Grace First Presbyterian Church, of Weatherford, celebrated its 140th anniversary on Sunday, May 4, with a special day of worship, fellowship and the dedication of a Texas Historical Marker. The marker, given by the Texas Historical Commission in recognition of the long history of Presbyterians in Weatherford, was unveiled on the south lawn of the church at 606 Mockingbird Lane. Prior to the dedication, the congregation held a worship service which included special anthems, commissioned for the occasion, by the sanctuary choir and sanctuary handbells. The sermon was given by the Rev. Dr. Fred A. Ryle, Jr., pastor of Grace First for 28 years, who was instrumental in organizing the church’s written history. A lunch for the congregation following worship included special guests and videos of church events from the 1940’s to the present.
The participants in the marker dedication included the Rev. Charles Bruner, Pastor of Grace First, the Rev. Dr. Fred A. Ryle, Pastor Emeritus, and Janice Smith, Chair of the Marker Committee and member of the Parker County Historical Commission. The Hon. Craig Towson, District Judge of Parker County’s 43rd Judicial District, spoke on the importance of churches in Parker County’s history and the present day.
Grace First Presbyterian is a congregation united from the three major strands of Presbyterianism in the 19th Century: the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in the United States, and the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. The P.C.U.S. and the P.C.U.S.A. divided at the time of the Civil War and were not officially reunited until 1983, but Grace First began its unification efforts in the 1920’s. It was one of the earliest churches in Texas to reunite, using the names of the two previous churches, Grace Presbyterian and First Presbyterian. Presbyterians in Parker County emphasized education, including a school in Veal Station and the Texas Female Seminary in Weatherford, and the congregation has included many state and local political figures and others active in community affairs.