Sacred Trinity Church, Salford

I recently called at Sacred Trinity Church at Salford. At first glance I thought it was eighteenth century on account of the symmetrical, rounded windows of its nave. Then I beheld the tower which at first appeared fifteenth-century perpendicular, but closer inspection clarified it was later, but older than the nave. The tower, at least, was one of those rarities- a piece of ‘Gothic Survival’. This is a gothic church built after the medieval period but before the emergence of Gothic Revival in the 1840s.

The tower is therefore the only section of the current building that would be recognised by Richard Hollinworth, the parish’s second minister, who was appointed in 1636. Hollinworth was a dedicated Presbyterian, helping to make his native county the most Presbyterian outside London. As well as disputing with Catholic writers, he also attacked Congregationalists and Anabaptists (today, we drop the ana). Although some of his titles were interesting if not snappy (eg The Holy Ghost on the Bench, other Spirits at the Barre; or the Judgement of the Holy Spirit of God upon the Spirit of the Times) he was a polemicist, who rightly advocated truth but could see little benefit in accommodating other sincere believers. What this arch presbyterian would make of today’s Sacred Trinity Church with its Pride flag and LGBTQ+ Sunday night services, I cannot say. The current incumbent seemed a pleasant chap, and his church we found to be wonderfully hospitable with its teas and cakes. I was still struck by the irony of a church having a very tolerant minister and a previous rather intolerant minister. We Christians are not called to tolerate everything, but to stand for truth; likewise, we must not reject everything simply because some understand baptism or church government differently to ourselves. Keeping a right balance between unity and truth is not always easy, but it must be done.