While many churches across the nation are reporting declining attendance, Lebanon’s historic Trinity Episcopal Church located at 100 Harwood Avenue (the corner of Washington and Harwood) is showing an increase in membership. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing churches in The Diocese of West Missouri. The church has a membership of 75 and an average attendance on Sunday of 50 to 55, up from a very small crowd a decade ago.
Church members started plans to build a new addition with other improvements and a parking lot two years ago. A contract was signed around the first of this year.
True Construction has been working on the new addition as well as painting and other restoration work. This new addition will include classrooms and enlarging the parish hall.
The church has limited parking and the new 1,800 square foot parking lot is being built by Willard Construction. As the church has been closed several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has given workers time to do much inside work. Services began again on June 14 with two services held at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m.
Father Jerry Miller of Springfield has been Priest-in-Charge the past eight years and has witnessed the church’s growth. He is a retired Army National Guard Reserve chaplain. “It is a nice, solid place,’’ he said. Miller said that Trinity is the only Episcopal church in Laclede County and they draw from a large geographical area — Long Lane, Buffalo, Marshfield, and the Fort area. They are also grateful to have children in the congregation.
The church was organized in 1873 as a Mission Church and was given the name of “Trinity.’’ The Rev. William Johnson, missionary was appointed to establish the mission and is one of the oldest churches in Lebanon. Services were held in the court house in Lebanon, as well as different churches and halls. In 1883, a project was begun to erect a church. The lot was given by W.I. Wallace and George Greenleaf and the building was completed within a year at a cost of approximately $1,400. The building was dedicated in 1884. It has been in continuous use ever since. The building has been added on three times, however the original structure remains unchanged, making it one of the most historic buildings in Lebanon.
Trinity Episcopal is the second oldest church building in continuous service in Lebanon. It is known to many as the church “with the red doors.’’
This article originally appeared in the Laclede County Record on June 17, 2020.