Trinity United Methodist Church turns 190

SANDUSKY You don't need to see the Ohio Historical Marker in front of the building to recognize Trin
jasonsinger
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

You don't need to see the Ohio Historical Marker in front of the building to recognize Trinity United Methodist Church'shistorical significance.

Just walk into the church's library and read the inscription on the silver tea tray in the back of the room for insight into the church's storied past:

"To Reverend J.J. Hildreth -- A tribute to his Worth and Patriotism from his Union friends. Sandusky -- 1863."

The Civil War-era memento is one of several vestiges scattered throughout the building at 214 E. Jefferson St. But the church's ties to Sandusky date back even further than the Lincoln presidency. Trinity United Methodist Church, the oldest church in Sandusky, will celebrate its 190th anniversaryOct. 12.

"We're going to celebrate it the Methodist way -- with good food," the Rev. Bob Machovec said.

According to church records, Trinity traces its origins to 1818. That year, the Rev. Alfred Brunson -- a traveling preacher -- gave the first sermon in Sandusky, a 300- to 400-person town without anestablished church.

By 1828, townsmen had chosen Methodism as the local religion and raised enough funds for the Sandusky's first resident preacher, the Rev. John Janes. In 1830, Janes' successor, the Rev. William Runnels, built the city's first church.

But today's building isactually the church's thirdincarnation. The initial building was near the present-day courthouse. The second building was located where the Merry-Go-Round Museum resides, at the site of the old post office.

Both times Trinity United was forced to move due to "eminent domain" -- the process during which the government seizesprivate property without theowner's consent.

The current Trinity UnitedMethodist Church was constructed in 1923.

"It had the first indoorgymnasium in all of Sandusky," said Barbara Wendt, chairman of the board of trustees. "It's really quite a building."

Wendt, 85, has been a member of the church since 1938, when she attended Sunday school with a friend.

It has undergone a multitude of changes in her 70 years as acongregant.

During that time period a dozen ministers have served the church. The indoor gymnasium -- which she referenced earlier -- wastransformed into three Sunday school rooms in the middle of the century, and then transformed again into its current use as afellowship hall about 10 years ago.

In 1953, the church underwent its biggest change, constructing a more spacious, modern sanctuary next to the original building.

But despite all the updates and changes, the church still has relics -- like the silver tea tray -- of itshistoric past.

Some rooms in the original building don't have right angles and are actually trapezoidal instead of square -- a sign of less-than-modern architecture.

On the outside, the 85-year-old limestone shows significant wear in some spots.

Nonetheless, Wendt said at its core, the church hasn't changed at all.

"The congregation is still the same," she said. "Everyone cares about everyone else. When someone gets sick, we bring them casserole in the hospital. The church hasn't changed at all."