For its 175th year, the congregation chose as its theme “Remember, Reconnect, Renew, Rejoice”; and on Sunday, May 22nd, 160 people gathered at Trinity to do all of those things. They filled the pews and spilled into the outdoors for a very special service conducted by the Right Reverend Robert Bennett, Bishop of Huron.
It was a special homecoming for the Bishop, who had spent part of his teenage years in the village when his father, the Reverend William Bennett, was Trinity’s rector. For the occasion, the Bishop wore a cross belonging to the Right Reverend James Hughes, Bishop of Matabeleland and a beloved rector of Trinity in his retirement in the 1970s. Bishop Bob divided his sermon into two parts, with the first being heartfelt and often hilarious reminiscences of his youthful antics in 1960’s Port Burwell in company with many of those in the congregation this morning.
We were also joined by ‘Archdeacon John Strachan’ in the person of Reverend Nick Wells and by ‘Mahlon and Sarah Burwell’, whose young son was a sweet and unanticipated highlight of the service as he swung amiably on the chancel gate observing the Eucharist preparations.
The procession was piped into the sanctuary by Dave Fleet, who hails from a Woodstock family which has long cottaged in Port Burwell on the bluffs west of the Otter. At the end of the service, the entire congregation was piped into the cemetery for the dedication of a memorial stone to the early settlers and mariners who lie in unmarked graves, and then on to the Parish Hall for a tree planting and the turning of the sod at the community garden, a new outreach project.
During the service, a grandfather clock was unveiled. It had been donated by Len Churcher, a truly remarkable nonagenarian from London, who had constructed it entirely by hand especially for this occasion using 18th century tools.
John Avey, a native of nearby Norwich, provided two inspiring solos: “I Hear The Winds Of God” and “Bless This House”. John is one of Canada’s most accomplished baritones and has performed throughout Europe and North America, most notably with the Metropolitan Opera.
The morning rain had given way to sunshine during the Bishop’s sermon and visitors were able to relax in the tent on the parish hall grounds during lunch, to enjoy the historical displays in the parish hall, and to reconnect with their Trinity family and friends.
It was truly a day of looking back with admiration, delighting in the present moment, and looking forward with renewed spirits in this setting so full of memory and meaning.