Saying goodbye to our beloved Holy Trinity


Two weeks ago, the Herald reported on the closing of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Unfortunately, due to deadlines, I didn’t have a chance to add my comments to the story. My family and I have a long and detailed history with Holy Trinity — too much to fit here.

All of my grandparents were Episcopalians, and once they settled in Valley Stream, they, along with other Episcopalians, organized church services in their homes, circa 1922. Later they moved services to the Corona Avenue firehouse. In 1924, a small parish hall was built on Brooklyn Avenue, and it doubled as a chapel. My grandparents, William and Prudence Fare and Henry and Mary Klein, were members from the beginning.

Their children, my parents, met through the church, and married there in 1944. All six of the Fare boys, including me, were baptized and confirmed there. My brother Charles was married there in 1970.

My history and memories begin in the 1960s. We always attended services and Sunday school as a family, and took part in every church and community event — picnics at Grant Park, holiday fairs, bazaars, dinner dances, thrift shops, holiday decorating. My mother volunteered with the Altar Guild and Thrift Shop, and sang in the choir.

But what I remember most vividly was my father’s devotion to the church. He built its main alter. He was an exceptional craftsman and woodworker; there was nothing he couldn’t build or fix. He built the cross that hung in the side chapel and held the crucifix, as well as the narthex table in the vestibule. He was always building or fixing something at the church.

In the 1970s we spent long Saturdays there, as he diligently repaired the pipe organ, which his parents had purchased and donated to the church when the main nave was built. We had a wired intercom system, and my brothers and I would press the keys on the organ while he was in the pipe loft adjusting the valves, seals and air pressure.

All of the parish priests became family friends, and spent much time at our home on Valley Stream Boulevard. The Rev. George Benson Cox was our first pastor, and even after he retired he came back to Holy Trinity to baptize me in 1962. Our family remained close with all of our parish priests, and traveled to visit them in retirement.

My father and some of the other men in the church removed and refurbished every window, one at a time. They would bring the large wooden windows to our garage and take turns sanding, stripping, cleaning, reglazing and repainting each one before returning it.

My dad built a 20- to 25-foot cross that he hung on the side of the “Williams Building,” a gym, classroom and office complex that was added to the church on 7th Street. It was a massive undertaking. Not only did he have to design and construct it, but he had to transport it from our home to the church and affix it to a brick wall. That cross was just recently removed, having been there for 50 years.

When my father retired in 1978, he took a part-time job as the church’s sexton, the caretaker of the building and the surrounding property. In the winter, he took care of all snow removal. I remember one bad storm when the roads were impassible. My father, my brothers and I walked to the church to clear the sidewalks to be ready for Sunday services.
The liturgical calendar was part of our lives, and every holiday and event seemed to revolve around our parish family. I became an altar boy as soon as I was old enough, and served for 16 years.

In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, Holy Trinity had multiple services, and was filled to capacity at most of them. My father and brother were ushers, and attendance was over 100 all the time. I remember standing-room-only at many Christmastime services.

But gradually the village’s Episcopalian community dwindled. The attendance and monetary pledges by parishioners weren’t enough to pay the bills. Our last few rectors were even part-time, or shared their time, borrowed from other parishes. It became impossible to maintain the property. Even the successful nursery school program began to suffer.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. The remaining parishioners and I will always love Holy Trinity and cherish our time spent and memories made there. But time marches on, and sadly, we must part ways with our beloved building, grounds and parish life. I will always have a special place in my heart for Holy Trinity, and I’ll continue to find ways to share and enjoy my faith, wherever they may be.

Ed Fare is the mayor of Valley Stream.