The History of the Church

A Brief History of Trinity

Trinity Episcopal Church is the third oldest Episcopal Church in the Diocese of West Missouri and the oldest Episcopal Church in Jackson County.  The first service was held in 1835.Trinity is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion.  Our “mother church,” the Church of England, has its roots both in the ancient catholic tradition and in the Protestant Reformations of the 1500s.The term “Episcopal” (from the Greek for “over-seer”) means that we have bishops who have exclusive oversight of a diocese, a geographical area generally containing part or all of a state.  The Diocese of West Missouri has over 50 congregations throughout the western half of the state.  Our Diocesan Bishop is the Right Reverend Barry R. Howe.

The beliefs of the Episcopal Church are expressed in the ancient creeds, the Nicene and Apostle’s Creed.  We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, through whose earthly ministry, death, and resurrection the way of eternal life is opened for us.  Jesus Christ’s example of loving and sacrificial service is also a model for living that leads to peace, healing, overcoming evil, and the extension of God’s hospitality and reconciliation.  We believe the Bible to the Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation.  Holy Scripture, our authority for faith and guide for living, is interpreted through sound reason and the tradition of the Church.  A metaphor often used for The Episcopal Chruch is the “three-legged stool,” supported by scripture, reason, and tradition.

In our Sunday and daily worship, we use The Book of Common Prayer.  The collection of services include liturgies (orders of worship) that have evolved over the entire history of the Christian faith.  It contains prayers that date from the earliest church as well as more contemporary writings.  “Common” as used in this context means “for use by all,” and the congregation participates fully in the reading of prayers, scripture, and singing.  Each Sunday, the prayers, hymns, and sermon are chosen according to the scriptures appointed for that day of the Church season.  “Holy Eucharist” (Greek meaning “thanksgiving”), or Holy Communion, is the principal service each Sunday.  This gathering at the Lord’s table was the form of worship of the earliest Chritians and is our response to Jesus’ command to “Do this as often as you gather in my name.”

The first service was held in 1835.
Trinity is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion. The Church of England, our “mother church,” has its roots in both the ancient catholic tradition and in the Protestant Reformations of the 1500s.

Time Line

1835,1837 – First Episcopal service in Independence, MO officiated by The Right Reverend Jackson Kemper, Episcopal Pioneer and Missionary Bishop.

1877 – Trinity Church bought a lot behind a house on South Main near the old town square.

1878 – Trinity Church built a small wooden church on lot near the old town square.

1880 – Small wooden church totally destroyed by a cyclone.

1881 – Trinity Church sold the lot near the old town square and bought the lot at its present location on North Liberty for $350. New Church designed by Mr. Sturges of Boston and constructed at a cost of $4,500. Church consecrated by The Right Reverend Edward R. Atwill, Bishop of Missouri.

1890 – Stained glass windows from old St. Mary’s Church were added. Woman’s Guild contributed the organ.

1903 – Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Virginia Wallace confirmed at Trinity Church by The Right Rev Edward Atwill.

1919 – Harry S. Truman and Elizabeth Virginia Wallace were united in the Holy Sacrament of Marriage at Trinity Church.

1959 – Bishop Wells dedicated the new two story building wing, President Truman delivers short address at new wing dedication.


1844-1847 – Michael Fackler, Missionary Priest
1878 – Francis Holeman
1880-1887 – John Dunn
1927 – Oliver Crawford
1934-1938 – William Driver, Vicar
1939-1948 – Harold Whitehead
1948-1950 – William Garnett
1951 -1955 – David Patrick
1955-1961 – Patric Hutton
1961-1977 – John Lembcke, Jr.
1977-1983 – Robert Hart
1983-1989  Bruce Rahtjen
1990-2002  – Edward Oathout
2003-2006 –  Mary E. Glover

2006-2013 – Sam Mason

2013 –        Russell Johnson  

Church Register, Early 1900s

The following is transcribed from the “History” notes in the Church Register maintained in the early 1900s:

“The History of Trinity Parish from 1843 to 1893 will be found in the old Register from which the following is taken.

The first clergyman of whom we have any record was the Rev. St. Michael Fackler (1), rector of Christ Church Lexington who in 1844 reported two (2) communicants.

The Rev. John A Harrison (2), rector of Christ Church Lexington reported in 1853 three (3) communicants.  Bishop Hawks visited Independence this year and again Sept. 2, 1857.

May 25, 1855. Organized and Admitted to Union with the Convention of Missouri

Nov. 3, 1855. The first vestry elected: Col. Sam’l H. Woodson, Geo. R. Carlile, Jas. Boyer.  The last secured the following subscriptions, the names being of historic interest.  Sam’l Wood, Jas. Boyer, S.H. Woodson – 50.00 each, I.B. Hovey, D. Durtree, Jno. Parker, Wm. McCoy – 25.00 ea., C.F. Hayden, D.S. Brock, Jno. Wilson, I.H. McMurray, Alex Todd – 20.00 each, Catherine Dyer, Nellie Henderson, Frances Booth – 15.00 each, A. Campbell, Mrs. Atkinson, W.O. Woodson, Jas. B. Wiley, D.R. Larimore, G.R. Carlile, Isaac Hockaday, John Heth, Wm. Taylor, Wm. Chrisman, C.F. Thornton, R.H. Dyer, Jno. J. Jones, Jno. O. Buchanan, and Jas. Porter – 10.00 each.  Total $545.00.  We are not able to find any records of results.

The Rev. G.K. Dunlop (3) of Christ Church Lexington held service three times in 1857.

The Rev. Joseph I. Corbyn (4, Deacon) held service twice a month from Nov. 1857 to Sept. 1860.

The following composed the vestry in 1858.  Chas. H. Lucas, Geo. G. Waddell, Eugene Erwin, John Sharp, Edward Kellogg.

The Rev. Frances R. Holeman (5) took charge Sept. 1, 1860, with three (3) communicants, namely Mrs. E. Sharp, Mrs. Erwin, Miss Josephine Darniel.  (Five more were confirmed Sept. 19, at Liberty)  Pages 26, 29 shows that Mr. Holeman conducted service also at Liberty, Weston, Gallatin, Clay Co., Kansas City and Atchison and during his incumbency baptized 31, 13 of whom were of Independence.

[The War] The Sunday School varied from 44 to 126.  There were 7 communicants.  In 1862, Mr. Holeman got into some trouble with the Federal Authorities and left the parish.  He was arrested by Col. Buel at Booneville.

The Sunday School continued till Sept. 1863.  “Service were held by Trinity members, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Robertson, Dr. Van Antwerp of K.C., the Rev. Mr. Hoff etc up to 1869 when the Rev. Algernon Batty (7) gave occasional service from Jan. 1870 to March 1871.”

“Many were enrolled upon the Church Records yet how few are left.  They have gone to every point of the compass, whilst others have gone to their graves.”  (Dr. Evans)

Dr. Evans (8, George W. Evans, M.D.) gives us this interesting item.  “In 1872, I removed to K.C…. leaving the church effects in charge of Miss Josephine Darniel, the only communicant who seemed permanent.  And after an absence of 2½ to 3 yrs, I returned to Independence, my first efforts were again to reopen Trinity Church and I was encouraged in doing so by Dr. Mott’s attaching himself to the church by Baptism (service by the Rev. Geo. Betts) after which he offered us the use of a Room over his store without any charge for rent,… the first service was held on “Washington’s Birth night 22 Feb., 1876.  Service by the Rev. Joseph E. Martin (9) which was well attended and we hope it may produce fruit for our Master’s Cause.”

The Rev. A.T. Sharp (10) officiated a short time in 1877.

Church Erected The Rev. F.R. Holeman (5) again took charge in 1878 and during this second Rectorship lots were purchased on So. Main St. at a cost of 550.00 and a small frame church erected at a cost of 644.00, which was used till it was destroyed in 1880.

The Rev. John W. Dunn (11) had visited and conducted service in Independence in 1855.  He held service Xmas 1879 and in Feb. 1880 he became Rector of Independence, Lee’s Summit, and Pleasant Hill.

[Church Destroyed; New Brick Church] On Sunday, April 18, 1880, the church was blown down.  Monday, Mrs. Goodin and Miss Lizzie Dunn solicited subscriptions in Independence amounting to 400.00.  Mr. Dunn collected 3000.00 in the East, the lots on So. Main were sold and lots on North Liberty were bought and a brick church erected at a cost of 5000.00.  The Rev. J.W. Dunn resigned Trinity Parish June I, 1885 retaining charge of Lee’s Summit and Pleasant Hill.

[Church Organ] The Rev. John Woodbridge Birchmore (12) became Rector Nov. 1, 1888.  Communicants 45, Sunday School teachers 2, scholars 16.  At this time, the Ladies Guild had accumulated 500.00 and in Aug. 1888 purchased a pipe organ costing 750.00

[Carpet] In the summer of 1889, Dr. Mott obtained a carpet from a friend in the East. 140 yds.

[The Windows] Jan. 1890, the Sunday School provided the middle window of the Chancel.  Mr. Mark S. Salisbury gave one side chancel window.  Ada, Sibert, and James Mott gave the other.  Seven windows were given from the old St. Mary’s (St. Luke’s) Kansas City, and put in place by Mr. A.A. White and Mr. Chas. J. Carter.  Mrs. Bridges of K.C. and Mrs. J.D. Cusenberry each gave a window in the transept.  Bp. Atwill was consecrated Oct. 14th, 1890.

Extracts from the Reports to the Bishop and Council.

1890. May 27.  Families 25.  Communicants 37.  Confirmed 5.  Removals 12.  Died 1.  Lapsed 4.  expenditure $1133.33

1891. May 12.  Communicants 35.  Added 8, lost 10.  Confirmed 4.  expenditure $548.45

1892. May 10.  Families 16, Ind. 6.  Communicants 30.  Added 3, lost 3.  S.S. teachers 2, school. 8.  expenditure $573.00

1893. May 16.  Fams. 10, Individuals 13.  Communicants 24.  Added 7, lost 13.  S.S. teachers 1, schol. 8.  expenditure $569.18

The Wardens and Vestry at this time (1890-91) were Mark Salisbury, John S. Mott, M.D., A.A. White, Henry Brown, J.C. Carter, John Price.  In 1891, L.W. Read was added.

[Church Dedicated] Oct. 1., 1891. Bishop Atwill consecrated the Church at 10:00 a.m.  Present – the Rev. Messrs. J.W. Dunn, J.K. Dunn, St. Mark’s K.C., Cameron Mann D.D., Grace Church, K.C., Robert Talbot, Trinity Church, K.C., Theo. J. Brookes, Rich Hill, H.A. Dubue, Lexington, Sydney Smith, Cameron, and the Rector.

The Rev. J.W. Birchmore resigned July 9, 1893, to take effect at the end of the month.  Resignation accepted by Bishop and Vestry.  (vacant 1 year & 4 mos.)

The Rev. G.P. Somerville (13) took charge at the end of 1894.  In the meantime, John Price read service, Fr. Dunn and others administering the sacraments.  He (Somerville) recorded 15 baptisms and 10 confirmations during his rectorship, the last date being 1/26/96.  (2 years and 7 months vacant)

Again we find the Rev. J.W. Dunn (11) administering the sacraments until Sept. 4, 1898 when Wm. G. Thompson (14), deacon, was installed.  Having purchased this Register, he recorded the names of 24 families, 9 individuals, 97 souls.  65 communicants.  (Vacant 1900-April 1901 – 1 yr., 4 mos.)

He was succeeded by Rev. D.G. Mackinnon, who in 1901-2 was also Archdeacon of the Central Convocation and taking charge of St. Mark’s K.C.

[Death of J.W. Dunn] He was succeeded by R.R. Diggs (16), the Rev. J.W. Dunn bearing the title of Rector Emeritus until his death at the age of 84 in 1903.  His connection with this Parish might be said to cover 48 years, 1855 to 1903.  A faithful servant, he departed to his reward, leaving many children in the gospel.  Also there still resides here his two daughters, Minnie (Mrs. Florence) and Ivah, and grandsons, John Dunn & Isdale Florence.  God grant him rest and may light perpetual shine upon him.

[Aug. 30th 1902 to May 16, ‘05] The Rev. R.R. Diggs resigned to accept the position of Archdeacon of Omaha.  During his rectorship a new altar, with its eight large and two seven-branch candlestick, was installed.  He presented 26 for confirmation and in his last annual report says that during the year 12 had been baptized, also that there were now 40 families, 100 souls, 98 baptized persons, 85 communicants.  The Sunday School numbered teachers 5, scholars 45.  But as this parish register seems to have been lost most of the time between 1899 and 1905, the present scribe was unable to find the lists.  Mr. Diggs was also assistant to the Archdeacon.  (vacant 5 mos.)

[Oct. 15, 1905-Dec. 1907] The Rev. Wm. H. Haupt took charge as Rector, with the Missions at Lee’s Summit and Pleasant Hill attached.  He found only 27 families, 62 communicants, 39 in Sunday School.  Many had removed, some had died.  During his rectorship, a systematic canvas of the town was made and while not complete it showed 1008 Latter Day Saints, 8 Utah Mormons, 15 Hedrickites, 406 Baptists, 8 Hardshells, 482 Campbellites, 4 7th D.A.  245 Roman C., 59 Episc., 241 Pres., 179 C.P., 42 S.P.  M.E. 177, M.E.S. 275, German M.E. 12.  Luth. 9  Evan. 20, C. Science 11.  Scattered 25.  No church 1337.  Two complete copies of this work were made, one for the Ministerial Alliance and one for Trinity Church.  From this and his own personal work he leaves his successor lists with addresses and other information of the communicants, 45 confirmed persons, — Baptized.  Other possible material for confirmees, singers (male, female, boys). (vacant 2 years 10 mos.)

The Rev. Oscar Homburger (18) took charge Oct. 1, 1909 with the work at Lee’s Summit & Pleasant Hill attached.  He found the Parish in a very much disorganized condition, partly due to a vacancy of a couple of years in the Rectorship.  On Dec. 15, 1911, he left the Parish.  During this rectorship, the furnace was installed and paid for, and about $200 worth of other repairs and improvements have been made.  The annual report shows expenditures of $1857.50 for the year ending May 1st 1911.  After careful revision, the estimated number of parishioners, including the Parochial Mission at Mt. Washington, shows that there are 287 souls, of whom 245 are Baptized, and 139 are confirmed.  There have been a number of removals since May 1st.  Resigned Dec. 15th, 1911.”