Mission, Vision, and History
To train grateful disciples of Christ, by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.
Grace Covenant will be reborn through faith in Christ for the glory of God alone. By submitting to Jesus Christ as the head of the church, our community will find new life in Him who is renewing all creation. Neighbors of every stripe – from college students to retired professionals, hardened skeptics to committed believers – will fill Grace Covenant to hear the Good News that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that all who believe in Him may not perish but have eternal life. In response, we will train our desires, thoughts, emotions, and actions towards serving God so that He might transform us into grateful disciples of Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
As one body of Christ, composed of diverse individuals bound together by the Holy Spirit:
We will worship God in a way that not only proclaims God’s glory and identifies His presence in our lives, but also calls us to repent of our sins and kindles due thanks and awe for our creator, sustainer, and redeemer.
We will join in community across the generational, ethnic, racial, and economic barriers that separate God’s children. We will walk together in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We will grow in the faith by training ourselves and our children to be intimately familiar not only with Scripture and our Reformed heritage but also with their unwavering relevance for our lives and humanity today. We will build up the body of Christ until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, so that we may no longer be tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of new teaching.
We will do justice and love mercy in service to the Lord. We will resist the temptation to indulge in excessive security or abundance for ourselves and instead humbly go out into the world to live lives of abundant generosity to others, especially those in need. We will be doers of the word, as faith apart from works is dead.
We will share the Gospel in an intellectually rigorous manner that does not belittle doubt yet calls all to acknowledge their need for God’s grace offered through Jesus Christ. We will endeavor to fulfill Christ’s commandment to go and make disciples of all nations.
Through these faithful actions, we pray that God will lift up Grace Covenant as a blessing to the city where He has placed it – a bright beacon of His redemptive power, awakening a love for Christ in the heart of Richmond.
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church traces its roots to a congregation that was meeting in the not-quite-completed Virginia State Capitol building circa 1790. The pastor was the Reverend John Durburrow Blair, the first resident Presbyterian minister in Richmond.
Attempts to construct a building of its own were delayed until 1821 when this congregation built the Shockoe Hill Presbyterian Church on the corner of 8th and Franklin Streets and was subsequently recognized by Hanover Presbytery in 1822.
Meanwhile, the First Presbyterian Church had been organized. In 1838, amid controversy, a group from that church broke away. This group eventually joined the Shockoe Hill church which then changed its name to United Presbyterian Church on Shockoe Hill.
Tragically, the church caught fire and was destroyed during the fires of April 1865 when Confederate troops evacuated the city.
Church of the Covenant, 1891-1915
The group soon outgrew this chapel and built another on Harrison Street near Park Avenue, reserving the area of the lot facing Park for a major building. The name of the church was changed to Church of the Covenant in 1891. The projected sanctuary and educational building
was completed in 1907. Meanwhile, with the city's continued growth, the Grace Street Church was feeling the need to move from what had become a downtown location. It united with the Church of the Covenant in 1915 (actually December 28, 1914). The name Grace Covenant was adopted to recognize the union of the two churches.
Grace Street Presbyterian Church, 1870-1915
Almost immediately, plans were made to rebuild, and a lot was purchased on the northeast corner of Grace and 4th Streets. The pastor, Dr. Charles H. Read, led a nationwide effort to raise the necessary funds. The new building was nearing completion in 1872 in time to host the General Assembly meeting of the Southern Presbyterian Church. Meanwhile, the congregation in 1870 had changed its name to Grace Street Presbyterian Church. At the same time, Dr. Moses Drury Hoge, pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, was developing a mission Sunday school in what was then the far west end of the city. A small chapel, built at 907 W. Grace Street, was dedicated in 1876.
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1915-Present
The buildings at Park and Harrison served the congregation until new buildings were erected on Monument Avenue near the Lee Monument. The educational building was completed in 1920 and the sanctuary in 1923. This location in the developing prime residential area of the city contributed greatly to the growth of the church.
The church began broadcasting its services in 1924. To learn more about this aspect of GCPC's past, please visit the Radio Ministry page.
Today, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church remains at 1627 Monument Avenue in a still popular residential area within the central city. It continues to welcome its neighbors as well as members from the entire metropolitan area
The 1970 GCPC Youth Video Project: In March of 1970 the 7th graders at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church created a video project about the purpose of mission in the life of the church. This project "I'm Knocking; Will You Answer?" is still pertinent today when we think about how the church is prepared to help all of God's people.
For our 75th Anniversary, this film on GCPC's historical account was created. As we look at our past, we are inspired to a future of continuing to be a force for God's Justice and Love in the world.
In 2015, GCPC celebrated its centennial anniversary with a special service involving many church leaders from over the years, a congregation-wide reflection on how God leads us to serve, a celebratory dinner and this video collage featuring a look at the past as well as the present.
The Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)
Grace Covenant is a congregation of the Presbytery of the James in the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Part of the Reformed tradition, the PC(USA) is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States, established by the 1983 merger of the Presbyterian Church in the United States with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. The constitution of the PC(USA) consists of the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order.
The great ends of the Church are:
the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
the maintenance of divine worship;
the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness;
and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.