Trinity celebrates 150 years, announces plans for middle school

Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori visits with students in Hartford/Tracy Simmons - CreedibleHARTFORD – Next fall, the poignant hymns of The Choir School of Hartford and the titanic resonance of the historic organ won’t be the only joyful sounds echoing from Trinity Episcopal Church in Hartford.

Six days a week, the sounds of giggling children, school bells and lecturing teachers will help the parish become even more alive.

At its 150th celebration this weekend, Trinity announced its plan to open a private day school for Hartford area middle school children. Pending approval, The Episcopal Day School on Asylum Hill will be a separate 501c3 organization and will open in September of 2011.

At a Choral Evensong service Sunday evening, President Bishop of The Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts-Schori applauded the congregation for its bold move.

“This Trinity congregation seems to be all about hospitality – food and stories for families and children; meals for the hungry; a hospital of 12 step meetings for those who seek healing from addiction; and the remarkable vision you have for a middle school sheltered here.  All of those forms of hospitality are about welcome, healing, encouraging growth in capacity and giftedness,” she said.

In 1960, when Trinity marked its 100th anniversary, the church constructed a 2-story education wing to house about 250 Sunday school students.

“This year, to celebrate its 150th anniversary, the parish is rededicating that education wing to the use of its neighborhood and surrounding community,” Rev. Donald Hamer said in a letter.Trinity Episcopal Church in  Hartford celebrates 150 years/Tracy Simmons - Creedible

The tuition-free school will ultimately serve about 100 students between the fifth and eighth grades and will be on a 12-hour per day, 6-day a week schedule (modeled after the Epiphany school program). Hamer hopes the school will help the Hartford children who live in environments prone to violence and poverty.

“Trinity Episcopal Day School on Asylum Hill will be the first school of its type in the Diocese of Connecticut, and it will be, perhaps, unique in the nation as a model of an Episcopal day school serving an under-achieving urban population,” Hamer wrote in an April letter addressed to the Mission Development Grant Review Committee.

Following one of the core values at Trinity, the school will include music and arts into its curriculum.

Though announcing the plans to open Episcopal Day School dominated the news surrounding Trinity’s milestone celebration, the church also celebrated many of its other significant ministries.

“One of the things I’ve always treasured about Trinity is the fact that it holds together seemingly contradictory things,” said Mark MacGougan, a Trinity warden. “Today we’re celebrating the history of the parish, but we’re stepping forward into a new future.”

Over the years, Trinity has become known for its affability. It was one of the first parishes to stop selling church pews – sending the message that any one is welcome. For at least 50 years the church, which is known for its diversity, has been an advocate for education and continues to be committed to the intellectual and spiritual formation of Hartford children. Parishioners are active in serving the local soup kitchen and remains dedication to its partner parish in Tanzania. And, it wouldn’t be right to talk about Trinity without mentioning its respected music program, The Choir School of Hartford, which provides professional music training to its students.

Hamer added that Trinity has become known for its ethnic, political and economic diversity.

“Building an open and inviting community like this takes work, for all of us have defenses about people we think are different.  You’ve worked hard to lower those defenses, to let ‘perfect love cast out fear’ so that you might see the face of God in all your neighbors.  That’s a great deal of what it means to say that God is Trinity – the divine hospitality that celebrates the difference of persons and at the same time makes one community possible,” Schori said. “Your namesake is about hospitality in the community.”

For more information on Trinity call (860) 527-8133.

Further information on the school and on the church’s celebration is also available on the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut website.

View lots more photos of this event on our Flickr page!

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