Henry Martyn Stone and his wife Olive were the most active and dedicated of all the parishioners,
members from the outset. Henry M. Stone served on the first vestry, and had been a part of the small
group of believers assisting Rev. Pitman in establishing the parish.
Three of the Stones sons entered the priesthood and their second son, Edward Sawyer
Stone, was appointed rector of Holy Trinity in 1905, a post he filled, despite many years of illness, until
his resignation due to failing health in 1923.
Henry M. Stone died August 16,1908. Within the next year his widow, and her surviving sons and
daughter, made plans to have the present church designed, financed, and under construction. The
contractor was E. M. Prouty. The cornerstone was laid on September 22,1909 and dedicated "To the
Glory of God in Memory of Henry M. and Olive B. Stone A.D. 1909" in the presence of many local
dignitaries, visiting clergy, friends and numerous school children who were given time off to witness the
ceremony. The church was consecrated by Bishop Right Reverend Addison C. A. Hall on the Thursday
following Trinity Sunday May 26,1910.
The new building in English Gothic style is constructed of rough-cut native red marble supplied by the Barney
Marble Company of Swanton. The interior roof and lower side walls of the church are finished in cypress and
Georgia pine stained a dark brown shade. A wall of plaster, painted a buff color, extends from the wainscoting
to the ceiling. Natural light enters the sanctuary through leaded glass windows, most of which are stained glass
memorial windows, depicting Old and New Testament themes.
Separating the chancel and nave, is a rood beam, surmounted by a crucifix, and the figures of the
Blessed Virgin on one side and St. John on the other. The altar of white Vermont marble incorporates three
delicate della Robbia inserts. There is no "east" window in the chancel, instead there is mounted on the wall
behind the altar a
triptych depicting our Lord in Glory surrounded by adoring angels. Five years after the
church was built, a former parishioner, James Monroe Bell, presented a fine pipe organ built by Hall &
Sons, Boston in memory of his wife, Eva M. (Laselle) Bell.
Olive Barker Stone, who played such a prominent part in the establishment and construction and furnishing of
both the original church and the new one, departed this life on November 2,
Many of the appointments in the church such as the altar rail, lectern and pulpit, as well as
ornaments have been made as gifts.
Rev. Edward S. Stone who was greatly loved and respected by parishioners was rector of the new church
during this important period of its growth and development. He was a victim of tuberculosis which necessitated
periodic hospitalization and eventually forced him to resign on January 2,1923. He lived in the house presently
owned by Richard and Marilyn Foster on Grand Avenue. His death occurred in October 1927.
Rev. Arthur French, of Phillipsburg, Quebec, who was retired, performed priestly functions until
November 1924 when Rev. Vernon A. Weaver of Sheldon became pastor. Mrs. Hilda Wheelock (wife of Ed), played the organ in those days.
From the time of the resignation of Fr. Edward Stone in 1923 until the arrival of Fr. Alan Bragg in 1962 no
significant changes seem to have been made to the church property. Attendance apparently fell to quite low
levels at times and revenues were often insufficient to cover operating expenses. Fortunately there have always
been a faithful few who loyally and generously responded when needed; none more than Donald E. Wood, a
long-standing and loyal servant of his church who was first elected to the vestry in 1938.
Fr. Bragg, who had begun his ministry as a missionary in Africa, was nearing retirement when he
came to Swanton and served well past that time before finally taking his leave
in May 1973.
During his rectorship the original pews, which had served in the first church, were replaced. He also
arranged to have the present red carpet installed. One of his desires was to have things liturgically
correct, and he was instrumental in having a credence table placed in the chancel, as well as an ambry
of white Vermont marble to match the altar. During the same period new lighting fixtures, the gift of the
late Bishop Quimby, a summer resident, were installed in the nave.
The Rev. Benjamin 0. Chase, a chaplain in the U. S. Navy before assuming his duties here in June
1973, attracted many young people and the parish grew under his direction. It was with a great sense of
loss that his resignation was accepted after almost five years in February 1978.
Six months later Bishop Kerr recommended The Rev. James A. Kelsey, another energetic young priest. His
father had been a priest before him; he had grown up in Vermont, being recently graduated from General
Seminary in New York. Fr. Kelsey, who took up duties in August 1978, continued the programs so
successfully initiated by his predecessor, and the parish continued to grow under his guidance. It was a
sad day when he announced that he, his wife Mary, and their three children, all of whom had
been born in Swanton, had decided to "move on". He conducted his final Eucharist at Holy Trinity on May 12, 1985.
Molly Comeau was raised up by the congregation; studied for years and served as a voluntary assistant to Fr.
Kelsey who was her mentor. She “read” for orders and was ordained our deacon and eventually a priest. Upon
Fr. Kelsey's departure, she became the unanimous choice of the parish for its next rector. She was the first
female Episcopal priest in Franklin County, and the first woman to preside as full-time rector of a parish in
When The Rev. Judson Pealer came to us, he continued the regional ministry started with Fr. Chase known as
the "Yoke" which included Alburgh and Swanton. Under Fr. Kelsey it was known as the "Cluster" envisioning an
even larger regional ministry throughout Franklin and Grand Isle counties, but still
added Sheldon and Highgate.
Fr. Pealer shared duties and pulpits with The Rev. Brad Clark and added Enosburg and Richford to the cluster
and called it the "Confederation", bringing the regional ministry into practical reality.
Unfortunately, the effort was short lived, causing both priests to resign and move away.
The Rev. Evelyn Manzella was our next full-time priest; she served Holy Trinity exclusively. She was
an award-winning preacher and made many connections with the youth.
In three years she received a call to Wooster, Ohio, home of Wooster College. During her tenure, Normand LaVallee of Highgate Center, the last member of St. John’s Episcopal Church began an active summer music
program and opened the church as a picturesque Vermont village wedding venue.
In 1998 the Diocese arranged a shared 3-year position; The Rev. Marsha Hoecker as our half-time priest and
half-time Canon for Youth Ministry for the Diocese. She organized and led a trip to the National Cathedral in
Washington D. C. for the acolytes of Vermont to celebrate Vermont Day. Approximately 80 acolytes and 25
adults journeyed by coaches and camped at the Cathedral School for Girls and the St. Albans School for
Boys. The acolytes brought their robes and banners and processed at the Sunday morning service, a great
experience was had by all. Later she offered a trip to the children and chaperones throughout the state to the
outdoor Cathedral in Boston bringing food and feeding the homeless gathered there for the Sunday
afternoon service. She also arranged a Northwest Deanery trip to Montreal, visiting the Anglican Cathedral
and Catholic Catherdral in the old city, as well as St John’s Basilica on Mont Real.
Despite these successes, as her contract was coming to an end, a reduction to a quarter time rector was
strongly advised at the 2001 January annual meeting for our next priestly leadership. Another major issue at
that meeting was the repair of the Resurrection Window facing the Swanton Village Green, which had been
smashed by a sledge-hammer on election night 2000. This act symbolized the antipathy for “Vermont Civil
Unions” an effort for justice toward same sex couples, which Holy Trinity and Rev. Hoecker strongly
But in May 2001, "Parish receives an unexpected fortune" as later reported in the Burlington Free
Press article of January 27, 2002, including to following excepts: Harold Arthur Perry, a long-time
resident of Swanton, died in the early hours of May 2, 2001, at the Vermont Respite House in Williston,
over 80 years old and worth more than $8.3 million. He left no survivors. His will was simple: Pay off the
bills and give the rest, about $7.7 million, to benefit the struggling church in Swanton: “for the
stablishment and beautification of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Swanton”.
"He didn't want recognition for anything, he was always that way," said Georgette Lauzon, a friend
and neighbor who acted as Perry's legal guardian in his last weeks.
He was born Sept. 28, 1920, in Swanton, the only child of Harold and Cora Perry. His father died when Perry was 15. Perry graduated
from Swanton High School in 1938. After serving in WW II, he returned to Swanton and graduated from
the University of Vermont with a B.A. in Commerce and Economics.
Perry started work at the Burlington office of General Electric the same year; his devotion to his mother,
widowed at 55, was apparent. He commuted at least 80 miles round-trip each day rather than have his
mother live alone. He faithfully brought her to Sunday services at Holy Trinity Church, just a few blocks
from their village home.
Months after his mother's death in early 1970, Perry wrote his will. He had ceased attending Holy Trinity, but
bequeathed his estate to the Trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont to establish the Cora E. Perry
Memorial Fund. He gave no explanation and never spoke of his plans. The money was to be "prudently
invested" and the earnings given to Holy Trinity to be used for its "stablishment and beautification" as noted
"Its obvious to me that Mr. Perry wanted to do two things. He wanted to honor his mom and he wanted to
do something local." said Bishop Thomas Ely, who leads the diocese. "Now they're expected to be good
stewards of this generous bequest, which in some ways, has added a lot of responsibility.”
The Holy Trinity Congregation did take this responsibility very seriously, quickly recognizing that this gift
would change its future immensely. During the ensuing months many every-member meetings gathered
in a large circle in the parish hall, trying to discern our future call and vision. A prolonged consultation
with a team from the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes informed us about the life changing
future lying before such a small parish receiving such a tremendous bequest. Slowly a vision developed
to use the dividends for three main purposes, operations, outreach and building a parish hall facility,
which could serve as a safe meeting place for the Swanton community. To assist in the overall
operations and coordination of ministries for the parish, Rose Bacon was hired as a full time level
Parish Coordinator in August 2002; to assist in outreach and pastoral care concerns, Carol McCurdy,
was hired at a part time level in October 2003.
Reid Farrell was called to serve a rector and oversee this transition, beginning on June 6, 2004 (Trinity
Sunday). Being an openly gay priest in a committed relationship, his installation on October, 20 2004,
immediately followed Dale and his civil union ceremony at St John's Episcopal Church, presided by the
Rt. Rev. Thomas Ely, Bishop of Vermont. What an iconic and exhilarating series of events, symbolizing
Holy Trinity’s vision of church community and Christ’s Kingdom.
Designing and implementing our vision remained daunting and prolonged, as vague property lines were
collegially defined with our neighbors the Swanton Christian Church, attorney offices of Ned Spear, J.D.,
and the Village of Swanton; the original rectory so long ago sold was purchased from its present owner,
Ned Spear, J.D.; and several versions of the design of the campus facilities with full modeling were
presented and modified by the whole congregation. The final plan agreed by all included the multi-phase
construction of a new 3-level parish hall, renovations to the original rectory repurchased in 2006,
renovations and reorganization of the altar, sanctuary, choir, organ and nave of the church.
The old parish hall was “decommissioned” on May 13, 2007, and work began the very next day. R
enovations were done to St John’s Church in Highgate Falls so it could become an active year around liturgical
space during the construction and renovation period.
Even as we were engrossed in the long range planning and design led by David Winchester, we also
began new outreach initiatives, anticipating the completion of our new facilities. Beginning in
January 2004 Melissa Davidson and Carol McCurdy organized and initiated an "Open Door Dinner"
monthly free to the Swanton community meal. The response was so tremendous that in 2006 the Methodists and
Catholics were invited to join in sponsoring the event, each serving for four monthly meals, making it a
truly ecumenical program. Presently more than 150 meals are served, about a third being taken to area
Carol McCurdy left Holy Trinity to return to her home in Owen Sound, Ontario in the fall of 2008. A
decision was made not to fill her position and her duties were divided between the Rector and the Parish
Finally on July 6 2008, we enjoyed a Celebration of Thanksgiving, Dedication and Consecration
and the completed buildings opened to the congregation and organizations
throughout the Swanton community. Soon afterwards the fruits of our vision were becoming apparent,
as the whole campus bustled every day with actively. Sunday worship was enhanced, a revitalized Church School catering to nursery though
middle school children took possession of the lower level spaces, fellowship activities abounded
throughout the year, and throughout the weekdays Swanton organizations made the parish hall facilities
their home. By September, we initiated yet another meal outreach program, our Community Breakfasts.
They were held the first and third Wednesday mornings of each month and were started to provide
additional support to the nutritional needs of our community. From September 2008 through June 2010,
the breakfasts were held on a bi-weekly basis each month. The format was changed in 2010 to
discontinue the breakfasts for the months of July and August to give our v
alued volunteers some respite. The Community Breakfasts were last held in June 2013, but may be reinstituted in 2015.
Within 3 years another iconic event symbolized this vision of being a missional church community.
Normally we celebrate on average four baptisms a year. As a result of opening the parish hall to these
many groups, the impressed convener of one playgroup decided to have her children baptized and
others from her playgroup followed. Joining one of our members, they formed the group "Baptism of the
Twelve" on January 9, 2011, the Baptism of Our Lord! The whole congregation, pews packed, celebrated
with joy; we were affirmed in the renewing our Baptismal Covenant!
Another outreach was implemented in the summer of 2009, as Mary Wood spearheaded a weeklong
cooking camp for elementary aged children. This followed a previous summer program Zoom Zone
from 2003 to 2005. Beginning with 15 children and growing each year to 25 campers for August 2014, this is a
Bible themed cooking camp, past sessions include these themes: Fishers of Men and Women, Foods of
the Bible, Spirited Pirates, and The Armor of God. The 2014 theme is Rock the World. Holy Trinity children and
other local youth participate in a weeklong camp full of music, crafts and cooking, which are
creatively connected to the Bible theme. Additionally, a community outreach project is incorporated into
each camp’s experience. The week concludes with the children serving a meal to their families.
In 2013 Bishop Ely and his wife Ann attended the dinner and were entertained by the "Armor of God" theme.
Fully regaled as king, Bishop Ely commissioned Fr. Farrell to knight or “lady” each child in dramatic
fashion before Queen Ann and a packed hall of thrilled parents, family and friends! Notably, he added pictures of the event to his Twitter account as the night progressed. Please contact Mary Wood
email@example.com for more information. Please see our picture album of the event here.
Fellowship events occur annually, four in Advent culminating with the "Greening of the Church",
Los Posada Celebration with the F.A.R.M. minister, two Christmas Eve parties, Twelfth Night Oyster Stew, Mardi Gras
–Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner, Seder–Maundy Thursday dinner, Easter Celebration, Pentecost
Celebration, Trinity Sunday Celebration, "St. John's Red, White and Blue" July party, and an All
Saints Party. Several occasional events stand out including several Montreal trips to Christ Church Cathedral, 2010 Mystery Tour to
Rock Point Center, 2012 the 60's Birthday party as six of our members started their seventh decade, and a
celebration designation on June 27, 2013 of the St John’s Henry Erben Organ (ca 1837) as historic
by the Organ Historical Society.
Fr. Reid Farrell announced his retirement on May 9, 2013 and celebrated his last liturgy with us on Labor Day
Sunday, 2013. Reid retired to Sarasota, FL returning to care for Dale and their aging parents together
there. So we have begun a new phase of our common life together, as we discern our vision anew and
call a faithful rector to join in the journey with us.
Updated by Wallace H. Good, Jr. and Holy Trinitys Ministry Discernment Committee of 2014.
The rest of 2013 was very busy for Holy Trinity. On May 26, 2013, Bishop Tom Ely helped Holy Trinity celebrate Trinity Sunday. St. Johns Church provided a background for some very special community events. We had a Historical Organ Concert in June, a Citizen Band Concert in July, and an August Taxi Concert.
Youth of the community again gathered for a weekly cooking camp celebrating the theme of "Armor of God" complete with Bishop Tom Ely being our guest of honor.
In September, we celebrated the ministry of Fr. Reid Farrell and Dale with a parish service and reception. Highlight of the service was a presentation of a parish family quilt made by members of the parish and sewn by Helen Short, our amazing parish quilter.
We were blessed with a strong and efficient vestry as we worked together in transition to prepare for the calling of a new rector.
In January of 2014, we welcomed Rev. Paul Gratz and his wife, Susan as our Transition Minister. Following on January 9th, a new vestry was commissioned. In August, several children, led by many wonderful volunteers, attended the "Rock the World" cooking camp. Under Rose Bacon's administrative leadership, our daily activities and responsibilities continued to work smoothly for our Holy Trinity ministries. November brought a successful Christmas Sale which featured quilts made by our own Holy Trinity Church Mice Quilters.
We also did a Turkey Trot for the local food shelf and delivered over 30 turkeys. Thanks to Linda Wirts and the Fellow-ship team, several parish and community members shared a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner. We finished out the year with a Children's Christmas Eve and Evening Eucharist celebrated by Lisa Ransom.
In 2015, we welcomed Craig Smith as our interim priest. We celebrated Mardi Gras by making a banner and packed up our Alleluias with a wonderful pancake dinner. Bonnie Fournier led the cooking crew with plenty of pancakes and bacon. The children enjoyed pancake races and all the topping for pancakes. During Holy Week, Marianne Marshall led the children in a Palm Sunday play and the parish gathered for a Palm Sunday Brunch planned and served by the men of the church. We continued our Holy Week with the Seder Meal on Maundy Thursday, Ecumenical Good Friday cross walk, and a joyous Easter celebration with the unwrapping of the Alleluia Banner! In May, we said farewell to Fr. Craig Smith and began getting ready for our new rector
Weeks that followed in 2015 meant busy times for the Rector Search Committee and the Vestry of Holy Trinity. With much excitement we called Fr. John Robert Spainhour. The parish, under Bonnie Fournier's guidance, cleaned and painted the rectory in preparations for Fr. Rob's arrival. May ended with the children of Holy Trinity planting flowers in honor of Pentecost.
Our summer was busy and exciting. On June 18, 2015, Bishop Tom Ely joined the parish for the Fr. Rob's Installation. Our ministry together began with welcoming and reaffirming our worship, fellowship, and outreach goals at Holy Trinity. In August, we held our annual cooking camp under the theme of Heroes and Heroines of the Bible under the leadership of Mary Wood and Natalie Good. Children were very excited to learn the "Watermelon Song" taught to them by Fr. Rob.
Fall brought the beginning of Sunday School ice cream sundae event and Apple Fest activities at St. John's. We once again held our second "Turkey Trot" which included a visit to find out about the local food shelf at Thanksgiving. Our end of the year celebrations included a Christmas Children's paper bag pageant and Christmas Eve service followed by a festive coffee hour.
2016-2017 brought many new opportunities to worship and celebrate.
We were blessed to join with the Peter Abui Family as Peter released his book, Lost Boys. A parish dinner was held to offer a special autographing session for Peter's Family and friends. The parish held a community quilt raffle and raised additional funds for a future trip home to South Sudan. Two teens, Caylin Bessette and Cameron Nielsen joined together for an ecumenical project between St. Paul's Methodist Church and Holy Trinity to raise over $5,000 to purchase an ark of animals for the Heifer International Project. New vestments were purchased and blessed. Outreach continued with open door dinners, cooking camps, Silver to Sawdust Sales, and supporting our local food shelf and community needs.
In 2016, Rob Guerrina retired as our long-time devoted choir master. We were fortunate to welcome Kay Benedict to continue the wonderful work Rob has done for our church. Under Kay's leadership, the choir works to highlight music as a vital part of our worship.
These years also brought some new positions to Holy Trinity. Shelley Robtoy was hired as our bookkeeper and we hired George Plant as our facilities manager. Much thanks continues to go out to James McDonald who is our sexton. James continues to be an amazing asset to our parish.
The months of May, June, July, and August 2017 were very celebratory months for Holy Trinity Parish Members as we celebrated 150 years.
Each month, we held special potluck informational gatherings. We explored the history of the rectors of Holy Trinity, the stories behind the stain glass window dedications, and prepared a timeline of events and people who have been members of Holy Trinity. Our final celebration and reception took place on August 4, 2017. A joyous Eucharist service was celebrated by Bishop Tom Ely. Our parish welcomed back the previous rectors, The Rev. Ben Chase, The Rev. Molly Comeau, The Rev. Judson Pealer, and The Rev. Marsha Hoecker. A formal reception followed the service, which provided an opportunity for everyone to connect and reflect on the history of Holy Trinity.
During the years of 2018-2019, new members joined Holy Trinity and quickly were welcomed and involved in services, outreach and fellowship. During the summer, we opened up the doors of St. John's to the greater community. Several members of Holy Trinity dressed in period clothing and gave tours through the church to see picture displays and hear our own Fr. Rob play the oldest pump organ in its original location!
Father Rob has quickly taken to his role as a member of the community both Church and secular. Some of those connections include: serving on the Swanton Food Shelf Board; as a Trustee for the Swanton Historical Society; was elected by the community to serve on the Board of Missisquoi Valley Union High School; becoming a member of St. Albans Rotary as a personal and Parish outreach; being elected to Diocesan Council and as a co-chair for Racial Reconciliation for the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont; helping to create our first Vicar's Fund Endowment for the preservation and ministry of St. John's, Highgate; being appointed by Bishop Ely and Bishop Shannon McVean-Brown to the Rock Point Board; and becoming a First Alternate to General Convention July 2018 in Austin, Texas.
Wally Good, Jr., Kay Benedict, and Fr. Rob organized adult Christian Education. The first session was focused on The Path. For a final celebration to the adult study members created a quilt, which presently hangs in the small chapel. Book studies have continued to be popular with the parishioners.
New royal blue choir robes were ordered to replace the traditional red robes. The new robes were selected to match the Italian Dela Robia in the alter and arrived for some wonderful celebrations. We celebrated another wonderful children's service and continued to enjoy the many gifts of music offered by the leadership of Kay Benedict and our choir.
Under Wally Good, Jr.'s chairmanship of the columbarium committee, we were able to celebrate the installation and commissioning.
Holy Trinity honored the life of our dear Bonnie Fournier with the celebration of her life and dedication of the kitchen in her honor.
We finished off the Advent weeks with an ecumenical Christmas Caroling event. This was well attended and enjoyed by many who toured the town with a decorated wagon and a bus stopping at senior centers. Later we feasted on hot cocoa and cookies in the parish hall.
2019 rounded out with traditional Christmas Eve services and wonderful receptions planned by the fellowship team.
2020 History Report....Under Construction!
Please join us to help be part of our HISTORY! You are all welcome!!