St. Thomas Episcopal Church is the 13th oldest Episcopal Parish in the Diocese of Michigan and the oldest denomination in Trenton. The official founding is listed as March 1843. However, its actual origin goes back to 1836 when Nathaniel C. Alvord began holding Episcopal Sunday School classes in a building at Elm and Jefferson avenues. In March 1843, the first Rector, Reverend Charles Fox, noted in his journal: “although the new church building was very rough and homely, it was finished and occupied and a Parish was legally organized”. Consecration and the first confirmations were held January 29,1844. These events were delayed one day because the Bishop, who had been visiting Grosse Ile, was prevented from crossing the river by dangerous ice flows.
St. Thomas grew during the years before and after the Civil War. Confirmations were held and the church roles increased by new families arriving. In 1876 a major renovation of the church building was completed. In 1881, St. Thomas acquired its first organ and the choir was established. In 1903, the church was expanded again to accommodate the growing congregation. During the 1920’s the Parish Hall was opened and available as a recreational facility for young people of the community.
On December 4, 1946, a fire destroyed the original church on Jefferson Avenue. The parishioners salvaged as much as they could from the old church and began working on a rebuilding plan. Early in 1947, after 103 years, a new location was selected. St. Thomas was to be rebuilt, at its present location, on a two-acre plot of land donated by Elliott Slocum Nichols, a great-grandson of Abram Truax who had donated the land for the first church. The Vestry was able to purchase, from the Ford Foundation, a chapel in Macon, Michigan and moved it 82 miles to the Nichols Road site. The chapel was designated a Martha–Mary Chapel, named after the mothers of Mr. and Mrs. Ford. It was the sixth one, which was designated and built under the supervision of Greenfield Village architects. Included with the furnishings, which had come from the Henry Ford Museum, were an antique chandelier, a solid bronze steeple bell cast in 1901, walnut pews, an electric organ and other items.
The Chapel also contains numerous items hand carved by Dr. William Thomas (Rector at St. Thomas from 1904 to 1915) that were salvaged from the downtown church when it burned in 1946: the Altar, baptismal font, poor box and a large wall plaque.
On Sunday, September12, 1948, the Rt. Rev. Richard Emrich, Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan, officiated and preached as the new church was dedicated.
During the next 20 years, there were several expansions to increase the size of the church. On May 23, 1968, the 125th anniversary of the Parish, the new A-Frame church was dedicated. This structure, as it exists today, is a blend of traditional and contemporary architecture. There is an open courtyard to the right of the nave that is used as a Memorial Garden where the ashes of parishioners and others are interred.
On December 30, 1969, the ordination of a Priest was held at St. Thomas. Bishop Emrich ordained the Reverend Gerald W. Smith who was baptized, confirmed and married at St. Thomas. A proud day for our church.
For over 160 years, St Thomas has strived to fulfill its mission – To know Christ, and to make Him known