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  • Writer's pictureDiocese of WNC

Inspired by the Servant: The Service-Based Ministry at Grace Episcopal Church Morganton

Located a block off of downtown Morganton, Grace Episcopal Church is a central hub for the Morganon, NC community.

“I think our location describes us,” said The Rev. Dr. Marshall Jolly, the Rector of Grace Episcopal Church. “We hope to be a resource hub and a meeting place for the needs of the world. We want to provide ministry to the world.”

Inspired after Christ the Servant, Grace Episcopal Morganton is dedicated to ministry through service and action. They will soon be celebrating their 175th year of Mission in Ministry.

“We identify as a community that wants to be called to service,” Jolly said. “Grace has been actively involved with the community foundation, and we have a very active backpack ministry. We started a movement of pop-up tiny pantries, one of the first ones in Burke County was on our campus, and now there are several others around the area.”

With many members of the parish actively involved in serving the community, the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic impacted not only members of the parish, but many of the surrounding communities that they serve. As a result, Jolly said they began to brainstorm ways to continue to serve, even if they could not be physically together.

“Our ministries have continued to be active during this time,” he said. “We have to take certain precautions, but people need help now more than ever. Our backpack ministry is moving 200 pounds of food a month. Since schools are closed and don’t need that resource at the moment, backpacks are being distributed among the homeless on the weekends.”

Members of the Grace community have also found creative ways to serve during this time. Both the President and the Chief Operating Officer of popular furniture company EJ Victor are parishioners at Grace, and have started creating masks for community members using extra furniture fabric.

“We purchased some masks a couple weeks ago for our parishioners,” Jolly said. “Now we have folks that have agreed to deliver masks to those who need them!”

Recently, Bishop José A. McLoughlin purchased over 300 masks to provide to the clergy of the diocese as well as a number of parish based outreach ministries

“It is important that we recognize that when we begin to see a resuming of gatherings, we will need to continue following safety protocols, including the use of masks,” McLoughlin said. “Providing the clergy of this diocese, and those who are involved in providing services to our neighbors, with masks is one way I can demonstrate our commitment to the care of our neighbor, while also supporting a local company.”

For Jolly, he is glad to see the members of Grace continue to serve as they can during the pandemic.

“When this all first happened, no one knew exactly what to do,” Jolly said. “But now we have found many ways for our paishioners to stay involved during the pandemic. We want to respond as needs arrive.”


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