The people of Grace Episcopal Church respectfully acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Nacotchtank and Piscataway nations. We honor all Indigenous individuals and communities who made—and make—their home here.
People Enslaved by Early Parishioners of Grace Church
We have identified over 70 men, women, and children who were enslaved by Grace’s land donor, first vestry, and early parishioners. We invite you to read the names of these individuals (listed at the bottom of this page) who suffered under the institution of chattel slavery and honor their lives.
Revisiting Our History
The Grace Church community of today takes pride in our diversity and inclusivity. But is this view of who we are now – and have been in the past — a full picture?
Grace’s ties to the Confederacy have been documented in existing histories, but facts have been interspersed with mythology, much of which glorifies the Lost Cause and ignores the contributions of African-Americans to the early church. Even the date of our founding has been questioned: is it 1857, as some narratives claim, or is it 1864, as documented by the Diocese of Maryland?
As our Parish History of Race and Racism Team has been working to uncover details about our founders and their ties to slavery, we recognize that the land and resources we enjoy today come from that legacy of discrimination. We seek to learn about our past to plan actions of repentance and restorative justice in our community.
Telling Our Stories
In December 2022, we shared the first story in our exploration of our history.
- Story: Thomas Noble Wilson and the Origins of Grace Church
- Presentation: Reconsidering Our History with Race: The Origin of Our Land
In May 2023, we shared our second story on the myths and truths surrounding our history during the Civil War.
- Presentation: Reconsidering Our History with Race: Grace During the Civil War
- Story: Grace Church During the Civil War
In September 2023, we shared our third story, which details our research into Montgomery Blair and his involvement with Grace Church.
- Presentation: Reconsidering Our History with Race: Montgomery Blair
- Story: Montgomery Blair and Grace Church
In December 2023, we shared our fouth story, which focused on the Rev. James Battle Avirett. He was out third rector, the first commissioned Confederate chaplain, the last surviving Confederate chaplain, and a leading proponent of the Lost Cause mythology.