The Episcopal Church is a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion, with over 70 million members in 163 countries. We are a community of Christians bound together by our belief that Holy Scripture contains the very core of all Christian faith and thought. The many ancient stories of scripture and the modern stories of our lives connect us to Jesus and his teachings. Daily we discover God's hope and call to us through our life together.
We live out these core beliefs through:
- worship and parish programs
- reaching out to the community
- sharing our story with others
- seeking God's love together in study and prayer
- giving of our means and talents to the greater purpose of God's work
The Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas
The Anglican Communion
In worship, we are united to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God's Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate God's presence among us. All are welcome to participate in our worship; through worship we live out our life as a Christian community together. Scripture is the foundation of our worship. The service follows an order found in our worship book, called the Book of Common Prayer, which is based upon and filled with Holy Scripture. Every worship service includes the reading of Holy Scripture from the Old and New Testaments. Our prayers and hymns are filled with Scripture. The Book of Common Prayer includes a variety of ancient and modern prayers as well as worship forms for the gathered community and for individual use. The Book of Common Prayer allows everyone to participate, reminding us that each person is an important part of the worship experience, whether the service is a celebration or a solemn occasion. It is a guide book for daily Christian living. Music, both traditional and contemporary, is an integral part of uniting our prayers and scripture.
Celebrating God's Presence
In our worship service, we celebrate God's presence through water, bread, and wine. Through the waters of baptism we are united with God, and we become brothers and sisters in God's family. Jesus shared bread and wine with his first followers, and his presence is with us today in this family meal we call Holy Eucharist. Through it we receive a strengthening of our union with God and one another as we remember Christ's life, death, and resurrection. Any baptized person is welcome and encouraged to share in this meal.
We believe there is one God who creates all things, redeems us from sin and death, and renews us as the children of God. As Episcopalians we promise to follow Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We believe the mission of our church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
It was a fine East Texas day, the first of April, 1887, when Samuel Harrison Wright and his wife Ada arrived in Longview, Texas, from Virginia. Sam had been a young broker on Wall Street, but had a burning desire to go to Texas, much against the wishes of his family. Nevertheless, Sam and Ada arrived in Longview with their four children, Esther, Estelle, Maude, and Charles. It was just a crude little railroad town and most of the jobs were in farming cotton. Sam landed a job as a dispatcher for the railroad.
The Wright family were staunch Episcopalians, but there was no Episcopal Church in Longview for them. They attended other services, but cherished the hope of their own Episcopal Church. Estelle had a particularly beautiful contralto voice and sang in the church choir at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. On her way to church on Thanksgiving Day, 1892, Estelle was pleased to notice an Episcopal minister on the street. She stopped and introduced herself to the Rev. Charles M. Beckwith and invited him to share Thanksgiving dinner with the Wright family. The Rev. Beckwith, as fate would have it, turned out to be the Missionary of the Texas Diocese at that time.
Following dinner, Mr. Beckwith was taking his leave when Sam Wright, abashed that he had no cigars to offer his distinguished guest, thrust a dollar bill into his hand and begged him to supply himself with cigars as he passed through downtown. The Rev. Beckwith, instead, turned to Miss Estelle Wright, who had been talking of her ambition to see an Episcopal Church built in Longview, placed the dollar in her hand and said, "Let this be the first dollar contributed toward building an Episcopal Church here."
Estelle, heartened by the thought, secured a box and took up a family collection that netted $3 more. This money she kept as a nest egg for the new church. She collected a total of $30 in the community and sent the money to Bishop George H. Kinsolving, Bishop of the Diocese of Texas, for safekeeping. That $30 was part of the first payment of $300 spent on the church building.
In 1894, General Missionary Beckwith returned to Longview and held a five-day teaching mission in Longview. The dream was alive and Trinity Mission grew.
A building committee, composed of Judge Richard B. Levy, Judge J.N. Campbell, and Mr. W.W. Duke was named in 1903, with the Rev. Chas B. Coerr as Missionary in Charge. Their first task was to find a suitable lot. The Texas and Pacific Railway Company had donated lots to all the other congregations when the town was laid out, but the Episcopal Church came later and had to purchase their land. Through the determination of Estelle Wright, a suitable lot was finally found on Fredonia Street.
It took three years of hard work and fund raising. Many members of the Longview community, although not Episcopalian, made donations. Estelle Wright was busy all this time corresponding with people in the East to obtain help in building the church. She wrote, "For fifteen years we have been struggling to build an Episcopal Church in Longview, Texas. There is only a little handful to do this work for the Master's cause. After untold hardships, we have succeeded in buying and paying for a nice lot on which to build. Work has already commenced on the church itself, but our means are exhausted, and unless we can get outside help, work on the church must be stopped and the efforts of years will be lost...Will you heed this cry from Macedonia and though you cannot help us by your presence, help us, be it ever so little, in sending us money or building material to use in building our church?"
Parishes, Guilds, and individuals responded to her heartfelt appeal and the building of the church actually began. On Saturday, April 27, 1907, the cornerstone was laid by the Masonic Order of Longview. It was a day of great joy, celebration and a tribute to the faith, determination and hard work of Estelle Wright Honea, the acknowledged founder of Trinity Episcopal Church, Longview, Texas.
Our first church was located on Fredonia Street, in downtown Longview (on property now owned by Southwestern Bell). In 1935, the church was moved to Padon Street, and the building was designed to resemble an old English country church. This move was necessitated by the growing number of Episcopalians who came, and became members, during the oil boom of the early 1930's.
In 1952, Trinity Church burned and was rebuilt exactly as it had been originally. In 1958, the parish hall burned and was replaced with a much larger and more substantial area. Much of the new space was devoted to Trinity School of Texas, founded in 1957. Trinity School of Texas has continued to grow and expand, and now includes pre-school as well as a 12-grade-college-preparatory program.
In 1960, Trinity Church responded to the Gregg County Commissioners and began the administration of Good Shepherd Medical Center, a county-owned hospital. The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and Trinity Church were responsible for the hospital until 1975, when a broad-based community board assumed this responsibility. During that fifteen year period, a well-operated, efficient health care facility was developed for the city and surrounding area. We are pleased to have been a part of this process. Many of our parishioners are involved in volunteer work at the hospital.
In 1981, roof structure failure necessitated the dismantling and re-building of the church. Today we worship in a beautiful, simulated Gothic structure which was consecrated in 1985, the church being constructed upon the site of the 1935 church building.