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A local Providence church reveals their secret to congregation growth

WJAR

Grace Episcopal Church, in the heart of downtown Providence, is rolling out the welcome mat and spreading a message of inclusion.

"It's not a neighborhood Church, people come from all over the area and people want to come here. For very few people it's their neighborhood parish, they want to come because of that diversity and that welcome," said Rev. Jonathan Huyck, Grace pastor for the last seven years.

That welcome message that is the centerpiece of a new video that was the brainchild of two parishioners and was unveiled as part of last month’s Pride celebration in Providence. It features many couples who are gay and lesbian members of the congregation telling their stories.

"Just talked about how they got here, what brought them to the Church why they're here still. The Church is a very welcoming community as a transgender woman I feel embraced," said Krystle Baxter, a parishioner.

At a time when urban churches are challenged with dwindling membership and closing because of financial problems, Grace Episcopal is not only surviving, but expanding its footprint downtown with a new parish hall slated to be finished next month, "where we can gather the whole congregation, and also community events, in a space that's ground level, handicapped accessible, lots of natural light," said Rev. Huyck.

It’s a new addition to a church that Reverend Huyck says seems to be returning to its roots.

"This neighborhood started two hundred years ago as residential, then it became obviously a business district, now people are living here again, so we're hoping to become a neighborhood church also again," he said.

You can see the entire Grace Episcopal Church video here:

https://vimeo.com/219771269

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