• This Is Rutherford

This Is Grace Episcopal Church

By Jennifer Ersalesi


Grace Episcopal Church on West Passaic Ave was established in 1869 and since then has been thriving in the community. The beautiful English Gothic-style architecture also makes this Church historically important within the community and visually represents the time period in which it was constructed. This is Rutherford spoke with Beth Calvo, Senior Warden of the Vestry about Grace Episcopal Church.


Photo credit: grace-rutherford@dioceseofnewark.org

TIR: Grace Episcopal Church celebrated its 150th Anniversary in the Spring. Will the church be doing anything special to recognize this special anniversary?

BC: The church turned 150 back on May 11th, 2019 (established May 11th, 1869), but we will celebrate the anniversary at our Annual Roast Beef Dinner, which will be held in November.


To read Rod Leith's article about the history of Grace Episcopal Church, click here.

Father Bob

TIR: What are some of the major changes that have occurred within the church over the last decade?

BC: Two main things: The first is that with the closing of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in North Arlington, Grace Church welcomed the members of St. Paul’s to join our congregation. There was an official welcoming ceremony held May 20, 2018 attended by the Bishop.

The second is the retirement of Father Bob (Robert F. Browning, Jr.). Many people in town may have known Bob, who was the Rector at Grace Church for the last seven years. Bob was active in town, he was a member of the Civil Rights Commission, and people may have seen him dispensing ashes at the train station on Ash Wednesday. Bob retired last year and the church is currently searching for a new rector. In the meantime, services are continuing as usual at 10am on Sundays and Wednesdays with Father Guy, who is serving in the interim. All are welcome to join us for service.


TIR: As one of the two churches that helped establish the Food Pantry (along with the First Presbyterian Church), how is your church still involved in assisting at the Food Pantry?

BC: The Rutherford Food Pantry was created in 1998 because of a shared vision of Rutherford clergy (including Grace Church), the social services department and other community organizations. The church continues to raise money for the Food Pantry throughout the year – we are committed to helping those in need in our community. A number of church parishioners also work at the Food Pantry during the week.


Honduras Relief efforts. Photo credit: episcopalrelief.org

TIR: Due to fundraising efforts and generous donations made within your congregation, Grace Church has been able to send money to places affected by major disasters all over the world. Why is this a particularly important form of outreach?

BC: In addition to helping our local community, the church also reaches out to people in times of greatest need. Each year, we decide as a church where to focus our outreach resources, and we have made contributions to causes throughout the world. Recently, we have directed outreach to Honduras, where Father Bob is currently residing.


TIR: What are some of the programs offered through the Grace Church?

BC: Programs are flexibly scheduled based on peoples’ interest and availability. The Adult Education classes tends to be in the form of Bible Study groups done seasonally (usually during Lent) and we have an active Youth Group with activities for children of various ages.


TIR: Are there any upcoming events open to all community members that you would like our readers to know about?

BC: Our largest fundraiser each year is our Holly Fair, which is held the weekend before Thanksgiving. The 47th Holly Fair of 2019 will take place on November 22nd and 23rd. The Holly Fair includes various items for sale: baked goods, holiday décor, and household items, as well as a Tricky Tray. I would encourage everyone in town to stop by and visit. The Holly Fair committee goes all out to turn the church hall into a winter wonderland to usher in the holiday season.


TIR: How can those that are interested contact the church?

BC: Inquiries to the church can be made by phone by leaving a message at 201-438-8623, by visiting our website, or by email at gracechurchrutherford@verizon.net.