“We are located right in the middle of Gary, Indiana for a reason.”
Editing by Welcome Project intern Brandi Casada.
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Transcript for Committed To The Community
The United Church of Christ—the denomination—were four churches that came together in 1957, but the original churches, like the Evangelical and the German Reformed Church, they go back to Pilgrims and Puritans. But many of those members were abolitionists. And so, when the Amistad came—when that ship came in—John Quincy Adams, who was a former president, was one of the lead lawyers on that case, and they won. And when they won the case, they had to get money together to send them back to Africa, and during that time, they were taken in by the Congregationalist Church—was a part of this church, and people gave money, and they invested that money, and some of that money, through investment, still exists, and that’s the money they used to build this church. So… And I knew nothing about the denomination at all. I just—one of my cousins said, ‘You need to go hear Jeremiah Wright because he’s talking and pulling together for you.’ Because I’d always been involved in justice, never saw the connection between church and the justice. And she said, ‘I think you need to hear him.’ I went, and then I really got involved with that church. And then ended up here. That’s kind of how it all kind of comes together for me. At that time, I never knew I was being called to ministry, and that was like, the furthest thing from my mind, but in that—in the process, while we were putting this church together, that’s when I realized I had been called to ministry.
I think Trinity United Church of Christ in Gary is a very different church. And we are. We’re committed to the community. And in saying that, I mean that on Saturdays, we have—we call it a soup kitchen, probably could count the number of times they’ve had soup on your left hand. They have a meal. And we have a wonderful clothing ministry where people donate clothes, and now we’ve gotten to the place where every Saturday, when they come—if people come in to eat, they can also get gently used clothes. And we also give away Thanksgiving baskets, and the last two years we’ve given away five hundred baskets. And we’re not a big church, as you can see. We’re not. But we really believe that our commitment—as Jesus Christ was committed to people and to the community. So, the other thing that we don’t do: when people come in, we don’t grab them and say, ‘Ok, you got to come to church on Sunday.’ No. That’s—we’re here to serve people. And we hope that, you know, in their seeing our openness and commitment that they will want to become a body—a member of this body of Christ, but that’s not, you know, that’s not something that has to happen. We’re just trying to do what we’re supposed to do. And we are located right in the middle of Gary, Indiana for a reason. Because that’s where the work is. And that’s just an extension of my justice work, because we believe that there is justice work to be done through the ministry of Jesus Christ.