Restoring the beauty of a building’s original glory is quite an undertaking. Just ask those church members of Trinity United Church of Christ, located at 3229 York St., in Manchester.

The trusses of the 150-year old sanctuary were compromised and the ceiling was in danger of falling. Many of the old rough-sawn trusses had sheared or split, causing the ceiling to sag.

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The church congregation and community have been essential in raising funds for the nearly $300,000 it will cost to completely renovate and replace the trusses. To raise funds to save the integrity and beauty of the church, they estimate the fundraising campaign will take three years to come up with the full amount.

Peter Allen, who specializes in historic preservation work, was hired for the renovation. According to an email from Lorne Haines, fundraising co-chair, “The actual problem with the trusses was found by Allen.” They were aware that the ceiling had been sagging for a couple of years but not until January of this year did they know the cause.

The building is listed on the Maryland Historic Trust’s inventory of State Historic Sites and is located within Manchester’s historic area. The sanctuary has a decorative gable-shaped ceiling above the nave, and the ceiling is covered with tin molded floral and geometric motifs. These types of decorative elements are rarely seen in churches today. The tin ceiling had to be removed first to repair the structure, and then each piece of tin must be replaced after repairs. The entire process takes approximately five to six months to complete and they hope to be finished by Thanksgiving.

To raise enough funds to pay for such a grand undertaking, church officials have applied for a loan, and until then are using some of their endowment fund. Their congregation has pledged to give $111,000 over the next three years; and they’ve received pledges and donations from community friends and supporters.”

“The church consists of 100 on the rolls; and about 40 who worship regularly,” said Haines, “and there’s the Children’s Church.”

“We began a capital campaign in June,” said Haines, “This is a first for Trinity and we are still visiting with members to get more commitments. We have been good stewards of our savings so we have been able to pull some funds from there, but we need to replenish those amounts, so we will continue to reach out to members, the community, and businesses.”

The church applied for two grants but wasn’t chosen as recipients. They are hopeful that they may receive grants from the Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ, who has assisted them in the past with small grants.

Karen Price, fundraising co-chair and a life member of the church, grew up in Manchester.

“I could see the church from my bedroom window,” Price said, “It has sentimental value and history. We want to preserve the beauty of the sanctuary.”

Price stated that they wanted to take this to the congregation and ask for their assistance prior to reaching out to the community, “We can’t ask the community first [for help], without asking the church members for help first.”

She continued to explain that there have been a lot of people reaching out to them and vice versa, “Our pastor has been aggressive; sending letters to classmates, other churches, etc.,” Price stated.

The pastor at St. Bartholomew Church, also in Manchester, approached Trinity and asked if he could put the information in their church bulletin and as a result, Trinity received approximately $700 from them. They have also received donations from other churches, past members, former Girl Scouts, and Eckhardt Funeral Home in Manchester.

The church held a community yard sale in mid-September, which raised money for the fundraising campaign; and at the end of September the Manchester Area Merchants Association held a car show, where they handed out fliers to bring attention to the cause, sold hot dogs and baked goods to raised money, and they received some donations as well.

As of Oct. 14, they had approximately $120,000 pledged donations and approximately $40,000 in cash donations as well, according to Sue Myers, church treasurer and lifelong church member.

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According to an email from Haines: “We have given tours to key members of the community including the town council and land developer Martin K.P. Hill. We have gained valuable insight and advice from these members of the community that have helped with our fundraising efforts.”

“I am very impressed with how Trinity UCC has chosen to take on the challenge both structurally and financially to retain the historical character of a County landmark, rather than the cheaper path of a plain drywall ceiling in their sanctuary,” Hill said, “Their decision will provide future generations the opportunity to enjoy the beauty, a lost art in this local Landmark church building.”

If they are so inclined, there are various ways members of the community can assist in the church’s mission to raise funds for the restoration. One of the ways would be a contribution of a specific amount over the course of the next two or three years; a monthly or weekly contribution during the three years of the campaign, no matter how big or small; a non-cash gift such as a stock investment or money market fund; and many more ways as well.

The church is active in the community. Some of the efforts the church does includes providing 250 weekend food bags per year to students in need at Manchester Elementary School, since 2014; partnering with Manchester Elementary to improve students’ reading skills; becoming a recognized Community Partner of Carroll County Public Schools; stocking a Little Free Library, which distributes more than 700 free books annually; and hosting a Vacation Bible School, which is open to the community’s children.

“We are viewing this [raising funds] as an opportunity to walk by faith,” said Pastor Suzanne Schmidt in an email.

Upcoming fundraising events

  • Pasta Dinner: Oct. 28, 4-6 p.m., Dutch Corner Restaurant, South Main Street, Manchester. $15/dine in or carryout. Dinner options are chicken and broccoli alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, or cheese ravioli. Tickets: Sue, 443-375-6788; Karen, 410-967-4102.
  • Paint Night: Nov. 12, 2-5 p.m., Trinity UCC, 3229 York St., Manchester. $40 per person, with advance payment. Includes materials, food and beverage. Register online at www.tutoringart.com/calendar-of-events. To pay by mail, include name, email and phone number; check may be made payable to Tutoring Art/Vivian Davis, and mailed to Tutoring Art, P.O. Box 189, Sykesville, MD 21784.
  • Alor Classique Bracelet raffle: Tickets are $10 each. Stainless steel grey cable 8 row cuff bracelet featuring diamonds, set in 18 karat gold. Retail value: $495. Winner to be chosen Dec. 17.

Ways to Donate

Online: www.trinityuccmanchester.org

Mail a check: Trinity UCC, 3229 York St., P.O. Box 730, Manchester, MD 21102

Information: Call the church office, 410-374-2727

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