History of Trinity Church and its Buildings
Church lies in Concord, Massachusetts, a town settled by Puritans. For
almost two hundred years the one church in Concord, (The First Parish),
was supported with town funds and administered by town officials. In
the early 19th century some members of First Parish, a Unitarian
church, broke away to form the present Trinitarian Congregational
Church paving the way for religious diversity.
The first recorded Episcopal service in Concord occurred in
1854 at the burial of an infant. Subsequently, a few newly arrived
families who had experienced Episcopal worship in the larger cities
began to meet for services in private homes. For almost thirty years a
small group met, occasionally at first but later becoming more
organized, inviting different clergy to officiate. In 1883 The Diocesan
Board of Missions determined that there was enough support to establish
an Episcopal church in Concord. A regular Missioner, The Reverend
Edward A. Rand, was engaged to conduct services. The ladies of the
Mission procured enough money from the townspeople through donations
and the proceeds from Concord's first church fair to buy land for a
church building. The land was subsequently purchased, and on Ascension
Day in 1884 the cornerstone was laid at the present site on Elm Street.
The Right Reverend Benjamin Paddock consecrated the small gothic chapel
on January 3, 1885 and on May 16, 1886, Trinity Mission, having
received approval of a constitution and by-laws in accordance with the
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and by act of the Standing
Committee, became Trinity Parish. Many of the people of Concord
supported the Episcopalians in building their church, including Concord
notable Bronson Alcott, who not only donated money to the building fund
but also observed the laying of the cornerstone from his barouche.
Others, having maintained their Puritan roots, had difficulty accepting
the new parish. In his book, Houses and Owners in Concord,
Judge John S. Keyes wrote, "next east is a small stone chapel built by
the Episcopalians with the aid of Unitarian subscriptions. They have
neither number, wealth, or position to support such a church. They had
better have gone to some other place rather than to have brought here
such a disturbing, proselytizing institution as no one wanted."
Over the next twenty years four Rectors led a growing flock
that increasingly won over their fellow Concordians as shown in the
following statement written by Mr. Adams Tolman. "This church has
evidently filled a want. The congregation has grown and its ministers
have done fine service in the town." Growth in the parish provided
funds to modernize the building and on Christmas Eve in 1900 the church
became lighted by electricity, relegating the old kerosene lamps to the
basement. A motor, powered by water, operated the organ's bellows
(unfortunately) displacing the man who had previously hand pumped them.
Three years later funds were raised to purchase a rectory that
continued in use until it was torn down in 1965.
In 1907, the Reverend Smith Owen Dexter was called to accept
a ministry that continued for twenty-five years. "A sweet and unworldly
man," Mr. Dexter was a social activist, extending his concern into
Boston, where he demonstrated for clemency in the Sacco and Vanzetti
case, and to Lowell where he led a march during the textile mill
strikes. In addition, he hosted a conference for the Fellowship of
Youth for Peace, a controversial group at variance with some more
conservative local groups. Although his political leanings concerned
the congregation, the vestry and parish stood by him with great
affection. During his tenure, a parish house was added, a telephone
installed and a new organ purchased. Mr. Dexter continued to serve
Trinity through the First World War, although he was given a leave of
absence to serve as a voluntary chaplain at Fort Devens in 1917. Mr.
Dexter retired in 1932 due to failing health.
In the same year the Reverend Charles Russell Peck was
called as rector. Under his ministry the parish continued to flourish
to the extent that more space was needed and in 1937 a Building Fund
was established. Monies were raised through knitting projects,
concerts, a lecture on the Washington Cathedral and one on stained
glass, a play and the sale of the "Concord Cookbook". In 1941 the
chancel was deepened and refurnished, the organ moved to the south wall
and the sacristy remodeled. The beautiful round window in the west
wall, designed and created by Connick, represents St. Francis. Mr. Peck
resigned in 1946, having led the parish through the Second World War,
the end of the Great Depression and rapid growth in both membership and
the physical plant.
Later that year, the young, energetic Reverend Bradford
Hastings was instituted as rector. Under his direction a parish survey
was undertaken and the Commission system still in use today was
organized to involve members in all aspects of parish ministry. The
growth in and involvement of the parishioners necessitated the hiring
of a parish secretary. Seminarians were employed to assist with
services on Sundays and the addition of two bays in the nave increased
the worship space. Reverend Hastings resigned in 1951.
The next rector to lead Trinity was The Reverend William
Clark. Through his leadership the parish gained a deep sense of
commitment to the Ecumenical movement. Parish programs were extended
and the church school and Christian education thrived. In 1960 an
associate minister was hired and a second rectory on River Street was
purchased for his use. When Mr. Clark took a leave of absence to study
in England, the Right Reverend Malcolm Endicott Peabody assumed his
duties and together with his wife became an important part of the
parish. Once again the congregation had outgrown the Church. Mr. Clark
and Bishop Peabody supported and encouraged the parish in developing
plans for a new building. The vestry appointed a Building Committee
which hired Pietro Bulluschi as the architect. To create space for the
addition, the rectory on Elm Street was sold and moved to the corner of
Wood and Main streets and a new rectory across Elm Street was
purchased. The process of reaching parish consensus on the design of
the building required courage, commitment and an invaluable gift of
time and resulted in a semi-modernistic building of simple lines
attached to the existing structure. The extensive use of wood and rough
stone was chosen to harmonize with the original stone church. On
entering, one is struck by its vaulted spaciousness and Gyorgy Kepes'
glorious Chartres glass window representing the Trinity. The seating,
which accommodates 650, was designed so that the congregation surrounds
the altar on three sides. The choir pews and the organ are located in
back of the altar. The space beneath the church, known as the
"undercroft", houses several rooms for Sunday school classes or
meetings as well as a central room that is used for large gatherings.
During the building's construction Mr. Clark submitted his resignation
to accept a position with the World Council of Churches in Geneva
leaving his associate, The Reverend Mr. Graham, in charge. To honor Mr.
Clark members of the congregation gave the lectern in the Main Church
which is decorated with the Ecumenical symbol.
In 1962 the Reverend Nigel L. Andrews was called to be
Trinity's ninth Rector. He oversaw the building's completion and its
Dedication on October 6, 1963 by The Right Reverend Anson Phelps
Stokes, D.D. The original church building, "the chapel", is used now
for the smaller 8 o'clock ans midweek services as well as for weddings
Continuing the legacy begun by Mr. Hastings and supported by
Mr. Clark and Bishop Peabody, Mr. Andrews encouraged the active
participation of lay people in all areas of church life. In 1966 he
appointed Eleanor Spinney, who had served as Director of Christian
Education, to be Lay Assistant Minister. In the early 1970's, Trinity Church provided a safe haven for local youth troubled by drugs and parental alienation. Called "The Place," the Trinity program was highly controversial, but eventually won support of the Town and other Concord churches. It saved young lives, however, and gained national recognition. The controversy over the use of Trinity's building for this
purpose, the political turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s in the country
and the liturgical changes in the National Church combined to decrease
membership. While the trial liturgies, national revision of the Book of
Common Prayer and the movement for the ordination of women was
difficult for many parishioners, most tried to understand and to accept
the changes. A few embraced the new liturgy and one generously donated
the funds to purchase the revised Book of Common Prayer for both the
Chapel and the Church.
In 1979 Mr. Andrews resigned and The Reverend Theodore
Bowers became Interim Priest for two years. The first woman priest on
Trinity's staff, The Reverend Margaret Lee Ferry was hired as
Assistant, later becoming Interim Priest-in-Charge until a new rector
was called. The Vestry, seeing the trend toward offering a rector a
housing allowance in lieu of a rectory, sold the
rectory on Elm Street.
The Reverend David Marshall Barney was called from Daphne,
Alabama and began his ministry on September 1, 1981. During his
twenty-year tenure, Mr. Barney helped the parish heal some of the
divisions of the'60s and '70s with his gifts of teaching and preaching.
Mr. Barney believed that everyone should have the opportunity of weekly
Christian education and scheduled Sunday School for children and a
Forum for adults between the two morning services. Following the
mid-week Eucharist, he also held a Bible Study class. Children's
involvement at the 10 o'clock service had been limited to the Youth
Choir's anthems several times a year. Based on Mr. Barney's assertion
that children were not just the future but the present of the church,
those eight years and older are encouraged to become acolytes, ushers,
and readers. Junior and Senior high school students have been appointed
to several committees over the years.
In the past twenty years the buildings and gardens changed
to accommodate a growing and changing congregation. Through the efforts
of many, a Memorial Garden was established with beautifully landscaped
grounds. The Property Commission oversaw improvements in the physical
plant, including renovations of the staff offices, the library, the
kitchen, the parish hall and the undercroft. Most recently, the parish
worked tirelessly to find an acceptable solution to making the Church's
spaces accessible. In 2001 these efforts resulted in the installation
of an elevator that reaches all five levels of the facility and several
ramps both inside and out so that everyone may participate in the
parish's worship and activities.
With Mr. Barney's retirement
in March of 2001 the Rev. Terry McCall served as interim priest while the parish entered into an interim period which provided the opportunity to step back and look at where it has come from, where it is now and where it wants to go in the years ahead. The answers to these questions can be found in the 2002 Parish
Profile available in the Church Office.
April first 2003, The Reverend Anthony F. (Tony) Buquor began his
ministry as Trinity's 11th rector. His formal installation, called in
the Book of Common Prayer "Celebration of a New Ministry," was held on
Sunday, June 15, 2003--Trinity Sunday.
The spirit of that group of Episcopalians who built the
original stone church lives on in this parish today because of the
faithful love and committed stewardship of its clergy and laity
throughout the past 118 years. A grateful parish looks forward with
hope to continuing the commitment that they have exemplified. *
*Information on Trinity's history is based on:
1936 history written by Fred A. Tower
A History of
Trinity Church 1884-1962 by Marian B. Miller and Frederick
A Parish Profile, Trinity
Church- April 1980
The Episcopal Diocese of
Massachusetts, Mark J. Duffy, Ed.