I was headed to Martha's Shop last week to check on an old friend who worked at the liquor store. I heard he had passed away, and I wanted to confirm the information, maybe pick up a memorial bottle, and give Ms. Martha my condolences. But on the way there, I saw some people going into the newly constructed Trinity Worldwide Outreach Ministries. I've known the church's pastor, the Rev. Herman Robinson III, for several years now, and he has always impressed me. Every time I'd see Robinson he was busy at his church. His church is definitely not just a Sunday morning ministry. Curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to take a detour.
As it turned out, they were holding grand opening services for the church's Lilies of the Field Learning and Resource Center located inside the building. As fate would have it, the first person I recognized after entering was community activist Cheryl West, who serves as the program's volunteer administer. West started the area's first African dance troupe back in the late 1970s. If it impacts African-American culture in Charleston, West is usually close by.
I explained to Cheryl I was kind of in a hurry, but she insisted I go to the back of the building to get some of the food being served. There were maybe 50 or so people there at that time. I couldn't help but think the center and the grand opening must have been one of that community's best-kept secrets. The program Cheryl gave me seemed to confirm that suspicion.
It outlined some of the services available through the center, including programs to provide families with donated computers and food and emergency assistance when needed. In addition to such practical ministries, the church offers daily devotions and weekly Christian Studies. It also hosts an after-school program for neighborhood children and in the coming months will offer a financial peace program to teach basic financial skills in addition to its Business by the Books program for local small business owners.
The next time I showed up at Trinity, 15 boys from neighboring James Simons Elementary School had just participated in the church's weekly Toastmasters program, which teaches public speaking and leadership skills. The ministry has an ongoing partnership with the school.
During that same visit, Nancy Calvary was there repairing donated computers. Last week, the ministry gave 11 refurbished computers to deserving families. Calvary says she hopes to have a lab of 12 computers available to area residents and students.
With all that going on, the modest attendance at the grand opening indicated that the ministry could use some publicity.
Rev. Robinson, a 1975 Burke High School graduate with a masters of divinity degree from Virginia Union School of Theology, says he is happy God chose him to give back to his community through the ministry he started in 1986.
"I've always felt the church should be proactive rather than reactionary," he says. That philosophy has rubbed off on many among the 200-member congregation, including Charlotte Myers, who volunteers to do chores at the church. She is also signed up to take a computer course at the church soon.
"We're just working for the Lord," she says.
The ministry needs lots of help, and Rev. Robinson is asking for donations. For more information, call (843) 853-4418, reach them online at www.trinitasfoundation.org, or go by the church at 977 King St.