THE EARLY YEARS
From humble beginnings in the fall of 1981…
A group of five or six people met in a private home in the Sarasota area. They petitioned MCC King of Peace to start a “study group” in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. Rev. Ron Coons served as the first Worship Coordinator and subsequently, as Pastor. Worship services moved in January 1982 to the Unitarian Church on Fruitville Road. On Easter Sunday, April 3, 1983, the Church (with the name MCC of Sarasota/Bradenton) held its first Sunday evening meeting.
Rev. Robert Pierce was called to serve as Pastor in November 1985. For a period of time, the congregation met at the historic Crocker Church. From 1987 through 1989, attendance blossomed, and membership doubled. The current property with existing buildings (now the church offices and Pierce Hall) was purchased in 1988. Construction on the present sanctuary was completed in 1992 to be known as “Trinity Center”. Rev. Robert Pierce died early in 1992, and the original worship space was re-dedicated as the “Rev. Robert E. Pierce Hall.”
HIV/AIDS LOSS & CHANGE
1990 ushered in the “Gay 90’s.” There was a surge in membership and attendance. Two services were necessary on Sunday mornings to accommodate worshipers. A food pantry and weekly dinners were started for persons with AIDS (PWA).
During the 90’s, Rev. T. Edward Helms, Rev. Sherry Kennedy, and Rev. Gustave Klein served as spiritual leaders. The Church saw the addition of the cell tower, in the form of a cross, to the campus. The completion of Lockwood Ridge Road through to State Road 70 gave exposure to the Church, which had been situated for many years at the North end of Lockwood Ridge Road.
GROWTH AND RENEWAL
Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson was invited to be the Pastor of Church of the Trinity and was installed in August 2001. Under her leadership, membership surpassed the 300-mark for the first time. Positioning the Church for growth, 23 acres to the north of the present site were purchased. When Rev. Wilson left to replace Rev. Elder Troy Perry as Moderator of UFMCC, Rev. Dr. Mona West was installed in October 2005. Under Rev. Dr. West, we hired internationally known architect Carl Abbott to design a new sanctuary, education, and social hall space. The master plan incorporated the wetland space into an open, inviting campus.
Rev. Charles Tigard succeeded Rev. Dr. West as Pastor from 2010 – 2017. Under his leadership, we recommitted to community outreach. The Church broke ground on a columbarium and memorial garden named in honor of Craig Gardiner and Frank Stanford.
During this period of growth and renewal, Rev. Lisa Heilig and Rev. Renae Phillips served as transitional Pastors, leading our congregation through a process of healing and reconciliation between leaders.
VISION FOR OUR FUTURE
We welcomed Rev. Elder Lillie Brock as Senior Pastor in February 2019. Currently, she is assisted by two volunteer clergy, Rev. Donna Twardowski (Congregational Life) and Rev. Tony Viglione (Congregational Care). Under Rev. Brock’s capable spiritual leadership and guidance, Church of the Trinity is strategically positioned for growth, community outreach, and involvement. We are rethinking how we connect to potential members and the greater community using technology and social media.