“Worshipping, Welcoming, Working
to Bring Joy to God”
Trinity Church was founded exactly a century after the American Revolution ended. At that time, the country had changed far less in 100 years than it has in the slightly longer span of time between the founding of the church and the present.
The year was 1883. Ocean Avenue, where our church sits today, was a dirt road as were most others in the area (excepting the cobble-stoned Broad Street). The nearest place of Episcopal worship was Grace Church in Providence.
This was a matter of concern to some Pawtuxet residents, notably Miss Julia Burge, recently arrived from Wickford, where she had lived with her father, an Episcopal rector. Miss Burge helped form the Mission Chapel group, dedicated to starting a parish in Pawtuxet. Members first met to worship on Aug. 12, 1883, at the home of John Austin, at the corner of Ocean and Fort Avenues.
The Austin home no longer exists; neither does much documentation of the fledgling parish. But we do know that the group raised funds to buy and renovate a building for use as Trinity Chapel. One record places that building on Fair Street in Warwick; other records suggest it was Guild Hall at Commercial and Sheldon Streets in Cranston. The group did at some point acquire Guild Hall and used it a variety of ways. The only question is whether its first service was as Trinity Chapel.
The first rector was the Rev. Samuel Webb, provided by Grace Church, to which Trinity was attached as a mission church.
It wasn’t until 1903 that the church got its first full-time rector — the Rev. J. Hugo Klaren. The rector contributed $5,000 and helped parishioners raise another $5,000 to build the core of the Gothic structure that is our church today. Bishop William M. McVickar dedicated the new church in October 1910. Five years later, with a $5,000 gift from Lyza B. Nickerson, the church acquired an organ. That same year the vestry purchased the land west of the church, which included a house that was variously used as a rectory and an annex until it was demolished in 1935.
Trinity achieved status as an independent parish in 1925, after functioning as a mission church for 42 years.
The decade following World War II was one of expansion for the growing parish. In 1944, the church purchased the property east of the building, the site of the present education building. In 1949, a parish hall was built under the church building. The same year, the church purchased a house on Shaw Avenue, which it used as a rectory until selling it in 1979. In 1957 the church built a two-story education building connected on two levels to the parish hall and the church.
The rector with the longest tenure at Trinity dominated more recent history. The Rev. Harrington M. Gordon came to the church in 1960 and served until his retirement in 1994. The Rev. P. Wayne Runner served from 1995 until early 2010. The Rev. Marsue Harris is now our priest.