We, at Trinity Grace United Church, are proud to be part of the United Church of Canada – a socially and theologically progressive Protestant denomination with congregations across Canada.
In 2017 three nearby congregations; Trinity United, St. James United and Grace Memorial United brought like-minded, faithful and visionary people together to form Trinity Grace United Church. A mosaic providing enthusiasm and pride in existing relationships as it cultivates new ones.
The Roots and Pillars Trinity Grace Grew From
For over 100 years our church has been located here (originally Grace Methodist Church) focusing on feeding bodies and souls. Its history includes hosting the first food bank in Vancouver now becoming the current Community Breakfast with it’s heart for Jesus’ ministry of table hospitality. Simply, we;ve a strong tradition of welcoming strangers and neighbours to break bread together and to create spiritual community. Change continues being part of church experimentation, innovation and adaptation. At Trinity Grace it is an engrained tradition alive and flourishing today.
Grace Methodist Church began serving the community through the help of Rev Dr. Robson and the Methodist and Extension Society of Vancouver. Rev Dr. A.M. Sanford and Rev Dr. E. Robson purchased its land at the corner of 16th and Burns (i.e. the current home of Trinity Grace United Church). It’s 1st official Service was in May, 1909, by Rev W. Elliott.
The Methodists began in 1908 in a small school building at Fourth Avenue and Vine. Kitsilano Methodist church was completed across the street and was dedicated.
Kitsilano Presbyterian Church was built in 1910 at the corner of Third Avenue and Vine Street.
Rev. William Elliot, Grace Methodist’s minister and his family shown in 1912.
St James Church was established to do work in an ‘outlying’ area of Vancouver, at 2627 Trafalgar Road, for the First Congregational Church in Vancouver. This was one of two roots that grew into Trinity Grace United Church.
Financial issues closed the St James, 2627 Trafalgar Road church location until its reopening May 16th, 1920.
Grace Methodist Choir 1922
Grace Methodist church hall and gymnasium that was added in 1923.
November 1st, 1922 the church began the fund raiser that made this 63 by 48 ft gymnasium and 9 Sunday school classrooms possible, along with paying off the $2000 balance of the mortgage on the church a year later.
It opened November 17th and was dedicated the following Sunday, by pastor Rev G. H. Hamilton.
Grace Methodist Church, under the ministry of Rev H. W. Horton, joined the United Church in January of 1925 and was renamed Grace United Church.
St James joined the United Church in January of 1925, as it renamed itself Trafalgar Road United Church.
Kitsilano Presbyterian Church and Kitsilano Methodist Church entered the United Church. Kitsilano Presbyterian became St. Stephen’s United Church and Kitsilano Methodist became Crosby United Church.
Grace Sunday school staff are featured on the left in one of our archive images from 1925.
Grace United Church Ladies Aid Tea held in Bill Bateman’s garden in 1926
1928, March 25th
Trafalgar Road United Church closed March 25, 1928 to move to a new location.
1928, June 17th
The Trafalgar Road United Church reopened at 10th Avenue and Trutch as St. James United Church.
1934, April 27th
Rev George H. Hamilton resigns Grace United to work as Padre at Officers Training Center in the Gordon Head camp and eventually being promoted to Major as the Senior Protestant Chaplain of the Sixth Canadian Division.
Grace United Church Clark Circle
A newspaper article appeared April 2nd regarding Grace United Church celebrating it’s 40th anniversary. Rev T. W. Reed was the minister that the 40th anniversary celebration services that weekend.
Crosby United Church and St. Stephen’s United Church amalgamated and became Kitsilano United Church, where they met in the Crosby United Church building at Second and Larch.
1955, February 10th
St. James growth lead to expansion north to 10th Avenue. Completed and dedicated this day.
Plans for a new building began in 1956, and the new Kitsilano United Church building at Second and Larch was opened in November, 1959.
Grace United determined its needs for: ‘a more adequate Sanctuary’, ‘more suitable classrooms for a growing Sunday school’, and ‘new facilities for midweek activities the church was leading’ were adequate to commit to a new building. Fred Westcott, Grace United’s General Chairman helped guide the evolution to a ‘happier memories’ as the new building was completed. For the next 45 years he saw the benefit of that work and sharing, from the Grace congregation.
1959, May 17th
The original Grace church with all its additions was replaced and dedicated. At its dedication the name became Grace Memorial Church, in honor of those who had offered their lives for freedom.
1969, May 4th
Grace Memorial Church celebrated it’s 60th Anniversary.
1970, May 10th
Burning the Mortgage…
Back: Jim Arcus, Mrs Moffat, Floyd Roberts, Brit Ayers, Sam Hutchinson
Front: Rev Hugh Irwin, Mrs Hoatson, Harry Matthews, Gail Bond, Ken Greenaway
Grace Memorial became a two point Pastoral Charge with St Luke’s United Church. St Luke’s was disbanded in June of 1981.
February 1981 St Margaret’s Anglican Church at Dumfries and East 22nd was gutted by fire. Next month St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church at 1612 East 18th and the Hope Reformed Church at 920 East 19th were both destroyed by fire. Grace Memorial’s 74 year old location would eventually become the latest in this series when at 5:06am fire took Grace Memorial lost 2 or 3 historic bibles, amazing stain glass windows, its building and it’s congregations home away from home. Luckily there were no injuries although a home behind the church was damaged.
Grace Memorial Church became the 1st distribution point for the Vancouver Food Bank.
1983, February 17
Grace Memorial had days of over 1,000 using its food bank distribution service.
1983, July 3rd, 5 am
Grace Memorial United Church burnt down. At 10:30 am the congregation met for worship at Mount-View United Church.
The minister, Rev Val Anderson also was the chairman of the food bank. He predicted the need for 5000 weekly food bags by the end the winter season. Continued work helped secure funding from changing sources and the on going delivery points at: West Burnaby United Church, St Jude’s Catholic Church, the Native Indian Centre, Christ Church Cathedral, and the North Shore Neighborhood House
1984, September 7th
• Window 1 was dedicated in loving memory of Ernest Morley by his wife and family.
• Window 2 was dedicated in loving memory of Mr. & Mrs. R. Merrick by Mellie & Bert McNeill.
• Window 3 was dedicated in loving memory of Gladys Robertson by May Paulson.
• Window 4 was dedicated in loving memory of William J. Kilfedder & Walter H. Cooper by their families.
• Window 5 was dedicated in loving memory of Mr. & Mrs. George Harron, Mrs. M.L. McEown, Mr & Mrs E.N. Harford, Mr F. Westcott and Mr. Hole, all ow whom are remembered from our former church windows.
• Window 6 was dedicated in loving memory of the Andrew and Reid families.
• Window 7 was presented by the Sunday School Students and friends of Grace Memorial United Church 1983 – 1984.
New Stain Glass Windows
After a fire of 1983, that destroyed the churches 20 by 30 foot stain glass window, seven new two by eight foot windows were commissioned for the rebuilt church. Alicen Davie, the 25 year old daughter of Don Babcock, the one who created that prior window in 1959, was tasked with this new challenge.
Symbols and esthetics are the base of the seven windows: the Greek letters alpha and omega, the burning bush, the dove and the Bible. The windows reflect, Christs birth, a churches dedication to the children, the law, the human ability to receive, the Last Supper, Christs promise to mankind and the tree of life which Babcock called the “sacred marriage”.
The design has based on the lead lines, the flat blocks of color combined into simple designs.
Like the 12th century artists Alicen respected, little glass painting was done to the handblown glass from Germany, France and England primarily used. Alicen did paint some pieces, like the head of the Christ child, later fired at 1250 ºF to melt those images into the glass.
These windows are unique in how they modify church mood, depending on lighting. Sunny days, cloudy days or at night when light comes from inside, all have different impacts.
1984, September 16th, 7:30 pm
Grace United Church rebuilt and rededicate. The third church building to be built on this site had the same outside dimensions as it predecessor. A member of the congregation who, as a child, attended the 1st church Service at this site in 1909, May Harron, was still among the regular worshipers.
Unlike its predecessor, it incorporated new features. Handicap access was available to both floors. The sound system now included support for those hard of hearing and distribution of a video tape feed. It would now also include new Seniors Craft and Hobby, St John Ambulance Youth Brigade, and Academy of Religion and Life activity centers.
The $370,000 investment the new church required still needed $30,000 at the time of dedication.
Discussions about the amalgamation of Kitsilano United Church and St. James United Church began.
1992, June 14th
St. James United Church and Kitsilano United Church agreed to amalgamate under the new name of Trinity United Church. That amalgamation was confirmed at this service.
St. James United Church reached an agreement with St Mark’s Anglican Church to hold services and share their building at 1405 Larch Street.
The Trinity United Church worked with a non profit society (i.e. St James Community Square Society) to arrange that the old St James property become a multi-purpose community centre… to be called St James Community Square. The Kitsilano United Church property had affordable housing built on it and was also used to partner in a new building that they shared with St. Marks Anglican parish.
St Mark’s Anglican congregation moved to Trinity United (across the street) while construction on their building proceeded. The next year, the former site of Kitsilano United was sold and the funds directed towards the renovations at St Mark’s. Trinity United Church shared worship space with St Mark’s at 1405 Larch Street until 2012
Trinity United Church held worship services at various community centers and then rented space at Mt Pleasant Community Center.
Trinity United Church purchased the Rhizome Café at 317 East Broadway supporting the Heartwood Community Cafe and resurrecting Rhizhome Café goals. The church’s congregation worked to help those marginalized by society, 2SLGBTQ+ and those not comfortable in a church setting. August 12th, 2016 saw the official closing of Heartwood.
Trinity United sold its building at 10th and Trutch to the City of Vancouver with St. James Community Square Society continuing to operate the site.
Trinity United closed out its participation in the Café and began discussions with Grace Memorial about an amalgamation.
Trinity United Church amalgamated with Grace Memorial to become Trinity Grace United Church at 806 East 16th Ave.
Trinity Grace United Church became a fully accredited Affirming Ministry declaring itself to be fully inclusive and meeting complete United Church criteria. The official celebration was help the 17th of November, 2019.
Alaa arrived at the Vancouver International Airport after over two years of work on behalf of his migration to Canada and numerous COVID delays.
Trinity Grace committed to helping with the current Middle East humanitarian crisis.. Alaa’s arrival was a concrete visual bench mark of the evolution of those efforts.