The history of Trinity Presbyterian Church is intertwined with that of the town of Travelers Rest which was officially named in 1808 and first incorporated in 1891. The area of the upstate of South Carolina was originally home to the Cherokee Indians before European settlers came in 1775. The name, “Travelers Rest” was given by drovers who brought livestock and produce through the mountain gaps from Tennessee to markets in Greenville and on to Augusta, Georgia. The area was an ideal place for them to rest for the night before they continued to Greenville the next day.
In the late 1920’s, Greenville, South Carolina was known as “The Textile Center of the South”. Around thirty textile manufacturing plants were operating in Greenville County. Brandon Corporation of Greenville purchased Renfrew Manufacturing Company in Adams, Massachusetts, bought 280 acres north of Travelers Rest and built Renfrew Mill which began operation in 1929. It represented the last new mill opened in Greenville County before the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The mill owners built sixty houses adjacent to the mill for the employees. Land was set aside for a Union Church, a baseball field, a boarding house and eight houses for African-American workers.
At this time, there were many active Baptist Churches in the area; each small community had its own local church. There was also a vibrant Methodist Church in downtown Travelers Rest. However, the closest Presbyterian Church was located ten miles away in downtown Greenville and few people had access to transportation to travel that far away. In the mill village of Renfrew, three fledgling congregations of Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists banded together and created a community church where they could each worship. The small brick church building was erected on land provided by the mill owners during the latter part of 1932 and was formally opened on Sunday, January 29, 1933. One month after the Union Church opened, Trinity Presbyterian was organized with twenty- three members by a commission of Enoree Presbytery.
In 1957, land was located adjacent to the new Travelers Rest High School. The Home Mission Committee of Enoree Presbytery purchased the property for the church at a cost of $7,200. That summer Trinity launched a building campaign and ground was broken on January 11, 1959. The first service in the new church was held on August 11, 1959. When the new Trinity Church was built on what was then Howard Street it was in a perfect location for growth. In 1957, Furman University had also moved to its current location from downtown Greenville which helped provide expanded opportunities for residents.
On January 11, 2009, fifty years after the construction of the first Trinity Church structure, the congregation broke ground for needed buildings to support the growth of Trinity. The worship service on that Sunday gave special honor to the past fifty years, with an anniversary luncheon following.
The journey of Faith begun by Trinity in 1933 continues today. Dr. Marc Mason, in the October 2018 issue of Trinity Tidings, described the church at that time and this description is still believed by the writers of this history to be pertinent today:
“Our congregation has much to offer. We have strong and expanding programs for children and youth. We offer a distinctively Reformed style of worship in both traditional and relaxed settings, each format strongly focused on the sovereignty of God, and the authority of Scripture. Moreover, our worship in both formats is supported by varied and accomplished musical offerings ranging from classical to more contemporary expressions of faith. We provide numerous opportunities for small group Bible study and fellowship time. Our commitment to mission work in our community and beyond is clear.”
Throughout the history of Trinity Presbyterian Church, there has been a sense of commitment and a strong desire to share the love of Christ to others in the surrounding area. These deep feelings of enthusiasm and joy continue as we seek to preserve the past while preparing for an exciting future!