On July 20, 1858, the Rev. John Francis Hoff was called to be the first rector of Trinity Episcopal Church of Towsontown and served as rector until 1881. The church building was consecrated on Ascension Day, May 20, 1860, just a year before the Civil War started.
When the church was opened in 1860, a colored Sunday School that William S. Keech opened in 1859, moved there and classes were held in the gallery of the church. A dozen or more individuals attended this Sunday School. The Sunday School flourished at Trinity until 1899 when the Baptists established a school in the black settlement below Towson.
Hoff’s attitude toward slavery was typical of many Episcopal clergy during the Civil War, which did not advocate for violent reform of social abuses, but rather advocated for more gradual reform. During the war, he worked to prevent open hostility between members of the congregation, and Trinity weathered the Civil War intact. In August 1864, he obtained an interview with President Abraham Lincoln to try and prevent Southern sympathizers in the Baltimore area from being sent further south. After the Civil War, Hoff “…helped forward the work of reconciliation in Towson and among Maryland Episcopalians.”
The rectors who followed Hoff continued the work of Trinity and “…the congregation has become stronger as a spiritual family, liberal in doctrine, traditional in worship, and evangelical in outreach.”
The Surprise Shop, located in the old rectory, raises money for Trinity’s outreach programs both in Maryland and abroad. “In these and many other ways the present congregation …continues the pattern set by the founders in 1858.”
Trinity Episcopal Church is an inclusive and caring Christ-centered community nurtured by our worship and tradition. We ask God to strengthen and guide us as we live out our mission to welcome and celebrate the diversity of all people through spiritual education, growth in faith, and service in Christ’s Name.
Learn more: www.trinitychurchtowson.org
120 Allegheny Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204
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