Making an Impact
Making an Impact
Trinity Church stands in Concord, Massachusetts, a town settled by Puritans.
For almost 200 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 in town.
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 30 years a small group met, occasionally at first but later becoming more organized and inviting various 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 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.
Bishop Benjamin Paddock consecrated the small neo-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 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 1885 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 20 years four rectors led a growing flock that increasingly won over their fellow Concordians as shown in the following statement written in 1915 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. Five years later funds were raised to purchase a rectory that continued in use until it was torn down in 1965.