On October 21, 2007, two years after Hurricane Katrina, two United Methodist congregations less than one mile apart merged to form a new body. The remnant of First UMC, an historically white congregation, and the remnant of Grace UMC, an historically black congregation, merged to form First Grace UMC.
In its first year, the worshiping congregation grew from 60 to more than 130. In addition, a missionary for Hispanic/Latino ministries joined the First Grace family and the Latino/a population has been steadily growing. As you can see with your own eyes, our congregation mirrors the diverse wonders of our city.
Our mission is to celebrate that wonder as the body of Christ through our commitment of living together in our city and joyfully engaging all city dwellers through our worship and missional ministries, serving meals on Sundays and from our food pantry, sheltering women and children at Hagar's House, having Wednesday night Pot Luck and Community Bible Study, an Organic Community Garden and various other ministries.
The church also partners with the New Orleans Faith Health Alliance, the March of Dimes mother/baby bus, Elba Medical and the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. These relationships result in health care for the working uninsured, free vaccinations for infants, necessary prenatal care for expectant mothers, and laborers working across race and industry to seek justice in Post-Katrina New Orleans.
We want you to feel welcomed and moved by the loving Gospel that lights our path.
The sanctuary and building took on over five feet of water from the levee breaks of Katrina. We are still rebuilding.
A century-long succession of churches preceded First Methodist Church's locating to St. Charles Avenue in 1907, where it would remain for almost 50 years. The approach to the Mississippi River bridge was planned upon the land where First Methodist stood, and in 1956 the sanctuary was bought, vacated and razed.
As a result, the First Methodist congregation merged with the Canal Street Methodist Church in the 4100 block of Canal Street. Worship services at Canal Street Methodist continued until 1960, when the growing congregation moved into its new, larger sanctuary at the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis.
First held worship services at that location until August 2005 and resumed in August 2006 until the First Grace merger in 2007.
Grace United Methodist Church can be traced back to the merger of two churches in 1917: Pleasant Plains and Union Chapel.
One Sunday in 1914, children on their way to services at Union Chapel were turned away by police officers because the church building stood in the established red-light district, where children were not allowed. A conference was held between the pastors of Union Chapel and Pleasant Plains to discuss alternative locations and a union of the churches was agreed upon.
In 1915, the Pleasant Plains sanctuary was destroyed by a storm, leaving the two congregations without a home. After holding worship services in a school building and eventually a horse stable on Derbigny Street, the congregation was able to secure a loan to purchase an old German Lutheran sanctuary on Bienville Street and renamed their new church body.
The sanctuary was badly damaged in 1965's Hurricane Betsy, when the steeple collapsed, and 2005's Hurricane Katrina, when large parts of the rear sanctuary wall caved in. Services resumed in the educational building in 2006, and continued until the First Grace merger.