“Trinity Episcopal ‘Old Swedes’ Church and the Christmas Spirit”

Are you and your family looking for something to help boost your holiday spirit? Look no further. The Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 1208 Kings Highway in Swedesboro, is the place to go.

Trinity Old Swedes Church, decked out in its holiday splenor.

This year, on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m., the church invites all of the community to come out for a candlelight musical performance called, “Sights and Sounds of the Season”. This performance will include Handel’s Messiah and other classical and contemporary Christmas and Advent musical pieces featuring a soprano from Rowan University’s choir, Laura Nolan.

The finale will be a sing-along with the audience of well-known Christmas carols. No purchase or ticket is necessary to attend.

Father Greg Wilson will be directing the service as well. The church has nothing but great things to say about him as well.

Trinity Episcopal Church comes from a long background of very interesting history. This church has been declared a Historical National Landmark. The church was also recognized by the Dioceses of New Jersey as the only parish to have had continuous service for over 300 years.

This church started off as a log cabin in 1703 to provide housing to the Swedish and Finnish inhabitants that settled both sides of the Delaware River. This was known as the colony of New Sweden.

Between the years of 1703 and 1786, the church was known as a Swedish Lutheran Parish. Members of the church started to build and live in homes and businesses surrounding the church which led to the development of Swedesboro.

If you are into musical history, there is also a hidden gem in this church that you can experience during the concert – the organ. Just like the church, the organ holds a large amount of history.

David Reich, the organist, said it is like a “time machine” since all the sounds you are able to hear are from over 130 years ago. It was built and installed in 1893 as a mechanical tracker organ by William Johnson. It was one of the last organs that he built.

The only thing that has been altered on this organ was the bellows when they changed them from manual to electric. David says that this organ is truly “drop-dead gorgeous and is like stepping back in time.”

Between the candlelight service and the organ, the community has the opportunity to experience a Christmas Service similar to the ones before electricity (with the heat on, of course).

Another interesting historical piece about this church is that the King of Sweden, Gustaf VI Adolf, came to visit on April 8, 1976. He and nine other members of the royal party visited various monuments of history in New Jersey and Philadelphia. Even though it was raining heavily, there were over 2,000 people there to join the excitement.

The King was greeted by members of the church and community, as well as Kingsway Regional High School, as they performed the Swedish National Anthem. The current senior warden of the church, Bob Fritz, said it was such an honor for the church and its members for those who could attend at the time.

David Reich, the organist, playng the 1893 mechanical tracker organ. Reich said it’s like a “time machine” since all the sounds you are able to hear are from over 130 years ago.

Christmas is coming, so what better way than to attend Trinity Episcopal ‘Old Swedes’ Church to witness Sights and Sounds of the Season. There are so many reasons to go out on the 17th to enjoy this beautiful candlelit concert. Whether you go for the historical aspects, the music, to be in the presence of the church and Jesus, or to just uplift yourself into the Christmas spirit, go and support your local community church. The church welcomes everyone of all faiths to this concert.

Bob Fritz, senior warden, said, “During such a time of division in today’s world, we have always shared Christmas. It is time to come together in peace and love.”

If you have any questions pertaining to the service, you can reach the church at (856) 467-1227 or by email: trinityoldswedes@comcast.net

By Monica Segeren

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