Trinity Parish, founded in 1832, is one of the five oldest Episcopal parishes in Tennessee. Its first building, of Gothic design, was erected in 1838. The parish’s earliest survival was due, in part, to support from local Presbyterians who believed that a proper town needed both Presbyterian and Episcopal presence, representing the two Protestant “established” churches of the British Isles. This, from the beginning, Trinity has had a strong community, as well as denominational, identity.
During the Civil War, Trinity was one of the few local churches allowed to remain open by Union forces because the rector insisted that “decent and orderly” worship transcended politics and even war. In those years, Trinity also founded several rural missions. Grace Chapel, Rossview, is a surviving result of those efforts.
In 1873 the old church was demolished and the current Romanesque building was completed in 1877. A rectory was built in 1883, and a new Parish House in 1916. The church was renovated in the 1920’s, and again in the 1980’s, always with historical fidelity. During the 20th century, the parish has fluctuated with membership, and financial health. However its commitment to liturgy, fine music, and community service has rarely wavered.
In the early morning hours of January 22, 1999, a tornado ripped through Clarksville, and the church was hit hard. The roof collapsed into the building, and a good portion of the steeple was knocked over. The walls held, as did the roof over the apse and chancel area, so there was at least something to restore. The parish house sustained heavy damage as well, and though itself a historical building, it was deemed too far gone to repair.
After a tremendous effort by the congregation and the surrounding community, the church would be restored to her former elegance. A new parish house would be built as well, and it now offers considerably more for the ministry of the congregation. The congregation exhibited fantastic leadership in the cleanup and restoration process, and became stronger through the process. This was all not without its cost, however. During the rebuilding, the rector, David Murray, suffered a fatal heart attack, and the congregation was faced with a search process while the rebuilding continued. Once more, God’s people were challenged in adversity.
The Rev. Mickey Richaud was called as Trinity’s 32nd rector, and began his ministry here on 1 Advent, 2001 and The Rev. Dorothy Chatham Hartzog was called as Associate Rector on June 15, 2003. A recent brochure has as its title, “Trinity Episcopal Church…Where you’ll always feel at home.” We hope you will join us and put that motto to the test!