By MADDY VITALE
Trinity Community Church, tucked in the Townsends Inlet section of Sea Isle City, is a diminutive building that seems to stand out for what it has meant to the community over the last century.
But during his 14 years of delivering sermons at the church on 85th Street, Pastor Chuck Swanson said no specific group has ever donated to the church – at least not in his years as pastor.
That is until now, when a group of neighbors on 86th Street raised $1,000 during a block party earlier this month to give to the church.
“People in the community support the church, but I’ve been there for 14 years and this is the first time we received a donation like this,” Swanson said Tuesday, referring to the proceeds from the block party.
The money will go to good use, Swanson said.
“We are a small church and we depend on the offerings we take each week,” he said. “Folks are generous, but things these days are expensive.”
The funds will likely go toward some improvements, he said.
“We will do some maintenance, and our air conditioning needs some upgrading,” he noted.
The resident who put the plan in motion was Carlos Berrios, of 86th Street. Berrios could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Swanson said that Berrios was an integral part of the fundraising drive, and he organized the block party. When Berrios and others got together, they decided that the best place to give to would be Trinity Community Church.
This past weekend, Berrios, along with other residents, delivered the donation to Swanson for the church.
Swanson spoke about how it all seemed to come together.
“Somehow, someone in the 86th Street crew knew a couple of members of our church,” he explained. “They invited her to the party and after the party was over, they connected with us and gave us the $1,000 donation.”
And this was no one-time donation, either.
“The guys from 86th Street said they want this to be a tradition for them,” Swanson said of giving to Trinity Community Church after their block party each year. “That is a good thing.”
Swanson delivers his sermons on Sundays from June through Labor Day. The church has survived throughout the last 100 years and has brought together parishioners from all denominations. At one service, the pastor said there were worshippers representing more than 13 denominations.
The church may be small, but its history is vast.
Originally, it was called the Trinity Lutheran Community Church when it opened on July 15, 1923. The original name is written in the old hymn books still used for Sunday services.
The name was changed to Trinity Community Church decades ago, after the Lutherans stopped sending a pastor to Sea Isle. At that time, the church became ecumenical.
Swanson said he and the others in the church are thankful for the generosity of the people from the 86th Street block party.
“Frankly, I assumed it would be a few hundred dollars, but $1000 was so generous,” he said.
Trinity Community Church’s Facebook page summed up the appreciation of Swanson and the congregation.
“Thanks, to our friends from 86th Street. They had a block party and the proceeds of the day were generously given to Trinity. The total gift was $1000. What an amazing and thoughtful thing for them to do,” the church post read.
Facebook posts from two residents gave some thoughts about the generosity of those in the block party and the importance of the church.
Maureen McGettigan posted, “86 best street on the island! Thank you all for coordinating such a fun party and for thinking of our neighbor, Trinity Community Church – Sea Isle City.”
And Maureen Bilder O’Connell wrote, “You guys did a great job! Plus donating to the Trinity Community Church is awesome. We need to keep the historic places in TI.”