The history of the Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church is a major part of the Black history in Utah and Salt Lake City.
Trinity AME. Church is a connectional church within the connectional body of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The church is under the jurisdiction of the Rocky Mountain District of the Desert Mountain Conference of the Fifth Episcopal District.
Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized as Utah’s first African-American congregation (before Utah became a state), in the 1880’s with leadership of the Reverend T. Saunders. The congregation met temporarily in Church members homes and in rented facilities.
Trinity has been recognized as one of 14 centennial churches by the Utah Statehood Centennial Commission. That means the Salt Lake church, estimated to be anywhere from 127 to 131 years old, was established before Utah was admitted to the Union in 1896 as the 45th state. Trinity is the only black congregation to receive that recognition.
Constructions of a church building begun in 1891 at a site in Salt Lake City on Fourth West Street, below Sixth South. The cornerstone for this original building was laid by the then Territorial Governor Thomas. This structure was not completed because of the lack of funds. Instead of disbanding, the congregation returned to meeting in Church members homes.
In 1907 the cornerstone of this present church, 239 East 600 South, was laid. The property was purchased with funds donated by Mrs. Mary Bright, an African American cook who had made a fortune in the mining camps in Leadville Colorado. In 1909, with the Reverend T.C. Bell as Pastor, the members and congregation completed the construction with plans drawn by another member of Trinity, Mr. Hurley Howell.
For the next 60 years, Trinity served as a major focal point for religious, social, educational and political activities for Salt Lake City’s Black community. Its importance as a cohesive force for the comparatively small number of African American residents cannot be overstated. There were few families then that had not been touched by Trinity AME Church in some way.
Reverend Melvin Shakespeare led the congregation in an extensive remodeling in 1971 and some of those interior improvements remain today. Other churches in the community were kind enough to help, but the bulk of the financing and labor came the members and congregation which numbered 185 members at that time.
In 1976 structural changes made in 1971 were removed and Trinity was restored to its original outward appearance in order to qualify for recognition as a Historical Site. Trinity AME Church, under the Pastorate of Reverend David Wilson, was so designated. On July 30, 1976, Trinity’s name was placed on the State and National Registers and the Utah Historic site marker was put into place.
Trinity has experienced two major fires and many records were destroyed, however Trinity’s indomitable spirit survived. Trinity has witnessed, with much sadness, the passing of many of its loyal, hardworking members. Although they are gone, they will never be forgotten. They left us a ‘goodly heritage’, we honor those upon whose labor we build and build we shall.
Currently Historic Trinity AMEC is under the leadership of Rev. Daryell E. Jackson, Pastor; Rev. Sheriolyn Curry, Presiding Elder, Rocky Mountain District; Episcopal Supervisor Alexia Butler Fugh, Fifth Episcopal District; and the Rt. Rev Clement W.Fugh, Presiding Prelate, Fifth Episcopal District.
Our Previous Past Ten Pastors:
REV. NURJHAN GOVAN 09/2004 – 09/2018
REV. PHYLLIS GRIFFIN 09/2001 – 09/2004
REV. DAVID MALCOM JR. 09/1997 – 09/2001
REV. RALPH J. CRABBE 09/1996 – 09/1997
REV. JANET L. SWIFT 09/1991 – 09/1997
REV. CURTIS SEWELL 09/1987 – 09/1991
REV. PAUL HARRIS 09/1983 – 09/1987
REV. DONALD CAMPBELL 09/1981 – 09/1983
REV. DAVID WRIGHT 09/1977 – 09/1981
REV. DAVID WILSON 09/1973 – 09/1977