This month, Trinity Church Oxford (www.trinitychurchoxford.org) is celebrating 300 years of worship in its current building. Built in 1711, the church building predates Benjamin Franklin’s arrival in Philadelphia, the construction of Independence Hall, and the founding of the University of Pennsylvania. The church is located at the corner of Oxford Avenue and Longshore Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. It is a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
· Sunday, June 12, from noon to 3pm – Community Picnic and Open House – free tours of the historic church and graveyard, food and fun for the whole family
· Friday, June 17, at 7pm – Evensong and Rededication of the Church – The Right Reverend Charles E. Bennison Jr, Bishop of Pennsylvania, will preside.
· Trinity Sunday, June 19, at 10am – Festival Eucharist – Class of ten young people will be confirmed by Bishop Edward Lee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
The parish was founded in 1698 by disaffected Quakers, though a permanent home was not constructed until 1711. Subsequent additions were made in 1832 and 1875. The church interior includes an altar piece designed by Philadelphia architect Frank Furness (Academy of Fine Art) and a window by Tiffany Studios. Among the church’s treasures are a solid silver chalice and paten given to the new congregation by Queen Anne in 1713. The churchyard is the final resting place of soldiers from every major conflict from the American Revolution to Vietnam, as well as formerly enslaved Africans, a Native American chief, and family members of Betsy Ross, President James Buchanan, and Stephen Foster. The church and grounds, however, are not a museum, but an active community of people worshipping God and serving their neighborhood. Please see below or visit www.trinitychurchoxford.org for more information.
About Trinity Church Oxford
Trinity Church Oxford is one of the oldest churches in the country. A marble stone in the west wall of the Church states that Church of England services were first held on this site A.D. 1698 in a log meeting house that had belonged to the Oxford Society of Friends.
We have in our possession the original deed dated January 30, 1700 in which Thomas Graves conveyed three acres of land to Joshua Carpenter and John Moore in trust of Oxford Church, which were to be for “the use and service of those of the communion of our holy mother, the Church of England, and to no other use…whatsoever”.
A new church building was erected in 1711 with bricks most probably imported from England. Its dimensions were 25 feet wide by 35 feet long, being the western end of our present building. For many years however, it was without either pews or floor, and for a still longer time without any facilities for heat. A solid silver communion chalice was presented by Queen Anne of England to the church in 1713, as a token of her love for this new colonial church.
In the 18th century, several of our rectors had ring-side seats in national affairs. The Rev. Aneas Ross (rector 1742-1758) was the father-in-law of Betsy Ross, who made the first “Stars and Stripes”, and the brother of George Ross, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The Rev. Dr. William Smith (rector 1766-1779, 1791-1798) helped found what is now the University of Pennsylvania.
After Independence, Trinity played a role in the new Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1784 Mr. Benjamin Cottman represented Trinity at a meeting with the Rev. William White to organize the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Trinity was admitted into Convention in 1786. The Rev. John Hobart (rector 1798-1801) became Bishop of New York and founded Hobart College.
In the mid-19th century, the Rev. Edward Buchanan (rector 1854-1882) was the brother of President James Buchanan, and Trinity numbered many prosperous industrialists among its members. In the latter part of the century, Frank Furness designed additions to the Church and the interior was decorated with Tiffany windows and elaborately carved woodwork. The Buchanan Building was erected for the Church School.
In the twentieth century, the farms and gentry of the area gave way to middle class homes and working people. During the long rectorships of the Rev. Waldemar Jansen (1915-1947) and the Rev. Dr. Noble M. Smith (1961-1990), the Parish House on Rising Sun Avenue was built in 1928 and expanded in 1962 for use as a community center. It currently houses the church office and is used by the Oxford Childcare Center and the Police Athletic League. The current rector is Father Richard Robÿn and services are held each Sunday at 8am and 10am.