Our History

Trinity Episcopal Church is a lively, multicultural, joyful congregation in Charlottesville, Virginia.
This is our story.

original church

In August 1919, Trinity Episcopal Church was established as a Diocesan mission in the historically Black neighborhood of Vinegar Hill. The following month,  worshippers moved into a building on the corner of High Street and Preston Avenue.

As Trinity grew, our work became an integral part of the community. We distributed food baskets to our neighbors and organized a city basketball team for boys. In 1940, urban development forced the expanding mission to vacate our High Street building. We moved into a beautiful church on the corner of 10th Street NW and Grady Avenue, where we stayed for the next 34 years.

Around 1950, Trinity formally became a mission church. Father Henry Mitchell served as our vicar from 1958 to 1977, a tumultuous period as the state of Virginia practiced “massive resistance” 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. Paul’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 soon called for a larger building. On June 30, 1972, the congregation moved into our current church building on Preston Avenue. Trinity continued to be involved in the spiritual, educational and political affairs of the community. For example, the church purchased an adjacent property that 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. The Bread & Roses ministry was created to assist in improving food security for local residents. The church installed a full commercial kitchen that we lease to budding healthy food entrepreneurs. The church building itself has undergone a major renovation to meet the needs of our vibrant congregation.

Most significantly, in the 100th year of our founding, Pastor Cass led Trinity’s transformation from a mission church into full parish status.

For more than a century, our priests have been leaders in the community, bridge-builders across social and political divides, and evangelists who challenge us to follow Christ in our daily lives.

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