One hundred years ago the cornerstone for Trinity Church’s gorgeous English perpendicular Gothic-style house of worship was laid.  Today, beyond its physical beauty, the church serves as a one of the foundations of our diverse community.

I spoke with Father David Stout about the history of the magnificent building on the corner of Asbury and Grand Avenues and about the church’s upcoming Mardi Gras Centennial Celebration, which honors the laying of the cornerstone and brings back a tradition of a party that was the hottest ticket in the 1950’s.

TBP:  I think Trinity Church is one of  the most architecturally beautiful buildings in our city and was amazed when I learned that it was designed by a 27 year-old architect, Clarence Brazer, who also designed the Capitol Building in Puerto Rico.

Father David:  Our church has a wonderful history of 138 years of consistent ministry in Asbury Park.

When completed, the church you see today – known as one of the greatest buildings in New Jersey of its time – cost $43,000.  I think the neo-Gothic architecture style gives one a sense of reaching to the heavens.

The terracotta tile in the sanctuary was created by the Moravian Tile Works.  The Aeolian Skinner organ is one of the finest instruments in New Jersey.

TBP:  The stained glass windows are extraordinary.

Father David:  The windows are of Antique English style framed in limestone.  The stained glass was created by world-renowned artists in the US, England and Germany.  The window facing Asbury Avenue was inspected by Queen Elizabeth  prior to being shipped here.

The congregation at the time wanted to highlight the role of women in the church, so they chose for the stained glass to feature women saints, which was which was very progressive at the time.

In the nativity window, the holy family’s physical features are more Middle Eastern than the typical European depictions of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  Every time I sit there and look at the windows, I think that it is such an honoring of both the historical Jesus and the diversity of creation.

One parishioner tells of how much comfort she felt, sitting in worship and being surrounded by the images of the saints depicted in the glass and whose memory in which the stained glass was given.

For me, the building may be what which draws someone in the door but it is the people that causes someone to stay.  The Holy Spirit working through the people.  A place where people sense a connection with the sacred.

I am a believer that people no longer are drawn, thank god, out of fear or guilt to come to church.  But they are hungry for a place that feeds their souls and we try to be a modern church that speaks to that need.

TBP:  And your fundraiser speaks to their need to have fun!

Father David:  When we were exploring how to end our centennial celebration, we thought it would be a natural fit to bring back this event, which was a long-standing tradition for its time.  Janice Molloy and her amazing team are putting together something that is sure to be the party of the year.

We also wanted to reach out to the wider community who might be willing to support the outreach programs we are dedicated to continuing four the Asbury Park community.

The image of heaven to me is one of a great party where we are gathered around God’s banquet table.  It seems to me that marking this celebration with a party is fitting.

For tickets to the celebration at McLoone’s Supper Club, Sunday, March 6, 5 pm to 9 pm, visit TrinityNJ.com.