Trinity Episcopal Church to celebrate 170th anniversary

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 4, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – Parishioners at Trinity Episcopal Church will spend Trinity Sunday celebrating the church’s 170 years in the city.

The celebration begins from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday when a church reunion takes place.

Erin Rollison, the church’s priest, said a dedication and blessing ceremony for the church’s new fountain and newly refurbished pipe organ will also take, as will a special recognition service for one parishioner.

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“That part is a surprise,” Rollison said, declining to name the special honoree.

On Sunday, a single service will begin at 10:30 a.m. followed by a luncheon.

The weekend events are the culmination thus far of the church’s 170th anniversary that began January 31.

“We decided it was a good opportunity to invite family, friends and people with a connection to the church,” Rollison said. “It’s an anniversary and homecoming all wrapped into one.”

The fourth oldest Episcopal church in Alabama, Trinity Parish was organized in 1834. It’s impact on the city and region has been felt ever since.

“This place has touched so many lives from folks all over the nation that it’s important to remember who we are and where we come from,” Rollison said.

“In 1834, we started out with five members on that first Sunday. We’ve been a part of the world that’s seen a massive amount of change over those years and the physical church is a constant reminder of who we are and where we’ve come, not only as members, but as Christians and members of the body of Christ,” he said

Some of that change the church has witnessed – and most likely helped usher – has been in two different structures at its current site.

The original wood-frame structure, completed by 1857, burned in shortly after the Civil War, when it was rumored Union soldiers garrisoned in the city set fire to the building. According to the account of the late Jack F. Ross, a former senior warden of All Saints Church in Mobile, the soldiers were in the “habit of playing cards in the organ loft of church” with only candles for light.

Ross was 14 years old at the time the church burnt: “… we did not think it was an incendiary fire, but was probably caused from smoking or leaving candles burning. Nothing was saved.”

The new building was completed around 1870, its transepts added in 1896, and the tower in 1910. Other additions have been added to the church grounds over the past three-quarters of a century.

Still the focus of this weekend’s activities is as much on the church’s future as it is a celebration of its past.

“We’re inviting people not only to share in the history,

but to share with the mission and ministry of what we’re doing now,” said Rollison. “The church is not a museum, but a living, breathing community committed to gospel of Christ.”