Young church goes west, grows

MANATEE — Members of Trinity United Methodist Church are inviting anyone who ever visited the church to come to the 11 a.m. service Sunday and share in a celebration.

That service, at 3200 Manatee Ave. W, will honor the 60-year anniversary of Trinity United Methodist.

It is fitting that a call is going out to community members to come back because the church has always been excited about its community, members say.

Back in 1950, an enthusiastic group wanted to branch off from First United Methodist in downtown Bradenton — and this group was excited about west Bradenton, which was like a hinterland back then, church historian Bonnie Goodman says.

Today, Trinity’s address is no longer on the outskirts of town, but is centrally located to a busy and densely populated West Bradenton location.

Carol Sanders, part of a large and strong group of original members still impacting the life of the church, hopes many old faces show up Sunday.

“It will be nice to see folks we didn’t see that much, along with the ones we did,” Sanders said.

Several of the previous 14 church pastors will return for the celebration, including the Rev. B. Hugh Lake, who was the pastor from 1982 to 1990. He will preach Sunday’s service.

The church began in 1950 as a collection of young vital families, says charter member Pat Kesten.

Those first members included Anthony Rossi, founder of Tropicana, and Pat Kesten’s husband, Murray. Sen. Ed Price also was a founding member.

“It was a very ‘up’ time,” Kesten said. “We were enthusiastic people. Many were ready to chip in. Everyone pitched in after the purchase of the lot.”

The population of Bradenton was moving west at that time and the church felt pleased to serve it, Kesten recalls.

“Our first pastor was A.D. Hoaglin, and he was surrounded by strong Christian men,” Kesten added. “Sometimes a church is filled with enthusiastic little old ladies. But when A.D. was preaching we had strong, enthusiastic Christian men who were vital to the church.”

While waiting for its first sanctuary, the church met at Manatee High School, in the Davis Building.

Members didn’t have to wait long. The first sanctuary was built in 1950, Goodman said. By 1955, the current sanctuary was built and the first sanctuary became the fellowship hall.

In 1972, a west wing of classrooms was added and in 1991, second-story classrooms were added.

In 2008, under the director of current pastor the Rev. James Rosenburg, a Family Promise transitional home was dedicated.

One idea the church adopted early on was to hold a door-to-door canvass to see if people might like to get some information on the new church. “Trinity is a mission-minded church, and a lot of effort over the years has been outreach to the community and to the world,” charter member Carol Sanders said. “We are always available for people to come in.”

That idea is woven into many of the church’s programs, Sanders added.

Trinity is a network partner for Family Promise, which provides food and shelter and housing for homeless families in transition in the community.

The church does food box deliveries to families in need and is a Habitat for Humanity partner.

“Along with other United Methodist Churches, we financed and completed one home and are scheduled to break ground on another Habitat home in 2010,” Goodman said.

Young Life, a youth ministry, serves more than 100 youth a week, Goodman says. And the Trinity Children’s Center is a top vote-getter annually in services for the top preschools in Manatee County.

The Trinity Sonshine Club offers adult respite support Monday through Friday on the Trinity campus.

Finally, Life Groups meet throughout each week.

The current pastor understands the essence of the house of worship he inherited.

“I think Trinity has always had a heart for the community it serves,” Rosenburg said. “It cares for the needs of its neighbors — and that is what a church should do.”

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.