Through her passionate interweaving of deep faith with a life of service and a desire to build and strengthen community, Grace Wenger was the founding force behind Tabor Community Services.
Grace’s was a life of service and of faith. A devout Mennonite, writer, and teacher, Grace taught at Lancaster Mennonite High School and Millersville University. In 1967, Grace organized members of the Mennonite community to establish the Menno-Housing Corporation, working to renovate city housing into rentals for low-income families, many of whom had been victims of racial discrimination in housing. This work propelled Grace to further engage with the housing and financial problems faced by Lancaster County residents, and so in 1968, Tabor Community Services was founded.
When Menno-Housing was incorporated as a profit-sharing company, with the partners agreeing to not expect dividends, the group then decided that shifting to a non-profit systems would allow them more reach and flexibility. At the suggestion of one of the partners, they named their newly-formed non-profit Tabor—a mountain southwest of the Sea of Galilee where the Israelites won a dramatic victory that freed them from the Canaanite oppression. “We hoped this organization would free many oppressed people in Lancaster,” Grace said, addressing Tabor’s annual banquet audience in 2005.
Tabor President Bob Thomas recalled her words from her series of articles titled “No Room’ For Jesus” published in the Missionary Messenger, in his remarks at her memorial service in 2012, noting that “It was clear in that passage and to all who knew her for that Grace, her deep and life-long faith was not only a source of comfort and enrichment to her but a calling to demonstrate that faith in actions that served others, especially those who were in need.”
He went on, recalling how “Grace often told me she had no idea when she and others established Tabor that it would grow into the organization that it has and that she marveled at all the good it does today. She was a very modest person, always sharing credit with others for Tabor’s establishment but it’s true there was no way anyone could have foreseen 44 years ago what Tabor would become.”
Grace is described in all accounts of her as a unique, distinctly impassioned and deeply faithful woman, a consummate teacher, and a warm presence.
Thank you, Grace for, everything you did for Tabor and the Lancaster Community. Our prayers go out to your family.