Trinity Episcopal Church was established in 1919 as the Church of the Advent. It was formed to serve the then northern suburbs of Indianapolis. A modest parcel of land and vacant church building were purchased at 33rd and Meridian for the church’s home. The church received its name because of its nature as a “coming church.” This phrase was meant to connote that the church was on the cusp of developing into a significant parish. In the 1930s, the interior of the church was remodeled to incorporate more traditionally Episcopal elements including a rood screen.
The 1950s and 1960s were times of significant transition for the church. The surrounding neighborhood changed from a suburb into an inner city neighborhood and experienced economic decline. The church’s continuing expansion required construction of a new church building. Prominent parishioner Edith Whitehall Clowes, wife of Dr. G.H.A. Clowes, had a vision of an early Norman church standing on the property. Dr. and Mrs. Clowes traveled extensively through Norfolk and Suffolk, England, studying details of medieval churches still in use in those areas. Their research led to the construction of an authentic 13th century Norman church in the middle of a 20th century American city. This bold new building called for a distinctive name and the parish renamed itself Trinity Episcopal Church, which also eliminated any confusion with the nearby headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventists.
The Reverend G. Ernest Lynch, Rector of Trinity, proposed the creation of a church day school patterned after English private day schools. St. Richard’s Episcopal School opened in September 1960 and was one of the first integrated schools in Indianapolis. The school’s strong commitment to diversity and the urban neighborhood led it to offer many scholarships for area children. St. Richard’s academic success and progressive attitude resulted in growth to more than 200 students by 1968.
In the 1970s, pharmaceutical pioneer Eli Lilly radically altered Trinity’s fortunes. Upon Mr. Lilly’s passing in 1977, Trinity received 132,000 shares of Eli Lilly and Company common stock valued at approximately $4 million. A life-long Episcopalian, Mr. Lilly’s generous gift was intended to ensure the continuation of Trinity’s urban ministry. Through sound investment and responsible stewardship, Mr. Lilly’s endowment has grown to more than $20 million.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Trinity continued to push for diversity and inclusion, calling its first female clergy to serve the parish. The Rev. Nancy Ferriani was called to serve as the first female deacon in 1986, rising to become Senior Associate Rector. During this time, Rector Roger White participated in founding the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes. Rector James B. Lemler then became the second President of CEEP. Father Lemler guided the organization’s growth to 25 endowed parishes.
During the 2000s, Trinity renewed and expanded its commitment to the neighborhood under the guidance of Rector Tom Kryder-Reid. In 2002, the Rev. Karen L. King was called to serve as the Associate Rector for Outreach. Under their leadership, the Trinity Outreach Center was established to provide below market rental space to not-for-profits offering vital services to low-income individuals in our community. Also, Trinity was among the first churches in the diocese to bless same sex unions.
Trinity has been focused on proactively laying the foundation for its future. Following the economic downturn, the Vestry initiated a “spiritual stimulus” to reduce expenses, preserve the Church’s endowment, and reinvigorate parish pledging. Trinity is also working in partnership with St. Richard’s and the community to plan for the campus of the future.
In July 2016, the Rev’d Julia E. Whitworth was called as the 12th Rector of Trinity Church. A new and exciting chapter has begun.
3243 North Meridian
Indianapolis, IN 46208-4677