by The Rev. Todd McDowell, Grace Church Rector

st. matthew's steepleOn July 9, 2015, we closed on the sale of the former property of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church to the City of Warson Woods. Since the merger of St. Matthew’s and Grace in 2013, this property has been known as the Bennett Avenue property. The City of Warson Woods has indicated that they intend to use the property for a city park.

A huge thank you goes to all of those who worked so hard over the last two years to see this sale through to completion, especially the following:

  • Bishop Smith and the Offices of the Bishop, particularly to the Bishop’s Chancellor, Hal Burroughs, whose considerable time, talent, and friendship to Grace were invaluable in this process.
  • Our real estate agent, transition committee, vestry, wardens, and staff.
  • The Diocese of Missouri and their enthusiastic adoption of the merger of our two parishes.
  • The people of the two former parishes, who through their hard work and love have made what was two into one great parish.

The cornerstone of the former property of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church was laid in 1959 (the year before Grace’s) and that building served the congregation well for 54 years. “To many of you this building has been hallowed by cherished memories, and we know that some will suffer a sense of loss. We pray that they will be comforted by the knowledge that the presence of God is not tied to any place or building.” (Book of Occasional Services, p. 319).

Items that were wanted for use by our new merged congregation were removed from the building, and then the building was deconsecrated and
secularized. The last two items still to be moved from the exterior are the copper church spire and the cornerstone. Through an agreement with Warson Woods, these items will remain attached to the building until such time as the city tears down the building, or Grace has a plan in place to accept them.

Most of the items that were moved have found their way into our daily life. The altar is now in the LaVielle Conference Room, the Christos Rex chapel cross (and former altar cross from Epiphany Church, Des Peres) now triumphantly hangs in our parish hall. The former narthex cross is now in our lower entrance lobby, and the cross which hung in the lower stairwell on Bennett Avenue is now at our lower-level entrance by the youth rooms.

Each Sunday the processional cross used for 54 years by St. Matthew’s is still in procession at Grace. And the most precious item, the St. Matthew’s chalice, is used each Sunday in the Celebration of the Eucharist. Many other items, including altar silver, vestments, banners, pews, and practical items as well, have become an integrated part of the merged parish.

The net proceeds to Grace at the closing were $881,737.06. After reimbursing costs associated with the move, the last two-plus years of maintenance costs on the Bennett Avenue property, and holding money for the future move of the spire and cornerstone, we will have approximately $830,000 for the new Saint Matthew Mission Fund, a part of the Grace Legacy Fund. During the July vestry meeting, $800,000 was moved into the Saint Matthew Mission Fund; with the remainder to come after all expenses are paid. As is true of all accounts within the Grace Legacy Fund, under normal circumstances the Vestry will be able to use up to 5% of the account balance annually to fund our mission. God has a mission and that mission has a church.

The Grace Legacy Fund is professionally managed with the help of our Endowment Fund Trustees and historically will allow long-term growth, even with withdrawals of up to 5%.

This is a good time to remind the people of Grace that the Grace Legacy Fund is the financial instrument that will allow your gifts, of any size, to provide the long-term support for the mission and ministry of the church. If you wish to perpetually continue your annual pledge to Grace, consider leaving a bequest in your estate plans, twenty-times your annual pledge, to the Grace Legacy Fund. That gift would perpetually provide your
annual contribution – forever!  And you can designate any gift into the area of ministry you wish it be used.

In addition to the Saint Matthew Mission Fund, we have accounts designated for Outreach, Children and Youth, Organ and Music, Altar Guild and Flowers, Church Building and Grounds, Women’s Ministries, Contemplative Prayer Garden and Columbarium, or undesignated for the area of greatest need.

Your gift of any size provides for the mission and ministry of the church. Those who make provisions for Grace in their estate planning
documents have their commitment honored, through recognition in Perpetual Grace. In gratitude, a leaf with your name is placed on the Perpetual Grace Tree located off the narthex.

Please consider updating your estate planning documents to include the Grace Legacy Fund. We all love Grace and have been blessed by our vibrant ministry in so many different ways. By taking the time to make provisions for Grace beyond our lifetime, we will ensure many generations to come will know God’s blessing through the mission and ministry of Grace Church.




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