Over 145 years ago, Thomas W. Satterthwaite purchased an estimated 140 acres in Franklin, New Jersey. From this fact stems the history of Grace Episcopal Church.
The Satterthwaite family members were Episcopalians and to attend church they had to travel to Newark or Passaic. Since this was not practical for the children, A Sunday School was started in 1863 in a building on the Satterthwaite estate near the old River Road.
In 1872 land was given by Thomas Satterthwaite for the purpose of erecting a church building. It was located at Grant and Whitford Avenues. At a meeting on October 2, 1873, the first warden and vestrymen were elected. Two weeks later, the congregation formed themselves into a “body corporate” according to the laws of New Jersey.
On Easter Day, April 13, 1873 the first church service was held. The Reverend William H. Carter, rector of Christ Church, Bloomfield, served as vicar.
In 1879 the Reverend William R. Narin became the first permanent rector. Under his leadership the membership grew, and all debts were paid, and the church was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. Thomas F. Starkey, Bishop of northern New Jersey. Mr. Narrin served until his death in 1889.
The first church was very dear to those who worked for its existence. It was a small frame building seating about 150, with a Sunday School room in the basement.
The Reverend John P. Appleton of Booton was called to be the second rector of Grace Church in 1890 and served until 1899. During his rectorship, in 1891, land was given again by the Satterthwaite family, the site of the present church, rectory, and parish hall. Late is 1897 the present rectory was completed an occupied.
In April, 1904, the name of the town having been changed from Franklin to Nutley, the corporate title of Grace Church became Grace Church of Nutley.
In July, 1908, the building committee signed the contract for the erection of the present church and parish hall, with Henry P. Kirby giving his services as architect. The cornerstone was laid on September 19, 1908.
The first service in the new church was held Christmas Day, 1908.
In 1919 a series of murals painted by Charles Balmer were installed. They are a sequence of scense from the Old and New Testaments. In December 30, 1925, a fire seriously damaged the body of the church building, the organ, and roof. Balmer was retained to redo the ceiling murals. This work was competed in 1929.
Because of the dedicated women of Grace Church, the mortgage was paid off. At a service on March 2, 1947, the mortgage was burned by the Guild President, Mrs. D. Payne. At that time the church was consecrated by the Right reverend Benjamin Washburn, Bishop of the Diocese of Newark.
On October 17, 1948, the 75th anniversary of the church was celebrated with the dedication of the church windows at the service.
In the following years the Sunday School and parish continued to grow. In 1973 in conjunction with the Centennial Celebrations, major changes were made within the church. New pews were installed and the altar was brought from the reredos to a more central location, reminiscent of house churches.
The Reverend Wade A. Renn was called to Grace Church in 1973 after serving as a missionary in Africa.
In 1992 the Community School in Nutley became part of the ministry of six churches, including Grace Church. The infant Toddler Center uses space in the Sunday School building. I is run by a local board of directors with representatives from each of the sponsoring congregations.
The Memorial Garden was installed at this time as is a place a rest and reflection for the community. In addition, the congregation studied the Bible using the Bethel series using a small-group format for learning. Children's ministry expanded to include Vacation Bible School, a two week, half day formation program and Youth Club, an academic year program for upper elementary children. Two handbell choirs were established at separate times - an adult choir and a youth-teen choir.
In 1997 the Rev. Pamela Bakal was called as the first female rector of the parish. During her cure three women were called to the ordained ministry - two to the priesthood and one to the vocational diaconate. Her work work as Clergy Organizer for BIA (Brooklyn Interfaith for Action) and IAF (Industrial Areas Foundation) –and the Farm Workers introduced the parish to partnering with groups such as OAR (Offender Aid and Restoration), and volunteering to teach Bible Study and visit Hudson County Jail and Northern State Prison. In addition, with the support of diocesan parishes, hundreds of holiday gifts and backpacks are distributed to children with an incarcerated parent.
Reaching into the community is an important part of the ministry of Grace Church. She partners with Vincent Methodist to provide meals from the Care Kitchen and Family Promise, runs monthly meetings for Military families, as well as provide space for 12 Step groups to meet.
Such activity is supported through Spirituality - souls fed through week Bible Study, thoughtful sermons, seasonal programs, the labyrinth, worship, and listening hearts.
Rectors of Grace Church
1879 – The Reverend William R. Narin
1890 – The Reverend John P. Appleton
1899 – The Reverend N. Field Saumenig
1903 – The Reverend Herbert D. Cone
1911 - The Reverend Douglas Matthews
1919 – The Reverend Dr. Charles Tinker
1936 – The Reverend L. Harold Hinrichs
1950 – The Reverend Welles R. Bliss
1966 – The Reverend Daniel K. Sullivan
1973- The Reverend Wade A. Renn
1997 – The Reverend Pamela Bakal