In 1812, a small group of Episcopalians gathered to worship in the South Carolina State House. Over time, this group grew to become a landmark in downtown Columbia, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Sumter Street.
This year, Trinity is celebrating its Bicentennial and it began, fittingly enough, in the lobby of the State House on October 7, the Sunday closest to that first Sunday of worship, October 5, 1812. Dr. Walter Edgar, retired professor of South Carolina History and author of several books on South Carolina history is the co-chair of the Trinity Bicentennial Committee, along with his wife, Neila.
Edgar said that Trinity started as a mission of the Diocese of South Carolina and for 10-15 years, the church's budget was provided by the Diocese. "Columbia was a frontier town then," Edgar said, "all the churches had rough sledding."
In 1830, the Rev. Peter Shand became Rector and remained so for 52 years. By the time of the Civil War, Trinity led the Diocese in contributions for missions including a substantial contribution for the rebuilding of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Charleston which had burned in the 1830s.
Trinity's Bicentennial celebration began in the fall and will continue into the spring. During Lent, Trinity will host its Lenten Speakers series on Wednesdays which will feature, among others, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo, Bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, the Rev. Michael Sullivan, former canon for Mission at Trinity, and the Rev. R Leigh Spruill, Rector of St. George's Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tenn,, where Trinity's Dean, the Very Rev. Timothy Jones served on the staff. The celebration will culminate with a Homecoming Dinner on May 26, Trinity Sunday.
Asked what his hope for the Bicentennial was, Edgar said "I hope that our members will realize what big shoulders we're standing on and have a better understanding of what they do."
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