Trinity Episcopal readies for special service

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 26, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-Trinity Episcopal Church in Demopolis will hold a very special service at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Gallion one week from Sunday.

Rev. Aaron D. Raulerson said the service is part of a special trip the members make each year to celebrate history and fellowship.

“This is a service that we do every year,” Raulerson said. “On Sunday Oct. 2 of this year we will have our once yearly pilgrimage to St. Andrew’s Church in Gallion. It is an Episcopal church and we hold services there once a year and invite the public to attend.”

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The service, which is always first Sunday in October, is always a special service with special guests.

“Essentially, we have a service and the Bishop of Alabama comes,” Raulerson said. “He confirms people if they want to join the church. We have service at 11 a.m. and follow it with lunch on the grounds.”

Following the service people bring covered dishes and have the opportunity to mingle and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Raulerson said it is also a great way to bring people together and celebrate the rich history of the church.

“It is really a great, great thing,” Raulerson said. “It is a way we can remember our history and keep that church alive in a manner of speaking. The church still has a life because we bring together all the Episcopal churches of West Central Alabama that Sunday.”

Usually, people travel to the church from Eutaw, Greensboro and Marion. Raulerson said people are always willing to make the long drive to Gallion because the church is so special to them.

“That church has a lot of meaning for people,” Raulerson said. “It has always been the church people would see out of the corner of their eye riding down Highway 80 and wonder what the story was behind it.”

The church, which is located near the intersection of Highways 80 and 69, has a very rich history. In September 1834, the Rev. Caleb S. Ives was sent as missionary to serve in Greene and Marengo Counties.

At that time, the Rev. Ives reported that he “rode horseback between his two counties and also officiated at services at a small town 8 or 9 miles east of Demopolis. That was the (apparently as yet unnamed) community of Prarieville.

The Rev. Francis R. Hanson took charge in May 1843 and organized the parish of St. Andrew’s, presiding as rector until his death in October 1873.

In 1853, Mr. Hanson reported that a new church building would be ready for consecration in April 1858.

Built from plans by the architect Richard Upjohn, St. Andrew’s is a classic example of the well-built yet inexpensive High Church Gothic style.

It is the first of its kind to be built in Alabama.

The excellent construction and longevity of St. Andrew’s is due in great part to the slaves who built it.

Perhaps the most interesting fact is the wood stain used to darken the interior walls: tobacco juice.

Many credit this technique with the woods preservation from termites.

St. Andrew’s is a dormant parish; services are conducted there once each year, the first Sunday of October, with the Bishop of Alabama presiding.

Raulerson said some of this history would be recreated with a short tour before services begin.

“This the one time of year that building is open specifically for church services,” Raulerson said. “This year Gwynn Turner is going to spend a little time to give a brief tour and history of the church at 10:15 that morning. She will give a little talk about the history.”