Fri | Oct 20, 2017

St Mary's first Anglican Church celebrates 180 years

Published:Saturday | November 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Retreat, St Mary.
PHOTOS BY ORANTES MOORE Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Retreat, St Mary.
1
2

RETREAT, St Mary:

According to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust's website, Holy Trinity Church in Retreat, St Mary, was built on land donated in 1828 by wealthy English plantation owner Henry Rigg.

Following Rigg's contribution, it took another seven years to erect and complete the imposing structure that would later be known as St Mary's first Anglican Church, and despite an alleged arson attack, the building still stands today as a testament to the parish's religious heritage and customs.

This month, Holy Trinity celebrates its 180th anniversary, and while the occasion proffers an opportunity to reflect on the church's historical legacy, some members of the congregation are naturally looking towards the future.

Treasurer and church committee member Tamiel Scott told Family and Religion: "Holy Trinity in Retreat is the oldest Anglican church in the parish of St Mary. It was started by the plantocracy, and is the mother church for four other churches: St Matthew's in Boscobel; St John's in Gayle; St Andrew's in Labyrinth; and St Margaret's Mission in Clifton Lodge.

"Our eldest member, who was over 100 years old, died last month, and even though a lot of the older members have died, people are still very dedicated to the church. We have people from different age groups, both old and young, who want to carry on because we are committed to the Lord and to the church."

Holy Trinity was built on the site of Rigg's old sugar estate and is celebrated as a striking example of Georgian architecture. Although the exterior, which is made of brick, cut stone, concrete, and wood, remains largely untouched, some remodelling was required inside the building after a fire in the early 2000s.

Scott, who has been attending services at the church for more than 35 years, recalls: "We had a fire over 10 years ago. The outside of the building is the same, but whereas the inside used to be stone, now it's been smoothed over with concrete. It took a lot of prayers and help, but we rebuilt and moved on from there."

Looking ahead, Scott hopes her church's Sunday School, youth fellowship and Mothers' Union programmes will help recruit new and younger worshippers, and ultimately increase the number of active members in the 80-strong congregation.

Church PROGRAMMES

She said: "We have programmes such as the Women's Auxiliary, and the Brotherhood of St Andrew, which caters for the men, the choir, and the mission - everybody just comes together to form these groups and we build.

"We have members who live abroad, but they are still dedicated to the church. They come and worship with their families whenever they are in Jamaica, and send contributions to support the church's growth and development. We are mission-oriented, and as long as the Lord remains at the centre, the church won't die."

According to the Jamaica National Heritage Trust's website, Holy Trinity Church in Retreat, St Mary, was built on land donated in 1828 by wealthy English plantation owner Henry Rigg.

Following Rigg's contribution, it took another seven years to erect and complete the imposing structure that would later be known as St Mary's first Anglican Church, and despite an alleged arson attack, the building still stands today as a testament to the parish's religious heritage and customs.

This month, Holy Trinity celebrates its 180th anniversary, and while the occasion proffers an opportunity to reflect on the church's historical legacy, some members of the congregation are naturally looking towards the future.

Treasurer and church committee member Tamiel Scott told Family and Religion: "Holy Trinity in Retreat is the oldest Anglican church in the parish of St Mary. It was started by the plantocracy, and is the mother church for four other churches: St Matthew's in Boscobel; St John's in Gayle; St Andrew's in Labyrinth; and St Margaret's Mission in Clifton Lodge.

"Our eldest member, who was over 100 years old, died last month, and even though a lot of the older members have died, people are still very dedicated to the church. We have people from different age groups, both old and young, who want to carry on because we are committed to the Lord and to the church."

Holy Trinity was built on the site of Rigg's old sugar estate and is celebrated as a striking example of Georgian architecture. Although the exterior, which is made of brick, cut stone, concrete, and wood, remains largely untouched, some remodelling was required inside the building after a fire in the early 2000s.

Scott, who has been attending services at the church for more than 35 years, recalls: "We had a fire over 10 years ago. The outside of the building is the same, but whereas the inside used to be stone, now it's been smoothed over with concrete. It took a lot of prayers and help, but we rebuilt and moved on from there."

hopes recruitment

Looking ahead, Scott hopes her church's Sunday school, youth fellowship and Mothers' Union programmes will help recruit and new and younger worshipers, and ultimately increase the number of active members in the 80-strong congregation.

She said: "We have programmes such as the Women's Auxiliary, and the Brotherhood of St Andrew, which caters for the men, the choir, and the mission - everybody just comes together to form these groups and we build.

"We have members who live abroad, but they are still dedicated to the church. They come and worship with their families whenever they are in Jamaica, and send contributions to support the church's growth and development. We are mission-oriented, and as long as the Lord remains at the centre, the church won't die."

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com