ABOUT URBAN GRACE

WHO WE ARE

Urban Grace is an ecumenical congregation that is multicultural, diverse, and welcoming to all. We welcome the full participation of all people–any denominational background, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. We hope to be the open table that Jesus set for all God’s children and offer a nurturing fellowship where it’s safe to wrestle and explore, acknowledging the simultaneous joy and pain, blessing and loss, of this life. We’re grateful to lean into the truth that we are perfectly imperfect and still loved, chosen and accepted. We want to provide our community with a faith home where we can build diverse and deep relationships and experience shared spiritual practices such as worship services, studies, small groups, and prayer, in order to gain greater connection to God and each other. We are teachers, businesswomen and men, nonprofit employees, medical care providers, stay at home parents, unemployed and everything in between, seeking to bring the love, grace and truth of Jesus to our gritty city.

LEARN ABOUT OUR MINISTRIES

OUR HISTORY

In 2005, a group of faith leaders in Tacoma came together to ask what downtown Tacoma needed in a church.  They came up with a church committed to the poor, engaged with the arts, ecumenical and interdenominational, and welcoming to all.  They called it Urban Grace – The Downtown Church.  But to really know our story we have to go back much further, to the late 19th century… ...Keep Reading

Though Urban Grace has only been around for a handful of years, our roots lie in First Baptist Church which was founded in 1883.

“…and the old church was swayed to and fro like a giant oak in a storm; but its roots had taken such fast hold on the Rock of Ages that it could not be uprooted. “  – John Clapp Baker, Baptist History of the North Pacific Coast commenting on First Baptist of Tacoma, now Urban Grace

In the fall of 1882, Rev. J.C. Baker wrote to Joseph W. Beaven of Victoria, British Columbia asking him to go to Tacoma and open up the work there. He responded.  On March 28, 1883 in Pincus and Packsheer’s Hall on Pacific Avenue, then the only graded street in town, The First Baptist Church of New Tacoma–Washington Territory was organized.  Since that time, thousands have entered the doors at 9th and D Streets (now Market). The congregations found here have always had an acute sense of mission to God, the church, and the city.*

At its high point, the congregation oversaw the construction of our current building at 9th and Market from 1923-1925 and the growth from 450 members in 1920 to 2,390 members in 1931. Throughout its history, the church has supported other Baptist churches, programs lending support to Japanese immigrants, Service Members during wartime, senior citizens, and the city’s homeless, to name just a few. First Baptist flourished throughout the mid-20th century, but amidst the socioeconomic decline downtown Tacoma faced in the 1970s, they also faced a decision. Would they stay or would they go? As many of the city’s wealthy residents moved to the suburbs, First Baptist foresaw the struggle they would face should they remain in their current location, but their commitment was to downtown Tacoma and to the vision of their spiritual ancestors who built a grand church to serve the neighborhood.

As a result, the congregation stayed and faced many lean years. Ultimately, First Baptist was unable to survive, but the dedication of the members to serving in the heart of Tacoma culminated in a radical and courageous reincorporation as  Urban Grace-The Downtown Church in 2005, an interdenominational, ecumenical church drawing from their rich Baptist heritage as well as other denominational traditions. The commitment of these longtime members, alongside the infusion of new congregants in the last ten years, has resulted in a diverse congregation that carries on First Baptist’s missional legacy.

Interesting Facts:

  • The first church building used by First Baptist Church of New Tacoma in 1883 was rented for $10/month (which was also the salary of the first pastor, Rev. Joseph Beaven).
  • One ton of coal was purchased for the church in 1889 at $6.75.
  • On one Sunday in 1930, Rev. C.O. Johnson baptized 64 people in the same baptismal pool that people get baptized in today.

*Much of this information was gathered from Fifty Eight Years On A Corner 1883 – 1941 by Mrs. Inez Denny Brandt.

 

Our historic building was built in 1925.

We’re Honored to be part of the National Fund Grant Program for historic churches!

WHAT WE VALUE

WELCOME TO ALL: We welcome all people into full participation at Urban Grace. We practice and draw on the width and breadth of the catholic and protestant Christian experience and are a multicultural and inter-denominational church. Our community is richer because of the depth and diversity of our backgrounds. We need and want to hear each other’s stories as they all contribute to the warmth and generosity of who we are.

THE POOR AND MARGINALIZED: We place particular significance on the poor, marginalized, and oppressed and seek to reach out through providing services that meet immediate needs as well as supporting, collaborating, and developing efforts to strive for justice and equity for all who live in our city.

THE ARTS: We value the arts as a unique and strategic part of our community context and as a means for exploring, expressing, and communicating truth and beauty about God and one another. We encourage creativity and freedom of expression in our worship and practices. We also seek to develop and nurture the arts and artists through the use of our facility as a community arts center.

REFLECTION & DIALOGUE: We understand the Christian experience and discipleship as a journey versus a one-time conversion. We want to provide safe space and opportunity for people to learn about and grow in faith through discussion and reflecting theologically. Those who wrestle, doubt, or are exploring are among friends at Urban Grace.