Welcome to Trinity Table celebrates 200 years

Published 8:52 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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In 2022, Trinity Episcopal Church will celebrate its bicentennial and its position as the oldest church building in Natchez and the second oldest Episcopal congregation in the Mississippi diocese. 

To mark the occasion, a dedicated group of parishioners in the Episcopal Church Women group assembled a book to capture the spirit of 200 years of continuous worship and fellowship. Called “Welcome to the Trinity Table,” it is organized as a cookbook, but this description does not begin to capture the history included alongside the recipes. This is not just another cookbook.

Carolyn Vance Smith spent months researching the history of Trinity, which is included throughout the book, including its perseverance through three wars and two financial crises. Kathleen Bond put together a photographic tour of Trinity’s famous stained-glass windows. Amelia Salmon provided an architectural perspective on Trinity’s buildings. Phebe and Gerry Winters documented the formation of Trinity School and all the lives touched by that institution. Carolyn Cummings Gwin served as chairman of the book project. G. Mark LaFrancis designed the book. Ben Hillyer made color photographs to enhance the book. The Rev. Ken Ritter served as overall advisor of the project.

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Thanks to the Historic Natchez Foundation, the book is filled with period photography showing the evolution of the church buildings as well as the congregation throughout the years. There are recollections from dozens of members, both humorous and touching. These are just a few examples of the charm and history filling the pages of the book. Two hundred years provides a lot of content. Indeed, the recipes do not begin until page 131.

Despite the incredible compilation of history and personal stories, food is the star of the book. Trinity went so far as to taste test almost all the recipes that made it to the book. I recommend the jambalaya.

While the recipes are certainly delicious, breaking bread together serves a more important role in our lives — it unites us while it sustains us. Preparing and sharing food is at the symbolic heart of what we do as Christians, especially when we recall the Last Supper in the sacrament of Communion. That meal is a direct connection to Jesus, and, as Episcopalians, it is the centerpiece of our faith. As you prepare the recipes in “Welcome to the Trinity Table,” we hope they will serve as a reminder of the outsized role food plays in both our physical and spiritual lives.

Food as a ministry is at the heart of this project. Proceeds from sales will be split between the Stewpot and the renovation of the kitchen at Trinity where we have prepared tens of thousands of meals for the Stewpot for decades. The Stewpot serves more than 10,000 meals a month. Copies are $40 and may be purchased online at trinitynatchez.org/trinitytable or by calling the church office at 601-445-8432.

Hyde Carby is Senior Warden at Trinity Episcopal Church.