In 1891, the cornerstone for “Trinity Chapel” was laid for the church which would rise from vacant ground at the corner of Forest Avenue and Coyle Street in what was then the Town of Deering. By 1886, the church was dedicated and was operating as a mission in union with the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.
Trinity Episcopal Church actually began even earlier than 1891, having had its humble beginning as a Sunday School for boys in the Woodfords area of Deering. The Reverend and Mrs. Charles T. Ogden had seen the need for Christian education in the area and in 1884 had opened their home for religious classes. When the classes outgrew the Ogden’s home, a property near a railroad station ––soon to be vacated as several local railroads consolidated or folded–– was located and purchased.
By 1899, the Town of Deering was annexed by the City of Portland and by 1911, Trinity Chapel was recognized as an Episcopal parish by the Diocese of Maine. Canon Ernest Pressey, who had come to Trinity at the turn of the century, was elected first rector of the new parish. Today, the Reverend Lawrence B. Weeks serves the parish as it celebrates its Quasquicentennial–– one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary. He is the twelfth rector of Trinity Episcopal Church.
The church has grown since its founding. In 1960, a large addition was added to the original building, creating a church capable of seating 350 people. Entrance to the sanctuary is now made from a Forest Avenue entrance or from the rear parking lot, which is handicapped accessible, made possible through a number of improvements as part of a Capital Improvement Plan in 2000.
The church sanctuary is known for its wonderful acoustics and is a popular venue for recitals and special concerts. The Portland Community Orchestra will soon be based at Trinity Church and Portland’s Renaissance Singers practice there as well. Trinity’s Musical Director, Thew Elliott, introduced FunSingPortland at Trinity, attracting not only Trinity members to the group sing nights, but members of the community as well. Now in its second year, FunSing will be offered on first and third Tuesdays of each month September through May. Anyone may attend this fun evening of music! FunSing will continue to operate in coming years under the umbrella of “580 Music Community,” a designation for ongoing work of teaching and community building
through music that will be spearheaded by Thew Elliott at Trinity. The name derives from the church’s location at 580 Forest Avenue.
Outreach has been part of the church throughout its history. Trinity was a founding member of Project FEED, now based at Woodford’s Church. Trinity supplies healthy school snacks to Ocean Elementary School on a regular basis, and is one of eight supporting parishes of St. Elizabeth’s Jubilee Center, a mission based at St. Luke’s Cathedral which distributes non-food essentials, clothes, and small household items weekly. Other affiliations are with Preble Street and the Root Cellar and Trinity has become a center for a number of community meetings. The church even operates a Little Free Library, providing free books for readers of all ages. From Maine’s Poet Laureate to a Maine-raised astronaut just off the International Space Station, to an award winning author, the Butterfield Series provides a well-known speaker each year through its free lecture series –– a welcome outreach to the community.
In addition to hosting several groups which meet at Trinity, the church provides a home base to All Saints’ Community Church, a faith community made up of immigrants and refugees from Sudan and South Sudan. This group, with its vibrant music and worship, meets on Sunday afternoons.
Trinity Day School, located in the undercroft of the church, was started by the church and members of the church still serve on its board of directors. The Day School is in its thirty-first year of operation and can serve up to 49 toddlers and preschool age children. And just as children were the impetus for the founding of Trinity, church school is still an important aspect of life at the church.
The church is run by a vestry of elected parishioners headed by two wardens, a treasurer, a clerk and the rector. Bill Green, host of CH. 6/WCSH’s Bill Green’s Maine, a Trinity parishioner, serves as Sr. Warden, head of the church vestry.
An anniversary celebration took place on Saturday, September 24, kicking off a year of celebrating Trinity’s vibrant history. From a tiny mission in 1891 to the handsome stone church on Forest Avenue, Trinity Episcopal Church has come a long way in its one hundred and twenty-five years!