A Brief History of Grace Epiphany Church


Grace Epiphany Church was formed in 1991 by the merger of two racially integrated Mt. Airy Episcopal churches with dwindling congregations: Grace Church which was chartered in 1859 and The Church of The Epiphany which was chartered in 1902. The merger combined Epiphany's considerable financial resources and its Rector with the financial resources and physical plant of Grace where Grace Epiphany is today.

Grace Church began in 1857 as a Sunday school and a mission of Christ Church in Germantown with services initially being held in area houses. The church structure in use today was built at the corner of Gowen Avenue and Ardleigh Street on land given by Frank Gowen for whom Gowen Avenue is named. The cornerstone was laid in 1888 and the new church was consecrated in 1889. A three year Parish House expansion was begun in 1961 incorporating the formor Rectory into the building. The Reverend Richard Bauder was the last Rector of Grace Church retiring in 1989.

The Church of the Epiphany was started as a mission in 1898. The cornerstone for the church building on Lincoln Drive and Carpenter Lane was laid in 1901 and the church was chartered in 1902. Epiphany was integral in helping to integrate the community in the 1950's and African American families became involved in the life of the parish. By the mid 1960's the parish was 50% black and 50% white. During that same period African American families also began to join Grace Church. A devastating fire destroyed Epiphany's church in 1975 and the congregation decided to adapt part of the Parish House as its worship space rather than rebuild.

By 1991 the two congregations were worshipping together in Grace Church's building under the leadership of The Reverend Laurence Miller, The Rector of Epiphany and the merger of the two congregations was completed by 1994. The Church of The Epiphany building was sold to The Church of The Annunciation. Father Miller resigned as rector of the merged church. In June 1998, The Reverend James Taylor was called as the second Rector of the merged church. Father Taylor resigned in 2005 to pursue another strong call to service in elementary school teaching. In the Fall of 2007, The Reverend Thomas Eoyang Jr. was called as third Rector of Grace Epiphany. Father Eoyang resigned in 2014 and Father Naz Javier began as supply priest at that time and is now Priest in Charge. Grace Epiphany continues today as a vital, diverse congregation welcoming all people to share their faith journeys with us.