ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Trinity Episcopal Church will be holding its final service on Sunday, Sept. 6.
Incorporated as a parish on June 12, 1833, Trinity Episcopal Church has seen a decline in attendance that mirrors other congregations across the country, according to Rev. Wanda Copeland.
“I think that there’s a lot of churches in decline and if you looked around we’ve got a number of Catholic brothers and sisters that are closing their many congregations as well.”
Rev. Copeland says this decline has been seen since the 1980s and especially since the ’90s with 15-20 percent of citizens attending services. The decision to close the church was no related to COVID-19.
Traditional holiday services such as Christmas and Easter were still bringing in over 100 worshipers, but Copeland says that weekly services were seeing “significantly less than that.”
When it comes to the physical church building, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on Oct. 31, 2007, Rev. Copeland says she does not know what will become of it.
The church currently holds the building “in trust” for the Diocese of Central New York, and once the building is vacated the diocese will retain ownership of the property. Rev. Copeland says there has been discussion of the building housing regional offices for the diocese, but there are no formal plans at this point.
“We get in the habit of thinking of buildings as ‘this is home’ and it is. In a lot of ways, it’s our spiritual home, but it’s the people that en lie in the space.”
Rev. Copeland says that anyone who attended her church has several local options, including Grace Episcopal Church down the street and other churches in Horseheads and Corning. She says that she will continue to work at St. Matthews in Horseheads and spend the rest of her time reading and preparing sermons.
“I don’t have any plans at this point to fill the other half of my work life. I’m really looking forward to taking some time and maybe being a little bit more skilled, more prayerful.”
Up to 50 people can attend Sunday’s final service at 9:30 a.m. inside the church. An overflow space will be set up on the lawn and the service will be streamed on Facebook. Additional prayers
Following the service, the church’s portable altar will be processed to Grace Episcopal Church on West Church Street. The procession is expected to take place around 10:45 a.m.