History

ministry

Holy Trinity Church has a long, distinguished history. The oldest part of the building dates from 800 years ago, the previous building having been destroyed by fire in 1174. Say the name Holy Trinity and there is a high possibility that people will talk about Charles Simeon or will remember coming to the Church to attend CICCU meetings.

Between the years of 1782-1836 Holy Trinity Church was the centre of revival of spiritual life in Cambridge. The ministry of Charles Simeon in Holy Trinity began when he was appointed vicar by the Bishop of Ely against the wishes of the churchwardens and congregation who disliked the earnestness of his manner and the evangelicalism of his message. When Simeon proposed starting an evening service the wardens actually locked the church doors against him. This kind of opposition continued for a number of years, but he never flinched and gradually the response to his ministry was so encouraging that he erected a gallery in the south transept at his own expense. At the end of his life he was one of the best known ‘characters’ in Cambridge, his funeral in King's College Chapel being attended by some two thousand people.

Charles Simeon’s ministry to students included sermons, classes, and discussion groups, which provided the only training then available for ordinands. His preaching was particularly notable, his declared aim being ‘to humble the sinner, exalt the Saviour, and promote holiness.’ In 1794 Simeon introduced into the church a barrel-organ with sixty hymn tunes to assist the congregation, as he hoped, with their singing. Simeon also had a deep concern for Missions and raised up several missionaries. He was one of the founders of the Church Missionary Society in 1799.

In 1887 the Henry Martyn Memorial Hall was erected next to the church as a centre for Christian undergraduates with a heart for world mission. Between 1873 and 1889 there were no less than 140 offers to the Church Missionary Society from Cambridge men, and in 1885 it was the famous ‘Cambridge Seven’ whose going out to China did so much to stir Christian interests in Missions. Holy Trinity has always been as concerned for the wider church as it has for its own particular field amongst the townsfolk and students of Cambridge.