Faith For Free- Faith That Frees

The Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto was built in 1847 with money donated by a twenty-five year old British woman named Mary Lambert Swale.  She had one stipulation for her donation. Attendance at Holy Trinity must be free and no one would be allowed to pay to sit in a certain pew. The tradition at the time was that rich people bought family pews near the front of the church. They were the most expensive pews. The less fortunate parishioners sat nearer the back or stood, if they could not afford a pew. Mary said everyone should be welcome at Holy Trinity and should be able to sit wherever they wanted.  

We visited Holy Trinity on a tour of Toronto and learned the church has carried on Mary’s tradition of equality and justice.  They have supported more than ninety refugees to come to Canada. They have opened two affordable, safe housing units in downtown Toronto, with a diverse population of tenants who take an active role in managing their community. 

They were the first church in Canada to sanction and perform ceremonies for  same-sex marriages. A banner on the front of the church proclaims that “Every Day is Pride Day At Holy Trinity.”On the first Tuesday of every month Holy Trinity holds a memorial service for the homeless people of Toronto who have died during the previous month. A special sign board outside the church lists the names of these people. 

The Church of the Holy Trinity was built thanks to the generosity of  a woman who believed that a faith community should be open to everyone. Over 150 years later her vision continues to be carried out in the mission of Church of the Holy Trinity. 

Other posts about churches………….

Grace Mennonite 50th Anniversary

All Saints Church

On Being A Church Tourist

Church of the Holy Cross – Sedona

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Filed under Canada, History, Religion, Toronto

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