Grace?
Grace is a seedling, newly planted into the fertile soil of two churches steeped in the Episcopal tradition of serving others. Grace has boundless potential to grow given the right conditions.
What Grace offers
The opportunity to innovate a new style of worship, serving our community, and our world going forward in the new millennium. The chance to affect direct change within a diverse population that is in need. To be a place for those not directly part of our congregation to sit with us and grow together. To hear and join the call to action to serve others and protect our Mother Earth.
To solidify and deepen the relationships among our parishioners and with the community at large with the guidance of a strong, efficient and effective leader.
To thrive, not simply survive. To serve, not simply exist. To act, not simply be.
Grace’s Hope for the Future
To continue to grow as a vibrant energized and active community of the faithful that will make a difference in the lives of others and in the health of our earthly home.