Trinity Presbyterian Church began in 1904 as a mission to Italian immigrants in Schenectady, NY. Like many northeastern industrial cities at the time, Schenectady witnessed a large influx of immigrants from Europe to work in its factories. Frank Cherubini, pastor of Trinity from 1946 to 1964, shared the story of the church’s origins in his memoirs:
Trinity Presbyterian Church began with the evangelical zeal of a distinguished pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Dr. Russell Stevenson. When some of the young people of the parish came to him for work, he suggested that they begin a Sunday school for the Italians, who were then newly hired to work for GE in Schenectady. From a humble beginning in Sunday school work, Trinity Presbyterian Church has grown.
The Sunday school mission, originally called the San Salvatore Presbyterian mission would grow rapidly reaching an enrollment of 100 by January 1905. Aside from caring for the spiritual needs of its members, the church offered classes in English language and American History to help assimilate new immigrants into citizenship. Eventually, the mission would serve two locations in Schenectady; a “store front” school in the Mount Pleasant section of the city, and what would be understood as the main sanctuary on Jay Street, one block from Schenectady’s City Hall.
From its earliest days the members of “Trinity” showed incredible strength and conviction. This was a congregation of strong personalities who were zealous for their church and beliefs. Perhaps it was this pioneering spirit that led the church to be ahead of its time in terms of outreach. In the 1940’s Trinity would show movies in the church hall as a way of attracting new members. It wasn’t until 1956, when the deteriating state of the Jay street sanctuary forced the newly independent congregation to look for a new physical location. The congregation felt that God was leading them to their now, home of over 50 years, the Swaggertown Road area of Glenville.
Even after that move, the same conviction and commitment are what has brought Trinity through it’s challenging times. It’s the spirit of the people that makes things happen – and it’s the stories those people share, whether it be how the women’s group finished the church kitchen by deciding that it just “had to happen” and throwing down the first $20 bill; or the same determination that led to the driveway being paved after all those years – or even the Sanctuary renovation that took place in 2007, which allowed the new technology of today to be permanently integrated into our workshop space.
God is alive at Trinity, through his people and his work.