Trinity church dedicates historical marker in preparation for bicentennial

Published 11:43 am Monday, June 21, 2021

By G. MARK LaFRANCIS

Special to The Democrat

NATCHEZ – Trinity Episcopal Church, the oldest church building in Natchez, celebrated the dedication of a State of Mississippi Historical Marker June 20. Parishioners gathered outside the church on South Commerce Street while the Rev. Brian Seage, Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, offered remarks before dedicating the marker.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson and the Rev. Ken Ritter, Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, also spoke at the ceremony.

Ritter said, “We’re so pleased to be here as we begin to celebrate our bicentennial next year.”

Seage read the inscription on the marker. “Trinity Episcopal Church congregation was founded in 1822. The church building, designed by architect John Munce and built by George Williams, was constructed in 1822-1823. The structure is largely original, except for a dome removed in 1839 and a chancel added in the mid-1880s. It is the oldest church building in Natchez and the oldest surviving Episcopal church building in Mississippi. Trinity’s rector in 1849, The Rev. William Mercer Green, became the first bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi in 1850.”

“What an honor it is to be here at this beautiful edifice we’ve admired for so many years,” Gibson said. “Can we really imagine all that has taken place here … all of the services … all of the conversations with Jesus … all of the lives that have been transformed … all of the births, the deaths … all of the weddings … all of the rituals. It truly is amazing that where we stand is not just historic ground; it is holy ground.”

Gibson added, “How fitting it is that in the oldest city on the greatest river stands the oldest church.”

“There is a long, hallowed, important history to this place,” Seage said. “I hereby dedicate this state historical marker. May it be a beacon to the world to the great faith and ministry to Jesus Christ that has served in this place for 200 years.”

Following the dedication, the church celebrated a Service of the Holy Eucharist, which included a baptism and confirmation of new members. Parishioners then convened for a picnic lunch at Elms Court.

Trinity has already begun to prepare for the bicentennial celebration with the release of an award-winning book, “Welcome to the Trinity Table: Recollections and Recipes: Celebrating 200 Years, 1822-2022,” the installation of two signs in Callon Garden which tell the history of both buildings, the publication of a full-color brochure and a children’s coloring book that features Trinity’s stained glass windows, and the refurbishing of Kuehnle Hall.