In 1939 the Central Jurisdiction was formed for all African American members of the church. It was one of six jurisdictions—administrative units responsible for electing bishops—of the church and the only racial jurisdiction. Unlike the other jurisdictions, which were determined by geography, the Central Jurisdiction was shaped by race, which resulted in a segregated organizational structure and kept white and black Methodists apart. The Central Jurisdiction was also plagued by a lack of resources and the challenge of administering an excessively large geographic area. The Central Jurisdiction was abolished in 1968, and African American Methodists were integrated into the larger church.
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (1821) and the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1816) were formed because of the racial prejudice experienced by African Americans in the Methodist Episcopal Church. The slavery issue split the Methodist Church into two bodies: the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (organized in 1845). A third church formed as a result of the slavery question, the all-African American Colored (now “Christian”) Methodist Episcopal Church (1870), split from the southern Methodist church.
In the early 1900's as the Black population began to settle in the West Palm Beach area, one of the original communities was located around the present site of the Seaboard Railroad Station. It was there that the first group of Methodists met in a tent on a plot of land during the early years. The members established the name of the church as Trinity Methodist Episcopal and it was accepted and approved.
In 1914, the late Rev. S. A. Hugher, District Superintendent of the Florida Mission organized the church. Rev. Bellamy who had been assigned the task of planning the church, became discouraged and left. Rev. James H. Gordon was then appointed by the Board of Home Missions as the pastor. As the church grew and plans changed, a new site was selected at Eighth Street and Douglass Avenue.
Rev. Hugher reported needs of Trinity to the Board of Home Missions and the Church Extension and the Board sent Rev. Gordon $200.00. The pastor then went to Melbourne, Florida and purchased a car load of lumber and had it shipped to West Palm Beach. When Rev. Gordon returned, Mr. Berry and Mr, Erskine Boyd offered their skills and assistance and soon a small church building was erected. The following persons also assisted Rev. Gordon in many ways: George Edwards, Sr., Roderick Cameron, William (Buster) Cameron, Fred J. Hicks, James Hicks and Israel (Buddie) Sanders. All of these men were not members of Trinity (some were) but it was believed that they were friends sent by God and the church took on new life. Miss Mae Chase was not a member of Trinity but she was a regular visitor and contributed very generously. The work progressed under the leadership and direction of Rev. Gordon along with the power and the blessings of the Holy Spirit.
The main entrance of Trinity faced Douglass Avenue and there was standing room only with visitors and members in the sanctuary for each service or activity. At the Miami Conference in 1918, Rev. Gordon reported 26 members and $15.00 in cash. In 1924, the Gordon Sunday School Building was constructed and dedicated..
In June 1965, the Conference assigned Rev. Lafayette Harris to organize and build a church on the new site. Trinity was to remain the "Mother church at 8th Street and Douglas. The new church did not materialize.
In 1968, a task force from Trinity (Charles Munnings, Cashus Richardson, Doris Williams, I. C. Smith, Thomas McCray and T. L. White) went to the Annual Conference in Daytona Beach with the express purpose of meeting with the Bishop to request that the land purchased by the Methodist Church be used to build a new Trinity.
The Bishop told the group to go back home and sell the old church and get whatever they could for it. Then they were to prepare to build a new church on the newly purchased land.
In 1968, the building on 8th Street was sold in preparation for the relocation. For a period of two years, services were held at Westward Elementary School while the new edifice was being erected. During the same year, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged and became the United Methodist Church. So the name of the church changed from Trinity Methodist Episcopal to Trinity United Methodist Church. This unification ended the Central Jurisdiction which was the all Black division of the Methodist church. Integration finally came to Methodism.
In June 20, 1971, Rev. A. L. Pierce held the first service in the New Trinity United Methodist Church. The mortgage for the new Trinity was paid off in 1981 and celebrated in February 1982. Bishop Hunt of the Florida Conference was the speaker who also presided over the Mortgage Burning Ceremony with Rev. Roosevelt Dell as pastor.
Foxes had holes and birds of the air had nests, the Methodist Episcopal Church had no where to place its feet.
But I seemed to hear the voice of God within my soul, saying, "Go Gordon, and I will go with you"
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