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By Narda Elvidge

Trinity Anglican Church in Durham, Ontario, known as “The Church on the Hill” celebrated it’s 175th anniversary with an incredibly special service on Sunday, June 16, 2024. Bishop Todd Townshend joined the parishioners for this very auspicious occasion.

Trinity, founded in 1849, remains vital and thriving within our community. Today it is the oldest church in Durham still conducting services.

It will be 175 years this coming November since the spiritual foundations of this church were created and it all started with Rev. Arthur Rigland Mulholland. He arrived in Durham astride a white horse and held the first Anglican church service in the home of Mr. John Edge. Parishioners from miles around travelled through the rugged terrain, to hear a church service reminiscent of the old country.

We still have that country feel as our current parishioners travel from near and far for our Sunday services held alternatively by Priest in Charge the Rev’d Jeffery Kischak, Assistant Priest: Rev. Ann Veyvara-Divinski and lay readers: Heather Jackson, Kim Higginson, and Kathleen Aitken.

The church contains exquisite stained-glass windows, each rich with history. The stained-glass windows in the church not only bless our congregation with beautiful pieces of art, but they remain an important part of its history. The light streaming through each piece of colored glass represents purity, spirituality, and the heavens. The windows continue to guide people through the stories in the bible and other religious teachings; the imagery reminds worshippers of important values and lessons.

Music is at the heart of any church service and at Trinity. Organist Carolyn Nixon is one of a line of organists who have stirred the hearts of our congregation through its majestic sounds; assisting in leading the service.

Each organ is unique for each church. Like a human being, a pipe organ uses the control of air to create a ‘voice’ and it’s sound is referred to as ‘speaking.’  Trinity’s pipe organ has soothed the sorrowful, celebrated the joyful and continues to direct the faithful.

Our church congregation is a collection of travelers on a journey through faith. We have members in our congregation who are descendants of those early parishioners who attended the very first Anglican church service in Durham. We also are a collection of travelers who have moved to the area in search of a church home, or families that have sadly lost their parishes due to deconsecration.

Trinity is embracing its future, providing a unique opportunity to come together merging with members of other congregations with a common purpose and vision. Trinity has welcomed members of St. Paul’s - Egremont, Christ Church - Allan Park and more recently St. James in Hanover – while embracing the new, we honor the roots of their collective past.

The steeple bell rings before each service, it’s unique tone peals through the town and the surrounding area, reminding people of its Godly presence. Church members used to ring the bell manually, the rope rocking the bell back and forth. The bell remains, but an automated system has replaced the old rope that once hung inside the front entrance.

Trinity is the site for the ‘Meal on the Hill’ program – a free community meal program that is open to anyone wanting to share a meal with others in our community. The meal is available the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month between noon and 1pm. A wonderful opportunity for anyone – especially those who may be struggling with loneliness – to meet new people.

At Trinity, we know there is more to life than just what happens within the walls of our building. Trinity is part of a local community and a global community, and God cares about both, and wants the embracing to be a vessel for change and growth.

There is something about small town churches, it’s a feeling – that undeniable love of a spiritual community. Our lives were formed in these small parishes, it feels like the Holy spirit is upon us, walking with us celebrating every moment of our lives. The beginnings and sometimes, of course, the endings.

Reflecting on the 175-year presence of the church in Durham, we know that the church is not its bricks and mortar, but its people. We know we are not perfect, but we try to point to the ONE who is. We know that we will continue to always be here to welcome those in need.