Tracing its roots back to the Forest Oak Church, the Chancel Choir is the longest established choir.  When the congregation moved to the new building in 1905, the director was E. Wilson Walker, son of John Wesley Walker and grandson of Nathan Walker.  In 1978, volunteer director Betty Thorn led the group, which rehearsed in the Wesley Room.  The group would sing an introit from the back of the sanctuary, process during the opening hymn, sing two selections (offertory and anthem) and a prayer response, recess during the closing hymn, and close the service with a benediction response.  The organist/accompanist was Jean Irwin.

When Betty left, Jean became the director as well as the organist.  Betsy Moore was asked to accompany the choir, as assistant organist.  Needing a larger rehearsal space, three former Sunday School rooms were renovated to become the “Music Suite” including the Director of Music’ office during the 1980’s.

In the spring of 1996, Jean retired and Julie Brown was hired as the organist/director.  Julie felt that there was only time to prepare one anthem per week, and no additional responses.  She resigned in November of that year and interim directors were used until Michael Wu was hired in the spring of 1997.  In the fall of 2008, Michael resigned and interim directors, Carolyn Herman & Tammy Ripley, led the choir until Diane Haines was hired in the summer of 2009.  Diane resigned in 2016 and Debbie Henning was hired in August of 2016.

The Chancel Choir leads in worship during the 11:00am service from September through June.  Besides weekly anthems that are from a broad spectrum of styles, the choir also presents a Christmas cantata and special music at Easter.  The choir is open to youth through adults, and new members are always welcome.  Rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 – 9:00pm.  As members learn new music, they seek to use their God-given gifts to lead the congregation in worship.   Contact: Debbie Henning, director, at dhenning@graceumc.org, 301-926-8688 ext. 18.