Trinity Christian Methodist Episcopal Church celebrates a century of service

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Trinity Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (or Trinity CME Church), a cornerstone of the city's east side, is poised to celebrate its centennial anniversary, marking a century of unwavering devotion, service and spiritual guidance. (Getty Images)

In the heart of Indianapolis, a beacon of faith and community has stood the test of time.

Trinity Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (or Trinity CME Church), a cornerstone of the city’s east side, is poised to celebrate its centennial anniversary, marking a century of unwavering devotion, service and spiritual guidance.

The roots of Trinity CME Church trace back to the early 20th century, a time of significant change and growth for Indianapolis. Following the Great Migration, African Americans sought new opportunities in the North, bringing with them a rich cultural heritage and religious` traditions. In 1907, Rev. John Taylor arrived from Louisville, Kentucky, with a mission to establish a Christian Methodist Episcopal presence in the city.

Centennial Committee General Chair for Trinity CME Church James Perkins Jr. said that the church’s history is just as rich as the history of the Indianapolis Recorder.

“We all used to be near one another back in the day,” Perkins said, referring to the many Black-owned businesses and churches of the day.

From these humble beginnings, Phillips Temple CME Church was founded and flourished, quickly becoming a hub for the city’s growing African American community. However, as the congregation expanded, the need arose for a church on the east side. In 1925, Bishop Nelson C. Cleaves, in collaboration with Phillips Temple leaders and members, purchased a church building on Martindale Avenue, marking the birth of St. Peter CME Church.

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The early years of St. Peter, renamed Trinity CME Church in 1931, were marked by rapid growth and a succession of dedicated pastors. The church expanded its facilities, adding a basement and parsonage, and became an integral part of the local community. Trinity’s commitment to serving its neighbors extended beyond just spiritual guidance, with the church actively participating in civic affairs and social initiatives.

The following decades were a time of growth and transformation. Under the dynamic leadership of Rev. James L. Cummings, the church experienced a surge in membership, requiring multiple Sunday services to accommodate. This period also saw the construction of a new church building, dedicated in 1960, which replaced the original structure on Martindale Avenue.

Trinity CME Church continued to thrive throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Rev. Edgar L. Wade’s tenure, marked by exceptional musical programs and community outreach, further solidified the church’s reputation as a pillar of the east side. In the 1970s and 80s, Rev. T.C. Lightfoot oversaw the burning of the church mortgage, the purchase of a new parsonage and the initiation of a building campaign for a new edifice, which was completed in 1989.

The church faced new challenges and opportunities in the 21st century. It continued to evolve under the leadership of various pastors, adapting to changing demographics and societal trends. In 2019, Rev. Natalie McClendon-Obie made history as the church’s first female senior pastor, ushering in a new era.

Today, Trinity CME Church stands as a testament to the enduring power of faith, community and service. As the church prepares to celebrate its anniversary, the members reflect on a century of rich history, countless lives touched and unwavering commitment to the teachings of Christ.

The church will host its day of prayer and service during the weekend of June 21-23, which will include a picnic to celebrate the church’s centennial.

“We hope to see everyone in June as we look forward to another hundred years of service,” Perkins said.

Contact multi-media & senior sports reporter Noral Parham III at (317)-762-7846. Follow him on Twitter @3Noral.