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The first recorded Episcopal service held in Wauwatosa occurred on March 11, 1844 led by Bishop Jackson Kemper, first bishop of the Diocese of Wisconsin. In 1873 St. John’s Episcopal Mission was formed and held services in a converted schoolhouse at Root Common near the village. The mission purchased three and one-half acres of land from J. W. Warren, the property now occupied by Trinity. St. John’s was dissolved in 1883.History1

Trinity Church was founded on April 4, 1887 with the Rev. Dr. Edward Purdin Wright as its first rector. Shortly thereafter plans for a new church building on the property formerly owned by St. John’s Mission were formulated. The cornerstone was laid on June 22, 1889 and the first services were held on October 10, 1889. The church consisted of only a nave; there was no chancel, sacristy or parish hall. In 1901 the parish added a chancel, sacristy, guild hall and the first rectory.

In the ensuing years the parish experienced many severe financial problems and several changes of rectors, but after the Great Depression, by 1939, the Sunday school had outgrown the church space and there was a need for a church office. Church affairs were handled in a spare bedroom in the rented house occupied by the rector. In June 1939 the rector moved into the newly constructed rectory on Milwaukee Avenue. The house included parish office space and Sunday school space in the basement. This house is still in use by Trinity as residence for assisting clergy on the parish staff.

In the years after World War II Wauwatosa and Trinity experienced substantial growth. It wasn’t too long until the parish needed expanded worship space. Construction on the current church building began in the spring of 1950, and the cornerstone was laid on November 5. The first services and dedication were held on Trinity Sunday, May 20, 1951. The old church building was renovated for use as the Sunday school and parish hall.

The parish continued to grow in the early 1950’s and the need for expanded Sunday school, parish hall and parish office facilities became evident. The old church building was demolished. The current parish hall was constructed and was dedicated on September 16, 1956. In 1964 the Chapel of the Ascension was added to the church.

During the 1970’s Trinity experienced a period of stability. Notable occurrences during this time were the renovation of the sanctuary adding a free-standing altar, construction of the 1,648 pipe organ, and several visits by the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey after his retirement. Trinity endowed Bishop Ramsey’s teaching missions at Nashotah House (the Episcopal seminary near Delafield, Wisconsin) during this time.

In the 1980’s Trinity experienced another era of parish growth. As part of its centennial celebration in 1987 the parish planned and embarked upon a major renovation of the church and parish hall. The narthex was expanded; an elevator installed; new offices constructed; and upgrades were made to the parish hall, Sunday school space and kitchen. The renovated space was dedicated on December 12, 1993.

Throughout its history Trinity has supported the origination and development of many mission programs through financial and hands-on support. Programs such as the Cuban Resettlement Program, The Gathering, The Ulster Project, The Haiti Project, Jubilee House, Our Next Generation, and Habitat for Humanity have been important parts of parish life over the past forty years.

During the remainder of the 1990’s and early 2000’s Trinity Church experienced a time of transition and stabilization. In July 2004 the Reverend Gary B. Manning was appointed by the Bishop of Milwaukee as vicar, at the request and with the support of the vestry. Fr. Manning was elected by the vestry to be the rector in January of 2006. Trinity Parish is now poised to enter the next phase of its second century as a strong and caring congregation dedicated to spreading the love of our Lord to the surrounding community and the world.


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