By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
In 1918, a prayer band consisting of 13 people meeting in various homes in Gary felt the need for a church to fulfill them spiritually in their service to God. Sister Thompson, secretary of the prayer band, wrote to the State Moderator for the proper procedure to organize a church, and Rev. Robinson of Chicago assisted and guided them in their endeavor.
On March 20th of that same year, the Trinity Missionary Baptist Church was organized and so named by Sister Ida Covington. It became the 6th established African American church in the city of Gary. On last Sunday, they celebrated 98 years of service to God under the theme “Strengthening Our Hands for This Good Work.”
Trinity began when services were conducted in a rented building at 1816 Massachusetts Street with Rev. Mitchell Coleman as its first pastor. Other pastors that have led Trinity over the years include Rev. W.C. Simmons, Rev. William H. Thomas and Rev. George M. Howard Sr.
Trinity has a great history. In 1919, the congregation purchased two lots at 1831-35 Virginia Street, which is its current location. In 1933, under the leadership of Henry Johnson, the choir was invited to participate in the World’s Fair in Chicago. In 1941, ground was broken to extend the first unit of the church and in 1944 plans were formulated to erect an auditorium.
It was in 2002 that Rev. Dwight A. Gardner accepted the call and assumed official responsibilities as the current pastor of Trinity. Rev Gardner said he is overjoyed to be at the helm of leadership as the church celebrates its 98th year of service.
He said, “I feel a new freshness and a spirit of anticipation in our church family. We have come an awfully long way and that great cloud of witnesses continues to gather on the other side of Jordan. We have had struggles, defeats, victories and triumphs, losses and gains; all of which are the description of the battlefield, but we already know that our victory in Christ is never in doubt. We are living out our theme for 2016, Strengthening Our Hands for This Good Work. We have already begun to plan the 99th and 100th year celebrations and we are working to frame our future. Eyes have not seen, nor did ears hear of the wonderful things our God has in store for Trinity Baptist Church.”
Jeanette Pike, one of the committee chairpersons for the 98th Anniversary described Trinity as a church with a family atmosphere. She said, “I’ve been a member of Trinity since I was three months old. I was baptized at the age of 8 here. The best thing about Trinity is that there is a lot of blood related families here. My fondest memory of being a member of Trinity has been when my son Alvin Pike, III preached his trial sermon here at the age of 17. Now an ordained minister, he was raised here. I was proud when I saw him preach here in Trinity.”
Trinity Baptist Church will continue to celebrate its years of service to God throughout this year as it prepares for its 99th and 100th year festivities. Some of those activities include a 2K Walk and Run in September to promote good health, the 14th year anniversary of Rev. Gardner, and the church’s Annual Tent Revival to be held on July 18.