Photo by David Colburn
Presiding Pastor the Rev. John S. Herring Sr. (left) poses with Senior Bishop John Richard Bryant at the scholarship banquet honoring the 15th anniversary of the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church on April 17 at the Atrium Hotel & Conference Center. The program included musical performances by Olivia Neal, greetings from Alton Mayor Brant Walker, a moment of silence for deceased loved ones, and remarks and presentations from banquet committee members.
ALTON — An enthusiastic crowd, including Mayor Brant Walker, gathered April 17 at Lily’s Lounge at the Atrium Hotel and Conference Center to celebrate the 15th year of the unified Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church with a scholarship dinner banquet.
Trinity A.M.E. Church officially was named Feb. 18, 2001, at the 73rd annual Lincoln-Douglas Banquet. The event was preceded by Bishop Phillip R. Cousin’s “long-awaited pronouncement” to merge Alton’s three African Methodist Episcopal churches at St. Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Church on Sept. 6, 2000. A meeting was held at Model Chapel AME Church in Alton between the Rev. Ivan J. Johnson, presiding elder of the South District of the Illinois Conference; the Rev. Larry Lewis, pastor of Model Chapel A.M.E.; the Rev. Cynthia Newman, pastor of Allen Chapel A.M.E.; the Rev. Murine Hamilton, pastor of Campbell Chapel A.M.E.; and 38 congregation members on Sept. 23, 2000, to discuss the merger. The decision to merge was unanimous, and a mission statement was developed: “Our purpose is to merge with the consensus of the body to have one thriving A.M.E. Church instead of three struggling churches which will enhance the spirituality and financial aspects of the community.”
The first unified service took place on March 18, 2001, at the former location of the Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church. The Rev. Frederick K. Gaddy Sr. was named pastor of Trinity A.M.E. Church on April 20, 2001.
Presiding Bishop John R. Bryant, Presiding Elder the Rev. Gary McCants, Presiding Pastor the Rev. John S. Herring Sr., Co-Chairpersons Barbara Koontz and Patricia Edwards, Trinity A.M.E. Steward Carol Hudson and Master of Ceremonies James Killion were present at the banquet, alongside committee members who helped arrange the informational booklet, advertising, publicity, dining room and program, among other contributions.
Hudson began the ceremony with a warm welcome and brief introduction to retired businessman and Trinity member James Killion. Following Killion’s opening speech, members of the banquet joined in a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The Rev. Rainell Cannon of the Trinity ministerial staff delivered the invocation, which was followed by a lively, soulful musical performance by Olivia Neal — a local singer who performed April 2 at the Aretha Franklin Tribute Show and Dance at Argosy Casino Alton.
Walker commended Neal’s performance and articulated his connection to the church.
“I consider Trinity to be a second church family,” said Walker, who declared April 17 to be Trinity A.M.E. Church Day.
A moment of silence was expressed in the memory of Lucille King-Burden, founder of the Lincoln-Douglas Banquet, and for deceased loved ones. A prayer was delivered by the Rev. Mae Ella Williams of Centreville’s Park Chapel AMEC; and meals — ranch salad with bacon and cheddar, chicken chardonnay, honey-glazed carrots, dauphinoise potatoes, and rolls and butter — were served to each table.
Church leaders gave special thanks to local businesses and individuals — including Mae Mahone for the banquet’s floral arrangements — for providing the support to make the scholarship banquet possible.
Trinity A.M.E. Church, 626 E. Fourth St. in Alton, conducts a weekly church school at 9:30 a.m. Sundays, with morning worship service following at 10:30 a.m., Bible study on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m.; choir rehearsal on Saturdays at 11 a.m.; a trustee minister meeting the second Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m., followed by a steward ministry meeting at 1 p.m. and an official board meeting at 3 p.m.; Sarah Allen Women’s Missionary Society ministry meeting the third Saturday of each month at 10 a.m.; and an usher ministry meeting on the fourth Sunday of each month following morning worship service.
For information, call (618) 465-2483.