"Old Swedes" Church
Trinity Church’s history dates to 1703 when a log cabin church was built to accommodate the original Swedish/Finnish inhabitants who had settled both sides of the Delaware River in what was then known as the colony of New Sweden. Trinity Church was originally a Swedish Lutheran Parish and from 1703 to 1786, it was served by clergy sent from Sweden. The church developed a lease system by the mid- 1700s that encouraged members to build homes and businesses within the area from Raccoon Creek to the center of what is the current Borough of Swedesboro to develop a “town” along Kings Highway.
During the Revolutionary War, the minister, Rev. Nicholas Collin, was accused of being pro-English and describes being "under close guard by a strong escort with loaded guns and fixed bayonets, and judging from their barbaric expressions I often expected death". Later, the American General Anthony Wayne took quarters in the rector’s house and Continental soldiers occupied the church as a barracks for several weeks.
In 1783 construction was begun on the present church to replace the original 1703 log cabin church which was in disrepair as a result of occupation by soldiers and of age. With the new building, came the change to Episcopalian and Reverend John Croes, who had served as a private in the Continental Army, became the first Episcopal minister. He would later become the first Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey.
Trinity’s impact on the history of the Diocese and the community was especially evident when Bishop William White of Pennsylvania conducted the first Confirmation held in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey at Trinity in 1809.
The Diocese of New Jersey, records that Trinity Church is the only parish that has seen continuous service for over 300 years and it’s many distinguished former members a governor, and two Brigadier Generals. Buried in the cemetery is a physician who served with Washington's troops in the Revolutionary War and the founder of present day Mullica Hill. Circumstances sometimes prevented worship in the church building, but a pastor and a congregation have been consistent. The writings of the pastors, Vestry Minutes, Minutes of the Ladies' Guilds, and various church documents, report the history. They tell of worship programs, service to the community, the trials of obtaining sufficient funds to build, restore, and maintain the church, and the sorrows and joys of its members.
From its founding years well over three hundred years ago, to its active present, Trinity Episcopal “Old Swedes” has continued to do God’s work among a diverse community.
The church is a National Historical Landmark, and underwent a million and half dollar architectural and structural restoration just fifteen years ago. All expenses and debts associated with the restoration have been paid by community fund raising and grants from the state, without any cost to Trinity Parish or the Diocese.
The congregation at Trinity Swedesboro celebrates this long, rich history and is actively involved with the local community.