Trinity Episcopal Church, 304 S. Monroe, celebrated 190 years of worship and ministry recently with a special service and good food.
Parishioners and guests gathered for a special worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday with the Rev. James Bischoff presiding, followed by lunch in the parish hall.
Although there is no specific date as to when the church was first established, church records indicate it was in the fall of 1831 under the direction of the Rev. John O’Brien. He helped create the parish and presided over the first worship service that September. Funding came from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York as well as a small congregation.
For nearly two centuries, the church has taken pride in its ministry and outreach programs in Monroe. According to senior warden David Potter, since the church’s 175th celebration in 2006, there have been many improvements to the campus including expanding its digital footprint by offering more online accessibility and launching a custom-designed website.
“The reason for our 190th celebration is it marks our presence in Monroe all these years along with all the capital improvements that have taken place to the church,” he said. Potter and his wife, Joyce, have been parishioners at Trinity since 1973 and have both witnessed and been a part of the many changes that have occurred. Some of the most recent upgrades include expanding the church’s meeting and learning space and promoting a message of inclusion.
The church recently invested in outdoor signage including a new metal sign perched at the corner of Third and South Monroe streets. Blanketing the seal of the Episcopal Church is a vivid rainbow of horizontal stripes and the message, “Welcome.”
“We want the community to know that Trinity is dedicated to making all who enter our doors feel welcome and loved for who they are,” Potter said.
Part of the celebration was the dedication of the kitchen to honor Kim Domick, a chef, food writer and devoted parishioner, who passed away earlier this year. The church’s vestry presented a commemorative plaque in recognition of Domick, and members and guests shared personal stories.
Domick had suggested purchasing a commercial stove with 10 burners and two ovens but had not selected a specific brand or model. While the church was closed due to COVID, a stainless-steel commercial Vulcan stove made in the United States was purchased and installed in the kitchen along with the addition of new window treatments.
“The stove has all the features Kim wanted. You could find Kim at the church in the kitchen on many occasions,” Potter said. “She prepared our Agape meal, luncheon for the retirement of Bishop Gibbs, her catering business, Thrift Shop luncheons, and many other occasions. Her commitment during the pandemic to provide meals for those in need was truly a blessing.”
Potter added, “Kim was willing to serve on the vestry. If something needed to be done she was always willing to help. She loved decorating the church at Easter and Christmas and putting up pictures on the bulletin boards. She prepared bags for the children with toys, coloring pictures, and made sure they were cared for during the service. She was involved in many other aspects of the church as well and for all those reasons the vestry was unanimous in dedicating the parish kitchen in her honor.”
Potter added that the celebration and dedication symbolize Trinity’s rich history, growth, and dedication to its ministry in Monroe.
“At the end of April, our priest -in-charge retired, and we are currently in the process of clergy transition. As Trinity prepares to find a new rector, our services include morning prayer worship and supply priests provide the Sunday celebration of the Holy Eucharist,” Potter added. “With upgraded technology equipment we also offer virtual services via Zoom. We have a dedicated team that both records and live streams our 10 a.m. worship. Our online presence has proved to be successful, and we’re pleased to announce our membership has grown. As the second oldest Episcopal church in the Diocese of Michigan, we have a lot to be proud of.”
A snapshot of the Trinity’s church history
· Trinity is the second oldest church in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.
· In 1831, Trinity’s first parish was established by the Rev. John O’Brien and plans to build a wood church were finalized in 1833.
· Trinity’s first service in the wood-frame church was on February 3, 1833.
· On March 18, 1868, a fire destroyed the church and plans were soon made to rebuild Trinity in limestone.
· Designed by English architect Gordon W. Lloyd, the first cornerstone of the present-day church was laid on June 24, 1868. A year later, services commenced.
· In 1889, a parish hall was added, and that space now serves as the church library and meeting room. The current parish hall with a kitchen was built in 1956.
· In 1898, the current rectory was built. The Rev. John Evans and his family were the first occupants to live there.
· Many items found in the church have been given in memory of loved ones, from the baptismal font salvaged from the 1868 church fire to the elegant stained-glass windows that grace Trinity’s sanctuary and other church building locations.
· On March 14, 2014, Trinity Episcopal Church was declared a historical site with a State of Michigan Historical Marker dedication ceremony
To learn more about Trinity and its history, log on to: https://sites.google.com/view/trinityepiscopalmonroe
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