Trinity Presbyterian Church History

Our story began in 1913, as a historical journey of faith with the struggle of a small group of Christians climbing up the rough side of the mountain, forming what is today “Trinity Presbyterian Church.” A group of women led by Mrs. Frances Valentine and Mrs. G. Shaw became concerned about the spiritual life of the children in the Bloomfield, New Jersey community, and decided to gather the children and teach them the Bible for one hour, each Lord’s Day. The group outgrew Mrs. Shaw’s home and met in the various churches and halls in Bloomfield.

The Sunday School grew and with the growth, more families began to participate, relying on their spiritual belief in Christ as their personal Savior. The Rev. Charles Summer was invited to organize this group, guided by the Holy Spirit, into a formal Sunday School and Church. The Sunday School was formally organized on or about October 11, 1913. The church was organized during the same week as a Mission Church, which was known as a Presbyterian Mission, working among Negroes. From 1913-1935 many Pastors served our mission.

The Trinity Mission led by Mrs. Frances Valentine, moved to a small frame building, at 29 Race Street, Bloomfield, NJ (it was affectionately called The Doll House).

In 1935, the Reverend C. Lincoln McGee was invited to take charge of the Chapel Ministry. Under Rev. McGee’s leadership, the congregation grew and soon found it necessary to move to a larger facility at 75 Race Street. Later the New Jersey Garden State Parkway would need this property to build the Parkway. A Building Fund Committee was elected in 1936.

In May 9, 1948, under the auspices of Newark Presbytery, the Presbyterian Mission formally became Trinity United Presbyterian Church (known today as Trinity Presbyterian Church). The goal of the Building Fund Committee was finally realized in 1949 and the church relocated to Montclair, New Jersey on July 24, 1949. A dedication service for Trinity Presbyterian Church was held at the South Church Edifice, Orange Road and High Street, Montclair, New Jersey (purchase price: $27,500.00). this site became our beloved Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Under the leadership of Rev. C. Lincoln McGee, Trinity continued its growth, with increased membership, new organizations, a wide range of programs on weekday nights, Sunday afternoons, and renovation of the Fellowship Hall, for many years. The Men’s Club was a very active social and educational club in the church; holding monthly breakfasts with eminent speakers, from all areas and walks of life. These breakfasts brought together men of every political, educational, and social background, creed, and national origin.

Rev. McGee was very active in all aspects of the community and surrounding areas. He served as President of the Clergy Club for many years. The church became known as the “Friendly Little White Church on the Hill” and became both a visible and viable part of the community, extending well beyond Montclair. Rev McGee faithfully served as Pastor of Trinity for 46 years, retiring in 1985. He was elected by the congregation to the status of Pastor Emeritus subsequently.

The Rev. Barbara N’Dovie and the Rev. Clement N’Dovie were assigned by the Presbytery of Newark, as interim co-pastors of Trinity in 1985 and served to 1986.

The Rev. Archie Hargraves was appointed by the Presbytery of Newark as Interim Pastor in 1986. The Rev. Hargraves’ relationship with Trinity Presbyterian Church was dissolved for six months. During that time visiting pastors preached the Sunday morning worship services. The Search Committee of Trinity presented their findings to the congregation of Trinity and the Rev. Archie Hargraves was “called” to be the pastor in 1988. Rev. Hargraves was ordained and installed as Pastor on September 18, 1988. Under the leadership of Rev. Archie Hargraves, Trinity continued the legacy of its founders which included the more than double average Sunday Church attendance, a significant increase in church membership, continued involvement with the community, and additional renovations to the church and manse. Trinity continued to be a place of meetings for civic and social organizations. Rev. Hargraves was very involved with the local Million Man Organization, Home Corp., and other community groups.

Rev. Hargraves faithfully serviced Trinity until his death in 1999, after a one year battle with cancer. In honor of Rev. Hargraves’ faithful service, the manse was renamed the Rev. Archie Hargraves Educational Center.

Pastor, Rev. Allen C. Shelton began his pastoral ministry with Trinity in September 2001. With vibrancy, creativity, and vision, new programs have been organized; additional Bible classes formed and an active Senior Ministry Program (open to the community) is in place. Youth programs are opened to all young people in the community and surrounding areas. Through these activities, the needs of youth are being met. These programs cover Junior Achievement Projects, Project Excellence, Summer Youth Work (includes Farmers’ Market), Vacation Bible School, Community Service Projects. Trinity Presbyterian Church was a stellar site for the S.T.A.R.S Program that provided tutorial services (in conjunction with the Montclair Board of Education). In 2009, Trinity started the Trinity Summer Youth Academy (TSYA) summer camp program and a state of the art multimedia program.

Our current Pastor, Rev. Anita R. Wright, began her pastoral ministry with Trinity, April 2, 2017, and has bought dynamic preaching and strong leadership. She is Trinity’s first ordained female solo pastor in our hundred-year history.