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Holy Trinity church celebrates 170 years

Holy Trinity church is celebrating 170 years as a beacon in Paarl this year. And through all of these years the church has been a symbol of vibrant worship and willingness to change and this can be felt from the entrance of the church doors right up to the altar.

The history of Holy Trinity dates back to 1848 and the church has since been very active in the community as a haven of hope for the destitute, the marginalised and those who seek a church where no judgement or discrimination will be passed against anyone.

As the youngest Rector in the Diocese of Saldanha Bay and in the oldest church of the Diocese, Pastor Denver Heugh who has been with Holy Trinity for seven years, says it is a huge responsibility to balance a church in a modern day society.

“When I first started out here in Paarl, it must have been very challenging for the congregation to accept me having been a young priest with what they sometimes considered to be weird ideas.

“However, I must say I have always received great support in whatever I wanted to introduce, whether it be a barefoot Sunday service in the winter, when the congregation comes to church with shoes on their feet but leave barefoot after the service, donating the shoes to the poor. Or making way for new worship ideas like a band.”

The Holy Trinity was borne when the first Bishop of Cape Town, Bishop Robert Gray, toured the Cape Colony and found that there was no English language church in Paarl.

Later, he met James Inglis from England who was the principal (and Catechist) of the Government Free School which according to records was situated in Paarl. The exact location however is not entirely known. He had been doing services in the school and teaching.

During another visit, Gray held a service where six babies were baptised and many confirmed, this was the start of ministry of the Anglican Church in Paarl. After the service Inglis made an application to be ordained and to work for no stipend.

His ordination took place on 23 December 1849, and Inglis became the first priest and rector of Holy Trinity Paarl. The church was built in 1856 where the Hall of the Parish is currently situated.

It had a thatch roof and later burnt down, which led to the current church being erected in 1883 and the old church being scrapped and rebuilt to make way for a hall which was slightly pushed back.

Heugh explains that there were no significant changes apart from the entrance which changed and the chancel being added in memory of the soldiers who died, a plaque which can be seen in the church.

Holy Trinity has since also joined hands with churches such as St Stephens, Immanuel Uniting, Zions Uniting and Bethel Congregational, in various projects collaborating with the Athlone House of Strength, Athlone Institute Trust and Athlone Institute Bursary Project Fund. This is apart from other Early Childhood Development projects in Klapmuts.

“I think we have made our mark over the years, but now are ready to make a greater impact in the lives of those whom we serve.

“I want the church to become more active in the community. My vision is that it becomes a totally community based church for God looking at the needs of our parishioners and the community at large.

Heugh says if there is anyone who has not joined a church as yet, or feel they need a spiritual home, to feel free to join them.

“We are a church for all God’s people. No matter what you are going through or struggling with, we are there for you and to pray with you.”

For the next five years discipleship is high on the agenda for Holy Trinity and the church aims to teach about all other issues parishioners struggle with before and after they leave the church doors.

170th celebrations: . Thursday 13 June, 19:00: parish cocktail with launch of the Parish Development Plan.. Friday 14 June, 19:30: Old School Dance at Stumps, Boland Park.. Saturday 15 June: Flower Festival from 11:00 to 17:00 with an organ recital. The church invites everyone to pop in for a cup of tea and encourages all those who lost a loved one to come and lay flowers or place a pot plant in the arcade.. Sunday 16 June: festivities begin at 08:15 from Derksen Street where the old Holy Trinity School stood. Led by the brigade to the boulevard where another group will join at the old Hof Street cemetery.

Later in the year the church will have a website launch and hopefully early in 2020 a book launch. There are also discussions with prominent figures such as Prof Thuli Madonsela to do inspirational lectures on various topics during the year. Earlier this year Ellen Pakkies visited and it was a huge success.

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