Joseph Goss Cowell

The first Episcopal service held in Wrentham was on July 8, 1863 in Cook’s Hall officiated by two clergymen: the Rev. Samuel B. Babcock of St. Paul’s Church in Dedham, and the Rev. G. M. Randall, Rector of the Church of the Messiah, Boston, who preached the sermon. At that time, there were only two confirmed persons in the town and two others who had been baptized in other Episcopal churches. Services were held on Wednesday evenings until November 1863, Advent Sunday, when regular Sunday Services were established. In the spring of 1864, sixteen individuals signed a petition to organize a parish and on Monday, June 6th, members met and chose the name Trinity.

In December of 1864 , the Rev. Nathaniel G. Allen, rector of St. Thomas Church in Somerville, was called as the first rector of Trinity at a yearly salary of $850.00.

The deed to the land on which the present church and rectory stand is dated July 27, 1866 and purchased for a total amount of $700. Formal ground-breaking took place on April 24, 1871 and a cornerstone laid on May 24th. The Rev. Babcock returned on June 30, 1872 to officiate the first service at which a child was baptized and Holy Communion celebrated. That evening he preached the first sermon in the new church.

On Monday, April 10, 1876, the bell (weighing 800 lbs. and costing $300.00 saved and donated by the Sunday School Children) was hung in the church tower and rang for the first time on Easter Sunday, April 16th, and later in honor of the nation’s centennial.

On January 2, 1879, with building debts paid off, a service of consecration was held and the bishop presided. The years 1881 to 1906 were difficult financially and it was a struggle to hold the church together during that time. However, in 1900 membership increased and the parish began to gain. In 1905 a piano was obtained and a boy’s choir was started.

In 1906, A. Harrison Ewing was secured as a lay reader and in 1908 he became rector of Trinity. "Pop” Ewing brought people together; although there was no parish house he rented rooms, gave the people something to do and interested them in church and each other. After his rectorship and a further career of teaching, he settled here and continued an active and vital influence at Trinity until his death in 1968.

By 1909 the church had grown to 75 people, there was a boys’ choir of 24 members, and the Sunday School had 21 students with three teachers. In 1915 the William Marcellus Goodrich pipe organ, built in 1825, was brought to Wrentham in two horse-drawn wagons from the Universalist Church in North Attleboro. At first financed by the now traditional May Breakfast, and completely and authentically rebuilt in the 1960’s, the organ is maintained in excellent condition and valued as a historical part of the church.

The church grew: electricity was installed in 1928; women were admitted to the vestry in 1930; in 1954 the Parish Hall was completed and in 1955 ground was broken for the Rectory. During the 1970’s the church was renovated and made more usable by taking down superfluous trees and mapping out cemetery plots for purchase by parishioners.

In 1989, the Church School has thoroughly outgrown its rooms and an addition to the education Wing was begun, named for "Pop” Ewing.

These are the basic facts of Trinity’s history, but history in the story of people, not buildings. More important is the person-history of the parish-beloved rectors, interim rectors, and lay readers have helped up to grow in many ways. Strong lay leadership has kept us moving during the terms of rectors and during the times between rectors. Through the years we have been a warm and caring parish, reaching out to each other and the world. We have found it possible at last to meet our "Missionary Quota”, and in the late 1980’s the parish voted ten percent of our annual budget to Outreach beyond our parish - to individuals, to needs of the greater church and to third world countries. A "Fund for Life” was established to meet unusual needs of persons within our own parish.

The Trinity Church story is not one of wealth or perpetual success. Members have always given of themselves unselfishly and faithfully to build and maintain Trinity and to serve God through the Episcopal Church in this place.

(Taken in part from "100 Years with Trinity Church 1863 - 1963”).
This article is from the Trinity Church profile - 1989.



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