/PTimes/05jul07.htm   July 9, 2005

New Look for Trilby Church Steeple


By Kathy Riley


The bell in the steeple of the Trilby United Methodist Church in Trilby, Florida, rang on Sunday, July 3, 2005 calling the church’s small group of faithful parishioners to worship.  This particular bell is 107 years old and has not had a chance to chime in almost 14 years.  Its return to service is the first step in the renovation of the steeple on this historic church.


The board of trustees of the church has not only authorized the project, but its members are the ones doing the work.  Several members who are experienced contractors have constructed a scaffold around the steeple and will be giving the steeple a new roof, new siding and a fresh coat of white paint.  Their expertise and work are their contribution to the church.  The Greater Trilby Community Association, Inc. has contributed to the project by donating the proceeds of several association-sponsored dances and The Christian Edge coffee house of Lacoochee also collected money.  The work will take about two months to complete.


Just like the bell, the steeple has watched the church’s successes and difficulties that mirror the life of its town, Trilby.  The church was originally called the Trilby Methodist Church but was also known as the “Little Brown Church of the South” because for a long time it remained unpainted.  Organized by the Reverend T. H. Sistrunk in 1897, the church was built by the 12 charter members the next year near the railroad coal chute (located behind the present post office about half a block north on the Withlacoochee State Trail) but was moved to its present location (the corner of Rte. 575 and Old Trilby Road) in 1920.  It watched most of Trilby burn in a fire in 1925 and witnessed the struggles of the town and its church after that disaster.  The church was remodeled in 1978, but its congregation continued to dwindle.  In 1982, despite its disheveled condition, the church received designation as an historic building from the Pasco Board of County Commissioners and the Historical Preservation Committee.


In 1983, the church was at its lowest point: Only 7 souls attended services, and weeds and briars grew everywhere except in the mud hole beside it.  Dr. Rose Sims came to its rescue in 1984, and when she left seven years later the church boasted 350 members, and had added a sanctuary seating 250, a life center, an education building, a youth center and a missionary parsonage.


Today, the church has high hopes.  Although there are only about 25 regular members at the moment, they are an optimistic group who, under the enthusiastic and confident leadership of Pastor Juan Garay, are determined to revitalize their church.  On Wednesday nights, they have organized the Koinonia Kafe (Koinonia means shared life or fellowship in Greek).  “Come as you are and let us make you smile” is the way Pastor Juan describes the atmosphere at the café where he hopes people find “food, coffee, music and inspiration.”  The church also offers a youth group on Thursday evenings and has allowed volunteers with Healthy Families Pasco to set up a boutique where young mothers in that program can shop for clothes and food.


The renovation of the steeple represents this congregation’s pride in this grand old church and its history and their determination to see it return to its former role as the center of the community. 



James Garrity of Zephyrhills hands a plank to Richard Shere of Dade City as they install the scaffolding that they will use as they repair the Trilby United Methodist Church.