By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, April 8, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
HAMPTON -- The Trinity Episcopal Church will soon be celebrating 50 years as an active mission and will be visited by Bishop Gene Robinson.
"It is with great excitement that we look forward to celebrating the role that Trinity Episcopal Church has played in Hampton over the last 50 years and the hard work and dedication that represents," said the Rev. Peter Lane. "We are also looking forward to the future and expanding membership and our involvement in the community."
"We are, of course, especially fortunate and honored that Bishop Robinson will be taking time out of his demanding schedule to be here to celebrate with us," he said.
Lane said the church will be holding a Golden Jubilee Celebration on Saturday, May 21, starting with a special service at 11 a.m. followed by a reception at the church at 200 High Street in Hampton.
The church has grown over the years since it was first officially recognized by the diocese as a mission in 1955.
Lane said while it is using that date to mark its anniversary, the church has been around unofficially since the 1953 and the idea of forming the church in Hampton even longer than that.
"It's hard to pin down the exact beginning of this church," said Lane. "It began as a yearning in several Hampton residents' hearts. They were members of the Christ Church in Exeter and wanted to have a church here in Hampton that they could call their own."
The church started with a few people attending sporadic services in homes of residents in the town.
As the membership increased, Lane said members began to rent the Grange Hall.
That is where the parish's unofficial first service was held on Sept. 13, 1953.
The service attracted 43 worshipers and was celebrated by the Venerable Roger Barney.
After the church's name was accepted and mission status granted in 1955, the Rev. Parkman Howe, curate of Christ Church in Exeter, became the church's first vicar.
The Grange Hall served as Trinity's home until 1959 when Hobbs House at 200 High Street - the church's current location - was purchased.
The church behind Hobbs House was constructed in 1972.
"It was all done with money raised and hard work," said Lane.
Currently the church has roughly 200 members.
"The church has been through some hard times and real struggles when membership dropped off. But there has always been a faithful core of parishioners and folks who wanted to keep a Episcopal presence in Hampton."
The celebration is expected to draw scores of current and former Trinity clergy, parishioners, and many friends of the church across the last five decades, according to Lane.
"In many ways this is a community celebration because so many lives have been touched in some way by Trinity," he said. "From parishioners, to children who have attended our pre-school, Aslan's Pride, to family members who have been helped by Al-Anon meetings. The list goes on and on, and with God's help, Trinity's role and contribution will only grow over the next 50 years."
Lane said the church plans to use the 50th anniversary to kick off a fund-raising effort in the fall to renovate Hobbs House, so it will be up and running for another 50 years.
"We want to continue the good work that has been started here and build on that," said Lane. "It's an old building and needs a lot of TLC."
Rusty Bridle has already made a pledge to the project, and Lane and his wife have decided to match it.
"We will be asking friends and members to join us to make sure that Hobbs House is around for the years to come," said Lane.