The story of Southeast Texas is a story of the Gulf of Mexico, two rivers, piney woods, and black gold! As the area was settled, three cities on the coast, Port Arthur, Beaumont and Orange, grew, prospered and vied with each other for preeminence. The area surrounding these three cities became known as the Golden Triangle. The Episcopal Church was planted early in these cities: St. George's in Port Arthur, St. Paul's in Orange and St. Mark's in Beaumont.
After World War II, as the economy of this nation transitioned from war time to peace time, the economy of the Golden Triangle grew too. With this post-war growth, the smaller communities in the Golden Triangle grew and expanded to house and provide services to the expanding local industries. With the growth of these surrounding communities came an expansion of the Episcopal Church.
The story of Holy Trinity begins in the 1940s with friendship and of country roads. The nearest Episcopal church for those living in mid-Jefferson County (Port Neches, Nederland and Groves) was St. George’s in Port Arthur. Many of the Farm to Market roads were unpaved and some of the early Episcopalians who lived in the mid-county area were adverse to traveling so far along those then isolated country roads. It was just too long a distance to pile everybody in the old car, especially when times were tough and new tires were still hard to come by following WWII. As the war ended, the economy boomed and new, young families began moving to the Golden Triangle. Episcopalians in Port Neches, Groves and Nederland began thinking about beginning a new Episcopal parish in mid-county. Two old friends, Stella Prejean and Sheldon Lee, got together and decided to take matters into their own hands. Since they both lived in Port Neches at the time, they met at Sheldon’s house under the direction of The Reverend Thomas M. W. Yerxa, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in nearby Orange. Ten persons signed an application for Trinity Episcopal Church, and the first Sunday service of Holy Communion was held in the Port Neches home of Mrs. Stella Prejean on July 6, 1947.
The services in the early years were held at the old Port Neches library which was rented for $10 per month. In 1948, Mrs. Stella Prejean gave the new mission a house which was moved from Port Neches Avenue to a 50 ft. lot on Live Oak Street. The congregation became carpenters, painters and electricians, converting the house into a chapel with one Sunday School room in the rear. The altar, still in use today, was hand-carved in Belgium, and was already one hundred years old when it was donated to Holy Trinity by St. Paul’s Church in Orange. St. Mark’s Church in Beaumont donated pews for the church building. Bishop Quinn gave the mission a silver communion set. Mrs. Prejean bought the cross for the altar and Mr. and Mrs. Hebert gave the processional cross. The Will Block Estate gave the mission a church bell which was hung in a belfry. People contributed time and talent and money to help the new mission in many different ways.
The young parish soon outgrew its Live Oak facility. The parishioners bought a piece of land on Nall Street (FM 365) on the edge of town to build their new church. Thankfully, the parishioners had the foresight to obtain the whole block that was facing Nall Street. Groundbreaking for a new church facility was held on October 30, 1955. On Sunday, March 11, 1956 Bishop John Hines and the Reverend Charles Dobbins dedicated the new Mission building on Nall Street. This first building had a kitchen, 2 restrooms, office, sacristy and a large open space which served as church and parish hall. Today, this original building serves as Holy Trinity's parish hall.
The 1950s were a time of new post-war marriages and blossoming families. The population and economy in Mid-county continued to grow. Holy Trinity was no exception and soon after its first building, growing pains struck again. In March of 1959 another groundbreaking was held, and this time it was for a Sunday School Wing. In 1960, the Episcopal Diocese of Texas welcomed Trinity Mission-Port Neches as its newest parish. The Articles of Association, containing all the names of adult communicants who were present that day, are framed and displayed in the parish Conference Room.
Growth continued in Mid-County. By the early 1980s the “Country Road” had given way to a new four-lane paved street linking the new Port Arthur Central Mall area to Port Neches. As the surrounding communities grew, so did Holy Trinity. In 1985, Holy Trinity petitioned the Diocese for permission to add a new nave connected to the existing building by a new narthex. This new worship space, a square building with a corner altar, served the parish well until the mid-1990s. As the parish continued to grow and thrive, the parishioners soon realized that the 1985 nave was too small and that the corner altar did not function well. On March 3, 1998 the Vestry got the green light from the Diocese to take out a loan to expand the existing nave, just as they were burning the mortgage for the 1985 expansion. The square building stretched into a rectangle with the altar moved to the east front of the nave. The original parish bell was moved to a new bell tower which also houses a digital Carillon which chimes the hours and plays hymns for the neighborhood. This building expansion was completed in time for Rally Day in September of 1998, and it is the facility in use today.
Over the years, several additions were made to the building:
1955 Groundbreaking for the Nall Street property 1956 Dedication of the Mission Building on Nall Street 1959 Sunday School Wing added 1964 The Rectory on 12th Street was completed 1985 The groundbreaking for the new Nave. 1986 February 6, 1986, Service held in the new Nave 1991 The first paved parking lot added 1994 The flat roof on the Christian Education wing was converted to a pitched roof 1994 The parking lot was doubled in size 1997 Parking lot off Baker Street 1998 Nave was remodeled and expanded 2006 Columbarium installed in the Nave 2016 The Left and Right Wings of the Columbarium were added
Holy Trinity has been served by many long-tenured rectors:
The Reverend Thomas Yerxa - 1947 The Reverend George Cameron - 1948-1952 The Reverend Charles Dobbins - 1953-1957 The Reverend John Sanders - 1958-1963 The Reverend Marvin Bond - 1964-1967 The Reverend Dean McMann - 1967-1979 The Reverend Mercer Goodson - 1980-1991 The Reverend Petroula K. Ruehlen - 1992-2002 The Reverend Cliff Rucker - 2002-2017
REGULAR SERVICE TIMES:
SUNDAYS 8:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist-no music 10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist-with music 10:30 a.m. Children's Church
WEDNESDAYS 12:00 noon Holy Eucharist with Prayers for Healing
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church 2425 Nall Street (TX 365) Port Neches, Texas 77651-4703 Phone 409-722-6238 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.htec-pn.org