A Condensed History of Trinity Episcopal Church

Trinity Episcopal Church, along the Mississippi River in Muscatine, Iowa, was completed in late fall 1841. Jackson Kemper, first Episcopal Missionary Bishop in the country, visited Bloomington (now Muscatine) while the wood framed, two-story church was being constructed under the leadership of Matthew Matthews from Ohio. These founders completed the first Episcopal Church in Iowa (Trinity was also the first church building in Muscatine County).

Only ten years passed before a group of members raised $2,500 to construct a new stone church at the same location near the corner of Walnut Street and Second Street in Muscatine, Iowa. Frank Will was the architect. The existing church's cornerstone was laid on November 11, 1851. The Diocese of Iowa was soon to be organized at the Muscatine church in 1853. Growth in the next five years required expansion and the transepts and chancel of the present church were added for $3,220. Bishop Jackson Kemper consecrated the new, expanded church on May 25, 1854.

Elaborate redecorating was done in 1894 and again post-depression in 1939. In 1945, the neighboring Grand Opera House burned to the ground, but Trinity's slate roof prevented it from suffering a similar fate. The parish purchased the corner lot and the parish hall was added to the church using the Opera House site.

In 1971, a new organ and a freestanding altar were the focus of extensive redecorating. In 1989, on the celebration of Trinity's 150-year mission, the parish raised funds for a significant church-wide physical restoration project to preserve the historic Trinity Church, a National Historic Register site, for another century and one-half.

A total of 31 priests have served Trinity, the first of who was the Rev. Samuel Sherwell (1843). Trinity priests have adapted the tone and tempo of our worship and administration to match their own style of worship throughout the years.

By the recollections of our most tenured parishioners as a reference, the most distant memories include Rev. Hakes (1911-29), who presided over a low church. He was succeeded by Rev. Stanley Jones (1929-31) who took the church in the opposite direction. After the low church years of Rev. Hakes, and the high church years of Rev. Jones, the church has settled somewhere in between as its worship style.

Under the leadership of Rev. George Six (1969-77), the church experienced its greatest growth, which is attributed to his community and social activism. It was during his guidance that the church became a Jubilee church. Similarly, Rev. Richard Simpson (1988-2001) ushered Trinity and the diocese into the information age. He was one of the most enthusiastic and earliest proponents of utilizing the latest technology and was instrumental in getting the church online.

Historically, Trinity engages in a great deal of social activism. Some of the activities have included initiating or sponsoring the following Voluntary Action Center, Loaves & Fishes food ministry, Head start, family planning clinic, elderly housing, and Christmas families. There are many other programs and activities as well.

Trinity Baptism Records 1853-1899: http://rootsweb.ancestry.com/~iamusca2/trinity1.htm