Author(s)Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
KeywordsEpiscopal Church ( fast )
Church records and registers ( fast )
African American Episcopalians ( fast )
Episcopalians--Clergy ( fast )
Vital statistics--Research ( fast )
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Abstract(Biographical) Parish Registers: The three volumes of parish registers in this collection contain parishioner information, administrative items, lists of rectors, and historical documentation. Each volume contains a name index and lists the names, dates and supporting information for vital parish events: baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials.
(Biographical) Holy Trinity Episcopal Church traces its founding to the creation of “Trinity Parish” in Gainesville on January 20, 1868. During the previous decade, the Episcopal Diocese of Florida intermittently dispatched priests to Gainesville and the surrounding area, but the town’s small population and the disruption of the Civil War delayed the formation of a parish in Alachua County until the period of Reconstruction. The first parish services were held in parishioners homes and then in the county courthouse for two years. Construction began on a permanent church building as early as 1871; however, economic depression and lack of fulltime rectors interrupted the completion of a church building until 1877, when Bishop John Freeman Young consecrated the church on the third Sunday after Easter.
(Biographical) The church, a small wooden framed structure, was located on the lot now occupied by the Masonic Temple at 215 Main North Main Street. In 1886, the church was given the name “Church of the Holy Trinity.” Although the church had a congregation at this time of less than 400 persons, Holy Trinity worked to support the establishment of mission churches in Alachua County, including the organization of St. Augustine Mission, a church for African American residents, in 1892. By 1894, the growth of Holy Trinity’s congregation and congestion caused by the railroad along Main Street encouraged the parish to seek a new home.
(Biographical) Holy Trinity opened its new church building on Northeast First Street in April 1907, turning over its old church on Main Street to the St. Augustine Mission. The new church was a wide Neo-Gothic brick building with a four inch stone veneer and a fifty-two foot bell tower. Sixteen stained glass windows depicting various stages of Christ’s ministry adorned the church walls. A parish house was built on an adjacent lot in 1923.
(Biographical) During the next decades, Holy Trinity reflected the economic and social transformation of Florida and the United States. The church prospered in the 1920s, experienced hardship during the Depression of the 1930s, and grew during the 1940s, when the end of the Second World War saw an economic boom and the rapid expansion of the University of Florida. By 1960, the church had 853 communicants. In the early 1960s, the church established a separate Church School Building for its growing Sunday school needs. That decade also saw the gradual integration of the church as African American Episcopalians began to attend services. Eventually, the remaining communicants of St. Augustine Mission transferred their membership to Holy Trinity. By this time, the church had over 1,200 members. Church membership and outreach continued to expand during the 1980s.
(Biographical) On January 21, 1991, Holy Trinity experienced the most traumatic event in the parish’s history, when an arsonist set fire to the church building causing extensive damage. Holy Trinity managed to continue services in the undamaged adjoining church structures and at the First United Methodist Church until a new church building could be constructed. At the end of 1994, the church opened its new sanctuary, which replicated the old church but expanded the administrative and educational buildings. Holy Trinity continues worship and service in Gainesville to this day.
(Citation/Reference) For the history of Holy Trinity see George Bently, A History of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (Gainesville: Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 1998).