Remembrances and Recollections
As Trinity looks ahead to its 150th year anniversary, we’d like to take some time to look back at some of the memories parishioners have of parish life. Begin your stroll down memory lane as you scroll through some reminiscences shared. Just a few lines about an event, long forgotten, may be enough to open the door to many more.
Please read some of the recollections compiled and send in some reflections of your own. We’d like to add new ones through the coming months as we move toward our 150th celebration year.
Dawn Bunting Watson - Trinity Church member from ~1967 - 1985
Looking back from age 54, I can see the soul saving influence of the people of Cranford’s Trinity Episcopal Church on my life. Many faithful servants poured into me throughout my childhood molding me into a woman of God. My first encounter with the living God was during a Trinity youth group retreat to Vermont.
It was morning meditation time and I was bored of the required assignment. I put my workbook down and just decided to soak in the present moment. Sitting there on a large rock, I took in the smells, sounds, and sights of the cool Vermont mountainside. I tuned in to the silence of the forest music. I felt the warmth of the sun on one knee where the rays managed to make it past the dense treetop cover. My breathing slowed down long enough to enjoy the pungent earthy smells of the moss and decaying foliage, mixed with the fragrance of the lake on my hair. Next to my rock was a pair of adolescent trees each small enough for my index finger and thumb to wrap around them. What caught my attention was the way they grew in parallel like the supports of a hobbit ladder. Three quarters of the way up, the slightly larger of the two stretched it’s arm over toward the other one but before it made contact, it branched into a “V” and straddled the slightly smaller tree as if to guide its growth. I heard a crystal clear voice coming from inside my head say, “I am the larger tree and you are the smaller. I am beside you making sure that you grow up straight and true.” Still stunned with the strangeness of the voice, I felt a rush of joy fill my body. I knew that Jesus had spoken to me even though he skipped the introductions. Without thinking, I leapt off my rock and started jumping and shouting for joy, shattering the stillness of the forest and undoubtedly disturbing my fellow students.
So many moments at Trinity had been woven together to prepare me for that moment; each hymn I harmonized as a member of Mr. Heyer’s choir and every sermon I heard from Father Pettit and Father Witherington. Many thanks to all my Sunday school teachers who taught me that Jesus loves me just the way I am. That is the mustard seed that rooted me to the Rock of my salvation and allowed my tree to bend but not break despite violent storms. The friendships I treasure from childhood were forged while putting on the countless skits and musicals led by Mr. and Mrs. Cornell. I can’t thank them enough. Finally, I very special thanks to Arlene Fricke for being my mentor and role model. She showed me the love of Jesus and now that I have a Master of Arts in Christian Ministries, I pray that I can do the same for the people I touch in my ministries.
I have heard the voice of God only two other times in my life since that first time on a Vermont mountain. Once in response to my prayer seeking instruction for a new leadership role in the corporate world, Jesus’ advice was simply, “Love them.” The only other time I heard from God was after praying and seeking His direction for my life. God didn’t say a word. He had a children’s choir sing the song “Feed My Lambs” inside my head with amazing clarity, love, and purity. This song conveyed more than mere words could. It was my favorite song from Mr. Heyer’s childrens choir. I loved singing it because looking back now; I realize that the Holy Spirit stirred within me when we sang it. I am eternally indebted to the people of Trinity church for making me into a child of God.
“Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, over all a vigil keep
In my Name lead them forth, gently as a shepherd.”
Fran Witherington remembers Sherlock Hall
Not being able to get into Sherlock Hall for fellowship prompted me to remember the first time I entered that space.
It was back in the late 60’s and a luncheon was being sponsored by area newspapers to bring together a variety of potential writers who would be sending in future news, editorials or advertising copy. As a new teacher and advisor to the Cranford High School student newspaper, I was invited to attend. There were over a hundred guests seated at the long tables in Sherlock Hall with Trinity Episcopal Church Women helping out as servers and hostesses.
Recognizing no one as I arrived, I looked for the friendliest face and sat down next to her. “She” turned out to be our table hostess and introduced herself as Anne Witherington. As we talked effortlessly, she asked if I knew her son who happened to be a history teacher at Cranford High School. I told her that I did and she went on to tell delightful tales about him “outside of school.” She sent me back with an extra favor—a box of truffles to share with him.
Two years later, her son John and I started dating and were married within the year. I tell everyone that I am blessed to have picked my own mother-in-law.
Little did I know that first time in Sherlock Hall that I would be back many times for events ranging from costume parties, to sit-down wedding reception dinners, to interim church. Lots of interesting events were held in Sherlock Hall. Which ones do you remember?
Arlene Fricke, chairperson for Trinity’s 125th year anniversary in 1997, writes:
“The large project for the Celebration of the 125th was the Parish Quilt which has been preserved and is hung on the wall in Witherington Hall. We had classes in preparing the squares and each one is unique on its own. These squares were then given to Ann Pettit (daughter of Bishop Pettit) who sewed them together to form this quilt. This quilt was used as the Altar Frontal for our Celebration Service which was taken from the 1892 prayer book.”
Lynn Solecki remembers church on Sunday and this event from the 1950’s:
“My dad went to 8 am service and then to work. Carol and I went with Mom to a later service. Many of my school friends were there each Sunday also making church a welcoming place to be.
As a member of the Trinity Choir we went to NYC and went on the “Strike It Rich” show to try to win money to purchase new choir robes. We came on stage singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” We were all so proud that day to be members of Trinity’s choir. We won and were able to purchase new choir robes.”
John Witherington also remembers his early years as a member of the Men’s/Boys’ church choir, sheepishly admitting,
“We got paid for our services while the Women’s/Girls’ choir did not.”