St. Clair Shores
Church that serves community looking for help from community
Posted March 14, 2017
ST. CLAIR SHORES — Nearly 100 years ago, the mission of Trinity Episcopal Church began in a converted chicken house.
Although the first official service was held on May 21, 1917, it wasn’t until later that same year that the Rev. Charles Williams, bishop of Michigan, presided at the formal opening of the new mission in St. Clair Shores, and the search for a more adequate building began. As the church was the only Protestant church in the community at that time, there was a great need for its services, so the church purchased a one-room schoolhouse for $175 and moved it to land it had already purchased on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Lake Boulevard, where the church remains today.
Outfitted with furniture and an organ from an Episcopal church in Romulus that was closing at the time, the church began to grow and added a parish hall in the 1920s. But membership waned in the 1930s as more churches came to St. Clair Shores, and Trinity Episcopal Church became a chapel of Christ Church in Grosse Pointe, which financially supported it until 1945, when it was formally incorporated into a parish.
Through the ups and downs, Trinity Episcopal Church, 30205 Jefferson Ave., has remained true to its mission of outreach in the community. Now the small parish of around 45 families and the Rev. Carl Buxo, the parish priest, are looking forward to celebrating the church’s centennial with Bishop Charles David Williams in May.
“We have the oldest church (building) in St. Clair Shores now,” said Karen Fetter, parish administrator and clerk of the vestry for the church.
There will be a number of events for the Centennial Jubilee event, said Daniel Heini, evangelism coordinator for the church, including a lawn concert open to the community.
Though the population is older and smaller, parish historian Pat Schroeder said that the church has many outreach programs in the community. Trinity Episcopal Church’s Needle Navigators have knitted more than 200 hats, mittens and scarves for homeless men, and the church donates backpacks each year to students in need at nearby Violet Elementary School to make sure everyone gets off to the right start.
“I think because we’re a smaller congregation, we’re a lot closer,” Fetter said. “We are like an extended family. We know each other’s families.”
The church also puts on an annual Thanksgiving dinner for those who don’t have families to celebrate the holidays with, and has a food pantry to feed the hungry.
“It’s part of Episcopal theology — it’s not just about what you believe, it’s about how you serve the community,” Heini said.
“We’ve gotten to the point where, if we leave, they (would) miss us. The community would lose out on a lot of things we do unto others that wouldn’t get done otherwise. We literally do more for the community than it costs us to stay in business.”
Trinity Episcopal Church has set up a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/saving-a-100-year-old-church to help the church celebrate its 100th birthday and support it into the future. Heini said recent repairs to the roof and furnace, as well as dealing with water problems, have put a lot of pressure on the budget.
“This is a church that’s 100 years old. If we raise enough, we can make sure it’s around for its 200-year birthday,” Heini said.
“We just have to get over a hump,” agreed Schroeder.
Learn more at trinityepiscopalchurchscs.com or call (586) 294-0740.
About the author
Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske covers St. Clair Shores and the Lake Shore, Lakeview and South Lake public schools for the Sentinel. Kristyne has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2004 and attended Michigan State University and Chippewa Valley High School.
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