Trinity Episcopal Church Tallulah (a brief history)

Frances (Boo) Bettis Eiland

August 2001

 

Old Church 1873 Mid 1950s New Church Mid 1950s Present (Watercolor Courtesy

Of Mildred Gloede)

 

In 1872 Trinity Church was admitted into union with the Diocese of Louisiana. The Askew family gave a plot of land for the Church, which served, at first, as a Union Church. This plot of land was located on the south side of the Illinois Central Railroad and across from the Courthouse. The Church faced South Chestnut Street.

 

Frances Turpin Amis (Mrs. Robert Emmett) with Julia Scott Tresevant (Mrs. George) and another lady solicited the entire parish to raise money for erecting a church building. Through their efforts they raised $2000. An architect from New Orleans designed the building

 

The first service and dedication of the church was on Easter Day, April 19th, 1873. The first minister, The Rev. Dr. Thomas B. Lawson, had cures from Delta Point, La. to Minden, La. Previously this region was known far and wide as a godless community.

 

In 1905 while the Rev. Francis H. Boberg was in charge of the congregation, the church moved to North Cedar Street. Following Rev. Boberg's residence, services at Trinity Church were conducted by priests from neighboring parishes, or by lay ministers.

 

There was a story that the congregation had tried for many weeks to gain permission from the railroad to move the church across the tracks. The permission was not forthcoming so Mr. George Spencer, local attorney, had the church moved across the tracks after the last train to Vicksburg had left that day and then notified the Railroad of his action so they could repair what damage had occurred to the tracks and other property.

 

The lot on which the church was located was purchased from Mrs. W. M. Murphy for $250. It was at this time that a steeple was placed on the church, but was blown off when a cyclone in 1917 lifted the church off its foundation and placed it in the center of what is now Highway 65.

 

In the 1920's Trinity Church Sunday School was organized and has continued to function since then.

 

During the overflow of 1927, water stood about three feet deep in the Church and, after it went down, several of the churchwomen scrubbed the mud off the walls and floor. Bishop Sessums, inspecting this field after the overflow, got into a boat at the church and was rowed to the home of the Senior Warden, Mr. Andrew J. Sevier who lived in the 500 block of North Cedar Street. The Bishop was impressed with the courage of those who had stayed in Tallulah during the time of the overflow.

 

1929 brought the Rev. David Holt became priest in charge and he started having, for the first time, regular church weekly services. It was from this time that the congregation began making real progress. During this time the choir vesting room was added to the church.

 

In 1935 the Rev. Scarden D'Aubert became priest-in-charge. He was the first resident minister of Trinity Church, Tallulah. He was followed by the Rev. George Tocher, who was ordained into the priesthood in this church in 1937.

 

Trinity church was admitted as a Parish in the Diocese of Louisiana at the 102nd Convention held at Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans in January 1940.

 

During the rectorship of the Rev. Dean Maurer, this field developed to such an extent that although when he came in April 1941, he was in charge of three parishes; it was necessary later to have a full-time priest in each of the other two.

 

The next rector, the Rev. Daniel Gilliam, came in June 1948. It was at this time that a new rectory was required, releasing the former one for use as a Parish House. This new Parish House was located just across the street and north of the Church. The residence on the south side of the Church was purchased for the new rectory.

 

A local car dealer remembers that Mr. Gilliam came in one day to buy an automobile. Because he was a clergyman--and therefore poor--the dealer quoted a price that barely covered the dealer's cost. Mr. Gilliam's face lit up. He said, "Why that's a wonderful price! I'll take two." And promptly wrote out a check for the entire amount. Mr. Gilliam was both a holy priest and an heir of tobacco money.

 

This same holy priest was heard to say that when he was in seminary studying to become a priest, all students were required to sing in the choir. After a short time, after listening to Mr. Gilliam's rendition, the choirmaster said "Ordinarily I encourage everyone to sing, but in your case, Gilliam, DONT."

 

Another story that always has a current ring to it--Madison Parish was in a period of drought so Mr. Gilliam was asked to pray for rain. It rained. In fact it rained and rained and rained. The only thing left dry was Mr. Gilliam's wit. He observed, "I think I overdid it".

 

Shortly before he left he was musing aloud about his ministry prior to coming to Trinity. He had been a chaplain at the state insane asylum in Jackson, La. He said that all in all he found it to be excellent preparation for his time in Tallulah.

 

The early to mid 1950's found Fr. William Spillman as rector. During that time, construction of the Parish hall on Cleveland and Tampa streets was completed. Upon completion, Trinity services were held in the main hall.

 

The Reverend William Parkerson was ordained into the priesthood at Trinity Church where he served as rector until 1965.

 

The Rev. Joel Harrison served as rector from 1966 to 1973. During his tenure Trinity church was completed and on June 16,1968 it was both dedicated and consecrated. The pews and altar from Old Trinity were used in the new sanctuary until the new ones arrived.

 

The first stained glass in the windows was solid amber and was later replaced with the present beautiful windows. The Rose window was installed in 1968.

 

1974, The Rev. Joel Treadwell was called as Rector and served until 1983. Fr. Treadwell is remembered as a healer of wounds and was a wonderful pastor. Many people not formally connected with the parish considered him to be their pastor. This is especially true of his work with members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

 

The Rev. Edward Robertson served as Rector from 1984-87. Father Robertson was most successful with outreach ministry.

 

1988 found the Rev. John Van Duesen serving as rector for a short time.

 

Early in 1990, The Rev. John R. Proffitt, with his family moved to Tallulah where he served as a deacon until his ordination held at Trinity in December 1990.

 

In 1995 The Rev. Gary Patience served as minister to Trinity and Grace Church, Lake Providence. In 1996 he became full-time minister to Tallulah.

 

December 1998, the Rev. Bill Echols became minister to Trinity Episcopal Church. He also served as minister to Grace Episcopal Church in Lake Providence. Church Services are held at 8:30 each Sunday morning with Sunday School starting at 9:30. A combined group of Presbyterian and Episcopalian youth meet alternately at both churches.