From “A History of Trinity Church in Cranford” published for our 125th Anniversary
Trinity Church in Cranford is a member of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (sometimes known as the Prorestant Episcopal Church), which in turn has membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion. It is in union with the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey with its See City at Trenton, under the present leadership of its Diocesan Bishop, The Right Rev. Alfred Lothian Banyard, and the Suffragan Bishop, The Right Rev. Albert W. Van Duzer.
The fields were not entirely barren of the seeds of the Christian faith in the year 1872, in what shortly prior thereto, had become incorporated as the Township of Cranford. At least three other denominations had been established here: nevertheless there were those who felt the lack of comfort and sacramental offices of the Episcopal Church.
Thus, in that year, a notice had been posted on the bulletin board in a Cranford store, of a meeting to be held in the Miln Street home of James A. Bogart on April 18, to consider the proposal to incorporate a religious society to worship “according to the customs and usages of the Protestant Episcopal Church.” This notice included the name of John A. Denniston as Rector, the title, however, being subject to question as he was then the Rector of St. Luke’s, Roselle.
A certificate of incorporation was prepared under date of May 4, 1872 and was recorded in the County Clerk’s Office in October of the year, the incorporators being James A. Bogart, Alexander Mills, William P. Robins, William H. Racey, William Mooney, John M. Atwater, George D. Hamner, and the name “The Rectors and Trustees of Trinity Mission Episcopal Church in Cranford” had then been adopted.
At a later time and in the year 1878, a second certificate signed by Rev. E. M. Reilly, was prepared and recorded. In this document the title by which the church should be known, was designated as “The Rector, Wardens, and Vestrymen of Trinity Church” and this is still the official corporate name.
No Vestry minutes of the activities of the early years of the church appear to be available – if indeed they were really kept – until 1890 when the meeting of April 11 of that year was recorded, to be continued regularly thereafter. There is a later newspaper clipping in existence which is helpful in following the course of development of the church from its inception until the practice of regular minutes was adopted.
The first Episcopal service in Cranford was held in the Bogart home; to be followed by a second service in the home of John M. Atwater on North Avenue. Services were later held, somewhat irregularly, in the homes of members of the congregation, stated then to be about 14. Thereafter the use of the “old public school house” was secured, presumably the one erected in1805, at the corner of South Union Avenue and Lincoln Avenue West, and continuing in use as a school until 1867.
Until the year 1875, the services were conducted by priests from neighboring churches, including St. Luke’s, Roselle, and others from Elizabeth. The record of early incumbencies begins with that of the Rev. E. M. Reilly. Called to the parish in that year and serving until 1879, to be followed by a succession of others, all of short duration, as listed in the appendix hereto.
Although the church at its inception has been referred to as a mission of St. Luke’s. Roselle, – which itself was established in 1868 – the early records of that church do not disclose any such affiliation in the canonical sense. There was some relationship as its Rector, the Rev. John A. Denniston, is noted in the Diocesan records as having attended regularly for the administration of the sacraments, and, as stated above, he did sign the original certificate of incorporation. The parish should be grateful for the help of this neighboring church, and others, for the priestly functions furnished by their pastors in the early years.
The urgent need of a church building inspired the raising of funds for that purpose in the year 1873, on a lot at the present location, which had been donated by John M. and Harry E. Atwater. The initial contributions were sufficient to erect and enclose the frame of a wooden building, but not to complete the interior which was delayed for some time. Bonds in small denominations were then issued, and it is recorded that they were taken by citizens of Cranford without regard to denominations preferences.
Thus, the church was completed and the first service was celebrated therein, in the fall of 1875, the sermon being preached by the Rev. Dr. Langford, then the Rector of St. John’s in Elizabeth. The bonds were paid off and all other obligations discharged, in time for the consecration service held by the Rt. Rev. John Scarborough, then the Diocesan Bishop, on October 16, 1881.
Having in mind that the years 1873 and 1874 were those of national financial crises, and in the light of the sparsity of local population, a great tribute is due to those early workers of the church for this remarkable accomplishment. The first official census records of the Township are those of 1880 when there were scarcely more than eleven hundred inhabitants, from which we can estimate a substantially lower population in the 1870’s.
Significantly, the present building, while subjected to extensive alterations, exists generally along the same structural lines as the first wooden church, and ,as noted above, at the same location.
The first recorded baptisms in the church occurred on May 21, 1876 when three children and two adults received the sacrament. Taking place in the church, it may be assumed that a font had already been installed. On May 25 of that year, the first burial from the church was solemnized, and on March 1, 1877 was recorded the first marriage. Bishop John Scarborough visited the parish on June 11. 1876, when he administered the sacrament of confirmation to five adults. All of these functions were attributed to the Rev. E.M. Reilly, whose signature appears in the record book.
In the interim an organ had been purchased, and in the year 1890, the Vestry extended a vote of thanks to the Ladies Parish Circle for the assistance given in liquidating the debt thereby incurred. In addition to an organist, there was the requirement of an organ blower, whose duty it was to assure, by a pumping operation, a sufficient supply of air to permit the audible operation of the organ. It is worthy of note that there still resides in town an acquaintance of the writer, who, at a somewhat later time, was the organ blower at .25 a Sunday. Recently he was kind enough to do a minor carpentry chore for the church at no charge, in happy memory of his former association. The organist then received $10.00 a month, later reduced to $2.00 a week, the stipend to include rehearsals and extra services.
In that year, the vestry extended a call to the Rev. John Edgecumbe, of Montreal, Canada, to become Rector of the church, at an annual salary of $1,000.00, with the use of a rectory, the rental of which was not to exceed $40.00 a month. Initially this was an ineffective effort, in view of his nonresidence and the existing labor laws affecting aliens. Later this difficulty appears to have been resolved, and the engagement was thereupon finalized. He presided for the first time at the vestry meeting held in August of 1890 and his rectorship continued for over a quarter of a century of the church’s existence.
He was a most devoted priest, and under his leadership the church had its first real impetus in growth, to match that of an expanding community. Pews, which were assigned on a rental basis, were soon found to be insufficient, and the church was enlarged in 1896, incorporating for the first time, electric or gas lighting facilities, and the addition of the transepts. A major achievement was the erection of a rectory in the year 1895, on land adjacent to the church which had been purchased and donated by the Ladies Parish Circle, with a small additional piece given by Harry E. Atwater. This continued in such use for a great many years and until a residence on Forest Avenue was leased, it then becoming a parish hall and educational building until it was destroyed by fire in 1952.
Regular annual parish meetings were instituted during that period, at which printed reports of the expanding activities of the church were submitted.
The work of the choir was improved by the voluntary participation for many years of the members of the Rector’s family, and a junior choir was in existence in the year 1903, as evidenced by the record of Christmas gifts to its young members. The devotion of these singing members can be more fully appreciated when we recall that, in those days, there were regular evensongs and special services, in addition to the morning services. Early in the year 1909 witnessed the first vested choir consisting of 16 adult members, at least some of whom, as it appears, were on a voluntary basis. The total cost of choir singers for that year was $333.00, to include a special Sunday afternoon choral service each month.
Entering the new century, hard times seem to have come upon the church, for it was then found necessary to ask the Rector to accept a reduction in salary from $85.00 monthly to $65.00 to which he agreed. Happily this was restored, – one dissenter, notwithstanding, – although not until late in the year 1901, to be followed late in 1902, by an increase to $1,200.00 per annum. Further evidence of the improvement of apportionment of $135.00 for three years in support of Missions was then accepted. The scarcity of pews was reported again as becoming serious, it being found difficult to provide for all in attendance. Improvements of this period, included repairs to the board sidewalks in front of the church, and the removal of the outside all weather accommodations at the behest of the authorities.
Various projects had been advanced, mainly by the Ladies Parish Circle, to purchase other lands in the community, for the relocation of the church, particularly the plot at memorial park at Springfield and Miln Street, and what is now these materialized, but a tract at Orange Avenue and Claremont Place was acquired by the Ladies Parish Circle in association with a single donor, and transferred by way of a gift to the church. The first thought was to move the church en bloc to this site and bids were actually obtained for this purpose. Later a group of ladies urged that a parish house and Sunday school building be erected at this location, which was some distance from the church, while others opposed the project. The vestry did not approve of either proposal and the property was thereafter sold. Not, however, before a crop of potatoes was harvested from the plot during World War I, as a contribution to the then war effort to produce more food.
The leadership of the Rev. John A. Edgecumbe was terminated a few days before Christmas in 1917 by his sudden death in the chancel, while performing his priestly offices. His tenure of 27 years as Rector, was distinguished by a steady growth in the membership and activities of the church, with setbacks which were overcome, and progress resumed through his guidance and devotion. It was the longest in the history of the church, and it seemed appropriate that his passing should be at a moment when he was participating in the Godly functions of his calling.
He was succeeded by the Rev. Kenneth A. Martin, who was called by the Vestry to the Rectorship, early in the year 1918, at an annual stipend of $1,500.00, together with the use og the rectory. Within a short time thereafter, the property known as 111 Forest Avenue was rented for the Rector’s use, and the old building adapted to the use of a parish house and Sunday School building. Later title to the Forest Avenue property was secured and used as a rectory until quite recently, when it was sold and the present rectory acquired.
Father Martin was deeply interested in youth activities, and shortly after his arrival, a by choir was formed and a choirmaster engaged who was specially qualified in this work. As Rector, he formed a Boy Scout troop associated with the church, of which he was the original scoutmaster, and established a Young Peoples Fellowship, which was townwide in its appeal to the youth of all faiths.
He received a national award for heroism in rescuing two of his troop, who, with a third, were in great danger, having been caught in an ocean whirlpool while at camp in Rhode Island: tragically, the third by involved was downed. The family of the latter boy remained active members of the church, the father, William C. Klein, as a Vestryman over a long period of time, the mother in the work of the ladies, and his brother, Howard, becoming a priest. One of the rescued boys, now a retired executive living in Minnesota, remembers the incident very well, and retains fond memories of Father Martin.
His tenure witnessed the formation of an active men’s club with over 60 members; also a Brotherhood of St. Andrew unit, which, with the aid of the ladies, sponsored annual dinners for members of the parish. That the Sunday School was in flourishing condition is shown by the recorded attendance during that period of 222 pupils.
Candles on the altar were brought into use by Father Martin, despite the objection of some of the Vestry members, who admonished him not to get too “high church”. The Vestry had received a letter of complaint in this regard which Father Martin, in somewhat vigorous language, contended should have been addressed to him as the one in entire charge of the form of services. This practice was continued, apparently with the acceptance of the church membership as a whole, and it could be viewed as the introduction, though modest, of a trend toward a deeper ceremonial use in the service which we now so much enjoy.
He would later recall, with some amusement an incident when he was invited to dinner at an objecting vestryman’s home, only to see the festive board adorned with a brilliant display of candles. The host, sensing the Rector’s interest, mentioned that candles always added a touch of warmth to an occasion, whereupon Father Martin inquired as to why a corresponding warmth could not be generated by candles on the altar. The vestryman’s response is not of record.
The lack of space in the church had become critical and a major improvement and enlargement of the building was held early in his administration. This involved. Among other items, the addition of a 32 foot extension of the chancel to the east with a choir robing and rehearsal room beneath, and the elimination of the altar windows. The outside was stuccoed, the wooden spire removed, and the belfry remodeled, all to bring about the form of the church as it now exists.
Concurrently with these renovations, was the purchase of a new organ, a substantial part of the cost being assumed by the Ladies Parish Circle. This was dedicated in 1925, to be followed in 1926 by the acquiring of the old firehouse bell, which was purchased and installed in the remodeled church tower. So far as the records indicate, it is the one still in use.
All of this being accomplished, a service of reconsecration and the re-laying of the cornerstone was held on October 5, 1922, the Rt. Rev. Paul Matthews, Diocesan Bishop presiding, assisted by the RT, Rev. Albion Knight and Father Martin. Township officials attended, and the work of the choir and the new organ, including the evensong of special music, evoked words of praise.
Father martin was of a quiet and soft spoken manner, his sermons being those of effective, yet cogent, persuasion, rather than of an overpowering delivery. As an unmarried priest, he was completely dedicated to his vocation, his household including originally his mother, then an aunt and a sister. The aunt died while in Cranford, as the result of a tragic automobile accident.
Financial problems were present at the time, though not in as great measure as those of his predecessors and which were to belabor his successors. This may have been due to the introduction of the duplex envelope system, thereby recognizing our obligation to support, not only the church, but its work in the missions fields. The Easter collection for one of his years as recorded as in the sum of $1,680.00. and this at a time when the congregation numbered a great deal less than at present. He also sponsored the postulancy of the first two of a number of young men from our parish who have gone into the priesthood.
He was one of the organizers of the Cranford Rotary Club, and on special occasions since that time, he returned as an honored guest to their meetings.
His services to our church were terminated in 1927, by his leaving to accept a call to a parish in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where, it is understood, he remained for the rest of his life. The Diocese of Wisconsin honored him by his election as a Deputy to the General Convention of the National Church in the year 1952. His demise at an advanced age occurred quite recently, and after having received an invitation from the parish to visit during the centennial year. The memory of his piety and quiet devotion to his church will log remain with those whom he served.
He was succeeded by the Rev. Roscoe T. Foust, who came to the church in 1927, with all of the enthusiasm of a young, well educated priest, who had served as assistant Rector of St. Georges Church in Flushing, New York. The period of his office received the initial and continuing impact of the financial depression which had its beginnings in the year 1929. Salaries had to be adjusted downward, and the Rector agreed to take over the cost of the rectory utilities and the operation of the automobile used mainly for parochial work. The parish social worker whose salary had been reduced, was finally requested to resign, as there appeared to be little prospect of compensating her. (Incidentally, her salary of $1,200.00 for nine months, was met to the extent of $800.00 by the Ladies Parish Circle.)
On one occasion, the treasurer reported yearly pledges to be in arrears as late as in November, to the extent of over $4,000.00 and at a time when a tight budget was well under $20,000.00. The budget of 1933, originally in the sum of $16,160.00 had to be trimmed to a figure of $13,308.00. It was necessary during this period, to secure loans from financial institutions, and it is understood that in many cases this was accomplished only by vestry members assuming a secondary liability for their repayment.
Regardless of these discouraging conditions there was a plus side, in that the new Rector took on the work of the church with a commendable vigor, and the growth both in activities and membership, continued. With the cooperation of the parish school staff, he inaugurated a daily vacation Bible school whish attracted the interest and support of the whole community. In addition, the superintendent of the parish Sunday school was able to report a “very substantial increase in both enrollment and finances” for the current school year. The number of vestrymen was increased from nine to twelve which is the number now in existence. Another postulant for holy orders was sponsored at this time by the vestry on the recommendation of the Rector. Another significant event during his tenure, was the abolition of the rented pew arrangement, and from thenceforth pews were to be free.
The music of the services at this time came under the direction of a former choirboy, Robert L. Hobbs, who was engaged as organist and choirmaster. He has since received countrywide recognition as one of the most accomplished in the field of church music and boy voice training, and the parish was fortunate in having him serve a period of his early career here, both as a chorister and later as organist and choir director.
Shortly after Father Foust’s arrival, the opportunity presented itself for the church to acquire the adjacent property on North Avenue, and although the times were to a degree stressful financially, the purchase of the property, known as the “Pike” house was effected. It was used as an annex to the parish house next door, and for parish school classes until demolished to provide space for the present guild room and hall. While its exact boundaries are not now discernable, it has become a part of our contiguous property facing North Avenue, and the far-sightedness and courage which brought about its acquisition can be readily appreciated.
Father Foust resigned in the summer of 1933 to accept the Episcopal chaplaincy of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Therefore he became the Rector of Grace Church, a distinguished parish in New York City, to be followed by other parish work, and then the Chaplaincy of the Seamen’s Church Institute, in that city.
His tenure at Trinity was one of heavy challenge and that he met the same with dignity and competence, is beyond question. He recently visited the parish from his retirement home in Florida, to help celebrate the centennial year, at which time his gracious manner and engaging personality impressed very favorably all who were privileged to meet him. His preaching ability was still evident in his instructive and inspiring sermon preached at the morning Eucharist.
The Rev. Frank Magill Sherlock, who was then serving a All Saints Church in Elizabeth, was called and accepted the Rectorship of Trinity Church, to begin on October 1, 1933. He had served in the Canadian Army overseas during World War I, and felt the beckoning of the priesthood only after his return.
His arrival was at a time when the countrywide depression was at its lowest, and, additionally, there was to be solved the problem of the accrued indebtedness of the church associated with its earlier expansion. Those who recall the conditions existing in those days, can appreciate the challenge which faced the new Rector at the outset. That these were met and overcome, was due in a large measure to the courage exhibited by all under his leadership, at the time.
A definite trend toward a more impressive form of ceremonial use in the service began with his association with the church, and the formal Eucharistic vestments of the priesthood were brought into more frequent use. The presence of acolytes was encouraged and developed, and there was a general acceptance of this change in the form of the service.
His sermons were more forceful than had been experienced , and he was inclined to be forthright on occasions, although never to the point of unkindness. His naturally sympathetic attitude toward Great Britain before this country’s entry into World War II, necessitated that he walk rather a thin line, not to offend those observing a strict neutrality. This he seemed to do with skill, and, under the Bishop’s direction on one occasion, a Sunday collection was taken for a British mission.
The outreach of the church during his tenure seems to have been more pronounced, as evidenced by the occasional bus in of children from Winfield, and his request for released time for children to take religious instruction. There were missions sponsored by him, and the church, on occasions, was used for the baccalaureate services of Union College.
Father Sherlock instituted the practice of furnishing a written report of his activities at every vestry meeting, and it is unfortunate that none appear in the records. It was during his term that the church dispensed with the paying of men to sing in the choir, and the matter seemed to have been handled so delicately as to persuade men of singing talent to continue their work on a voluntary basis. It may be said with confidence that no adult member of the choir since that time has been compensated, except for the satisfaction of the sharing of a talent.
At a time when there was difficulty in fully supporting the current activities of the church, the vestry, under its courageous leadership, sponsored a campaign to bring about a full discharge of the church’s indebtedness. The final sum in liquidation of the outstanding $8,500.00 resulted from a gift of $6,500.00 given by the late Frederick G. Sykes and his children, in memory of his wife, Neva, the balance to be raised by subscription of church members. This was successfully completed, and a mortgage burning ceremony was held at a special service in the church, held on Saturday, May 7, 1942.
A gift of substance received a short time later was in the form of the large dossal which now adorns the altar, given by the late Charles Francis Hansel, in memory of his mother.
The music of the church was of particular interest to the Rector resulting, no doubt, from his accomplishments as a musician. He had a pleasing singing voice, played the piano quite well, and did some composition work. His insistence on the rendition of superior music by the choir, resulted in the congregation hearing works from Rossini’s Stabat Mater, the Hallelujah Chorus of Handel, and the like. His propensity for playing World War I songs, of which he had a full repetoire, might have brought him some embarrassment, except for the personalities involved. As an honored guest at a Veterans Day dinner, he was requested to perform at the piano, only to be followed a few days later by the host club receiving a letter complaining of the excessively loud and late piano playing. The complainant was one of the Wardens and the Treasurer of the church, who lived next door, and while an attempt was made to cover up the culprit, the facts became known to both parties and all enjoyed a hearty laugh over the incident.
The Rector was an active member of the Cranford Rotary Club, and interested himself in other public activities, as a result of which he had a host of friends other than those related to the church.
He had suffered a heart attack in 1939 from which he appeared to have made a full recovery. He resumed his pastoral duties, but later, because of the increase in membership and activities in the church, he asked for the assistance of a Curate, as a result of which, the Rev. Frank V. H. Carthy. A then recent graduate of Nashota House, an Episcopal Seminary in Wisconsin, was added to the staff in May of 1945.
The later years of his Rectorship were saddened by the casualties of World War II, among the membership of the church, which included an adult who left as an active member of the choir, a number of former devoted choir boys, other young men of the church , and one young servicewoman. One of the former choir boys who died in a crash in this country, was buried from the church in the presence of his parents and friends, at a Requiem Eucharist.
A second onset proved fatal, and he passed to his reward on July 14, 1946, while on a short vacation. He was survived by his devoted wife, Mrs. Winifred Sherlock, who is still a member and regular attendant at the early Eucharist of the church, and a daughter, Mrs. Francis Hunt.
At a later time, the Vestry designated a portion of a newly constructed building as Sherlock Hall, by which it is known at this time.
During his association with us as Curate, Father Carthy had very favorably impressed the increasing number of the parish family, and his immediate engagement as Rector met with complete approval. He came at a time of renewed interest in the church in the post war period, with those in the service returning with a fresh vigor for the work of the church. The influx of city people to the suburban towns was also in force, and it can be stated with confidence that Father Carthy took full advantage of these situations.
He instituted the 9 o’clock family service, in conjunction with the establishment of the coffee class for parents whose children were attending the church school, and others. It was quite successful, at one time the number of attendants reaching well over 100. Sea Scout, Boy Scout and Girl Scout units were formed, and other opportunities for service accorded to the young people of the church, in whom he had a deep interest.
During this period, the choir increased, both in number of boys and adults, and in the ability to sing acceptable and difficult sacred music. The choir received membership in the Royal School of Church Music, and on numerous occasions was invited to sing in choir festivals held in the Cathedral at Trenton and in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in New York City. It also sang in St. Bartholemew’s Church in New York City at the celebration service of the 400th anniversary of the promulgation of the Book of Common Prayer.
On one of these occasions, over 100 boys and men from several choirs participated, all of whom had partaken of a sumptuous buffet, including an excessive abundance of “pop”. With only a short time to elapse before the service, it was disclosed that the premises included only one facility for use of those who had overindulged. In the life of the church this was a minor matter, but at the moment, it constituted a major problem. (Churches are primarily for the spiritual comfort of their members.)
About that time a legacy, influenced by a member of the choir, in the will of a lady living in New York and not a member of the church, made it possible to renovate the choir room by the installation of the present lockers.
The girls choir which had not been receiving a proper emphasis was developed to a high degree of efficiency, and it sang, at that time at the family service, increasing both in numbers and ability. Their vestments were destroyed in a fire, and by the real ingenious work of one of the girls, they appeared as a group on a T.V. program, the sponsor of which in return paid the cost of a new set of over 40 robes for their use.
The morale of both the boy and girl choirs was enhanced during this period by the production of annual variety shows, in which the young people had no hesitancy in offering their talents, and their efforts were enthusiastically received by those who attended.
This era could be characterized as one of lightheartedness in all our work, and this was further manifested in the Rector’s romance with one of the churches young ladies, the then Ann Sefing, which culminated in their happy marriage.
The year 1951 found the church again actively expanding, this time by the signing of a contract for the erection of the new parish hall. This was expected to relieve the pressure caused by the lack of space for the use of the Sunday School, and was to be made available for other church and parish functions. It has been found very useful for annual meetings of the church membership, and of other organizations, and for others uses of a varied nature. At present it furnishes adequate space for both youth and adult activities, and its stage has seen many dramatic and inspiring performances.
Later, in 1952, the church was met with a crisis resulting from the burning of the old, and somewhat inadequate, parish house, which was so damaged as to render it unusable. Steps were immediately taken to erect a new building to be connected with the hall, and to include a guild room, nurseries, and other rooms, utilizing in part some of the foundation of the old parish hall.
The indebtednesses incurred by the erection of these buildings were fully paid off by then ardent response of the then church membership in the pledges made These facilities have been used by many organizations such as the Golden Age Club, the Bridge League, Boy Scouts Round Table, Girl Scouts, the A.A. group, and numerous other organizations, some on a donation basis, and others gratuitously. The hall was also used for a period by the Cranford Dramatic Club, which, on occasions, put on performances for the benefit of the church. The Cranford Glee Club when functioning was encouraged in its work by the use of the hall.
At an appropriate service, the Rt. Rev. Wallace J. Gardner, our Diocesan Bishop at the time, attended at the dedication of these new buildings. During this period, other seminarians were sponsored by the church, and the Superintendent of the Sunday School reported a splendid growth in numbers and enthusiasm.
Those who view the Paschal Candle which is kept alight in the church from Easter to Ascension Day, should know that it was given by the parents as a perpetual memorial to their son, Lawrence Brown, an acolyte and former choir boy, who was fatally injured in 1953, in a bicycle accident on a Cranford street. During this time the church also received a memorial gift of electric carillonic bells, from the family and friends of Mr. William E. Carter, on which hymns and other tunes may be broadcast from the belfry.
Father Carthy’s work in the church was hampered by an illness which incapacitated him for a period of time, rending it impossible for him to participate in the turning over of the first spading for the foundation of the new building. Happily, and in due time, he effected a full recovery to participate in the further progress of our church life, and to continue a most effective career after he had left.
The necessity for the services of a curate became apparent at this time, and the Rev. Carrol M. Bates was engaged in this capacity in the spring of 1955. He was a former Army Chaplain and after a very pleasant and useful association of several years, he was placed in charge of a mission in the Sunnyside section of Linden.
Father Carty had been designated as a Diocesan Deputy to a National Convention on Church Social Welfare to be held in Cleveland in 1955., and he returned with an intensified interest in this Christian work. A short time later he received a call from the Diocese of Indianapolis to become the director of its Christian Social Relations program, and a Canon Alomer of the Cathedral, and a Rector of a small parish. The temptation to follow his well developed interest in social welfare through the church was great, and he accepted the same, leaving Cranford late in the year 1956 for this new challenge to his priesthood. He left here with many regrets in which he shared to a large degree, but it was a clear advancement in the work of his vocation which could not be denied to him.
He is now Rector of the historic Christ Church in New Brunswick (where the Episcopal Church in this country had its first beginnings), and it is hoped he will favor the parish with a visit during this centennial year. His devoted wife, Ann, is an accomplished musician being an organist in a nearby church, and they have three daughters.
Following the resignation of Father Carthy, the Rev. Robert Bizzaro, then Vicar at St. Marks, Keansburg, and St. Climents, Belford, New Jersey, was called and accepted to begin his Rectorship on January 15, 1957. He had served in the Navy during World War II, and thereafter answered the call to the priesthood as his vocation. As a young priest, he faced the challenge of an established and expanding church in a growing community, with courage and vision.
Other curates serving under the Rector, in addition to Father Bates, were the Rev. Thomas A. Vanderslice, and later, the Rev. Henry Gruber, one of our own communicants who after a business career had felt the call to serve in Holy Orders and had been ordained to the priesthood. At a later time, Father Gruber left and became Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in the Diocese of Easton, Maryland. He was followed by the Rev. Alan K. Salmon, who after serving his diaconate was ordained a priest, and continued for some time as a member of the clerical staff. Father Thomas Conway was curate for a short period, and left to take charge of a new mission located in Lebanon, New Jersey.
The church remembers with affection the Rev. Cortlandt H. Mallery, who had been the supply assistant for many years, and who passed away during this period after reaching the 50th anniversary of his ordination. Nor can we fail to mention the contribution to the church life made by the Rev. John H. Witherington, our deacon who was sponsored and tutored by Father Bizzaro, and who still serves so loyally and unselfishly. The Rev. Barry W. Miller of the self sustaining priesthood, has been with us for a number of years, and has served most devotedly and faithfully as an assistant.
The necessity for furnishing living quarters for the Curate brought about the acquistion in 1959 of a residence at 15 Tuxedo Place, and this was used for such purpose for some time. Later the opportunity presented itself to purchase the building now known as the present rectory at 1A Hamilton Avenue, and this was used for some time as a Curate’s residence, thus permitting the sale of the Tuxedo Place house. Father Bizzaro and his family had originally moved into the then rectory at 111 Forest Avenue, which was sold in 1964, and the present rectory was used thereafter for the housing of the incumbent priest.
Some time after the beginning of his administration, it was found that the increase in Sunday School membership was so extensive as to require the attention of the Vestry for a solution. Classes were being held in the cellar rooms of the new parish building, and it was necessary to sectionalize the parish hall for separate classes. At that time the high mark of 395 pupils in the Sunday School classes was reached, and the problem was really acute.
This resulted in the planning of a new educational building, and after mature consideration, and in the year 1968, the present structure was erected. It includes 14 class rooms, and what is now the music room, with a Rector’s and a Curate’s office, and an outer office. It is a building which furnishes every advantage for the nurturing of our children in the Christian faith. The indebtedness incurred by this project is on long term, but monthly reduction, basis, and it is felt that the satisfaction which now will be experienced in its liquidation and in the use of its facilities, will be shared by those in later generations who will enjoy the same.
The opportunity presented itself in 1963 to further expand our real estate holdings for future use by the availability of the so-called Chamberlain property at 215 North Avenue East. This property is now occupied on a rental basis, and the net returns are being added to a capital fund. It is adjacent to the Walters property purchased in 1964, which in turn adjoins the former Pike property, and all constitutes one contiguous plot facing on North Avenue East, owned by the church. Additionally, during this period, a lot, giving access to Arlington Road, was acquired, which took on the aspect of an outdoor chapel, and, on occasions, is so used.
During his rectorship, Father Bizzaro organized prayer groups and emphasized the work of healing by prayer as evidenced by regular healing services held by him. He sponsored campaigns for the raising of funds for the support of the church and its missions, and in other sought to emphasize the necessity for the supporting of this work. He added a richness to the offering of the Eucharist, which he established as the main service of the church, in addition to that held at the earlier service. There was also organized a Men’s Brotherhood which functioned as a working unit of the church to improve upon and deal with its physical needs. A Couples Club was formed and still functions as a social group within the church.
During this period, the church received many valuable gifts, including a silver tea service, and a Memorial Book and Repository, which is now located in the rear of the church. In this book are recorded the many tangible gifts received by the church with the names of the donors, together with a list of known legacies provided for in the Wills of decedents. Shortly after the tragic death at sea of Charles Francis Hansel, a devoted parishioner and former Vestryman, his family presented to the church an entire set of new pews as a memorial to him. The church also possesses a memorial crucifix and four torches, given by the parents of two of our young Sunday School children Malcolm and Martha Johnson, brother and sister, who were drowned in the Rahway River.
Father Bizzaro was appointed to, and served with distinction on, many committees and organizations on the Diocesan and national levels of the church. Among the more important were the Diocesan Board of Religious Education, the Diocesan Foundation, the Standing Committee, the Board of Examining Chaplains, and as a Deputy to the 1969 Special General Convention II held at South Bend, Indiana, and to the 1970 General Convention at Houston, Texas. There were many other boards and activities in which he was required to devote his services and talents.
He resigned, effective on January 9, 1972, to accept the Rectorship of Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Marion, Indiana. He left us with pleasant memories of his gracious wife, Mary Lou, their three children and himself, and the profound good wishes of his many friends accompanied him to his new location.
The Rev. Canon Vincent King Pettit, became the Rector in the church’s centennial year, bringing with him a broad background of experience both in the secular sphere as well as the ecclesiastical. Born in New Jersey in 1924, he is the son of the late Rev. J. Mervin Pettit, and Matian King Pettit, who is still surviving. After service in the South Pacific in World War II, he entered Rutgers University, was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1950, thereafter serving in the field of business for five years. Answering the call to Holy Orders, he enrolled in th Philadelphia Divinity School, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Sacred Theology with honors in 1958. Later, after attending the Princeton Theological Seminar and Temple University in Philadelphia, the latter school conferred the degree of Master of Sacred Theology upon him.
Ordained to the Diaconate and the Priesthood in 1958, he served in the domestic mission fields for a period, followed by Rectorships at St. Georges, Pennsville, and St. Mary’s, Keyport, from the latter of which he was called to Cranford. He has served as Youth Director of the Diocese for several years, also as chairman of the Provincial Youth Committee of Province II, and was recently elected as an alternate deputy to the General Convention of 1973, to be held in Louisville, Kentucky.
The church, through its members, has played a significant part in the religious life of the community, and also at the Diocesan level and the church at large. Committee assignments have been given to the church’s deputies to Diocesan Conventions; including membership on the Diocesan Foundation, the important committee handling the financial affairs of the Diocese. Our clerics have served on the Board of Examining Chaplains, and with lay member, have served on the Standing Committee of the Diocese, which assists the Bishop in passing on numerous pastoral and canonical matters. A lay Committee on Constitution and Canons, and has also been a member for several terms on the similar committee of the National Church.
The church has been honored by the election of a member, as a lay Deputy from the diocese, to eight of the General Conventions of the national church, and on two of these occasions, the Rector of Trinity served as a clerical Deputy. At another convention, one of our former rectors was present as a clerical Deputy.
Trinity Church has had nine members who achieved the priesthood, their names being recorded in the appendix and there may have been others in the earlier years not of record. Surely this church has sent “laborers into His harvest” in a significant number.
The music of the choir has always made an important contribution to the worship of the service, and, as indicated above, our former all male choir has participated in festival music occasions at Cathedrals and other churches. Ther has been a change in concept, so that ladies of the congregation now participate with the men in the choir work, with a boy and girl group, none of whom receive any monetary return. This is a departure from the former practice whereby the young people were paid, and it is felt that the spiritual benefits from the voluntary offering of their God-given talents will be an ample return.
Both young and older, they now constitute a most faithful, devout and agreeable group, with whom it is a joy to sing.
Four members of the choir, Thomas A. Doig, William S. Fay, Donald G. Cooper, and the writer, were awarded the shield of the St. Dunstan’s Guild to be worn on a vestment, conferred by the Bishop on those who have served fifteen consecutive years in a choir in the Diocese. One of those honored completed this service in the United States Marine Corps choir, which was recognized as a continuance of the required period.
The devotion of the great number of vestrymen, which has included men from all walks of life over the past century, has been most inspiring. They have included business men, executives, those in the professional fields, public officials and from many other categories. More than a few passed away while in office. One vestryman served for thirty seven consecutive years, and almost all have served for two or more terms, either as Warden or Vestryman, in this important work of the church. Members of three generations of the Hansel family have served on the vestry; the Jones and Cooper families furnishing such membership from two generations. Charles I. Mott and Charles Francis Hansel, serving as Crucifers in early youth, continued their service to the Church as Vestrymen in their adult years, as did Alfred Fricke.
The ladies have always constituted a loyal and hard working group within the church, abd the records are replete with requests of the vestry, oftentimes frantic in tone, for financial or other help in some crisis. They have never failed to respond, and their contributions in so many ways have been great.
The records indicate teas, parties, bazaars, strawberry festivals, special fund appeals and other projects, which have been entirely in charge of the ladies, whether as a Parish Circle, a Women’s Day or Evening Guild, or as the Episcopal Church Women of the present time. They have served faithfully, as members of the Altar Guild, Sunday School teachers, choir and acolyte mothers, choir members and in many other ways, and we can ponder on the frightening thought of where the church would have been without their help and cooperation.
Among many others, there is a lady who could especially be mentioned for her devotion to the life of the church in almost all its phases, during the many decades of her membership. Maybelle (Mrs. Charles G.) Albury labored for many years in the work of the cradle roll, the Sunday School, through to the Golden Age group, with many intervening activities within the church, and her influence has been felt in the work of the Council of Church Women and on work in UNICEF, the United Nations Children Emergency Fund. Her son, Lt. Charles G. Albury, Jr., a former choir boy was a war casualty, and she has also given a son to the priesthood, the Rev. Ronald G. Albury, Rector of Holy Cross Church, in North Plainfield. The thoughts and prayers of her many friends, fr her happiness and comfort as a resident of the “Evergreens,” the Episcopal Home, at Moorestown, New Jersey , will always be with her.
The Sunday School pupils have always been under the guidance of the faithful and conscientious services of women and men teachers, who have given not only of their time on Sundays, but hours in the weekly preparation of the lessons. People of importance in the every day life and work of the community have served as Superintendents, and the labors of all have been manifested in the good lives of the many hundreds, if not thousands, who have passed through the halls of our school.
Trinity Church has been fortunate in having faithful young men serve as Acolytes, assisting the celebrant at the Eucharist, and in other ways. Their service has a special significance in its proximity to the altar, and in the handling of holy instruments of the service, the importance of which is sometimes under-emphasized. Usually in the adolescent years, they have been known to appear on Sundays in a somewhat battered physical condition, following the vigorous activities of the preceding day, as high school athletes; nevertheless, their devotion has brought them to meet their assignment. Their dedication is most worthy of recognition and approval.
The dedication of the ladies of the Altar Guild over the years in preparing the altars for the worship of the church has always been inspiring. Their silent devotion to this work on weekdays and Sundays, contributing to the orderliness and attractiveness of the altar, has added a depth of beauty to the services, for which the church must be ever grateful.
Gratitude is also due to the members of the ushering committee, those who welcome, and are of first impression on, visitors and strangers, and who have a pleasant word for all in attendance. The warmth and sincerity of their greeting are, without doubt, reflected in the devotions to follow, and assuredly has had a relationship, over the years, to the growth in the membership of the church. An important work of the church has been well done by this devoted group.
Beyond earthly evaluation would be the sublime pastoral work of the priests who have served over the century, in the countless counselings, comfortings and corrections, of those who called upon them for guidance and help. The spiritual benefits springing from the unnumbered administrations of the sacraments must also be beyond our present comprehension, for they are not set out in worldly records, nor can they be. The registry is beyond present viewing to be opened for approval at the final judgement. Our deep and abiding gratitude goes out to all, both to those who still labor, and to those who have passed on.
What of the future? Under a new and vigorous leadership and a unified membership, we will move forward to even higher levels in the life of the church. Among the necessary ingredients to accomplish this will be a deep sense of responsibility to the worship of the church, and to the support of its mission; a full participation by all in the work of the church in all its many phases; a broad feeling of togetherness to bring about a widening interest in our inner organizations and their activities; and a full awareness of the Christian family life which should be within our midst.
There will be problems, but what church at all worthy is without them. Perhaps it is ordained to be so, for they are often privileges to serve, the urgings to move ahead, and this has been proven to be true in the history of Trinity. Without such, there would have been no quest for solutions; meeting them, willingly and effectively, the church has fulfilled its purpose over the century of its existence.
We look for a wider participation of the ladies as church officers and representatives, so belatedly authorized, together with the offerings which a large group of our youth have now been empowered to give. One very competent lady, has been serving for some time as the first vestrywoman, and others, in matching her labor and devotion, will assure to us a great benefit in the years ahead.
The church, with its reconciling force, will have its joys and comforts, and there will be problems with the demands for action. May we never be without them, for they are the price to be paid for the commodity of advancement. It may, at times, seem high, but always within reach. This is the promise of the future as we press onward in our exalted mission.
“Let us run with perservance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” HEBREWS, 12:1, 2.
The year 1997 was filed with exciting activities. We started off the year by have a slogan contest. Darrell Frydlewicz was the winner of this contest coming up with our current slogan “125 Years of History, A future in Faith”. Darrell received a $100 US Saving Bond. Congratulations again to Darrell and thank you for this wonderful slogan.
On Sunday, January 26, 1997 we celebrated part of our heritage by doing the Holy Eucharist from the 1928 Prayer Book. A service which brought back a lot of memories to many and for some it was their first experience to be a part of this service.
Epiphany was the beginning of work on our “Trinity Family Quilt”. It was with great excitement that so many of you wanted to be a part of this project. Quilt workshops were held in Sherlock Hall to explain how this was going to be done. Over 100 squares are part of this quilt which will be displayed in Witherington Hall. Our quilt was designed and pieced by Ann Pettit and Lynn Scott and quilted by the Mennonite ladies of Penn Yen, New York.
In February we held our first Mardi Gras Party on Strove Tuesday. We served New Orleans style food to approximately 90 people, many of whom arrived either in a costume or with a mask. We crowned the King and Queen, had prizes for all the children and Nancy Harrison made a wonder Mardi Gras cake.
June was time for our Family Parish Picnic. Because the weather was ominous, we set the hall up for games for the young children and for eating. We did all the grilling outside along with the games for the children and “adults” which included, tug of war, water balloon toss and egg toss among others. Lots of good food which was consumed by over 80 who attended.
As a lot of research had been done on the history of the church and it was learned that a cornerstone had been sealed 75 years ago and was located. The contents of the corner stone were known because of an old newspaper article that had been found. It was with great anticipation that we waited for the stone to be open only to find out that water had gotten into the copper box and everything inside looked like a soggy “meatloaf” except for the two silver dollars. We look forward to re-sealing the cooper box with memorabilia from today.
“Celebration Sunday” was held on October 19, 1997 beginning with a 9:30 a.m. service of Morning Prayer from the 1867 Prayer Book which included hymns for that era including “Onward Christian Soldiers”. Followed by a reception in Witherington Hall. Many comments were received from the congregations about how much they enjoyed this “ol” service. Later in the day at 4:00 p.m. we had our “Festal Eucharist” with our bishop the Rt Rev. Joe Morris Doss being the celebrant. At this service our “Trinity Family Quilt” was displayed for the first time as the altar frontal. The quilt remained on the altar for 3 weeks. Our former rector and now retired Bishop Vincent K. Pettit also joined us for this service. A reception followed in Sherlock Hall. Members of Calvary Lutheran Church, Cranford assisted with child care and the reception so that our parishioners were able to attend the service and reception.
During the course of the year 1997 I read through all of the old vestry minutes as well as reading any other letters, notes and newspaper articles that I could to learn about our past. A lot of what I read was shared with the congregation in the “Did You Know” column of Connections.
Arlene Fricke, Anniversary Chairman
From an article by an unknown source:
Joy, excitement, mystery, anticipation, talent, enthusiasm and happiness are just a few of the adjectives that have been rolling around in my head while I’ve been trying to get down on paper all the things I want to tell you about this week.
Trinity Episcopal Church has been celebrating its 125th anniversary year. Under the guidance of Rev. Craig R. Wylie, rector, the fellowship of the church has been celebrating since January and will have its culmination Sunday with an all-day event starting with morning prayer 9:30 a.m., then building to a festive Eucharist at 4 p.m.
Preparing for the event, Arlene Fricke, a lifelong member of the church, started over a year ago to read through all the minutes of the church meetings to see what she could find.
“The first minutes were handwritten and some were very difficult to figure out,” said Arlene, but she did find out something that was not a well-known fact: At the church’s 50th anniversary celebration, a time capsule was buried in a copper receptacle and encased in the heavy cornerstone of the building.
Excited about what she had found, Arlene searched back issues of The Citizen and Chronicle (as the Cranford Cronicle was known then) and found an article in the Oct. 5, 1922, issue, “Trinity Reconsecrated,” which listed the contents of the time capsule. With this in mind, Arlene presented the idea of opening the time capsule, putting the contents on display and replacing it at the end of the year with a few added mementos of the day. Arlene will get her wish when the box is opened Sunday.
Listed among the contents of the box is a copy of The Citizen and Cronicle of Sept. 28, 1922: two silver dollars, one from 1872 and one from 1922, a scroll, bearing 302 names: a prayer book, a list of the officers and vestrymen: a hymnal and a card from two bishops and Rev. Kenneth Martin.
The early article went on to describe the events of the day and the contents of Bishop Knight’s sermon.
Arlene had a second inspiration which she and many others have been working on all year: construct a parish quilt of squares made by members f the church.
Arlene, Florence Drummond and Nancy Ditzel handed out 6 inch squares to whoever wanted one. They then ran workshops after church services, helping anyone with ideas about what and how to do the squares. After 101 squares were collected, the pieces were sent to Ann Pettit ( the daughter of Bishop and Virginia Pettit) and Lynn Scott, who designed the arrangement of the quilt and pieced it together before giving it to the Mennonite ladies of the Quilt Room of Penn Yan, N.Y., for final stitching. The quilt, which measures about 6 feet by 9 feet, will be seen by all Sunday when it will be used as an altar cloth and then hang in Witherington Hall.
The hall is named after John Witherington, an assistant pastor of the church. His son and family are present-day members and have made a square for the quilt.
The only requirement of the square was that it bear a person’s name and date he started in the church.
I was privileged to see a preview of the quilt and was quite impressed. Obviously I cannot tell you about each of the squares, but some stood out to me and are unique.
The two that caught my eye first were done by Bruce Ashforth and were computer transfers of pictures of the church. The first square, dedicated to Teal Schack, was of the original wooden church built in 1875. The second square, of Ted Bruce and his wife Edna, was of the present day church done from a picture Bruce took in 1995 for a pictorial directory.
There are two squares dedicated to Walter Cooper, who was involved with the children’s choir in the early years.
Herbert and Anne Ross, who have been members of the church for 50 years, listed all their children and grandchildren on their square.
The newest members of the church, Melissa and Preston Terrell, along with their children Ian, Wesley, Ashley and Emma, have an apple tree on their square.
Rev. Wylie’s family square, done by his daughter Miranda, was of a butterfly with mom Judith’s dad’s and brother Robert’s names on it.
“The butterfly is the symbol of resurrection, but Miranda just likes butterflies.,” Craig said.
Ray Berry is the property chairman for the church and along with Victor Whitmeyer has been chipping away at the cornerstone of the church to make it easier to get out on Sunday. Ray made and hand-stitched his family’s square, a fantastic tree with the head of a man in it. The square lists his family Ray, Sue and Megan with dates (“Married 1967, Megan Baptized 1985”) on it.
The Pflug’s square is of angels and list twins Dustin and Michael: Jamilee: Kristy and sister Kelly on it.
Janet Randall did a Scottie dog. There is also a hand-painted rose dedicated to mother Eleanor Caldwell Sulzer.
One of the prettiest is a cross with flowers, a tree, the date 1988 and the names Barbara and Rowland Bonadie.
Arlene Fricke croos-stitched two squares. One is for her parents Barbara (1922-1990) and Alfred, who has taken care of the gardens at the church for many years; that square has the saying, “One is nearer God’s heart in a garden.” The square for Arlene is a unique use of her name and all the activities of the church she is involved with.