By Barbara Mastriania
RENOVO – This Sunday’s Easter service will be the final weekly worship service and a June wedding will be the final service at Trinity Episcopal Church in Renovo, church members learned earlier this month.
The notification of the decision to close was made in an April 4 letter to the members of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. The letter notes that the decision to close Trinity Episcopal was a difficult one, but the congregation has diminished to fewer than a dozen.
Yvonne and Kenneth Woodring are long-time members. She has been a senior warden for several years, helping the priest as needed. He has been the organist since 1975, taking on the position when Martha Desmond died. He has also served as treasurer since 1998 when Sylvia Calhoun died. “Trinity Church has been my church since I arrived here 52 years ago as a bride,” Yvonne said Tuesday. “My husband and I will greatly miss its presence in our lives as we are lifelong Episcopalians.”
Episcopal Priest, The Rev. John Harwood who resides in State College has been serving at both Trinity Episcopal Church and Zion Lutheran Church in Renovo. Trinity Episcopal parishioners will transfer their membership to the Lutheran (ELCA) Church.
Episcopal officials met in Renovo last week for dinner with The Rev. Harwood and the congregation. They enjoyed a meal and recalling memories from the past; stories of baptisms held 85 years ago, stories of the village in its heyday, of the ups and downs of small town life, and the deep bond formed in a Community in Christ.
The Convention votes in October on this matter (the parish canons require both Convention and the parish members to vote), diocesan leadership bodies will assess the needs of the town the best use of the buildings to serve God’s mission, even after they have ceased holding services there.
From humble beginnings, Trinity Episcopal Church dates back to May 22, 1875, in an “Upper Room” of the Odd Fellows Hall on Sixth Street, Renovo when the Rev. John Henry Black of Williamsport conducted the services of Morning and Evening Prayer.
Printed in the “Religious Notice” section of The Renovo Record, on May 20, 1875, was the following sentence, “There will be Episcopal service held in Odd Fellows’ Hall, second story, on Sunday next, the 23d inst., at 10 ½ a.m. and 7 ½ p.m., by the Rev. Mr. Black, of Williamsport.”
By June 1875, the Record reported the services would be held weekly at these times plus Sunday School at 4 p.m. The first communion service was held on July 25. in an effort to raise funds for building, the church sponsored musical entertainments at the Renovo Hotel, at the cost of 25 cents for admission. The Church was built for $2,500. By 1910, there was a rectory and parish house – and the Sunday School and choir were booming.
The deed of the parish will revert to the Diocese, and the Council of Trustees will work to determine the future use of the Parish House, Rectory, and Church. The Parish House, constructed in 1910, has long housed the Food Bank for the community, and the church hopes to deed this building to the Council of Churches so that this vital ministry can continue without interruption. The Council will take into consideration the best use of the buildings to serve the mission of God.
A service of deconsecration of the church building will be planned for this fall, after Convention. Church officials hope you will be able to attend this celebration of Trinity Church and the ministry that began in 1875.