Daddy Grace: Life of United House of Prayer For All People founder

Daddy Grace: Life of United House of Prayer For All People founder

Among revivalists that came to Peninsula, Marcelino Manuel da Graça, popularly called Daddy Grace, was regarded by many as the most bizarre of all. Many detested the three-inch fingernails and long hair the Portuguese emigrant carried, even though he commanded lots of committed followers. His flamboyant lifestyle was another topic people could not stop talking about.

Daddy Grace
The self-ordained Daddy Grace. Photo: @_BrothaG
Source: Twitter

The dimension with which Daddy Grace ran his ministry was questionable to many. He first swept into Newport News in his chauffeured limousine in the late 1920s. Many flocked into his House of Prayer for All People in the East End to hear him electrify his followers. They also go to feel the power of his syncopated gospel music.

Who is the founder of the United House of Prayer?

Daddy Grace founded the United House of Prayer. He was born on the 25th of January on the island of Brava, Cape Verde Islands. At that time, Cape Verde Island was a Portuguese possession off the west coast of Africa. Some people contend that Marcelino was born in 1881 while others believe he was born in 1884.

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Marcelino's parents were Gertrude and Manuel. He had a brother, Benventura, and three sisters whose names were Louise, Slyvia, and Eugenia. He, his parents, and other siblings immigrated to the port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, in the twentieth century.

When he got to America, he did menial jobs like washing dishes, picking cranberries, and selling patent medicines. He also Americanized his surname and started bearing Charles. As the founder and first bishop of the predominantly African-American denomination, he was a contemporary of other religious leaders.

Moreover, he was known to be an evangelist, pastor, faith healer, and bishop. His grandiosity and followers' intense devotion made people skeptical of the church for decades.

Daddy Grace was a mystery man in Newport News. He resisted newspaper questions and concealed his wealth. After his death, people knew about his real estate holdings, including an 85-room mansion in Los Angeles and other homes in Newport News and Norfolk. He built an apartment complex in Norfolk, occupied one, and let the others to some members.

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How sweet Daddy Bailey United House of Prayer started

Grace was baptized Roman Catholic in Brava, but then, his religious calling led him to Protestant forms of worship, particularly the holiness movement. Initially, he tried to start a church but the attempt failed. Even though he traveled extensively in his "Gospel Car," there were parts of the United States where he could not gain any followers.

However, after returning to Wareham, Massachusetts, in 1919, he started his first House of Prayer, while presiding as the bishop. Grace built the church on County Road in West Wareham with his hands for a meager $39. In its first two decades, he recorded considerable success. He went on to establish branches of the ministry in North Carolina, Charlotte, and Newark, New Jersey

Despite the growth of his church, people still see it as an invalid organization. This is because of the way he exploited people for his profit. Daddy Grace's innovative way of ministering to people was well spoken of. His unique worship style, no doubt, birthed a distinctive religious institution on the American scene.

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Daddy Grace
Daddy Grace at the United House of Prayer For All People building. Photo: @JeffreyGuterman
Source: Twitter

There were some lifestyles peculiar to him, which people questioned. For instance, he kept long hair, wear bright colors suits, painted his fingernails, and had jewels on his wrists and fingers. In short, his flamboyant personal style made it to the news headlines on several occasions.

Daddy Grace's family life

Marcelino married two times. He married his first wife, Jane “Jennie” Lomba, a Cape Verdean woman, also known as Jennie Lombard, in 1909. Jennie bore a daughter, Irene, in 1910 and a son, Norman, in 1912, who later died in 1947. However, it is not clearly stated whether they officially divorced or not.

Moreover, the United House of Prayer founder took another wife named Angelina (Montano) Grace, of Mexican descent, in 1932. Angelina gave birth to Marcelino in 1935, before the couple's divorce happened in 1937.

When did Daddy Grace die?

Marcelino Manuel da Graça died on the 12th of January, 1960. So, how old was Daddy Grace when he died? He died at 78 years, a few days before his 79th birthday celebration. Nevertheless, when he died, he was ushered into the grave in a grand style.

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In fact, his funeral procession was conducted in a tour-like manner. They took his body across the country in train before they drove him to New Bedford, East Coast. The motorcade that followed him had about 500 cars. While they were going, they stopped seven times at major cities before they arrived in front of the church on Kempton Street.

Where is Daddy Grace buried?

After the funeral service was conducted, he was temporarily laid to rest at Oak Grove Cemetery before they finished building a lavish marble mausoleum for him in Pine Grove Cemetery. When they brought his corpse to Newport News, the waiting line of viewers reportedly stretched down Jefferson Avenue from 48th to 20th Street.

Until his death, Daddy Grace commanded a lot of committed followers. Although many things were considered to be wrong with the principles he taught, including his concept of one-man leadership, many did not desist from following him. Unfortunately, after his death, the court had to resolve several issues because of several conflicting matters the church experienced.

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