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July 14 event unites 2 Episcopal churches

For the Democrat

NATCHEZ — An annual progressive service that unites the two oldest Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Mississippi will take place Sunday, July 14.

The event begins at 9 a.m. at Christ Church, Church Hill, with Liturgy of the Word (the first half of a regular Eucharist service). Included will be readings of scripture, prayers, homily and music.

After the homily, the congregation will progress to Trinity Episcopal Church in Natchez, where the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated and additional music provided.

The Rev. Kenneth Ritter, who is vicar of Christ Church and priest at Trinity Church, will conduct both services.

Following the service at Trinity Church, an informal, complimentary luncheon will be served in Kuehnle Hall at Trinity.

“The joint service celebrates the partnership in mission of the two churches,” Ritter said.

Since Christ Church is 18 miles north of Natchez on Mississippi Highway 553, a bus will be provided. It will leave Trinity Church, 305 South Commerce St., Natchez, at 8:15 a.m. and return to Trinity following the Christ Church service.

“People who wish to drive their cars can go directly to Christ Church or follow the bus from Trinity Church,” Ritter said.

For those who want to attend the service at Trinity Church and the luncheon afterward but wish to remain at Trinity for the first part of the service, the Liturgy of the Word (without homily) will be conducted at 10:30 a.m.

These persons will be joined about 11 a.m. by those attending the service at Christ Church.

The two congregations officially reaffirmed their longtime partnership in the spring of 2018.  

Because Christ Church, begun in 1820, has had a very small congregation for many decades and church services only once a month, it is called a mission station, Ritter said. Trinity Church, dating to 1822, is called a parish because of its larger constituency.

“Many people at both Christ Church and at Trinity Church are working to energize Christ Church and to foster growth and ministry there,” Ritter said.

The first progressive service connecting Trinity Church and Christ Church took place in June 2018. “It was such a great success that everyone wanted to repeat it this year,” Ritter said. “It is now part of the church calendar and will be an annual event.”