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Former resident has idea for historic church

Trinity Episcopal Church is for sale. A former Connersville resident is trying to raise money to purchase it.

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

A Connersville native has a passion for restoring an old church and faith in the community he grew up in.

Sam Locke, now of Indianapolis, hopes to buy the Trinity Episcopal Church with the goal of preserving a historically and architecturally significant downtown building. The church, at 211 E. 6th St., has been closed since 2017. Indiana Landmarks, a historic preservation organization, repaired the roof and is trying to sell it.

“We want to maintain use of the property as an operating church and community center easily accessible to other community organizations and plant and grow a church with unabashedly progressive and inclusive theology in an area where few similar organizations exist, likely affiliated with the United Church of Christ or similar denomination,” Locke said. “The goal is to make a missional impact within the greater Connersville community based on needs and goals assessed by eventual congregation members.”

Locke said he believes Connersville would benefit from a church of this kind and thinks it will be good for the community. He is in the process of working with other organizations to help.

“We really want to see this church preserved. We want to do something great with it,” Locke said. “We want to welcome the LGBT, I think Connersville is a little more open to it than people think.”

LGBT is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual.

He said he is working with the seller, which is Indiana Landmarks, a historic preservation organization. Locke said they would like to see the building used as a church.

Locke will need funding. Locke has set up a GoFundMe page, Re-visioning Trinity Episcopal Church Connersville.

He lays out funding needs this way:

• $70,000 purchase from Indiana Landmarks;

• $10,000 renovations to church building (bathroom install and ADA compliance)

• $10,000 renovations to parish house (cosmetic updates and refitting upper unit)

“The congregation and community center will be managed and operated by volunteer, seminary-trained, staff and clergy until it is able to support itself and call a permanent clergy-person,” Locke said. “If the project does not move forward, contributions less any merchant fees will be returned to donors.”

He has developed a list of donor incentives. Donations of $25 or more will be invited to grand opening event; $75 or more will also receive a framed print of the building; and $250 or more will get those incentives plus a free 4-hour building rental.