Trinity Episcopal Church is a lively, multicultural, and joyful congregation in Charlottesville, Virginia. Its history is unique.
Trinity Episcopal Church was established as a Diocesan mission in the historically Black neighborhood of Vinegar Hill in August 1919. In September of that year, worshipers moved into a building on the corner of High St. and Preston Ave. As Trinity grew, its work became an integral part of the community by distributing food baskets and organizing a city basketball team for boys. Urban development forced the expanding mission to vacate the High St. building in 1940. At that time, worshippers moved into a beautiful church on the corner of 10th St. NW and Grady Ave., where they stayed for the next 34 years.
Around 1950, Trinity formally became a mission church. Father Henry Mitchell served as Trinity’s vicar from 1958-1977, a tumultuous
period during which the state of Virginia practiced “massive resistance” prior to federally mandated public school integration. Nonetheless, Trinity continued to grow in size and diversity, actively welcoming worshippers regardless of skin color.
In 1964 Father Mitchell launched an ambitious outreach to provide summer activities for Black children in the neighborhood. Two local Episcopal churches, St. P
aul’s Memorial and Christ Episcopal, contributed generous financial and volunteer support. The program eventually grew into “Camp Faith” in Earlysville. The second outreach effort was the establishment of a year-round child care center, which served local families for almost 40 years.
Trinity’s growing congregation and outreach programs called for a larger building. On June 30, 1972, the Trinity worshippers moved into the current church building on Preston Ave. In the years since, Trinity has continued its involvement in the spiritual, racial, educational, and political affairs of the community. For example, Trinity purchased an adjacent property which is used as a transitional housing option for local agencies.
Pastor Cass Bailey became vicar of Trinity in July 2010. Under his leadership, Trinity has developed several bold and successful initiatives. Bread and Roses has been created to assist in improving food security for local residents. A full commercial kitchen was built and is leased to multiple budding healthy food entrepreneurs; and the building itself has undergone a major renovation.
Most significantly, in the 100th anniversary year of Trinity’s founding, Pastor Cass led Trinity’s transformation from a mission church into full parish status.
For more than 100 years, our priests have been leaders in the community, builders of bridges across divisive social and political issues, and evangelists who have challenged us to follow Christ in our daily living.