Trinity Episcopal Church actually is older than the Diocese of Missouri of which it is a part. Trinity dates back to June 15, 1836, when a group of Episcopalians in the city of St. Charles organized themselves as an Episcopal Church, elected a vestry and, typically, had a meeting. All this was under the aegis of the great missionary bishop of the Middle West, the Right Reverend Jackson Kemper. The General Convention of 1835 had taken on mission work as a responsibility of the whole church and ordained Jackson Kemper as the first missionary bishop to be sent to the West. Kemper traveled thousands of miles tirelessly promoting the church in a huge area of the Middle West. Among the fruits of his labors were Trinity Church in St. Charles and Grace Church, Jefferson City.
The first clergy began working in St. Charles in 1839, and Trinity became a mission church with the Reverend Isaac Smith as vicar in 1842. The Diocese of Missouri had been formed in 1840, and Trinity Parish was one of the early congregations who helped form the diocese.
The first Trinity Church
Trinity Church was for many years in a building on Main Street. As the congregation grew along with the City of St. Charles, more space was needed, and a new church was constructed on Benton Street, on what was then the western side of town. The building on Main Street is long gone, but the Benton Street structure still stands and still serves as a church building.
The Benton Street Church
The Trinity congregation, like many others, was split over the issues of the Civil War, but the hiatus was brief. The congregation continued to function, though as a small parish. Clergy came and went through much of the latter half of the nineteenth century and the first few decades of the twentieth century.
From 1930 to 1949 there was no resident priest, and services were conducted on occasion by visiting priests and by diocesan staff. In 1949, a lay reader from St. Stephen's, Ferguson, began conducting regular services at Trinity. He eventually studied for holy orders and was ordained, becoming Trinity's incumbent. From that time, Trinity has continued to grow and change. In 1961, Trinity moved from Benton Street to its present location on Duchesne Drive, constructing a new building. The building has been added to twice since that time
As the congregation has grown, so has its outreach. It has always been close, physically and emotionally, to Lindenwood University, from which its land was purchased, and it serves faculty and students. It has been part of the Grace Hill MORE program for many years, through which it serves a variety of peoples and neighborhoods throughout St. Charles County.
Trinity Church today
Today, Trinity is an active parish with a variety of programs for children, youth, and adults. The Reverend Tamsen Whistler is the present rector.
James Hood, Ph.D., History Professor Emeritus, Lindenwood University