Bishop C. M. Grace, Founder
Bishop Charles Manuel (Sweet Daddy) Grace was born Marcelino Manuel da Graca, January 25, 1881, in Brava Cape Verde Islands, a Portuguese possession off the west coast of Africa. His family reported that as Jesus did in His day, Bishop Grace, as a young boy would teach the word of God in communal areas. In the nineteenth century, in the tradition of the Biblical Abraham, Bishop Grace became a Father of Faith. And like unto Abraham, in Jesus' Name, through faith in His Name, he left out of his country, and from his kindred and from his father's house "... [U]nto a land that I [the Lord] will shew thee." (Genesis, Chapter 12, verse 1). He came to America on a ship called Freedom in 1903 and settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Elderly members of the House of Prayer recall Daddy Grace testifying of his reluctance to accept the commission of the Lord. As the Bible records, Moses, Jonah, and even Jesus himself, when face with the magnitude of the task set before them, had misgivings about the charge entrusted to each of them, respectively. Bishop Grace also sought to flee his responsibilities and return to his native home. But by his own testimony, God would not turn him loose and singed the very hair on his head in order to get him to do His [God's] will.
In 1919, Daddy Grace built the first House of Prayer in West Wareham, Massachusetts at the cost of thirty-nine dollars. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Daddy Grace traveled America preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and establishing the United House of Prayer for all People. The Constitution and By-Laws of The United House of Prayer promulgated in 1929, stated that the purpose of the organization, in pertinent part was "to erect and maintain places of worship and assembly where all people may gather for prayer and to worship the Almighty God, irrespective of denomination or creed." Bishop Grace demonstrated his commitment to these stated principles- using the words of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as written in the King James Version of the Holy Bible and the power of God as given him without measure. He traveled extensively throughout the segregated south in the 1920s and 1930s preaching to integrated congregations. His foresight dismayed many critics who were not to become enlightened until the later civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s and the religious ecumenical movements which followed.
Members of the House of Prayer, who were personal witnesses to the works of Daddy Grace, often glow with pride as they recall how Daddy Grace came and "made them somebody." Many of the members of the House of Prayer spent their days scrubbing floors, doing laundry, working in the fields or performing other forms of menial labor. BUT OH! THE NIGHTS! Services started nightly at 7:30 pm. The same folks who sweated by day; at night became ushers, queens, secretaries, deacons, preachers and presidents of auxiliaries. In doing so, the membership was given the opportunity to remove the shackles placed upon them by society, and feel free and important!
One of the principles of the Gospel of Christ taught by Daddy Grace which provoked controversy; and was controversial in Jesus' day, was the concept of one man leadership. But Bishop Grace used the Holy Bible as his reference and taught the people that God only used one man at a time (e.g. Noah, Moses, and the Lord Jesus to name a few). The doctrine that Daddy Grace preached, along with the concept of one man leadership, has proven successful throughout the existence of The United House of Prayer in America. Indeed, the House of Prayer membership has done nothing but prosper under the leadership of "one man" - Bishop C.M. Bailey, present leader.