photo courtesy Irene Dycus / Trinity United Methodist Church
Trinity United Methodist Church as it looked in 1975
Trinity United Methodist Church is celebrating its 100th birthday this month, with a weekend packed with events, September 19th and 20th. And to help tell the story of their 100-year history as a Midtown landmark, church members are looking for old photographs, programs, and other historical items for a special exhibit.
According to Irene Dycus, chairperson of the 100th anniversary celebration events, a century ago the church was established where it is today, at the southwest corner of Galloway and Evergreen, but instead of filling the handsome Gothic Revival edifice you see here, the little church’s 49 members gathered inside a tent on that corner, which was considered on the edge of town in 1915. Within a few years, they built a tiny wooden chapel, which stood on the site until 1923, when it was moved across an alley to Autumn Street and continued to serve as the church while the present sanctuary was under construction. The authors of Memphis: An Architectural Guide admired the “rambling Gothic style” of the main building, and noted that the church architect, Hubert T. McGee, also designed Clarence Saunders’ Chickasaw Gardens mansion, which later became the Memphis Pink Palace Museum.
The Centennial Celebration Weekend begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 19th, with a “camp meeting” in the church’s Fellowship Hall. Members will take part in an “Old-Time Hymn Sing,” which will feature old favorites and newer hymns. There will also be plenty of children’s activities, hosted by youth leaders and members of Boy Scout Troop 13, which the church sponsors.
Lunch on Saturday will be “very Memphis — barbecue and all the fixings.” That means platters of Corky’s barbecue; anyone planning to attend should RSVP the church at 274-6895.
On Sunday, Dr. James T. Laney will be the guest speaker for the 11 a.m. worship service. Laney has had a life filled with notable accomplishments. He served as ambassador to South Korea during the Clinton Administration, was president of Emory University in Atlanta from 1977 to 1993, and served as dean of Emory’s Candler School of Theology. In 2009, Emory’s graduate school was renamed in his honor. He is also a contributor to The Washington Post, The New York Times, and other national publications.
The next day, as part of the 11 a.m. Sunday service, “former choir members are invited to join Trinity choir members as they make a joyful noise during the worship service on Sunday.” To close out the Centennial Celebration, the church will hold a Service of Praise and Thanksgiving in the main sanctuary on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., featuring the Trinity’s new minister, the Reverend Jonathan Bratt Carle.
If they haven’t done so already, the weekend event will give church members and visitors a chance to meet Reverend Carle, who came to Memphis last month. He may not be your typical Southern preacher. Born in Louisville and raised in Montreal, he earned a master’s degree in music from Canada’s McGill University, where he studied voice and opera, and for several years was a professional opera singer in New York Ciy. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt in 2015. Trinity is his first pastorate. His wife, Jessica Bratt Carle, is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is also an ordained minister and a pastor in the Reformed Church in America. After earning her master’s degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, she served as the staff chaplain at Boston Children’s College and is presently working on her doctorate in religion, psychology, and culture at Vanderbilt.
Everyone is invited to the Centennial Celebration Weekend. All events are free and open to the public. Anyone with old photos of the church building, photos of previous members, or historical artifacts who would like to donate them to the church, or lend for the weekend, should contact the church office at 274-6895.