Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church, the oldest African-American Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA and Allegheny County, was organized January 12, 1868 in the Sixth Presbyterian Church.
The reason the name Grace was chosen is not included in the written history. Many believed that the 30 founding members believed that it was God’s grace that helped them organize and that God’s grace would keep them through the years.
In May 1868, the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet became the first minister of the newly organized church. He served for two years. During that time, the congregation moved to Miller Street School in the Hill District. A few years later, the church purchased and moved to 74 Arthur Street.
In 1940, under the leadership of Rev. Harold Tolliver, the church relocated to 2546 Centre Avenue and in 1948 moved to its present location, 1000 Bryn Mawr Road. Rev. Tolliver served as pastor from 1931-1968.
Rev. Dr. Johnnie Monroe was installed as pastor in 1993. The church continued to grow under his leadership. After 15 years of dedicated service to Grace and the community, Rev. Monroe retired in 2009.
In 1971, Rev. Samuel W. George was installed as pastor. Under his leadership, Grace experienced growth, stability, and community involvement. Rev. George served as pastor for 20 years, retiring in 1991.
Rev. Dr. David B. Thornton was installed in 2009 and served faithfully until 2012. Following Dr. Thornton's departure, Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Peters served as Theologian in Residence - maintaining Grace's foothold as a “Beacon on the Hill” that is “Building a Ministry of Hope.”
In 2017, Grace welcomed its latest pastor, Rev. Gavin B.J. Walton. "Rev. Gavin" is re-energizing Grace's community impact as he looks toward all ways to build up the Sugar Top neighborhood.
A Brief Timeline
God continues to work in this place of worship through his people.