Trinity United Methodist Church traces its beginnings to the old Methodist Episcopal Church, South, formed in December 1858, and the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Chico. Originally, the South church met in members’ homes and any large hall that could be found to house them. Eventually, it settled into a wooden building at Sixth and Broadway and became known as Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church, South. A year later, First Methodist Episcopal Church of Chico was formed and settled in a building at Fourth and Salem Streets.
Both little churches struggled for survival. Some years there was no ordained pastor was available and the churches depended on lay pastors for leadership. Often, they struggled to pay their pastor a living wage. Pastor Bly of First Church was given a surprise Thanksgiving party in 1870 when ladies of the church brought food and a gift of over one hundred dollars for his family.
In 1873 the ladies of First Church held a two-day festival in Wood’s hall. A program was given and ice cream sold, the proceeds of which were used to pay for plastering the church’s interior, and buying a bell. The bell was bought, installed and rung for the first time to summon worshippers to Sunday School on September 1, 1873. The South church got their bell the same year. It was a gift from John Guill, a prominent member. The bell, dubbed “Lizzie,” is still rung on special occasions. Today, it is located near a side entrance, the bell door, to Trinity Church.
Early Chico newspapers report numerous box suppers and strawberry and peach festivals put on by the ladies of the two churches. About the time the bells were purchased, the Women’s Foreign Missionary Societies and the Women’s Home Missionary Societies, forerunners of today’s United Methodist Women, were organized.
In 1939, both churches merged to form Trinity Methodist Church. Ground was broken for the church at the current location of 5th and Flume Streets. When the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren churches merged in 1968, the church was renamed the United Methodist Church.
The original sanctuary windows were diamond-paned, tinted glass. In the fall of 1965, a committee was formed to discuss replacing those with stained glass.
Working with Merrill Stained Glass Studios of Los Angeles, the committee selected a theme for each of the large windows in the north and the three on the south located toward the back. In consultation with the committee, designs illustrating the themes were created. Themes for the aisle windows were also developed at the same time.
Memorial gifts from church members made it possible to install six large stained glass windows in May 1966. The remaining five large clerestory windows and six small aisle windows were installed in June 1968. In 1978, the two low windows at the back of the sanctuary were replaced with stained glass creations by Bill Ward of Paradise.
In March 1977, the Council on Ministries authorized the investigation of replacing five windows shut off from daylight by the education wing built in 1947. It was learned Merrill Studios was no longer in business, so they couldn’t supply the five stained glass windows. Undaunted, some members of the congregation decided to go ahead with the project, creating the windows themselves.
Trinity is one of the few churches in the world to include themes of science in our stained glass windows.
The congregation collectively chose themes for the windows. Designs compatible with the existing stained glass windows were begun in the early 1980s. Construction began in March 1985, and was finished in June. Installation took place September 25, 1985, and artificial lighting was completed in the spring of 1987.
In the early period of planning for these windows, George Goss and friends made donations as a memorial to Verna Goss. Members of the congregation also made donations.
Congregation members who created, installed, donated time, material or money for the completion of the first five windows were: Ruth Apostolakos, Glenn Bocks, Jack Bocks, Don and Margaret Carlson, Oscar Coleman, Ben Diaz, Dick Gould, George Hibdon, Jack Higgins, Fred Hotes, John and Sue Kaiser, George and Ruth Kelly, Julia Marcus, Brad Mentzel, A.L. and Shirley McLean, “Cec” Nielsen, Harrie Riley, Bill Proffitt, Everett and Esther Schaeffer, Jeff Wanee, Lila Weaver, David Whitten and Diane Whitten. An apology is extended if any name has been omitted.