200 Years On the Green

Interfaith Prayer Service to Open Trinity’s Bicentennial Celebration
Sunday, January 17, 5pm

With Mayor Toni Harp, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Interfaith Leaders:

Rev. Ian Oliver (Guest Speaker) (Senior Associate Chaplain for Protestant Life & Pastor, University Church in Yale)
Imam Omer Bajwa (Coordinator of Muslim Life at Yale)
Zen Abbot Paul Bloom (Senior Dharma Teacher at Zen Center, New Haven)
Rabbi Herb Brockman (Congregation Mishkan Israel, Hamden),
Ms. Ayse Kubra Coskun (Turkish Cultural Center, West Haven)
The Rev. Amanda Gott (Grace and St. Peter, Hamden)
The Rev. Bonita Grubbs (Executive Director of Christian Community Action, New Haven)
The Rev. Ryan Mills (Trinity Lutheran Church, New Haven)
The Rev. Bonnie Scott (United Church on the Green, New Haven)
The Rev. Rochelle Steakhouse (Church of the Redeemer, New Haven)

In 1816, Trinity and the other two churches on the New Haven Green were completing construction of their new structures. The fledging United States had only recently ended a second war with Great Britain.  Great changes were afoot – both in the country and more specifically in New Haven.  Physically, the “Hillhouse plan” was transforming the town center by leveling and filling the town square and extending Temple Street, effectively cutting the Green in two. The elm trees had been planted, a new fence installed and early settlers’ gravestones were being removed from the Green to the recently constructed Grove Street Cemetery.

81453847-6f40-488c-8232-a6431ad7acadIt was also a most historic time in the relatively short life of this young nation. The end of theocracy was close at hand, separating Church and State and loosening the Puritan hold on local governance. In Connecticut, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists and others had joined with the Democratic-Republican Party to form the Toleration Party to challenge the status quo. By 1817 they controlled the State Assembly, leading the way for a new 1818 Constitution that effectively severed the religion/government tie – the last American state to do so.

It was truly a Triumph of Tolerance for religious freedom and power of ordinary people. It was these changes that enabled religious diversity in New Haven.  The cornerstone of Trinity’s second church – built in “gothick” style – was laid on May 17, 1814 and was formally dedicated and consecrated on February 21, 1816.

Trinity Church on the Green has spent the past two-hundred years serving the New Haven community through many diverse programs, some you may recognize today:  a renowned sacred music program, an active ministry to the city’s homeless, and countless collaborations with local businesses and other Episcopal churches. This “Gothick Second Church” is a place full of activity and life, and we would love for the New Haven community to help us celebrate the 200th Anniversary of this space through a year of fun, creativity, and community.

For the bicentennial celebration of our church’s presence on our New Haven Green, we thought it most fitting in 2016 to continue this tradition of respectful tolerance. In a time when religious tolerance and the value of religion are under stress, it is crucial to join each other in prayer and to connect with the empowering dimensions of our faith traditions. May God especially bless Trinity during this celebration year.

Bicentennial Team:
Barbara Lamb, Caren Carpenter, Peggy Bekeny, Peggy Atherton, Rev. Luk De Volder