Trinity Metropolitan Community Church of Gainesville celebrates 30 years


The Rev. Jim Merritt is the pastor at Trinity Metropolitan Community Church of Gainesville.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 4:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 4:05 p.m.

For 30 years, the Trinity Metropolitan Community Church of Gainesville has opened its doors to people of North Central Florida and offered a welcoming, inclusive environment for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Facts

If you go

What: Trinity Metropolitan Community Church's 30th anniversary celebration
Where: 11604 Archer Road
Info: 495-3378 or www.mccgainesville.org
Schedule
Saturday, Aug. 17: Concert on the grounds of the church at 6 p.m. with proceeds from offering benefitting the Gainesville Area AIDS Project and proceeds from the silent auction benefitting the church
Sunday, Aug. 18: 30th anniversary worship celebration at 10:15 a.m. with guest preacher the Rev. Pat Bumgardner; 30th anniversary lunch celebration at 12:45 p.m. at Sweetwater Branch Inn, 625 E. University Ave.; cost for lunch is $35

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Trinity MCC will host several events this weekend, including a concert, special guest preacher and luncheon.

Saturday, Aug. 17, the church will host a benefit concert at 6 p.m., as well as a silent auction, on its grounds for the Gainesville Area AIDS Project.

Proceeds will fund the ministry of Trinity MCC.

At 10:15 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, the church will offer music and a sermon from guest preacher the Rev. Pat Bumgardner, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of New York and executive director of the Global Justice Institute.

After the service, the celebration will move to the Sweetwater Branch Inn for lunch at 12:45 p.m.

Trinity MCC has been active in Gainesville and surrounding counties since 1982, from advocating the rights of LGBT people in the community to providing homemade quilts and toiletries for the homeless.

The group held its first official church service on Aug. 14, 1983.

Trinity MCC welcomes all people without regard for any specific label, said the Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt, senior pastor at the church.

The church has been a safe haven for hundreds of people who have been rejected from the churches where they grew up, he said.

“People have found a place where they could practice their faith in a welcoming environment,” Merritt said. “We've advocated people to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of who they are.”

The church building was constructed by the founding members themselves, said Barb Peterson, vice moderator of the church's board.

Members of the congregation staked out the foundation, poured the concrete and raised the arches.

For Peterson, it is important to celebrate 30 years within the community.

“It is rare that you would have a church that is built entirely by your own people,” she said. “To celebrate 30 years of a building when we started with 12 to 15 people is an astronomical thing.”

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