Inscription of the Dedication Plaque located in the Narthex of Grace First Presbyterian Church, Dated 1974
"The confluence of three great streams of American Presbyterianism is realized in the life of Grace First Presbyterian Church
of Weatherford. We claim as our common heritage the traditions of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, The Presbyterian Church in the United States, and the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Since 1859, when young Presbyterian pioneers began establishing churches and schools in Parker County, leadership in the communities has been an outflowing of Christian citizenship. We have reached out to the world in love through our general assemblies. Over the years our shared faith and ideals have melded the three congregations into one. This edifice is a double symbol marking unity within Trinity. In its construction we express our gratitude for the past and commitment to the future as this body of believers reconsecrates itself to be Christ's bride."
The original building of the Grace Presbyterian Church was constructed near the City Hall in 1901 – it no longer exists. The First Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1896 and is located at 200 South Main. In 1929 these two congregations came together at the Main Street location.
In 1972, a Building Commission comprised of Mark Littleton, chair, and members Grace Cartwright, James Doss and W. D. Newberry, Jr. brought to the congregation the recommendation that a new church be built on a new site, bounded by Mockingbird Lane, Charles Street and South Bowie Drive. There were 108 votes for, and 14 votes against.
The Building Commission hired the firm of Al Komatsu and Associates of Fort Worth as architects. Realizing that it takes the best planning of a congregation to bring out the best abilities of an architect, numerous planning sessions were held, involving every segment and every talent of the entire congregation, working with Ed Jackson of the Komatsu firm. The day came when the plans were completed and accepted. The decision to move ahead, the acquisition of the site, and the plans were finished by late 1972. H. D. Terrell Construction Company of Fort Worth was hired in May 1973 to build the church.
The stone used for the building of the church is Parker County limestone. Mr. Pete Carroll, who deals in building stone, was hired to haul 499 tons of Parker County limestone from what is known as the Old Cartwright Ranch south of the Brazos River in the Tin Top community. In 1876, Bourke’s Almanac, which was published to be sent back to the old states to induce settlers to come west, had this statement: Parker County is a sea of grass and water with plenty of stone for fence building. In that decade many stone fences were built by freed slaves. It was from one of these that the stone was hauled. It was still available because there was a section between two deep ravines that was so inaccessible that it had been left by former builders. Mr. Carroll did a little research and found the remains of an old home site. He reasoned that to get in to the house the settler needed a road of some kind. He searched until he found it, and with some minor repair to the road he was able to get to the beautiful, untouched part of the fence built a century ago.
Mr. Jim Dickey, Parker County stonemason and member of the church, was employed to lay these stones. He placed them horizontally in the way in which they were formed in the earth, using an intricate pattern of size and shape woven together to form a tapestry of great beauty. The Sanctuary walls, like the south walls of the office and Fellowship Hall are two-feet thick. The east and west walls of the Educational Building are stone veneer.
The tablet in the Narthex contains a brief summary of the history of this congregation carved in a segment of limestone from the Jack Pickard ranch a few miles south of the church. The edges that can be seen were formed in the earth and have not been milled. Behind it is a metal box in which memorabilia was placed during the summer of 1974.
On the stones around the tablet are the names of ministers who have served these congregations, along with their dates of service. They form a constellation of witnesses to the history of the Grace First Presbyterian Church. On the table in the Narthex is the Bible which is carried to the pulpit at the beginning of each service. It is kept there to symbolize an old tradition of the Reformers, that the Bible be both open and available to the people while also being the foundation upon which all worship and all preaching is based.
Upon entering the Sanctuary one sees embodied the three elements of worship, marking the Reformed tradition. The tallest feature is the pulpit, emphasizing the Word, written and preached, as being central in Presbyterian theology and history. The puplit is elevated so that all may see the preacher – above is placed the sounding board so that his words may be heard by all.
Flanking the pulpit are the symbols for the two sacraments, the Word enacted. On the left, growing out of a living garden, is a boulder which has been hollowed out to contain the water for baptism. This font, found in a quarry near the location of the stone tablet, is an aggregate limestone formation containing hundreds of tiny fossils and crystalline fragments. The shell, long a Christian symbol of baptism, is seen embedded naturally in this stone and is also formed in the silver plate nestled in it.
To the right of the pulpit is the communion table, large enough for the Elders to gather around so that, in good Presbyterian tradition, the table is seen as a gathering place for the family of God, not as an altar for the sacrifice of the Host. Here the cup and the plate represent the body and blood of our Lord Jesus which He gives to us for our sustenance. A portion of the service is conducted from behind the table, symbolizing that we worship as a communion of saints.
The floor of the Sanctuary is exposed aggregate, identical to the sidewalks outside. The aggregate leads us from out of doors into the Sanctuary, reminding us that God owns both. The plants along the south wall also bring the outside in. The choir loft is at the rear of the congregation, consistent with Reformed tradition, for the choir is not a performing group. It is merely a portion of the great choir, the congregation, and is intended to lead the congregation and support it as we sing praises to God. Musically, as well as theologically, the choir sings from the rear to swell the voices of the congregation to greater glory.
In 1975 the Harvey & Zimmer pipe organ was installed, having been manufactured in Germany by August Laukauf, Inc. and designed by John Harvey and Jules Zimmer, two young organ builders from Dallas. It consisted of 20 ranks of pipes with 15 stops enclosed by oak case work. The facade pipes in the pedal and the great divisions are of flamed copper, blending with the earthy tones of the church.
In 1979 the Mac Range Organ Service contracted for the expansion and augmentation of the original organ. It was completed in 1981 and dedicated in September 1982. The completed organ has 32 stops and 40 ranks, all enclosed in oak case work. The pipes and case work were again manufactured in Germany by August Laukauf, Inc.
The original new building had eight commodious Sunday School rooms, a multi-purpose library and conference room and a Fellowship Hall with a kitchen equipped to feed 200. Also included were new offices. These rooms were in a U-shaped building built around a patio. It is of rock veneer, stucco and glass construction.
On Mother’s Day 1981 ground was broken for an expansion to the present facilities. The original Building Commission was charged with the responsibility once again of overseeing our new addition. The architectural firm of Jackson and Ayers were employed by the Building Commission with Cleo Yeary supervising the construction to bring to reality this addition to our church.
Jim Dickey once again was the stonemason for the new structure and did his usual magnificent work.
Eight classrooms, a nursery, crib room, music room and Great Hall were added around a courtyard to the north of the original structure. Minor changes were effected in the kitchen, and the original Fellowship Hall was made into a Parlor. The new building was dedicated on September 12, 1982.