Mother church in need

By: W. Curt Vincent -

ELIZABETHTOWN — At one end of downtown Elizabethtown, on the south side of West Broad Street, sits Trinity United Methodist Church. At the other end, on the north side of East Broad Street, sits its mother church, Old Trinity.

On Thursday evening, the congregation of Trinity UMC held a chicken-bog fundraiser in an effort to fund a new roof on Old Trinity.

“There are other things that need fixing, too,” said Lin Weeks, chairman of the Old Trinity Committee. “But there’s no sense in fixing everything if the roof leaks.”

Thursday’s fundraiser offered the chicken-bog meal with all the fixin’s free of charge — along with entertainment and a historical look at Old Trinity Church. Donations poured in along with those attending the event and, when all the contributions were tabulated, the event raised $2,341.

Weeks, along with cook Steve Willis, prepared food for 200 people and servers handed out a good portion of that during the evening. Those attending included more than just the church’s own congregation.

“I think that’s because Old Trinity is an icon for the community as much as it is for our church,” Weeks said. “The cemetery there goes back to the 1700s, so a lot of people here have relatives buried there.”

According to Weeks, the cemetery’s 603 plots are about three-quarters full.

“The congregation here is pretty proud to have Old Trinity still a part of us,” Weeks added. “So it’s very important for us to keep Old Trinity in good shape — and we’d like to see more activity there.”

Old Trinity, which was built in 1849 and served its congregation until 1955 when the new church opened, has hosted Easter Sunrise Services, Advent services, weddings and funerals over the years. And Weeks said the church remains available for those and other events.

Weeks’ wife Ann was part of the last group to attend Old Trinity.

“There are a lot of good memories from those days,” she said.

Ray Allen was also among those who attended Old Trinity as a young boy of about 11 years old. He recalled what it was like when the congregation was faced with leaving the mother church.

“I was just a boy, but I remember it was a tough decision to leave the old church,” he said. “Some of the folks didn’t want to leave, but they did and thankfully the old church remains with us today.”

Trinity UMC’s current pastor, Jay Winston, has served his congregation for more than five years and said donations for Old Trinity have been coming in from the community and beyond.

“We’ve received donations from as far away as Florida,” he said. “People really have a love for that old church, whether they are Methodist or not, residents here or not. It’s become a significant part of this town.”

Trinity UMC regularly holds community fundraisers for Old Trinity and its own programs. Those have included a Boston butt sale, turkey sale for the holidays and others. The congregation is also a major contributor to the Bladen Journal’s annual Empty Stocking Fund and recently contributed to the third annual “Roger’s Wish” project.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.
Chicken-bog dinnerto raise money forroof replacementat Old Trinity

W. Curt Vincent