Greenport church celebrates major milestone

04/04/2013 8:00 AM |

COURTESY PHOTO | Greenport’s Church of the Holy Trinity started humbly in this small building, shown in an undated photo.

It was 150 years ago that the Church of the Holy Trinity in Greenport offered its first service — held on a Sunday morning in 1863.

A Suffolk Times newspaper clip dated July 23, 1863, read: “We are requested to state that there will be services of the Episcopal form … at the rear of the Wyandank Hotel,” located in Greenport.

“When this church started Abraham Lincoln was the president of the U.S. and there was a huge civil war going on,” said senior warden Leonard Dank, who cares for the church. “Two men were Episcopalians, and there was no Episcopalian church on the East End of Long Island. They got together and started the church. That’s an awesome task and, somehow, it has held together.”

By 1865, a parcel of land was deeded to the church, given by Alexander and Martha Smith of Greenport. That Easter Monday, the cornerstone — where the Church still stands today — was laid.

Holy Trinity worked as a mission for 37 years and, through the effort of parishioners and the persistence of Rev. Charles Jessup, became a self-supporting parish in 1901.

David Gelston Floyd, grandson of William Floyd, who signed the Declaration of Independence, was the church’s first vestry, or manager. He and his family, notable in Greenport history, were generous supporters of Holy Trinity. They built and resided at Brecknock Hall, which stands today as part of Greenport’s Peconic Landing life care community

Paintings donated by the Floyd family still hang on church walls today and stone left over from the construction of Brecknock Hall was used to build Greenport’s Floyd Memorial Library. Holy Trinity’s Rev. Jessup gave the dedication speech at the opening of the library, which village residents still enjoy today.

A century and a half later, Holy Trinity continues to serve the Episcopal community and beyond, hosting Greenport School’s Boy Scout troop as well as meetings of Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, opening its doors to over 200 members of the community for weekly support.

COURTESY PHOTO  |  The Church of the Holy Trinity as it appeared in 1921.

COURTESY PHOTO | The Church of the Holy Trinity as it appeared in 1921.

“These are the things that make us important in the community,” Mr. Dank said.

In the months ahead, Holy Trinity will hold several events to celebrate its 150 years and is starting a $100,000 capital campaign to ensure the church’s future.

Brecknock Hall will host a “High Tea” on Sunday, April 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to all, giving community members a chance to join the celebration and learn more about the church’s history. Guests are asked to RSVP at 477-BLUE. Holy Trinity will also also hosting a fundraising dinner Saturday, July 20, at the Soundview Restaurant in Greenport. Tickets are priced at $55. For reservations, call 734-6199 or 284-3337.

The goal of Holy Trinity’s capital campaign is to enhance the aging church building, improving everything from handicapped accessibility to signage. Those interested in donating to Holy Trinity can call 734-6199.

“It’s one of the oldest churches around,” Mr. Dank said. “We are here despite everything. Despite 150 years of history, the church is thriving.”

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