The origins of this young Parish are described in the words of its first two Vicars who served Holy Trinity as a Mission work of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC). The Rev. Mark Quay is currently a priest in the AMiA. The Rev. John X. Leal remains with the REC in Corpus Christi, TX.
1. Beginnings - 1999-2000
The Rev. Mark Quay recounted the "early" history in an e-mail sent on March 8, 2005:
"Holy Trinity started out in May, 1999, when four families left New Harvest Community Church (EPC) to form Trinity Mission Church. We were an independent, reformed, and liturgical church looking for a denomination, which was reformed and liturgical in theology. The impetus for our leaving New Harvest was a men's study group. We were studying church history and read the book by Douglases, Wilson and Jones, Angels in the Architecture, which got us wanting a Medieval and Reformed church.
We realized we would only get that in Anglicanism and so we approached the REC [Reformed Episcopal Church] who received the church as a mission parish in July 1999. Our first Episcopal visit was on October 24, 1999, when my Orders were regularized. In April I was called by Bishop Sutton to come down to Shreveport to teach at Cranmer Theological House, so we recruited the Rev. Mr. John Leal to take my place as Vicar in July 2000 when we moved to Shreveport. "
2. Finding the way - 2000-2003
The Rev. John X. Leal provided the following memories:
"I took over Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Mission St. Louis Mo. in August of 2000. At the time we had families that were being pastored by the Rev Mark Quay. The mission was meeting at Laclede Groves retirement community at 4:00 PM for communion every Sunday. This scenario worked for a while but was counter-productive in developing the identity of this group, which had to move from a Bible study mentality to a more sacramental understanding of the Church. So, after talking to Chaplain Anderson, they allowed us to begin holding services in the morning in the Auditorium underneath the great Chapel at the former convent.
At the beginning of our morning services we would have Holy Communion at 8:00 AM, then Sunday school at 9:00 AM. After some negotiations we were able to have Morning Prayer at (I think) 8:30 AM, Sunday school 9:00 AM, and Holy Communion at 10:00 AM. This schedule was better for us and it enabled us to develop some formation strategies that were beneficial to the identity of the small Mission. We taught Calling on the name of the Lord, a study of the Book of the Revelation of St. John, and a study of the Book of 1st Corinthians. These studies, I believe, were needed to answer some questions about who we are, and where [we] were going.
During my second year there I felt the need to move back home or even be closer to my family as my father's health isn't great. So we began a process to locate a new Vicar for the mission. Through the great guidance of the Rt. Rev. Royal U. Grote, he sent to us Kurt and Jo-Ann. I worked with Kurt for several months before I was off to my new assignment here in Corpus Christi Texas in August 2003."
3. Growth to Parish status - 2003 - 2008
The Henles arrived in St. Louis from St. Chrysostom's REC, Hot Springs, Arkansas and St. Thomas REC, Little Rock, Arkansas, at the end of May 2003. After a two-month clergy transition period, on July 27, 2003, Bp. Daniel Morse, Bishop Co-Adjutor of the Diocese of Mid-America of the REC, visited the St. Louis congregation to bid farewell to Fr. Leal and to install the then "Rev. Deacon" as "Minister-in-Charge". Several out-of-town guests attended this service and reception, with a record attendance of 32.
Church leadership continued with the same Vestry. We also continued a number of church traditions, including the Epiphany Party with favorite readings, wine and cheese, and the Soup and Salad Dinner. Jo-Ann Henle began serving as Vicar's Assistant, helping with organizational, editorial, and pastoral duties, as well as developing a monthly Ladies' Bible Study. Early in the Fall, we began our outreach program by contacting Episcopalians living at Laclede Groves Retirement Home, working from a list provided by Chaplain Anderson. As a result, we added several residents from the retirement home.
Bp. Morse returned on Saturday, December 6, 2003 for the ordination of Fr. Henle as Priest (Presbyter) in the REC. The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Town and Country, MO, hosted the Ordination Service and Reception. There were 60 in attendance, with seven clergy participating: Bp. Daniel Morse, Fr. Paul Walter, host and Rector of Good Shepherd, Deacon Tom Duncan, the Assistant Pastor at Good Shepherd, Fr. Douglas McCreight, a retired ECUSA priest and a regular visitor at Holy Trinity, Fr. Sabi Kargissian, pastor of Arab Ministries at Good Shepherd, and Fr. Mark Quay, as well as Fr. Mike Wiejazcka from St. James the Apostle (Anglican Convocation).
During the late summer of 2003, we arranged for Sunday afternoon services at Trinity Chapel in Alton, IL, in an effort to grow the Outreach activities of Holy Trinity. The first service was held on October 26, 2003, at 4 PM. Sunday afternoon Services continued in Alton for 40 weeks. Sunday morning services continued at Laclede Groves until we located our new facility in Webster Groves.
The Vestry of Holy Trinity signed an agreement with the Tristate Wesleyan Superintendent, Max Colaw, to lease the Church facility on S. Elm Ave. in July 2004. Holy Trinity was responsible for maintenance and upgrading of the facility. With a new facility we ended our work in Alton with a Parish picnic on July 11, 2004, with an attendance of 26.
Our first service at the former Wesleyan Church, August 1, 2004, celebrated the Baptism of Halley Johnson from Ft. Branch, Indiana. Over the following weeks, the Men and Ladies of Holy Trinity made extensive improvements to the facility. Bp. Daniel Morse returned again on Sept. 5, 2004, for his annual Episcopal visit and confirmed Jeff Burns, who had become a member through our Alton Mission work.
During 2004 our history became more closely allied with that of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. That congregation voted in February 2004 to leave ECUSA and the Diocese of Missouri. Good Shepherd applied to Bp. TJ Johnston of St. Andrew's Church in Little Rock, AR, a Bishop in the Episcopal Province of Rwanda through the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) for oversight. The request was granted.
The new Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd and Holy Trinity held several joint services, including a Thanksgiving Service and Luncheon. In October 2004, the Rector and most of the people from Good Shepherd took on the name "Anglican Church of the Resurrection" after they failed to win title to their church property in court. For services, they rented facilities from the Marriott Hotel in Marysville for Sunday mornings. Wednesday evening Services of Holy Communion and Healing, Saturday Morning Prayer, and biweekly training sessions for aspirants for Holy Orders were held jointly with Holy Trinity in the Webster Groves church to facilitate the joint work and mission activities of the two congregations.
Recognizing our common ground with the Anglican Church of the Resurrection to promote "the faith once delivered," and to grow the friendship and cooperation in God's Kingdom, Holy Trinity held a called congregational meeting on September 12, 2004 to decide whether the Church would stay in the REC, or seek affiliation with the AMiA, also under Bp. Johnston. The vote was almost unanimous (16 Yes, 1 No) to seek oversight from the AMiA. The consensus was that this move was for the common good of both congregations.
Bp. TJ Johnston came to St. Louis on Dec. 7, 2004 for a joint Service for the Anglican Churches of the Resurrection and Holy Trinity at the Elm Ave. location. The Rev. Deacon Tom Duncan was ordained to the priesthood; Fr. Henle was received as a priest of the Anglican Mission in America, in the Episcopal Province of Rwanda. Joint attendance of the 2 congregations was 72. The Ladies of Resurrection and Holy Trinity gave a wonderful reception in the undercroft to mark this milestone in the history of the AMiA in St. Louis.
The Church facility, the Lord's wonderful gift, has become a center of activity for the ministries of Holy Trinity. A group of young people, known as the Columba Gathering, under the direction of (then Deacon) Carey Vinzant hosted biweekly Saturday evening dinners and a weekly Wednesday service using a contemporary language liturgy, but ended its ministry during August 2008. Altogether, Holy Trinity has been blessed with new members, increased visitor flow, expanding ministries, the joy of Christian fellowship, a beautiful worship space, and substantial improvements of its physical plant. Of special importance was the installation of a state-of-the-art sound system in the early fall of 2007.
Holy Trinity became a full Parish in the AMiA in January 2006. In September 2006, Deacon Carey and his family transferred to Holy Trinity. His primary call is the expansion of ministries to young people, including Sunday School for Youth, confirmation instruction, and directing the Columba Gathering through coffee house contacts and other evanglisms outreach initiatives.
In 2007, the three AMiA churches in the St. Louis region became an independent AMiA network under the leadership of F. Paul Walter, Rector of the Anglican Church of the Resurrection. At his last episcopal visit to the St. Louis Network, Bp. TJ Johnston ordained Deacon Carey B. Vinzant to the priesthood (Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007) in a joint Service of the three Network churches. Since that time, Fr. Carey has increasingly shared responsibilities for Sunday morning worship, while he finishes his Ph.D. dissertation in Theology from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. In January 2008, the Rt. Rev. Philip H. Jones (St. Andrew's Church in Little Rock, AR) was appointed as the new bishop for the St Louis network of AMiA churches. In March 2008, Holy Trinity began negotiating with the Wesleyan Church the possible purchase of the Elm Ave. church facility. On Sunday, June 22, the Parish voted to purchase the facility for $260,000. The closing on the real estate transaction took place on Friday, Sept. 12, and was followed by a great Service of Praise and Thanksgiving on Sunday, Sept. 14, with Fr. Paul Walter as the guest preacher, while the remnants of Hurricane Ike passed over the city.
4. Maturing the Parish - 2008 - present
On Sept. 15, 2008, Fr. Kurt and Jo-Ann Henle disclosed that their Ministry at Holy Trinity was completed and that they would move to Traverse City, MI, at the end of October to plant a new AMiA church. The Vestry appointed Fr. Carey Vinzant as the Interim Priest while searching for a new Rector. By early August 2009, the Senior Warden, John Williams, announced the calling of the new Rector, the Rev. Douglas B. Mills. Fr. Mills began his new ministry at Holy Trinity on August 23, 2009. In December the congregation voted to leave the Anglican Mission in America and to affiliate again with the Reformed Episcopal Church. On January 17, 2010, Holy Trinity was received into the REC.
God is gracious and continues to bless the people and ministry of Holy Trinity Anglican Church.
To Him be Glory forever! AMEN.