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THE HISTORY of Trinity Episcopal Church (Vineland)

In the summer of 1861, Charles K. Landis of Philadelphia, a young man of 28, bought 16,000 acres of wooded land from Richard D. Wood.  He had a dream to found a place of happy, prosperous, and beautiful homes; the best of schools, also manufactories and different industries, and churches of different denominations.

The town developed a happy, friendly personality.  Soon societies arose, among these all of the religious denominations met as one in a harmonious manner.  Each time they met, a representative of a different denomination would act as Treasurer, pass the basket for a collection devoted to that particular church.  This worked exceptionally well as each was hoping to build his own church.

Into this newly formed city of Vineland, came the beginning of a church.  The first report which could be found appeared in the Journal of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, May 1862, under St. Andrew's Mission in Bridgeton, NJ. 
"Vineland, a place of entirely new growth, five miles from Millville, on the railroad, rapidly filling up and already numbering several church families, demands immediate attention.  The Missionary has promised services and is making necessary arrangements." The missionary spoken of was Dr. Franklin L. Knight who served Bridgeton, Millville and now Vineland.

Under Rev. Knight's guidance the little mission in Vineland continued to grow.  By February of 1863, regular services were being held every other Sunday.  These were the first regular religious services held in this new town of Vineland.  The congregation was small but faithful.  There were four families, with an average congregation of thirty-five.  Soon, a Sunday School with eleven scholars, one teacher and twenty books was started.

On August 8, 1863, Trinity Episcopal Church became a more organized body by electing its first Wardens and Vestrymen.  Oliver Graves and Benjamin B. Brown were elected Wardens.  Vestrymen included Justin N. Loomis, John W. Day, W. Hilton, A Wakelee, William O. H.  Gwyneth, and H. J. Barnes.

Charles K. Landis, a member of this congregation, purchased a twenty rod plot of land on the south side of Elmer St. between West Boulevard and Fourth St. for the purpose of the now necessary building.  Driven by their spirit and the gift of the land, the  early members set out to raise funds for the building of the church.  They generously gave from their own goods and diligently searched for supporters, some of which came from as far away as Philadelphia and Salem.

On November 4, 1863, Rev. Franklin L. Knight laid the cornerstone for the building known as Trinity Hall.  By January of 1864 the edifice was completely enclosed and in February a small part of the building was sufficiently ready to use as a chapel.  The first service in the new chapel, which was the first church building in Vineland, was held on February 14, 1864.  Because of the industriousness of the members, the small church was nearly paid for by this time.

As of February 1865, Rev. Knight found it necessary to suspend his services which he had given gratuitously for about two and one half years.  Now the young parish with seventy individuals and a growing Sunday School were celebrating several services each month.  They were ready for their first rector.  In August of 1865 Rev. F. E. R. Chubbuck filled that post.

Soon after completion of Trinity Hall, Mr. Landis offered a chime of bells to the first church that would build a tower over seventy feet high.  Trinity's members, very intrigued by this proposal, eagerly raised funds by subscription and loan for this addition.  To their great disappointment, after the tower was built it proved to be too weak to support the bells.

In November of 1868 Rev. William Clark assumed the duties of rector of Trinity, South Vineland and a parish in Blackwater.  It was during his fourth year as rector that a most unusual event occurred that changed the entire life of the parish.  A short time before the hour of the evening service on July 16, 1871, the sexton was preparing to light the church for services when a tornado struck.  The bell tower was blown down by the strong winds; came crashing down, demolishing the entire church.  The sexton barely escaped with his life.  After the storm there was little left of the building that was of any use.  The saddened congregation decided to sell the property to square its debts.  In the Diocesan Journal of 1875 the following report was given, "The Church now owns nothing and owes nothing."

The next ten years were difficult times for this struggling parish.  They were without a building to call their own, without funds to purchase another one, often times without spirit or unity and many times without a priest to guide them.  Rev. Clark left in 1873 since the church could no longer pay him enough to support his family.

Rev. Wellman arrived later in 1873 encouraging his flock to pull together and purchase the lot at Eighth and Wood Sts. for the sum of $1,200.  They sold the house that was there and raised the remainder of the money from parishioners.  Ground was broken for the present church building on Thursday of Passion Week in 1875.  The cornerstone was laid by Bishop Scarborough on February 9, 1878.  It seems as though the congregation had lost heart, were scattered and were meeting at various buildings in and around Vineland.  Rev. Wellman reported to the Diocesan Journal regarding his parishioners, "They are of limited circumstances and have only small plantations on which the crops (fruit and grapes) have for four or five years been very bad."

Rev. Merritt Maybin arrived as pastor and stayed only a short time leaving the parish again without a pastor.  The congregation struggled along still maintaining services.  Rev. John Egbert arrived from Central New Jersey in 1881 and proved to be the unifying force this congregation needed.  Charles Brewer, prominent lawyer in town, predicted that, "Withoout Rev. Egbert this present church would never have been raised past its cornerstone."  He goes on to describe the building, "The structure of the church is Gothic in design.  It is of Jersey sandstone of dark tint of iron.  The inside walls are rough hard finish.  The ceiling is diagonal with beams showing.  The windows are stained glass. A beautiful symbolic window lights the cancel.  This window was a gift of the Sunday School."

Trinity Church was consecrated on January 15, 1884 by Bishop Scarborough with many priests, deacons, vestrymen, wardens, and parishioners in attendance.  It was indeed a memorable day in the life of Trinity congregation.

During the next few years with its new building and ambitious rector, the church congregation, "rapidly increased in numbers, wealth, and churchmanship."  They felt the need to expand the facility and in 1885 a beautiful lectern, choir and guild room were added.  Trinity acquired its first rectory during this time period.

The congregation continued to improve upon their prosperity.  They had both Eighth and Wood Sts. paved with bricks for the sum of $88.  The next year they added four dormer windows to the church to aid in air circulation.  The cost, $80 (they were recently replaced for $700 each).  As there was no place for folks to leave their horses a six horse stable was build for $50.  For the small fee of $20, anyone could purchase the privilege of using the new stable - this privilege was for the duration of their membership.

In 1902 funds were donated by Andrew Jackson Crotzer to complete the bell tower, add bells and enlarge the Chancel. The chimes of ten bells were played for the first time on Christmas Eve 1902.

In 1902 funds were donated by Andrew Jackson Crotzer to complete the bell tower, add bells and enlarge the Chancel. The chimes of ten bells were played for the first time on Christmas Eve 1902.

The necessity of a Parish Hall was soon apparent.  This was build using stone from the same quarry as the church and formally opened by Bishop Scarborough on January 23, 1912.  That very spring the Vestry voted to contract for wiring and electrical fixtures for the building.

In 1917 the Chancel and Sanctuary of the Church were enlarged and a large, stained glass memorial window (the Jeswindow) was installed.  A door from an old monastery in Italy, which had been brought to this country by Charles K. Landis was presented to the church and placed in the south wall of the Chancel.

Memorials in 1930 included a stone Altar and reredos, a brass pulpit and a brass eagle lectern were given and have only enhanced the beauty of the old Gothic Church.

By the mid-1950's the congregation had need of more space.  They raised funds through pledges and other donations to add a new and larger parish Hall that would accommodate a basketball court, full kitchen, bathrooms, classrooms on the lower level and a beautiful Chapel.  This construction was completed by 1958.  There was a church basketball league and so the court was used often for inter-league games.

Soon other groups from the community were interested in using space in the building. AA groups have been meeting in a downstairs room for many years.  Spirit and Truth Ministries serves their guests at a Wednesday Soup Kitchen.  The Martin Luther King Academy used some space to instruct their young people in after school activities.  Broaden Your Horizons was welcomed by Trinity for the same use.  There was an after school program sponsored by Trinity for a few years.  The doors are open!

There was a very devastating fire in 1996.  It started in the Chapel and moved to the Chancel.  There was major damage, both structural and spiritual.  It was called "The Miracle Fire" because the major section of the building was saved, only suffering smoke and water damage.  All those early additions to the stone building served as fire walls!  It took two years to rebuild, but it was worth the wait.  The Chancel was restored to its original design. The stained glass "Jesus" window was restored, the altar was cleaned, but still carries some scars as does the Communion Rail.  Part of the miracle was that the Landis Door was not even scorched of water damaged.  The congregation met in the Parish Hall for those two years and were thankful to be able to worship "at home" and not be forced to rent space somewhere else.  The new construction was consecrated by Bishop Doss in August 1998.  The parishioners were happy to have their sanctuary restored and be able to use their kneelers again!

Spirits were restored when the congregation realized that Trinity had risen from the ashes.  To this day, words of thanksgiving are offered on many occasions for the wonderful Fire Department of the City of Vineland and the tender care given that terrible night.

Our congregation has had its share of turmoil even after the great fire, however, God blesses us with renewed hope, perseverance and love.  Our history tells us we are the oldest congregation in Vineland; our commitment and love tells us that we will be around for a long time to proclaim God's joy to the world.

Here is a list of clergy of Trinity:

1863-1865: The Rev. F.W. Knight

1865-1868: The Rev. F.E.R. Chubbuck

1868-1872: The Rev. William J. Clark

1873-1876: The Rev. Merritt W. Wellman

1878-1880: The Rev. William A.W. Maybin

1881-1885: The Rev. John L. Egbert

1885-1887: The Rev. John D. Shene

1887-1888: The Rev. J.B. Drysdale

1888-1891: The Rev. Charles L. Steel

1892-1900: The Rev. Charles A. Brewster

1900-1904: The Rev. Robert L. Stevens

1904-1916: The Rev. Charles M. Perkins

1917-1921: The Rev. Francis Van R. Moore

1922-1932: The Rev. Robert E. Roe

1932-1938: The Rev. Benjamin V. Brown

1939-1946: The Rev. Wesley D. Adams

1946-1951: The Rev. Samuel Steinmetz, Jr.

1951-1956: The Rev. William F. Staton

1956-1964: The Rev. James W. Heilman

1964-1976: The Rev. Harry J. Rains

1976-1990: The Rev. Stephen F. Wisner, Sr.

1992-1996: The Rev. Thomas Berlenbach

2001-2006: The Rev. Sunil Chandy

2009-       : The Rev. Ellen C. Rutherford



THE HISTORY of St. Andrews Episcopal Church (Bridgeton)

The first Episcopalians came to southern New Jersey in the 1600s.  The first Episcopal Church was St. Stephan's in Greenwich, built in 1769.  Regular services in Bridgeton were begun in 1851 with Rev. Kidney.  Rev. Knight became the first resident missionary in 1860.  St.  Andrew's was organized in 1861 and held its first service in Grosscup's Hall on Nov. 4.  Services were held in the then unoccupied Baptist Church on Pearl. St. , then later in Temperance Hall which was over the County offices whish were in downtown Bridgeton.

The land where St. Andrew's now stands was purchased in 1863 for $400.00. the Church was consecrated by Bishop Odenheimer on November 30th (St. Andrew's Day) in 1865.

The tower bell still hanging in our belfry was purchased in 1867 and first rung on Easter Day that year. The Sunday School gave the largest single donation toward its purchase.  The bell was purchased from E. R. Mencely Works of Troy, NY.

The present pipe organ was purchased in 1878 from Hook and Hastings of Boston.  The organ was rebuilt in the early 1900s, in 1961, and in 1988.  It was restored again in 1995 by the organist, choir, and congregation.

The present High Altar was installed and consecrated in 1917. 

The Parish House was constructed in 1960 and the Children's Chapel below the main church, was completed in 1975. 

In 2008, St. Andrew's entered into a Shared Ministry agreement with Trinity Church, Vineland to strengthen and expand Episcopal ministry in Cumberland County.

Here is a list of Rectors of St. Andrew's through the years:

1861 - 1864: The Rev. Franklin L. Knight

1864 - 1869: The Rev. Henry M. Stuart

1869 - 1871: The Rev.W. W. Speer

1872: The Rev. Kenney Hall

1872 - 1879: The Rev. Benjamin Hartley

1879 - 1881: The Rev. Robert Roche

1881 - 1884: The Rev. John W. Kaye

1885 - 1887: The Rev. Henry M. Huff

1887 - 1891: The Rev. S. Cheevers

1891 - 1893: The Rev. David Howard

1893 - 1895: The Rev. C. E. Nichols

1896: The Rev. C. M. Perkins

1897 - 1899: The Rev. Charles Gilbert Hannah

1900 - 1901: The Rev. F. A. Heisley

1901 - 1903: The Rev.Albert Monk

1904 - 1922: The Rev. J. Clarke Robbins

1922 - 1925: The Rev. Ross H. Flanagan

1925 - 1943: The Rev. James S. Holland

1944 - 1945: The Rev. W. Gordon Craig

1945 - 1959: The Rev. Leon A. Shearer

1959 - 1993: The Rev. Canon E. Thomas Higgons

1994 - 2003: The Rev. Dr. Edward E. Martin, Jr.

2003 - 2008: The Rev. Douglas Reans

2009 -        : The Rev. Ellen C. Rutherford