History of Trinity Church

History of Trinity Church


1837Trinity Church was established in 1837 by the rector and members of St. Mary’s Church in Colestown, now Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

St. Mary’s was an active center of Anglican worship since before the Revolutionary War, but by the 1830s, it had ceased to be convenient to its parishioners, many of whom lived in Moorestown. The Reverend Francis P. Lee, Rector, and newly elected wardens and vestry men moved to form a new parish. A church building at Trinity’s present location was consecrated in 1838 by the Right Reverend George Washington Doane, Bishop of New Jersey. An excellent Victorian brownstone with graceful spire, the original building served the expanding parish for 91 years. The Rev1891erend Lee was Trinity’s first rector.

In 1928, the present complex of church, chapel, parish house, and what was formerly the rectory, was given by Eldridge Reeves Johnson, the founder and president of the Victor Talking Machine Company and Moorestown resident (though not a Trinity member, nor even an Episcopalian!). The previous church was demolished and the eighty-one year old rectory and sixteen-year old parish house were placed on new foundations. The present church building, located in the National Historic District of Moorestown, is considered to be one of the finest examples of Rural Neo-Gothic parish architecture in the country. Mr. Herbert Kleiner, a master woodcarver whose studio in the 1920s was in Philadelphia, was responsible for the rich and detailed intricate handcarved woodwork throughout the church. To replace the Bates and Cully organ, purchased in 1899 with funds raised by the Women’s Guild, a “modern” electric organ, designed and built by the Hall Organ company, was installed in the church. It was especially designed for Trinity and voiced to conform to the Episcopal service and the acoustics of the building.

At the time the new building was offered, the Reverend Edgar Lewis Sanford, II was rector. He served until 1949. His wife was Agnes Sanford, an author well known for her healing ministry. The influence of their ministry still is felt by many veteran Trinity members.

Throughout its history, Trinity has played a large role in the life of the community, both local and otherwise. It joined other churches in the establishment of an ecumenical church council, a vacation Bible school, and many other community services, especially during the Great Depression, World War II and the tumultuous 1960s and 70s.

Trinity’s inclination towards outreach was further cultivated by the Reverend Canon Bruce Weatherly, Trinity’s rector from 1959 to 1994, . In his 35-year ministry, Canon Weatherly led and abetted efforts that resulted in the creation of affordable housing (MEND: Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development), a hospice program (now Samaritan Hospice), crisis intervention program (CONTACT), a model drug rehabilitation facility (Post House), and various programs to aid the poor and those otherwise in need in Burlington County. Beginning under Canon Weatherly’s leadership, Trinity also has an active urban ministry in partnership with various churches and organizations in the nearby city of Camden.

In 1995, the Reverend Philip W. Stowell became Trinity’s seventeenth rector. He re-instituted a Men’s Club, which meets monthly on Saturday mornings and started a weekly Thursday morning Clericus (clergy of Burlington County) breakfast meeting. In 2000, Nancy Whisonant became the first Director of the new Trinity Preschool, which has a reputation of being one of the top preschools in the area. During Father Stowell’s tenure, the Moorestown Ministerium (local clergy of Moorestown) began the Good Samaritan Ministry, a comprehensive network of support for people in need. Annual Outreach fund raisers were begun, including an auction, Annual Blueberry Festival and  Calendar Party fundraiser. Father Stowell arranged for the repair of the  Bell Tower chimes, which are rung for special services. The Organ Renovation Project was begun in 2014, completed within a few months, and was dedicated to the memory of Andrew Stowell, the son of the Rector and his wife, Susan. Every year since September 11, 2001, The 200 Club of Burlington County sponsored a 9/11 Memorial Service and breakfast for all emergency responders (Father Stowell was the chaplain for Burlington County Emergency Services) at which Father Stowell officiated. Trinity Church joined the age of technology with networked office computers, a church website, and a Facebook account under his rectorship. In October 2015, after serving Trinity Church for 20 years, Father Stowell retired.



Francis P. Lee      1838-1838

Henry Burroughs, Jr.     1838-1840

Andrew B. Patterson     1840-1844

Thomas L. Franklin, D.D.    1845-1847

William B. Otis      1847-1849

Samuel Randall      1849-1853

H. Hastings Weld, S.T.D.    1854-1870

Samuel R. Asbury      1871-1873

Dewit C. Loop      1873-1878

James H. Lamb, D.D.     1878-1896

John F. Fenton, Ph.D.     1897-1898

Robert McKay, D.D.     1898-1914

Frederick A. Warden     1915-1925

Edgar L. Sanford, II     1926-1949

Arthur J. Blythe      1949-1959

Bruce A. Weatherly 1959-1994

Philip W. Stowell    1995-2015