History Header

History Overview

Trinity Trinity Church on the Green has been an important part of the history of New Haven, Connecticut, and America for over 300 years. There has been an official Episcopal presence in New Haven ever since Anglican missionary priests first ministered to the region beginning in 1705. In 1723 a parish in New Haven was organized by Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson. The Colonial Wooden First Church was built in 1752-3, just before the beginning of the French and Indian War in the American Colonies; the Gothic "Trap Stone" Second Church was built in the midst of the War of 1812 in 1814-1816. Since then there have been many enhancements to the historic church, which stainds at the corner of the towns famous Green in the center of the town, a cornerstone of New Haven's vibrant religious, artistic, and community life.

Trinity and New Haven have historical associations with not only the Church of England, but clergy from the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland, Puritan refugees from Holland, and with French Huguenots. With the installation of Dr. Luk de Volder in 2011, Trinity Church and the New Haven community have reconnected with the history and languages of its ancestors.

Below is a Timeline cross-linked to pages with:

ARTICLES about Trinity Church, its people, places, ideas, and history

BIOGRAPHIES of its people and clergy

ARTIFACTS including dibitized pamphlets, tickets, records, images, and memorabilia of the parish

ARCHITECTURE of the various churches and buildings owned by the Parish

VOICES OF TRINITY holds recollections and stories of the people of Trinity

The Trinity New Haven Historical Society has been rebranded in 2012: for more on this active group of parish members who meet monthly to plan events, manage Trinity's large historical archives, document its architecture, and links to outside sites relating to the history of the parish, see the group's web page at:

History Ministry @Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green New Haven.

 

Timeline

Note:  In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the "Rector" is the priest elected to head a self-supporting parish. A priest who is appointed by the bishop to head a parish in the absence of a rector is termed a "priest-in-charge", as is a priest leading a mission to congregation that is not self-supporting.  All ministers before 1784 were SPG missionary ministers, and are thus "priests in charge"; after this date they are Rectors. 

 

The Era of the Home Church

 

1610

The first English-speaking parish in America, St. John's Church Hampton Virginia, is founded in 1610.

1614

The New Haven region is the home of the Quinnipiac tribe who live in villages around the harbor. It was visited by the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block of Amsterdam in 1614. Subsequently, Dutch traders visited New Haven to trade beaver pelts with the tribe, but did not settle permantely there..

The map to the right from the New Netherlands Project is the engraved 1635 version of Adriaen Block's 1614 manuscript map.  It is titled “Nova Belgica et Nova Anglica”.  

For a more detailed look at the original manuscript and this charming first published map of New England with animals, Indians in canoes, and villages, click on the map or click here.  New Haven is shown on the map as the home of the "Quirepeys" tribe.

1638

In 1637 an advance party of English Puritans scout the New Haven region and winter near the harbor. That same year the Reverend John Davenport and much of his English congregation leave their refuge in Holland and sail to Boston. In April 1638, Rev. Davenport, the merchant Theophilus Eaton, and 500 settlers, hoping to found a more perfect theological community than the one in Boston - which they believe is too lax - sail into New Haven Harbor. Then under attack by the Pequots and Mohawks, the Quinnipiacs sell their land to the settlers in return for protection, and the settlers found the Colony of New Haven.  By 1740, a nine square grid centered on a central Green has been established near the harbor, and a meeting house built in its center.  A democratic-theocratic government was put in place, with the Puritan Congregational Church established as the only legal denomination in the colony.

1701

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) is founded in London; it remains active today under the name United Society for the Propagation of the Gospell (USPG). The Society funded and remotely administered the growing Anglican church from its early beginnings with missionary-led "house church" services held in parishioner's homes, all the way to the Revolutionary War. The Bishop of London is the head not only of the largest British diocese in population in England, but because of his responsibility for all colonial ministers, the largest territory of any Bishop in history, covering all the British Empire's colonies: the American colonies alone are many times the size of all of England.

To the left is a dynamic bookplate or seal issued by the society, which funded parish libraries and provided salaries for its missionary ministers.  It was rendered into a stained glass window by St. John's Church Hampton Virginia (image on right), and it may be found on the north wall of the present day church there.

This year also a "Collegiate School at Saybrook" was founded on Saybrook Point, Connecticut. After 1718 it would be known as Yale College. The history of Trinity Church,  the missionary Society and the college will be intertwined from their beginnings on.

For more on the early years, and a description of the SPG and its bookplate, see The First Years: From Mission to Revolution.

1705

From the beginning, laymen were of great importance to Trinity Church. The wealthy Col. Caleb Heathcote of New York, founder and vestryman of Trinity Church New York - one commentator calls him the "lay bishop of New York" -  and a member of the SPG, accompanies the Rev. George Murison, a Scottish born Church of England missionary priest of the SPG based in Rye, NY, on trips around New York and Connecticut. Murison is a graduate of King’s College Aberdeen, who initially went to New York as a schoolmaster in 1703, but returned to England where he was was ordained in 1705. On returning to New York he began working as a missionary for the SPG. Thus the first minister assigned to the people of the region that includes what is now is the parish of Trinity New Haven was a Scottish Episcopalian -- only the first of many significant Trinity Church ties to the Episcopal Church in Scotland.

Heathcote writes from his home in Westchester, NY:

"In some towns amongst 100 sober people, not ten will be admitted to the sacrament, and vast numbers are denied baptism. I am told there is a town called Newhaven within 14 miles of Stratford there are near 1000 unbaptized. Now if it be a good work and a great service to bring the Indians to the knowledge of our holy faith and to happiness, benefit and blessing of partaking of Baptism and the Lord's Table, it must be of equal if not grater service to make those of our own blood and nation partakers of these great blessings".

Murison and Heathcote make “ecclesiastical incursions” into Connecticut in 1706 and, but travel "fully armed" as they expect to encounter vigorous resistance from the Puritans, who threaten them with prison for trying to establish Anglican churches in the colonies. The image of Colonel (and later Mayor) Heathcote is courtesy of the New York Historical Society, and is described in their catalog entry

While there is no record that the courageous duo made across the Housatonic and a dozen miles or so further up the coast to the "1000 unbaptized in Newhaven", Rev. Murison was the first "priest in charge" of the region once called New Haven Colony.

1707

The parish of Christ Church, now Christ Episcopal Church, the first Anglican parish in Connecticut, is established at Stratford. Murison is asked to visit it and other towns, "and he became a kind of traveling Missionary in the Colony."  Murison describes one vist in a letter to the SPG:

"They. . . left no means untryed both foul and fair, to prevent the settling of the Church among them. . . the people were likewise threatened with Imprisonment, and a forfeiture of £5 for coming to hearing me. It would require more time than you would willingly bestow on these Lines, to express how rigidly and severely they treat our People, by taking their Estate by distress when they do not willingly pay to support their Ministers. . . . They spare not openly to speak reproachfully and with great contempt of our Church, they say the sign of the Cross is the Mark of the Beast and the sign of the Devil and that those who receive it are given to the Devil."

1708

Rev. Murison dies in 1708 and the Rev. Christopher Bridges based in Rye, NY takes over the region from 1709 to his death in 1719, save for a brief period in 1712-1713 when for seven months the Rev. Francis Philips resides in Stratford and handles the missionary region around New Haven. No one seems to have officially served the parish region from 1720 to 1721. Southern Connecticut was also occasionally visited by a number of traveling missionary priests, including Rev.  John Talbot known as “The Apostle of the New Jersey Church”, a Rev. Bridge, a Rev. Sharpe.  Sharpe pays a month long visit to the colony in 1712, and among the people he baptizes is "an aged man said to have been the first white person born in the colony."

1722  

The Rev. George Pigot is sent by the SPG to Stratford, Ct. where he takes up residence. Shortly after his arrival, Rev. Samuel Johnson, a native of Guilford, a former Tutor at Yale, and now pastor of the Congregational Church in West Haven, Connecticut, travels down to Stratford and informs Pigot that he himself, the Rector of Yale Timothy Cutler, Yale Senior Tutor Daniel Brown, Rev. James Wetmore of North Haven, and five other Connecticut Congregational ministers, after studying the history of the early church together, doubt the validity of their Puritan ordination, and wish to convert to the Church of England. The "New Haven Nine" announce their conversion at Yale’s Commencement that year in an event that American Religion historian Sydney Ahlstrom calls “The Great Apostasy”. When asked to explain their position, two of the men announce they are now conformable with Presbyterian Orders, but six of the men write up a short letter giving their reasons for preferring the Episcopacy. This scene is depicted in the stained glass window from the Church of the Holy Spirit, West Haven, Connecticut. Rev. Johnson (in a red coat) is sitting at the table writing the letter, while Rector Cutler (light blue) above looks on. Above them are Rev. Wetmore of North Haven (blue) and Tutor Daniel Brown (blue-green), Rev. Jared Eliot of Clinton (green), Rev. John Hart of Madison (purple), and Rev. Charles Whittelsey of Wallingford (yellow). It isn't clear why only Johnson and Culter are wearing wigs: Jared Eliot was older than Johnson and would go on to have a distinguished career as an agricultural scientist and member of the Royal Academy.

Under intense pressure, three of the men recant (the three at the top of the window looking away from the writing of the letter), including the Rev. Jared Eliot of Guilford, but Johnson and three other men journey first to Boston, then to England, for ordination. There Johnson and his fellow apostates are not only ordained, but are celebrated and meet just about everyone in Church, University, Social, Literary, and political circles - a network that will become useful when Johnson encounters bitter opposition to starting a Church in New Haven.

Note the circular medallion at the top of the window is yet another rendering of the seal of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

1723

The founding of an Anglican Parish in New Haven. The American Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson (1696 -- 1772) returns from his yearlong trip to England as an ordained SPG missionary priest, and replaces Rev. Pigot in Stratford.  Pigot, who has visited places as far off as Roxbury as part of his mission, hurries off to the more settled location of New London, Connecticut. Johnson has bee placed by the society in charge of a region stretching from Stamford to Guilford along the Connecticut coast, and inland north to New Milford and Waterbury -- perhaps a third of Connecticut's 5,544 square miles: he is very alone, "surrounded by enemies", and required to travel to administer services to each local church once per month. 

Despite harsh and sometimes violent opposition from Puritans he grows the Anglican Church by converting Yale students and local Congregationalist ministers, visiting New Haven often to explain "the episcopacy" to Yale students, converting them to the Episcopacy, and sending them to England for oridionation. By this method he founds and staffs new churches in Norwalk, Fairfield, Chestnut Ridge (Redding), Ridgefield, Danbury, Newton, Milford, West Haven, Derby, Ripton (now Shelton), West Haven, New Haven, Woodbury, North Haven, Guilford, and New London -- he forms a church in any place where fifteen, or ten, or even seven families professing the Anglican Church were gathered. He also travels to give sermons in Brookhaven, Long Island,, Rhode Island, and New York City. He personally will found 25 of the 41 Anglican churches established before the Revolutionary War; the men he trained, some of his 50 or so disciples, will found the remaining 16 with his active support. For this, Johnson is know today as "The Father of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut."

After seeing a church build in New Haven, he founded of King's College (now Columbia University) in 1754, and was its President from 1754 to 1763.

Since there are records of Parishes founded in West Haven and North Haven in 1723, it is almost certain that a parish was also founded in the much larger New Haven as well:  Johnson, had lived there as a Yale tutor from 1716 to 1720, and intended to use it as a base for converting Yale students, and were certainly have set up a parish with rotating house church meetings as well to support and instruct the Yale students and even some of its tutors. For more on the early days of Trinity Church, see The First Years: from mission to revolution.

It also seems that the Rev. Luk de Volder, Trinity's Belgium born Rector installed in 2011, was not the first native French speaker to hold services in Connecticut. After 1723 when Johnson was installed as the regional head of the Southern Connecticut Church based in Stratford, "services were still carried on in Fairfield by a devout layman, Dr. Laborie, a Frenchman, who, previous to his arrival in this country, had conformed to the Church of England." 

Dr. Johnson, along with fellow converts Dr. Cutler and Dr. Chandler, is celebrated in in a feast day of the Calendar of Saints of the Episcopal Church on August 17.

To the  left is a depiction of the American Rev. Dr. Samuel on a memorial window at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Milford, Connecticut. The small window was originally on the east side of the chancel of St. Peter's, but when the adjoining parish hall was added, it was moved to the connecting hall, and now greets those who come from the classroom- side entrance to the church.  During the move the window had to be shortened to fit a lower and smaller space and thus Dr. Johnson is missing his feet, and some of the the yellow and white side scrolls seem to have been swapped in the move as well.  Today, some at the church believe it depicts Bishop Seabury.  Johnson would have taken such indignities with his usual good humor.  And then, low paced window is at the eye level of small children -- which would have made the man who taught children for nearly sixty years in Guilford, Saybrook, New Haven, Stratford, and New York, who opened a common school in Stratford as well as a boarding school and a school for adults, and pioneered a kind and gentle approach to children's education in America far ahead of his era -- the move would made him very happy indeed. 

1724

Dr. Johnson opens the first Anglican church built in Connecticut on Christmas Day, 1724. He later writes to the SPG:

"It is a neat, small wooden building, forty-five feet and a half long, thirty and a half wide, and twenty-two between joints or up to the roof; but there is no house or glebe belonging to it, nor is it at all endowed, nor has it any settled salary besides the honorable society's bounty; only the poor people are as liberal in small presents as can be expected of them." 

He adds that there were about fifty church families within the limits of the town, "and besides them, there are a considerable number of people scattered up and down in the neighboring towns, some five, some ten, twenty and thirty miles off, who come to Church as often as can be expected."  But that there was "no Church westward within forty miles" and "no Church eastward within one hundred miles, only at New London, about seventy miles off, where I sometimes preach to a good number of people, and they are building a wooden Church somewhat larger than ours." And that there was "no Church northward at all."

The discouraged missionary Anglican among the contentious Puritans adds, "We are oppressed and despised as the filth of the world."

Still, Trinity Parish members now have a place they can visit for services only some 15 miles and one ride on Moses Wheeler's ferry over the Housatonic. Though churches will be built all over the region in the next 20 years, the Puritans will not allow a church to be build in New Haven until 1752.

We don't have a contemporary sketch of the building, but it might have looked like this illustration of the First Meetinghouse in Connecticut from Barber's Connecticut Historical Collections.

1727

The first pledge.  The first record of an Episcopal "house church" service in New Haven records an event that takes place probably at Christmas time this year or shortly after. Johnson delivers a sermon that so impresses a congregation of  "near a hundred hearers and among them several of the College"  that 10 members pledge 100 pounds to fund an Anglican church in New Haven.
On November 10, 1725, Thanksgiving Day, Johnson opens his second regional church in the Mill Plains part of Fairfield, Connecticut, about one mile from the village center.  He had been given "Christ Church" as the name of his parish in Stratford, but going against the tradition of calling all non-self- supporting churches "Christ's Church", he calls his second church Trinity;  today it is Trinity Episcopal Church, Southport, Connecticut. The parish he forms in New Haven is also called Trinity, and the last church he will see built before becoming President of King's College would be Trinity Church New Haven. Clearly the Trinity was important to Johnson.

For more on the reason choosing for the name of Trinity, see Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson on the Trinitarian debate of the eighteenth century and the article Why are we named Trinity? 

The brass Trinity image of the triangle with three interlocking circles and three groups of three berries on a vine is taken from the pulpit in today's Trinity Church. The same motifs are repeated in the Columbarium: see In my Father’s house are many rooms: A Columbarium Walk-Through.

1734

After discussions with Johnson, the Rev. Jonathan Arnold (1700 – 1753) of the Congregational Church in West Haven, Connecticut converts to the Church of England. Arnold was born in Hamden, Connecticut, graduated from Yale in 1723, was licensed to preach by a committee of the Hartford North Association in 1724, and early in 1725 was ordained pastor of the Congregational church in West Haven. The people of the town stipulated when he was hired that if he should embrace Episcopacy like his predecessor Samuel Johnson, the money paid to him as a settlement should be refunded. He married in 1728 Abigail Beard of Milford, a heiress: thus the clause turned out to be no protection, and he converts to the Episcopacy in 1734.  In 1735 he travels to England for ordination, and receives an honorary MA degree from Oxford. On returning in 1736 he becomes a SPG missionary priest and takes up residence in West Haven. He conducts services in New Haven, Derby, Waterbury, Milford and other towns in the region of New Haven County, covering an area of over 850 square miles.  During this period Rev. Samuel Johnson continues to minister to his missionary region, including Stratford and parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties, and co-administer the Berkeley Scholarship at Yale in frequent visits to New Haven where he continues to conduct services in the "house churchs" of Trinity parish.

1736

The first deed. Rev. Jonathan Arnold takes over as minister of Johnson's New Haven county parishes. He obtains a record of a conveyance for land donated by William Grigson in New Haven "for the purpose of building and erecting a church thereupon, for the worship and service of Almighty God, according to the practice of the Church of England, and a parsonage or dwelling house for the incumbent of the said intended church for the time being, and also for a church yard to be taken thereout for the poor, and the residue thereof to be esteemed and used as Glebe Land by the minister of the said intended church for the time being forever."

For more on the convoluted history of Trinity's attempt to own land in New Haven, and the Puritan's resistance to their attempt to set up a church in the town, with both legends and documents, see Judge Frederick Croswell's 1868 History of Trinity Church, New Haven.

1737 The Anglican parish now known as Immanuel St. James Church in Derby, Connecticut is formed in Derby in 1737 when Captain John Holbrook and 6 other men, who "desired to start an Episcopal Ecclesiastical Society", began to build a church: they completed it the next year, and as was common with other Anglican churches of the time, it would be called Christ Church until it could be consecrated by a Bishop.

1738

The attack of a Puritan Mob. The Rev. Arnold attempts to clear the tract of land in New Haven donated by "Mr. Gregson of London" to form a church; his servant and his ox-cart is "mobbed off” by 150 angry Puritans. 

1739

The famous “Great Awakening” preacher Rev. George Whitefield, declaring that the whole world is his parish, visits the American colonies in 1738–1740, and draws immense crowds everywhere he goes. Whitefield, though an Anglican minister, is doctrinally a Calvinist and closer to the Puritans on polity as well.  He additionally believes that you need to undergo a "conversion experience", or "regeneration" to be saved: thus he is often considered the father of the born-again evangelical movement. Rev. Samuel Johnson attends one of Whitefield's famous dramatic outdoor revival meetings in New Haven and is not impressed: he privately accuses Whitefield of "enthusiasm", which is strong language for the genial Johnson.

Whitefield also meets with Rev. Arnold by accident in Philadelphia in 1739, and the two take an instant dislike to each other: Arnold prints a warning against Whitefield in the Boston News-Letter, while Whitefield writes a letter to the Secretary of the SPG, warning him that Arnold "is “unworthy of the name of a minister of Jesus Christ.” and that “I have been in his company several times and was obliged to reprove him openly for his misconduct. . . Wherever he has been, a very ill report is spread abroad concerning him." Whitfield and other “New Light” revivalist preachers all too often attack their Anglican and Old Light rivals as “unconverted” and "damned", so the source of the mutual dislike may be denominational more than an accurate reflection of character. The Old Light Rector of Yale, Rev. Thomas Clap, also meets, falls out, then exchanges bitter pamphlets with New Lights George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards.

All over the Colonies, particularly in Connecticut, the Great Awakening movement splits the Puritans into two factions, the Old Lights emphasizing reason, and the New Lights demanding an emotional conversion experience for salvation; the Anglicans generally retain their traditional polities and broad "middle way" doctrine. This is why today there are three churches on the New Haven Green.

Perhaps discouraged by the opposition in New Haven where he is living, Arnold quits Connecticut in the spring of the next year for a parish on Staten Island, New York, and established Anglican colony. The American Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson briefly takes over the parish again.

Rector Williams of Yale, a bitter and devious foe of Johnson and the establishment of an Anglican Church in New Haven, resigns, citing poor health; he recovers suspiciously quickly, and runs for office, possibly intending to run for Governor.  The stage is cleared for new and less partisan men in New Haven.

1740

The Rev. Theophilus Morris, an English SPG missionary priest, takes up residence in West Haven and ministers to Trinity Parish, though Rev. Samuel Johnson continues to spend a great deal of time in the town.  It is said that the churchmen welcomed Morris "with much pleasure, fearing they would be without a missionary. He speaks of the Church people as being intelligent, and well read as to the principles of Church government." 

A church is built in 1741 in West Haven, just four miles from New Haven's Green.  Members of Trinity parish now have a place they can go to worship on Sunday.  This has important legal and tax benefits, as the law states that if you attend a church, the church tax you pay goes to that church. However, the Puritans will soon change the law to try to isolate Anglicans to only the town they live in, and only if their church is closer to their residence than a state sponsored Congregationalist one.
This year Rev. Thomas Clap of Windham, known for his aggressive orthodoxy, becomes the new Rector of Yale College. Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson, brings his 14 year old brilliant son William Samuel Johnson to Yale at the October commencement, and surprisingly forms not only a close friendship with Clap, but a partnership. Johnson helps Clap by designing an Enlightenment curriculum for Yale, a catalog scheme for their library, and a list of recommended reading, while Clap privately agrees to a "don't ask don't tell" policy of tolerance towards Anglican students attending Yale. He allows the m to attend services in New Haven and in Derby instead of going to the nearby Congregational church on the Green.

1743

The Rev. James Lyons, an Irish SPG missionary priest, takes up residence at Christ Church, Derby, now  Immanuel St. James Church in Derby, Connecticut.  He ministers to Trinity Parish as well as the church in West Haven. In five years he leaves Derby for Setauket, in Brookhaven, New York on Long Island.

This year, Rev. Samuel Johnson is given an honorary Doctor of Divinity by Oxford, only the third American to receive one. He is now known as Dr. Samuel Johnson -- leading to centuries of confusion with the more famous Dr. Samuel Johnson of London, author of the English dictionary.

1748

The Rev. Richard Mansfield (1724 - 1820) replaces Lyons in Derby. Dr. Mansfield was born in New Haven, 1724. Raised a Congregationalist, he attended Yale as a “Berkeley Scholar”, graduated from Yale College in 1741, and remained there two years after his graduation: it was during these two years that he became an Episcopalian under the influence of Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson. He traveled to England and was ordained by Archbishop of Canterbury on August 7, 1748, and was placed as priest in charge of Derby and several other towns, though not his native New Haven which Dr. Samuel Johnson takes over.

In Lucy Jarvis's Sketches of Church Life in Colonial Connecticut  it is recounted that, “His life was not an easy one, in fact so many dangers beset a clergyman in those days that when he went to England to receive Holy Orders, his sister prayed that he might be lost at sea.”  Either that, or as happened with many converts, his staunch Congregationalist family rejected him, and is effectively saying "better dead than Anglican". Time heals all bigotry, apparently, for the local New Haven man over his long tenure earns the respect of his old college: in 1792, he becomes the first Episcopalian to receive a Doctorate from Yale.

He ministered to St. James’s Church in Derby for 72 years, from 1748 to 1820, and died there at age 96 -- surely one of the longest serving ministers at one place in the history of the American Episcopal Church. There is a tablet in Immanuel St. James's Church to his memory.  The image is from the NYPL Digital Library.

1749 On December 28, the Rev. Ebenezer Punderson, who will soon become Trinity's first minister, is thrown in jail for refusing to pay the established church tax.

1750

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson, while in New Haven at Yale co-administering the Berkeley scholarship with Yale's President Clap, writes a letter to its donor, Bishop Berkeley on December 17, 1750, that, the parishioners in New Haven “have this winter got timber to build a church of the dimensions of sixty feet by forty, besides the steeple and chancel; and as this is a place of very great importance on account of the College being there, it would be very happy for them if the Society were able to assist them in providing for a minister, as I doubt they will not be able to do more than £25 sterling per annum themselves, especially while building.  He adds,  "We should soon have a flourishing church at New Haven, if we could get a minister." He sends young "Mssrs. Camp and Colten" off to London in 1751; Camp returns safe, but Colten dies of small-pox on the way home.

There is also a record mentioning two wardens active this year for Trinity Parish, though no record has been discovered for the "official" founding date of the parish, which presumably took place sometime between 1723 and this date -- if there ever was an "official" founding date.

The Anglican church in Connecticut is much put upon. On April 14, 1751, Johnson writes to Dr. Bearcroft, Secretary of the SPG, enclosing a copy of the state charter, the laws establishing the Congregationalist and attacking the Anglican religion, supporting their ministers, collecting rates, mandatory attendance for those not withing five miles of an Anglican church, exclusion from voting, and discrimination. He even proposes a new form of government for the state to make for consistent laws among the colonies, something Dr. Benjamin Franklin will also propose.

Despite the successful opposition of the Puritans in New Haven, more than 25 Anglican churches have been built under the energetic leadership of Rev. Johnson in various parts of Connecticut “before a spade was taken to dig for the foundations of an Episcopal house of worship in New Haven.” Dr. Johnson himself preached in New Haven on Sunday May 6, 1750: his parochial register notes that he baptized six male children, all the sons of Daniel and Mehetabel Trowbridge: Joseph, Newman, Thomas, Rutherford, Stephen and John.  Thus begins the close association of that wealthy, large, and soon to be distinguished family with Trinity Church.

At some point, possibly around 1750, Johnson appoints Enos Ailing and Isaac Doolittle as Wardens, and they begin the difficult task of trying to find someone in New Haven who will sell land to Anglicans for a church.

 

 

The Era of the Wooden First Church

1752  

On July 28, 1752,the innkeeper Mr. Samuel Mix passes the real estate title for a lot on the east side of Church Street, just south of Chapel, to Wardens Enos Alling and Isaac Doolittle. Traditionally, this recorded deed title date of 1752, has been taken as the beginning of the parish, though the first parish was likely formed in 1723, with members meeting in house churches when various SPG missionary priests travel regularly to New Haven or Johnson is there on his frequently trips to New Haven.

The first Resident Priest in Charge of Trinity Church in New Haven is the Rev. Ebenezer Punderson Sr. (1708-1771) "an earnest indefatigable man" who agrees take the pulpit of the new church in his hometown of New Haven sometime "before the close of 1752" — athough other souces suggest he did not move to the city until 1753. Punderson was born in New Haven, and was  a Yale graduate (class of 1726). He was ordained to the Congregational ministry at the age of 21 in 1729, and later served as the minister of the Congregational Church in North Groton (now Ledyard).  He converted to the Episcopacy in 1734, and in April of 1735 he sailed to England for ordination into the Church of England. He returned to the Connecticut as a missionary priest for the Society in October of 1735 and established St. James’ Parish, North Groton. He will also cover a number of other local parishes in his time in North Groton and New Haven, including parishes in West Haven, Branford, North Haven, Guilford, Wallingford, Poquetanuck, Norwich, Middletown, and ravel widely around eastern Connecticut and western Rhode Island.  According to the Parochial Histories of Colonial Connecticut, Dr. Samuel Johnson was concerned with Purnderson's poor manners:

"It is quite possible he was made to feel, at New Haven, the truth of our Lord's saying that "a prophet is without honor in his own country;" for his congregation increased but slowly, while at other points there was encouraging growth. Dr. Johnson of Stratford, writing to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1760, says, 'Mr. Punderson seems a very honest and laborious man; yet the Church at New Haven appears uneasy under his ministry, occasioned, I believe, partly by his want of politeness, and partly by his being absent so much, having five or six places under his care. I wish he was again at Groton, and some politer person in his place."

With  Rev. Punderson taking over the large burden of Trinity Parish New Haven, and all the towns surrounding it and along the coast up to Guilford, Johnson is free to pursue philosophy. This year Johnson, at his friend Benjamin Franklin's behest, publishes his textbook Elementa Philosophica; it is the first philosophy text by an American published in America.  In opposition to the Puritan's theology of Predestination and Sin, the American Dr. Samuel Johnson offers his own sect-neutral moral philosophy, whose definition is "the pursuit of true Happiness by the universal practice of Virtue". His philosophy is taught at Yale, King's College New York City, and the College of Philadelphia", and will influence the generation of men we know as "Founding Fathers".

1753

The wooden first church is completed and opened for worship; it is not consecrated as that would require a Bishop, and there will be no Episcopal Bishop in America until 1784. The exact date the church offically opened is thus not recorded; it was completed in the summber, but they likely waited until the Sunday after the Yale Commencment to offically opnento avoid offending the Puritans more than they had by building the church.  A date of October 14, 1753 is thus most likly.  As Ben Frankling visited New Haven in June and August of 1753, meeting with his firends Dr. Johnson and President Clap, it is possible he visited the just or nearly completed church.  There were 24 families, and 87 "souls" in the church, which was a small building of 58 feet by 39 feet, whitewashed inside. The naming of the Church is of some interest. The custom of the time was to call any parish without a concentrated church "Christ's Church" -- thus Derby, West Haven, and Stafford are all named Christ's Church; there are 23 parishes named  "Christ Church", "Christ Episcopal Church" or "Christ Church Parish" in the Connecticut diocese today, and many of them were among the 41 parishes founded before Bishop Seabury was himself consecrated in 1785.  In addition, number of Connecticut churches named after saints today were originally called Christ Church, but were renamed in the nineteenth century when they were officially consecrated. New Haven happily picked the name Trinity instead (now also found in 19 Connecticut diocese churches) probably because Johnson was a firm believer in the doctrine of the Three in One.

For a speculation on why Johnson picked Trinity as the name of the New Haven parish, see the articleWhy are we named Trinity?

Unlike its rival congregational meeting houses, it is called a church not a meeting house, its parishioners are called "churchmen" unlike the members of a Puritan Church who were the "elect" or "chosen"; also it had a chancel and a tall steeple, two things not found on New Haven's meetinghouses at the time. At the top of the steeple they placed a gilt crown to remind the viewer that the Episcopal Church was under the protection of the King. At this time it had no galleries, and could accommodate 150 people. Today, all that remains are two large arch-shaped tablets containing the 10 commandments that currently hang in the vestibule of Trinity Church, and the side altar on the north side of the church.

Above is a tiny image of the first Trinity Church on an 1812 map drawn by Trinity member Amos Doolittle, a famous map maker and illustrator. Note the cupola – in 1807 the old steeple was taken down and a cupola built in its place. Though not directly on the Green and thus confronting Yale directly across the open expanse, it was a foreboding presence for the Puritans, whose steeple could be seen from the college hall and dorms, and whose golden crown warned the local authorities against whipping, taxation, jail, or unjust treatment. Architecture was a statement of religious liberty.

For more on this first Trinity Church building, see the Architecture page.

The Whipping of Mr. Pitts.  The need for a church and a strong leader to protect it is manifested in a particularly brutal fashion. To slow the spread of Anglicanism, state law was changed in the 1740s to require every man to attend the nearest meetinghouse or church -- if you lived closer to the Puritan  meetinghouse than to an Anglican church, you must by law attend it. Sometime early in 1753, just before Trinity Church was completed, an elderly John Pitts, a "churchman" or Anglican member of Trinity Parish in New Haven, is whipped for not attending the local state-established Congregationalist meetinghouse. The Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson raises a public outcry in New Haven and in England, and New Haven Anglicans were spared the whipping post in the future: "only" Quakers and Anabaptists were whipped afterwards in Connecticut.

For more on this event, see The First Years: From Mission to Revolution.

The aged John Pitts was likely to have been whipped at the whipping post on the Green, rather than at the "Cart's Tayle" as depicted in this image from Alice Earle's curiously charming 1896 Curious Punishments of Bygone Days.  It should also be noted that sometime later, after the 1814-16 neo-Gothic church was build,  the whipping post was moved from opposite Yale to just opposite the front door Trinity Church.

1756

French and Indian War (1754 1763).  Though the American French and Indian War began in 1754, 1756 is the official start of the Seven Years War. This year, two years after Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson has left Connecticut for New York City to preside over King's College, there are 12 SPG missionaries in Connecticut, at Stratford, Fairfield, Newton-Ridgefield, Norwalk, Huntington, Stamford, New London, Derby-Wallingford, Simsbury, Litchfield County, and New Haven; each minister serves multiple churches in their assigned area. Most were moved to embrace the Episcopacy by Dr. Samuel Johnson, and they themselves are now in turn founding churches. Naturally, the war inhibits the expansion of the Anglican Church in the dangerous frontier regions, and Connecticut will have 6,000 men in service at the peak of the war. New Haven is not itself threatened, though there a fears of an invasion down the Hudson.

The Grigson Deed is approved in Connecticut. The Puritans who have vigorously opposed an Episcopal Church in New Haven finally give up on government opposition after three years of staring at the church with the crown on the steeple. Frederick Croswell in his history of Trinity Church sardonically observes:

"Thus far a remarkable fatality seems to have attended the conveyances of land for the benefit of the Episcopal Church. This [1752] deed, like that of William Grigson, was not acknowledged by the grantor, who died shortly after its execution. But upon the petition of the grantees to the General Assembly, at the October session of 1756, that body confirmed their title to the land by a Resolve. "

However, the heirs of Thomas Grigson, the original proprietor, continue to contest the deed in the courts for 12 more years.

1763

The Rev. Solomon Palmer (1709 - 1771) was a native of Branford, a graduate of Yale in 1729, licensed to preach by the New Haven Congregationalist Association in 1735, and in 1741 was employed as Congregational minister in Cornwall. He surprised his congregation one Sunday in March, 1754, by "declaring himself to be an Episcopalian in sentiment". He went to England for ordination, returned in 1755, and became a very successful SPG missionary in the New Milford and Litchfield regions, founding quite a number of new churches. Declining in health, he leaves the strenuous frontier and becomes priest in charge of Trinity parish in 1767. Which he tells us he found "panting for breath and just ready to expire".There he ministers to the 60 families of the parish, as well as those in Guilford and Branford. But as he finds "that he could not support himself credibly, with a large family, in this expensive town"; in the fall of 1766 he returned to Litchfield "where he labored until his death, in poverty" at age 63.

About this year, with the conclusion of the French and Indian War, several Acadian Roman Catholic families settle in New Haven and worship "according to the Roman Ritual". New Haven now has four churches for Old Lights, New Lights, and Anglicans, and a home church for Roman Catholics. 

1767

The Rev. Dr. Bela Hubbard, initially a SPG missionary priest, becomes Rector.

In October of 1763, Dr. Samuel Johnson reports to the SPG preaching in New Haven where "there is a considerable congregation who seem happy with Mr. Palmer."  Johnson also notes that, "I observe one thing happier in those parts than I doubt in most of the King's dominion, which is, that there are sometimes at least as many communicants as families, and in some places many more; and as many men as women."  Johnson also reports that "Mr. Hezekiah Leffingwell and Wm. Story...upon refusal of paying taxes to the dissenting pries, have both suffered imprisonment."  Johnson acts to secure their release.

Rev. Dr. Bela Hubbard was yet another disciple of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Johnson of Stratford, Connecticut: he studied with Johnson at King's College and received a M.A. there in 1762.  After traveling to England for ordination (in the same ship as the future Bishop Jarvis), Rev. Hubbard officiated as a missionary priest for the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts at Guilford and Killingworth.  There he married  the daughter of Johnson's brother who still lived in Guilford, and remained there until 1767, when the "Venerable Society" appointed him their missionary at New Haven and West Haven. He divided his labors equally between these two places until the Revolution, which despite some stormy times due to the British invasion of New Haven, he and his church weathered the war fairly well. After that time, until 1791, he gave only a quarter of his time to West Haven; and from 1791 until his death in 1812, he spent his time almost entirely in New Haven. He is known at Trinity as the first minister to keep records -- some of which are available in the digital Artifacts section of this site.

When the war starts in 1774, Hubbard loses his funding through the SPG. From then on, Trinity's ministers are funded by the parish members.  Hubbard will go on to help found the Protestant Episcopal Church in America (PECA) now know simply as the Episcopal Church in America.

1768

The Grigson Deed is approved in England. A quit-claim deed, properly executed and acknowledged, was obtained from William Grigson, of Exeter, England, (the great-grandson of Richard Grigson, the original owner), dated Oct. 26, 1768; this ends the decades long battle over the ownership of the church plot, and some 130 years of overt Puritan opposition to an Anglican church in New Haven.

1772

Dr. Samuel Johnson dies peacefully in Stratford.  His son, a member of the Stamp Act Congress and a prominent lawyer and political on the Governor's Council, was sent to London as Colonial Agent in 1768, where he worked with his father's friend and fellow agent Dr. Franklin to represent Colonial interests -- mostly unsuccessfully -- but returns home just month's before his father's death. Of the 41 churches listed by Lucy Jarvis, in Sketches of Church Life in Colonial Connecticut, Johnson directly or indirectly though his disciples, was instrumental in establishing or building up all of them, including Trinity New Haven.

For his missionary work, there is a August 17 feast day of the Episcopal Church remembering Dr. Johnson Samuel Johnson as well as Timothy Cutler, and Thomas Bradbury Chandler.

This same year a Jewish family from Venice settles in New Haven and worships at home; New Haven now has five denominations worshiping there.  However, Congregation Mishkan Israel won't be founded in New Haven until 1840.. Samuel Johnson dies peacefully in Stratford.  His son, a member of the Stamp Act Congress and a prominent lawyer and political on the Governor's Council, was sent to London as Colonial Agent in 1768, where he worked with his father's friend and fellow agent Dr. Franklin to represent Colonial interests -- mostly unsuccessfully -- but returns home just month's before his father's death. Of the 41 churches listed by Lucy Jarvis, in Sketches of Church Life in Colonial Connecticut, Johnson directly or indirectly though his disciples, was instrumental in establishing or building up all of them, including Trinity New Haven.

For his missionary work, there is a August 17 feast day of the Episcopal Church remembering Dr. Johnson Samuel Johnson as well as Timothy Cutler, and Thomas Bradbury Chandler.

This same year a Jewish family from Venice settles in New Haven and worships at home; New Haven now has five denominations worshiping there.  However, Congregation Mishkan Israel won't be founded in New Haven until 1840.

1777

At the time common schools for children were conducted by parish churches.  In the middle of the war, on Sept. 11, 1777, Trinity Parish parochial school was created to teach Anglican children, and a woman was hired as their teacher.

1784

The beginning of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America. On March 25, 1783, ten of the fourteen Episcopal clergy in Connecticut who survived the war – including Trinity's Rev. Dr. Bela Hubbard – hold a meeting Woodbury, Connecticut, and elect  Rev. Samuel Seabury their candidate for bishop as their second choice after Rev. Leaming of Norwalk declined election for health reasons.The Seabury goes first to England.  After meeting the prelates, he is told they can't consecrate an American, as he can not take an oath to the King. He is told by the son of Bishop George Berkeley to go to Scotland, where all the Bishops are non-jurors who refused to make an oath to the Hanoverian Kings; there he is ordained as the Bishop of Connecticut. The Church in Connecticut is thus technically a branch of The Scottish Episcopal Church.

For a record of this event the Appendix in The Colonies of Heaven reprints the document “CONCORDAT BETWEEN THE CHURCHES OF SCOTLAND AND CONNECTICUT” of November 15th,1784, which lays out seven articles linking the two national churches.  As part of the deal, they agreed that Bishop Seabury should, "by gentle methods of argument and persuasion, endeavor to introduce by degrees into practice" the communion office of the Scottish Church -- if upon examination he should find it "agreeable to the genuine standards of antiquity."

The first organ is also purchased and installed at Trinity this year. The next year the vestry votes 10 pounds for the support of Bishop Seabury. And in 1787, they appoint Moses Bates as the first organist, and allow him to occupy the house in which he then lived without paying rent as a compensation for his services. Clearly the church has recovered from the war and the loss of the SPG stipend form the missionary society. To the right is part of a window celebrating Seabury at Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church, State College, Pennsylvania.

The First Rector is appointed.  Frederick Croswell in his history of Trinity Church notes that a "salary of £80 was voted to Mr. Hubbard at the annual meeting of 1784, at which time he probably became the Rector."

1785 Bishop Seabury returns to America.Starting in August 1785 he begins ordaining deacons and priests, many of them in New Haven.  For more, see the Registry of Ordinations by Bishops Seabury and Jarvis, as Published in the Journal of A.D. 1882, by Order of the Convention.  At the end of the Revolution only 14 Anglican priests had survived the war; many were dead or in exile. In the first six months after his return Seabury ordains 14 more priests, many at Trinity.  In the first year after his return, 10 priests will be ordained at Trinity out of 15 total priests ordained by Bishop Seabury in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Long Island.   The church in New Haven thus was a vital center for the revival of the Episcopal Church in America.

1789

President George Washington worships at Trinity. General Washington had passed through New Haven in 1775; he returns as the nation's President on Saturday, October, 17 1789, and stays overnight. The next day he attends services at Trinity Church, and after, with Roger Sherman, he also attends the White Haven "New Light" Congregational Church service as well.

To the right is a famous engraving of Washington surrounded by the seals of the thirteen states.  It was designed by Trinity Church member Amos Doolittle, and is titled A Display of the United States of America from the collection of the American Antiquarian Society (AAS). According to the ASS notes on the image, “The clarity with which Doolittle displayed so much important information in such an attractive format must have appealed greatly to the citizens of our new nation. At least five times during Washington's term as President, Doolittle issued new versions of his portrait, periodically bringing the names of states and their statistics up to date."

1796

A Discourse Delivered [on] the Death of the Right Reverend Samuel Seabury, D.D., Bishop of Connecticut and Rhode-Island, by Abraham Jarvis, is delivered at Trinity.

1797

The Rev. Abraham Jarvis is consecrated the second Bishop of Connecticut at Trinity. Read Bishop Jarvis's Charge to the Clergy of his Diocese Delivered Immediately after His Consecration, in Trinity Church, New-Haven. The image is from NYPL Digital Collection.  See also A Discourse Delivered ... to Witness the Consecrating of the Right Rev. Abraham Jarvis, D.D. to the Episcopal Chair of [Connecticut], by William Smith Newfield.

Due to membership growth, much needed galleries are added to the church.

1806 Trinity is the first church in New Haven to install stoves for heating.
1810

Architect Ithiel Town moves to New Haven from Boston. The first recorded mention of a new church was at a Vestry meeting held October 20, 1810, at the home of Mr. John Jacocks, though the church cornerstone will not be set until 1814.

1812

Rev. Hubbard dies.  See A Sermon Delivered Dec. 9th, 1812, at the Funeral of the Rev. Bela Hubbard, D.D. Rector of Trinity Church, in the City of New-Haven, by Henry Whitlock. 

To the right the Hubbard memorial plaque on the north wall of Trinity Church reads:

"In Memory of Rev Bela Hubbard D.D. / First Rector of this Church/ Born in Guild Conn. Aug. 27 1739 – Graduated at Yale / College 1758 -- Ordained in London Eng. 1764 / He served this Parish Forty Four Years Holding His Position During the Revolutionary War and Until his death Dec. 6 1712 / "I can say with all sincerity I have faithfully endeavored to discharge my duty as a Minister of Jesus Christ and I trust that my labors in the Vineyard have not been altogether in vain.”

The Rev. Henry Whitlock, ordained by Bishop Jarvis in 1802, becomes the first domestically ordained Rector of Trinity Church. 

A site on the town Green was secured at a town meeting on December 14, 1812.  

1813

The Rev. Philander Chase, Rector of Christ Church, Hartford, preaches The Christian Family: A Sermon, which is later published.  Bishop Chase was an extraordinary man.  He founded  Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana; in 1803, became the first Episcopal bishop of Ohio in 1818 while simultaneously acting as Presiding Bishop of the national church; he was President of Cincinnati College in 1822, founder of Kenyon College in 1824, and first Bishop of Illinois in 1835. For more on Chase, click here. To the right is a Daguerreotype of Bishop Chase taken by Matthew Brady, ca. 1844-52 from The Library of Congress. 

1814

In the Connecticut Journal newspaper on January 31, 1814, the "Trinity Episcopal Society of New Haven" placed an advertisement “To Builders”, notifying them that “Proposals will be received by the subscriber until the 14th of February next, for the building of an Episcopal Church in this city…The building will be in the Common rock stone [New Haven Trap Rock] and built in the Gothic stile.” Those who wanted to place a bid could “see the Plan or draft” kept in the New Haven office of William McCracken, a member of the building Committee, who would only accept proposals “in writing and under sealed covers.” Funding was raised by five year pew rentals sold out swiftly; hence the distinctive closed doors on the pews that indication possession.

Trinity prepares to move one half block north and one block west to the New Haven Green. The corner stone of a new Gothic Revival Style Second Church is laid on May 17, 1814, by the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis of New York.  Jarvis delivers An Address, Delivered in the City of New-Haven, at the Laying of the Corner-stone of Trinity Church, May 17, 1814, together with the Form of Prayer Composed for that Occasion.  Jarvis calls the design style "a mode of architecture, of which, as yet, there is not a perfect and pure specimen through the whole of the American republick...That style of building which is commonly termed Gothick." It is indeed the first Gothic Revival Style Church in America; some several thousands have since been built. For more on the Architecture of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Haven, click here.

Money for the building is raised by the purchase of the enclosed pews. The plan in 1815 reserved 16 pews for “black people” – presumably for free black families who might not have money to pay for their own pews – but did not restrict anyone from purchasing one of the 168 pews at auction.

The Church will be constructed of local hard Trap Rock stone form Eli Whitney's Hamden quarry.  It thus echos the great East and West Rock natural formations with its changing red-orange-brown tints.  For more on the building, see the Architecture page. 

  

 

 

The Era of the Gothic Second Church

  

1815 

The Rev. Dr. Harry Croswell is appointed Rector. Croswell is a former crusading newspaper editor, defendant in the famous People v. Croswell freedom of the press case argued by Alexander Hamilton -- a case which Hamilton and Croswell lost but caused the law to change to allow truth as a defense against criminal libel.  Croswell also was convicted of libel for publishing a cartoon mocking the ruling Democratic party in Albany; he lost the case to a packed jury presided over by a partisan judge, and, unable to pay the outrageous fines, he was placed under house arrest.  Thus Trinity's most famous Rector is a twice convicted felon. Croswell will in his 43 years as Rector found six churches in New

Haven, an orphanage, a night school for black adults, and co-found what is now Trinity College in Hartford.

1816

Trinity Church is consecrated on February 21, 1816. The Gothic Second Church is finished, and the formal dedication ceremony takes place on February 21, 1816. Bishop John Henry Hobart of New York officiates, and delivers the sermon consecrating the church titled: The Moral Efficacy and the Positive Benefits of the Ordinances of the Gospel: A Sermon, Preached at the Consecration of Trinity Church.

Hobart had ordained Harry Croswell in Hudson, New York, and was his mentor there. Hobart was the third Episcopal Bishop of New York, from 1816–1830. He vigorously promoted an Episcopal polity which placed heavy emphasis on Apostolic Succession and Anglican Covenant Theology.  He was a major figure in the expansion of the Episcopal Church in Central and Western New York, founding the General Theological Seminary in New York, and was its first Dean. He also founded Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, in upstate New York.

Harry Croswell is formally installed as Rector the next day, and Philander Chase preaches again at Trinity; see Bear ye one another's burdens: A Sermon, Preached at the Institution of the Rev. Harry Croswell, in Trinity Church, New Haven, on Thursday, 22d February, 1816, by Philander Chase. The image of the church is taken from a 1824 map of New Haven by Trinity member Amos Doolittle.

1817

President James Monroe arrives by steamboat in New Haven. He is the first President to travel by steamboat. He attends a morning service at Center Church, and an afternoon service at Trinity Church. The Rev. Taylor of Center Church, a New Light Calvinist, apparently delivers a fire and brimstone sermon startling the President. Rev. Croswell apparently delivers a fair and non-political sermon acceptable to members of all political parties. As a member of the political cabal (including Jefferson, Madison) that had paid the journalist James Callender to attack Washington, then had prosecuted Trinity's Rector for exposing them in his paper, perhaps he feared the wrath of Harry Croswell. A local newspaper reports that, “The demon of party for a time departed and gave place to a general outburst of NATIONAL FEELING.” Another in Boston announces “the dawn of a era of good feelings.” Croswell, however, is silent on his real feelings about one of the leading Repulbicans that tried to have him prosecuted and fined for seditious-libel in 1803-4.

Governor Wolcott, though a Congregationalist, is so impressed with the sermon that he asks Rev. Croswell to give the Anniversary Election Sermon next year in Hartford. He will be the first Episcopalian in 180 years, since Rev. Hookers 1638 address on the Fundenmental Orders,  to give the sermon.

1818 Rev. Harry Croswell delivers A Sermon Preached at the Anniversary Election, Hartford, May 14th, 1818. In it he advocates an extreme separation of church and state, basing his text on “Render, therefore, unto Caesar, the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God, the things which be God’s.”, from Luke 20:25 (KVJ), which he raises to a moral and political precept that applies to politicians, clergy, and all citizens.

1819

Trinity hosts many Connecticut Episcopal conventions, and memorable addresses and sermons are printed. This year Thomas Church Brownell is consecrated Bishop of Connecticut at Trinity and delivers the sermon The Churchman.. to the Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Connecticut. The famous Bishop William White of Philadelphia delivers at Trinity the sermon Of the Gospel as the Power of God unto Salvation.

1825

On March 23, The Last Two Slaves Sold in New Haven were Lois Tritten, age 46, and her daughter Lucy Tritten, age 28. Though both were long time members of Trinity Church, they were sold by the wealthy banker and Trinity member John Nicoll, who sat in the front pew at Trinity Harry Croswell preached in the pulpit: it was one of a series of side way pews at the front reserved for the most important church members. The two life-long African-American members of Trinity are displayed, auctioned, and sold to their new owner, Anthony B. Sanford, a shareholder of Trinity who sits in the second pew from the front just behind Nicoll, and whose father was a founder of the wooden First Church.  Sanford pays just $10 for each of the two in what seems to have been a rigged auction, and immediately sets them free. They remain lifelong members of Trinity Church.

1828

Rev. Nathaniel Sheldon Wheaton (1792 – 1862) preaches The Providence of God Displayed in the Rise and Fall of Nations. A Sermon, Delivered at the Annual Election, in Trinity Church, New-Haven, on Wednesday the 7th of May, 1828. Born in Washington, Connecticut, Wheaton was elected rector of Christ Church in Hartford Connecticut in 1820. He went to England in September 1823 to solicit aid  for what was then the proposed Washington College in New Haven. As a member of the board of trustees of the college, he lobbied successfully for a move to Hartford, and the renaming of the institution to Trinity College.

He may have received a rather cool reception from Rev. Harry Croswell, another Washington College trustee, who had raised funds for the college from the New Haven community.  In his diary on  May 7, 1824, Croswell wrote with his usual ascerbic flair, “The Trustees of Washington College met in New Haven this day – and after some discussion, fixed the location of that Institution in Hartford – a location which will probably become fatal to the interests of that institution.” During his stay in England he wrote a journal which was published in 1829 as under the “Notes of Travel”. While in England he also viewed and admired the Gothic style of architecture of the churches in England. In 1825 his parish decided to build a new church, and hired Ithiel Town, the architect of Trinity Church to build Christ Church, Hartford in 1828-9.

Having taken the college from New Haven. Wheaton now copied the church as well. In 1831 he was elected president of Trinity College, a position he held until 1837, whereupon he became Rector of Christ Church New Orleans.

1832

Bishop Thomas Church Brownell delivers A Charge to the Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Connecticut.  Brownell and Harry Croswell worked jointly to found Washington College in New Haven in the early 1720s raising money from Croswell’s wealthy parishioners. Like Croswell, Hobard was ordained by Bishop John Henry Hobart. He was consecrated Bishop of Connecticut in New Haven on October 27, 1819. Brownell's extensive writings include diocesan charges, liturgical material, scriptural commentaries and other works. He founded Trinity College, Hartford, and was its first president, and a bronze statue of him now stands there honoring his memory. To the right is an engraving of the statue, courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society. 

Brownell also served as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 1852 until his death, succeeding Philander Chase.

1833

On June 15, President Andrew Jackson visits New Haven; accompanying him were Vice President Martin Van Buren and other dignitaries.The next day General Jackson attended services in Trinity Church and heard Rev. Harry Croswell preach. According to one account, of the day:

"Thurlow Weed, of the Albany Journal afterward gave currency to a story that the behavior in church, of Mr. Martin Van Buren was so indecorous that he ought to have been disciplined by the "tythingman", but this was indignantly denied by many who had attended the services." 

Croswell knew both Weed and Van Buren well from his days in New York. Weed was a former errand boy in the Croswell's print shop in Catskill Landing, while Croswell's nephew Edwin Croswell was an editor of the Albany Argus, a newspaper that strongly supported Van Buren.  Croswell also knew Van Buren all too well from his days in Hudson and Albany, when Van Buren was the Democratic party surrogate of Columbia County from 1808 until 1813, the time when the ruling party in Albany was trying to put Harry in jail -- with eventual success.

Unable to derail Van Buren's less than brilliant career with this bit of gossip as Van Buren went on to become a rather uninspiring President of the US from 1837 to 1841, Weed went on to create the Republican party and put President Lincoln into the White House.  The poor boy from Catskill New York peering into the Croswell's print shop turned out to be the man who would enact revenge on Harry's opponents -- though Harry himself studious avoided any politics whatsoever.

Jackson this year also was the first president to take ride on a train , perhaps in something that looked very much like this 1833 carriage-style car.

1835

The Rev. Harry  Croswell preaches The Slavery of Sin: A Sermon, Delivered in Trinity Church and St. Paul's Chapel, New Haven, on Sunday, the 26th of July, 1835.

1841

After President William Henry Harrison dies after only 32 days in office. The Rev. Harry Croswell preaches A Discourse, on the Death of the President of the United States. The former avid political journalist avoids both politics and biography to deliver instead a remonstrative sermon on sin. He takes the text Job 5:6 "Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground", treats the event "as a severe national chastisement — as a rebuke and visitation of God for the sins of the people." He identifies "the sin that stands out as the most prominent, and the great sin that may be considered as the root and source of all others" as "forgetfulness of God."

1842

Despite Rector Dr. Harry Croswell’s strong opposition, the vestry in 1842 changed long practice and demanded that all black parishioners sit in the organ loft at the back of the church; they reserved just four pew “slips” for over 40 people. Harry Croswell, the sole clergyman who had ministered in New Haven to the black community ever since his arrival in 1815, supported the disenfranchised black members of Trinity when they decided to found St. Luke’s all black Episcopal Church in New Haven. A group of 46 black Trinity Episcopalians met in Trinity’s Glebe Lecture Room until they could build their own church in 1844. 

The Rev. Eli Worthington Stokes led the new congregation. Its members included the clerk Peter Vogelsang who in April of 1765, became one the first black commissioned officers in the army during the civil war, and treasurer Alexander DuBois, grandfather of the great civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois.  The St. Luke's Episcopal Church, built in 1905 is a lost Gothic Revival building, and perhaps hints at the design of the mother church.

Rev. Alonzo Bowen Chapin Rector of Christ Church, West Haven, and St. John’s Church, North Haven,
delivers
Associations for Benevolence, Ancient and Universal: A Discourse, Delivered in Trinity Church, New Haven, September 2, 1842, being the Third Anniversary of the I.O.O.F. in Connecticut..  The International Order of Odd Fellows, is a fraternal organization similar to the Freemasons. Rev. Chapin suggests that, "It is good for men to associate themselves together for purposes of benevolence and mutual aid." He discuses the origin, objects, principles and benefits the association.  It ends with what appears to be a cheerful drinking song -- which explains, at least, the Episcopalian venu.

1848

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Samuel Farmar Jarvis, Historiographer of the Church, preaches at the Diocesan Convention the sermon The Colonies of Heaven. In the Appendix he prints The CONCORDAT BETWEEN THE CHURCHES OF SCOTLAND AND CONNECTICUT -- which lays out seven articles that declare the agreements between the Connecticut Churches, and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Article VI reads "It is also hereby agreed and resolved upon, for the better answering the purposes of this Concordate, that a brotherly fellowship be hence­forth maintained between the Episcopal Churches in Scotland and Connecticut, and such a mutual intercourse of ecclesiastical correspondence carried on, when opportunity offers or necessity requires, as may tend to the support and edifica­tion of both Churches."

1856

The Rev. Harry Croswell preaches on December 31, 1854 his sermon Forty Years in Trinity Parish: A Pastoral Letter to the Parishioners of Trinity Church, New Haven. His sermon is taken from I CORINTHIANS II: 3, And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.”  He knows his end is approaching.

In his sermon he sums up his record as a clergyman: BAPTISMS, administered by the Rector, 2525, By all others, including Assistants, Associates, and visiting Clergymen, 193, Aggregate, 2718; MARRIAGES, by the Rector, 804, By all others, 106, Aggregate, 910; BURIALS, by the Rector, 1814, By all others, 76, Aggregate, 2090.

1858

The Rev. Dr. Harry Croswell dies, and is buried with great honor, morned by people of all denominations. Rev. Samuel Benedict, the Assistant minister, takes over as the interim Rector for one year. While Trinity survived the Revolution and the War of 1812 without too much patriotic disgrace, the Rev. Samuel Benedict became Rector of St. James Church, Marietta, Georgia. During the civil war he proved more loyal to the Confederate cause than to his native Connecticut roots and to Harry Croswell; while Marietta was occupied by northern troops, he refused to say prayers for Abraham Lincoln. He was arrested, then banished to Canada for disloyalty. One can only admire the wisdom of the Trinity vestry who passed him over the for the next rector of Trinity Church, the great and learned Dr. Rev. Harwood. After the war, Rev. Benedict returned to Marietta, and he is remembered in the Marietta Museum of History there.

1858

The Rev. Daniel Raynes Goodwin (1811 - 1890) preaches Christianity Neither Ascetic nor Fanatic at Trinity. Goodwin was a tutor and professor of Modern Languages at Bodwin College, President ot Trinity College, and would go on to become the ninth Provost of the University of Pennsylvania and a professor of Systematic Divinity in the Philadelphia Divinity School.

1863

In the Civil War, at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863, former Trinity member Peter Vogelsang, the oldest member of the all-black 54th led by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, is wounded in a heroic but doomed charge on the Fort, but survives; on April of 1765 he becomes one of the first black commissioned officers in the American army. Vogelsang was also a founding member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, New Haven; he was one of 46 black founding members who left Trinity when the vestry voted to restrict black members to a handful of pews in the back of the church. As clerk of the newly formed St. Luke’s he worked with Rector Croswell to found the new all black church in New Haven.

1859

In February the parish votes to call the Rev. Dr. Edwin Harwood (1822 – 1902). In contrast to his predecessor Dr. Harry Croswell, who had virtually no formal education and whose doctorate was well-deserved but honorary, the brilliant and learned Dr. Harwood – then just 37 – had a great deal of education. Harwood graduated from the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 18, where he studied under Henry Reed, a disciple of Wordsworth. From there he entered Andover Theological Seminary, intending intention to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church, but influenced by the Oxford Movement, after two years at Andover he transferred his affection to the Episcopacy and his seminary to the General Theological Seminary in New York; he graduated in 1844 and was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church. Harwood subsequently was Rector at Oyster Bay, N.Y, at St. Paul's, East Chester, N. Y., and St . James', Hamilton Square, N. Y., and in 1852 he organized the Church of the Incarnation, New York City. From 1854-59 he was Professor of Interpretation of the New Testament at Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Connecticut.

 Harwood will be Rector of the Trinity Church, New Haven from 1859 to 1895. In 1862 Trinity College, of Hartford, conferrs upon him the degree of D.D. Rector Harwood was a member of many prominent historical and Biblical societies, the New England Colony Historical, the Society of Biblical Exegesis, etc. He was the author of many sermons, pamphlets and historical reprints, and he was one of the translators and editors of Lange's Commentaries on the Bible. He died at New Haven, Conn., January 12, 1902. He would serve as Trinity's rector for 36 years, and die in New Haven, though he is not buried there.

1862

The Trinity Church Home is established.  A distinguished board of trustees, led by Dr. Harwood, is appointed to govern it. A charter for Trinity Home for the elderly is obtained in May, and the home is opened on the 23d of October. Its first location was a rented house in Leffingwell Alley (now part of Center Street) near Temple.  It "is created for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in the city of New Haven, refuge for the poor and friendless members of Trinity Parish, and such others as the board of managers may think are entitled to its benefits" For more. see Trinity Home 1948. An end note on the 1948 printed copy of the by-laws notes that Dr. Hardwood is "most Learned perhaps & Colorful rector Trinity ever had. " CKE [Mrs. Benjamin English?], though most of us would probably give that title to Rev. Dr. Harry Croswell.

1866

The Rev. Edwin Harwood preaches The Protestant Episcopal Church in New Haven and for New England: A Sermon Preached at the Semi-Centennial Celebration of the Consecration of Trinity Church, New Haven, Wednesday, February 16th, 1866. It contains quite a bit on the early History of Trinity Church on the Green.

1869

Joseph E. Sheffield, "a generous benefactor of this parish" funds three buildings on one plot in downtown New Haven on George Street: a "Parish School of Trinity Church" building with apartments for the teachers and a chaplain, a "Trinity Church Home" for the elderly, and between these two buildings, "Trinity Chapel".  They were designed by the noted New Haven Architect, Henry Austin.  The existing Trinity Home with eight inhabitants is moved to the new building on April 15, 1869. Today, the chapel has become the New Haven Branch of the Salvation Army.

For more on the establishment of the Home, Chapel, and School, see Trinity Church Parish School and Home, from an article excerpted from the American Journal of Education, 1878.  Henry Barnard was an American educational reformer, who lived and died in Hartford. It also contains a brief Consecration Sermon given at the dedication by Bishop John Williams Of Connecticut.

1884

The parish receives permission from the town and Green proprietors to extend the front of the church to add a chancel. It is raised five steps up from the church floor. It is constructed from the same Eli Whitney Quarry Trap Rock stone, taken when a house in New Haven is torn down.  The back of the church has buttresses.

The parish receives permission from the town and Green proprietors to extend the front of the church to add a chancel. It is raised five steps up from the church floor. It is constructed from the same Eli Whitney Quarry Trap Rock stone, taken when a house in New Haven is torn down.  The back of the church has buttresses.  The old pews in the nave were sold and new pews built. The Trinity West Window (actually 8 windows) are added. The new chancel is consecrated on May 19, 1885 by Bishop John Williams (August 30, 1817 – 1899) – who in two years will become the eleventh Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States. The most striking element of the new chancel is the great rose Trinity Window, a very rare nine-petaled nonafioil circle.  Records of its design and construction have not yet been found, but it is thought to have originated in either Belgium or America.

1885

This is both a great year and a tragic one for Rev. Dr. Harwood. It starts off brilliantly for Harwood. At the consecration of the new chapel and brilliant window, Trinity's Boy's Choir gives its first public concert on Sunday, May, 1885 to fine reviews. And Hardwood’s eldest daughter Honora, after having been disappointed by the rejection of her first love, was to be married to a very suitable and wealthy second suitor on October 7 in a very publicly announced ceremony at Trinity Church – after which Dr. Harwood would preside over the opening of the Protestant Episcopal Church Congress in his hometown of Philadelphia.

But on September 28, Honora secretly meets her original beau in New York City, and elopes with him to Europe.

Harwood's second daughter Alida, a very fine singer but spiritually troubled, had recently converted to Roman Catholicism, apparently with her parents reluctant but "stoic acceptance". She also had told her parents she wanted to become a nun, which they strongly disapproved of, and they sent her off to remote Mount Desert Island in Maine to rethink her attraction to her new vocation. She is then sick with malaria, and the news of her sister’s elopement sends her into a rapid decline. On her deathbed she asks for a Catholic priest. After much heartsickness and agony, the devastate Rev. Harwood and Father McGivney of St. Mary’s Church, New Haven, agree that she can be buried according to both rites -- a generous gesture by both men in a time of grief.

In 1895 Dr. Hardwood will close a discourse on Trinity Church's history with a peon to ecumenicism on the Sunday after Christmas:

“This is the season of peace and good will. It is a matter of great joy to think that the old bitter theological and ecclesiastical passions are buried and gone. We are living in a better day. There is a more generous conception of Christianity and of human duties of service and charity. No reasonable man living a hundred and thirty years ago could have supposed that before the closing of this century the little congregation of Episcopalians would worship in a church like ours, standing upon the public green, and that our relations with the older ecclesiastical societies would become, as they have become, friendly, cordial and fraternal. …What a revolution has come. We are nearer the reunion of Christendom. Humanity is acquiring a finer texture. There is ground for hope that efforts for God and man will continue to move on a nobler level. Let us then with thankful hearts sing, We praise thee O God: We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.”

He was referring to the Congregationalists at Yale, but the events of ten years past must have been on his mind.

Father McGivneyy was the founder of the Knights of Columbus, and has his own society, biography,, and even a video biography. There is an effort underway to make McGivney a saint: Father Michael J. McGivney was given the title “Venerable Servant of God” by the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church on March 2008, the second in four steps to canonization. His compassion was cited as one reason for the honor.  This would make Father McGivney the second saint from New Haven:Trinity's founder Dr. Samuel Johnson Dr. Johnson is the first, as he is celebrated in in a feast day of the Calendar of Saints of the Episcopal Church on August 17

Our Roman Catholic neighbors may have a potential saint, but Trinity has the potential for an Opera worthy of Verdi.

1888

Connecticut Bishop John Williams preaches Men for the Times: The Sermon Preached before the Convention of the Diocese of Connecticut in Trinity Church, New Haven, June 12, 1883, in Commemoration of the Election of Samuel Seabury as First Bishop of Connecticut, March 25, 1783 

1893

Rev. Dr. Edwin Harwood delivers an address in memory of Phillips Brooks, Late Bishop of Massachusetts.

1894

Rev. Dr. Edwin Harwood delivers a discourse The Beginnings of the Episcopal Church in New Haven.

1895

The Rev. George William Douglas becomes Rector.


1896

Rev. George William Douglas (1850- 1926) preaches Sermon on the Work of the Parish on the Second Sunday after the Epiphany, January 19, 1896.  Douglas was senior canon of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC, and had been rector of St. John's church on Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.

1899

The Rev. Frank Woods Baker becomes Rector. According to Trinity Historian Ed Getlein, “In 1899 the munificent Mrs. Lucy Boardman presented a house at 70 Trumbull Street to Trinity for use as a rectory"; perhaps to entice the Rev. Frank Woods Baker of Cincinnati, the new Rector, over to New Haven.

1900

Parish House Funded. Lucy H. Boardman, the greatest woman Philanthropist in Connecticut in the nineteenth-century, donates a parish house.  In February 1900 the Edwards sisters offer to sell their homestead at 57 Elm Street to Trinity parish. According to Historian Getlein:

"The house was one of that stunning group that comprised the section of Elm Street known as “Quality Row.” It had originally been built by David Hoadly for U. S. Senator (and former Trinity vestryman) Nathan Smith. It was subsequently bought by Joseph Sheffield (another vestryman) and then by the Misses Edwards who operated a school for very proper young ladies there. Lucy Boardman offered to buy the house as a gift to Trinity for use as a parish house and 'other parochial purposes.' The price of this bijou residence, incidentally, was $40,000. It was a magnificent house and would have made a palatial parish house for no end of parochial purposes. Trinity never did move in, however, for a few years later the city decided on the site for a new library, and the state had already begun plans for a new court house on the same land.  And so the mansions that housed the Trowbridges, Whites, Bristols and DeForrests were razed to make room for the new municipal plan named “City Beautiful.” It was not the last time New Have would undertake a “urban renewal”.

Lucy Boardman also this year gave $7000 to Trinity for the benefit of the Church Army and a small portfolio of common stock, the income from which was to be used for a rector for the Church of the Ascension, on the corner of Davenport Avenue and Ward St., a Trinity mission church also long gone.

The portrait of Mrs. Boardman, copied from a photo of her taken on her visit to Nice in 1883, now hangs in the south-west staircase. This is a  digitally enhanced version of somewhat tattered painting.

1901

The Rev. Dr. J. J. McCooK,Rector of St. John’s, East Hartford, and a Professor in Trinity Collegem, delivers the sermon Dreams and Visions: A Sermon Preached at the Opening of the Convention of the Diocese of Connecticut in Trinity Church, New Haven, St. Barnabas' Day, June 11, A.D. 1901.

1902

Dr. Edwin Hardwood dies.  The Rev. Stewart Means of St. John's Church, New Haven, preaches In Memoriam, EDWIN HARWOOD, Doctor in Divinity.

1905

The land and three buildings of the Trinity Parish School, Chapel, and Home are sold to the Italian Baptist Mission with the kind agreement of Joesph E. Sheffield's heirs. The greater part of the money received was invested in the purchase of the house and lot at the corner of Oak Place and Howard. .  The new location is described in the Annual reports of the State Board of Charities of Connecticut in 1921 as "..about three-quarters of a mile southwest from the center. The house occupied for the purpose 'is a commodious, three-storied structure, situated in a large yard, and provides comfortable accommodations for eleven old ladies, besides the necessary employees. The Home is owned and maintained by Trinity Church, Protestant Episcopal, and is designed to care for the aged, needy women of that parish. Arrangements are also made by which other persons in the diocese may be received, provided there is no home for the aged in the person's place of residence."  Its location is a matter of some dispute: records places it at the corner of Oak Place and Howard, at 186 Oak Street, and at 406 Oak Street -- which would place it on what is today 1 Legion Ave, at the north-east bounds of the Hill district of New Haven.  It is now a parking lot, but this 1911 Atlas map gives an indication of what it might have looked like at the time.

1908

The Rev. Dr. Charles Otis Scoville becomes Rector.

1908

Trinity Parish House moves from 160 Temple Street to 310-312 Temple Street, a building bought by the heirs of E. Hayes Trowbridge for $65,000.

1912

The stone reredos was dedicated on March 24, 1912. Designed by Charles Coolidge Haight of New York, the work was executed by the famous sculptor Lee Lawrie, who also sculpted the figure of Atlas in front of Rockefeller Center, the reredos in St. Thomas', New York City, and the state capitol in Nebraska – the elegant angels above the neo-Gothic statues seem to predict Lawrie’s future art deco style in the streamlined, repetition, symmetry, and simplicity of the tall narrow angels. They may be the first example of Art Deco style in the world, and the reredos clearly defines the transition from the late Gothic Revival style to the modern Art Deco style.

1916

Trinity Celebrates the 100 Anniversary of the consecration of the second Trap Rock Gothic Church with a day long celebration, and publishes the Centenary of the Consecration of Trinity Church on the Green, New Haven, Connecticut, February 21, 1916.

Note the west side windows in this 1916 photograph; they were apparently covered to shades to backdrop the reredos. Also, at that time, the pulpit and eagle lectern were closer to the stairs in the center. The north and south staircases had not yet been built, and two front windows provided quite a bit of light. The communion rail is different -- possibly brass --- the staircase has no handrails, and the organ console faces the south side of the church. The overhead lighting chandeliers are rather more intrusive than today's more elegant Gothic lamps.

1925

The Rev. Dr.  Scoville organizes detailed plans for a new Parish House to be built at the corner of Wall and Church streets.  The old Temple Street building is swapped for the land with Yale University. The 70 Trumbull Street Rector's house is also sold for $25,000. Funds donated by Mrs. Lucy Boardman along with $95,000 in pledges by 450 parishioners allow the cornerstone to be laid in 1923. The building is designed by Charles Scranton Palmer in “Ivy League Gothic” with touches of Tudor stye to blend in with its Yale neighbors -- a prudent decision as it will be sold back to Yale in 1980. Opening ceremonies are held in August of 1925.  To the right is the entrance to the building.

1926

Trinity Home moves from 186 Oak Street to 84 Norton Street. Today the Norton Street building it houses the New Haven Reentry House, a residential program providing adult male probationers with coordinated services to find stable housing and employment.

1935

The Rev. Theodore H. Evans becomes Rector at age 37.  He modernizes the management of the Church's secular functions, and abolishes the system of renting pews. He also introduces intinction as a legitimate method of receiving Holy Communion.  He wrote later in life, long after leaving Trinity, that:

"My chief hope for my work at Trinity," said Mr. Evans recently, "was that I could be a good pastor, an under-standable preacher, and to serve as an ice breaker of some of the cold and static situations . . . When the call to Cleveland came, it seemed to me that a start in the right direction had been made at Trinity, and that another person might find it easier to give constructive leadership."

After leaving Trinity in 1929, he became first Rector of St. Paul's in Cleveland, then Rector of St. Paul's Memorial Church at the University of Virginia from 1947 to 1961.

1939

The Rev. Scoville comes back and fills in for a year as interim Rector.

1940

The Rev. C. Lawson Willard becomes Rector. In his thirty years as Rector, Lawson Willard reorganized the institution by creating a  Parish Council where the rector, wardens, treasurer and clerk met a few times each year with all the committee representatives. He initiated the noon Lenten services at Trinity, and  proposed and initiated Christmas Eve services: both services have become a New Haven tradition, not just for parishioners, but for hundreds of others in the community who annually feel the need to attend a church. He felt strongly the need for a minister and his parishioners to involve themselves in community affairs. For 232 years the Vestry members were only men. In 1955, the Annual Parish 1955 changed this when they voted to elect fifteen men and two women to the Vestry: the women elected to the vestry were Mrs. Theodore R. Sucher and Miss Rachel Trowbridge.

1970

The Rev. Craig Biddle III becomes Rector. At his installation sermon while still in the pulpit he produced a guitar and sang the folk song, I Can See A New Day. And so he begins five exciting years of change. While keeping the traditional 11:00 service intact he moves 9:15 A.M. service from the Parish House into the Church, and the Sunday School into the newly-opened undercroft. He initiates a process of involving the congregation in creating experimental liturgies. Together they change the 9:15 service in major ways, using a “Folk-Rock” band and piano instead of an organ, with Gospel music handed out in home-made booklets, and holding hands across the pews while reciting The Lord’s Pryaer. The 9:15 service witnesses “Sermon Dramas”, a liturgical drama performed in the place of a sermon, occasional chancel dancing, clowns, Dixieland bands – anything that would allow more and different people to express their feelings about God in the way which best suits them. Trinity becomes, according to historian Ed Getlein, “an exciting place to be, innovative and exhilarating beyond belief.”

The most moving and biggest change is actually completely regressive. Communion is offered “in-the-round”, using homemade bread and a bottle of wine supplied and brought forward by parishioners. Going back the original Lord’s supper, communicates receive the bread and wine separately, first tearing off portions of the bread, then receiving the wine in clay goblets, passing them around what is more of a cross than a circle of people standing in the isles. Parishioners speak to each other the words The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven, and The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation, hold hands, and sing a closing song while standing in the circile. Thus a new and very moving tradition beings, albeit one that goes back to 33 A.D. It will last until 2009.

"Public opposition to the war in Vietnam had grown intense. Rev. Biddle had frequently expressed his views on the subject from the pulpit: the Rev. Dr. Harry Croswell would have strongly disapproved of this mingling of politics and religion. The Rev. Biddle and Mrs. Biddle along with Professor Gaddis Smith of Yale, travel to Washington, D.C. to join in a peaceful demonstration and prayer vigil protesting the war in the Capitol Rotunda. When the Capital police closed the building, they refuse to leave, are arrested, and sent to jail, where they spent the night and part of the following day. While many of the group paid a $25 fine, the three Trinitarians went to court. The federal junior prosecutor was fresh out of Law School and had mistakenly charged them with an automobile parking violation. Apparently, the rest should have received their $25 back. While not quite up to Dr. Croswell’s heroic trials and convictions for sedition and libel, it didn't seem to harm Biddle's reputation with his parishioners."

1971

Trinity Home on 84 Norton Street is sold for $56,000, and the eight ladies living there were placed at St. Paul's home at 600 Chapel Street. The Trinity Home Board continues on with the work of the original mission, managing the donated endowment of Sheffield and others over the years.  Today the building is "The Historic Mansion Inn".

1977

The Rev. Andrew Fiddler becomes Rector.

1980

Trinity Church sells the Parish House to Yale University as a gift from John Hay Whitney, (Yale class of 1926).  After extensive remodeling, it is re-opened in 1981 as the Whitney Humanities Center. Its three floors accommodate an art gallery, conference rooms, seminar spaces, offices, and support facilities, as well as a state-of-the-art lecture hall and auditorium, and the former gym has become a theater. The sculpture of the ship to the right is taken on an inside wall of the building was possibly a reference to the ships that carried the missionary priests of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel from England to America to found and minster to Trinity Parish New Haven; it has become the logo of the Whitney Center.

2009

Rev. Andy Fiddler retires, and Rev. Jim Sell becomes interim Rector.

2011

The Rev. Dr. Luk de Volder becomes Rector. Luk "Luke" De Volder was born in Brussels, Belgium and is fluent in English, French, and Dutch.  He earned his Ph.D. in Theology and Liturgy from Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium in 2003. Luk served as an ordained priest in the Roman Catholic Church for six years before being received into the Episcopal Church in 2005. He comes to New Haven from Clermont-Ferrand, France, where he was Vicar at Christ Church Clermont-Ferrand, a parish in the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, and ministered to expatriate Americans working and living in France.