For more than 200 years, Savannah’s Trinity United Methodist Church has welcomed sinners and saints into its sacred sanctuary.
These days, songwriters and singers are regulars, too.
For the past couple of years, Trinity UMC – located in the heart of Savannah’s vibrant and eclectic downtown – has hosted the Trinity Sanctuary Concert series, including its current Thursday Night Opry performances.
The church’s beautiful sanctuary provides an intimate, listening-room environment for music lovers to hear world-class musicians and songwriters and to experience some of the area’s best local talent.
It’s also provided a way for the church and congregation to reach out to the community and to continue to preserve and restore the historic building. The suggested $10 Thursday Night Opry cover charge goes to pay the musicians and to help preserve Trinity’s nearly 165-year-old sanctuary.
“We were looking for ways to not only have a music program but to reach out into the community,” said Jared Hall, Trinity UMC’s director of music. “We wanted to be a part of the community, to help promote growth downtown, and be an active participant in what’s happening in our city.”
This year, the church will host four or five Thursday Night Opry concerts and a handful of other musical events. Six up-and-coming local singer-songwriters dazzled the audience at the year’s first showcase, held Thursday, Jan. 15.
Hall, a musician and lifelong United Methodist, had experienced concerts and musical performances in historic churches in Europe and Austin, Texas, and knew that Trinity UMC was a perfect venue for similar events.
“The historic churches are built for great acoustics and they provide wonderful listening experiences,” he said. “They’re a great way for the church to reach out and get involved in the community. In Europe, there is always music coming out of their cathedrals, and I could really see something like that coming out of downtown Savannah.”
Though the Thursday Night Opry harkens back to country music’s long-standing Grand Ole Opry radio show, Trinity’s Opry concerts feature a diverse mix of artists. What started with country and bluegrass music has expanded to include jazz, blues, and other acoustic musicians.
Trinity’s focus on being a venue for top-notch musical entertainment – from their Thursday Night Opry shows to the Fall Fridays Noon Concerts to chamber concerts and their participation in Savannah’s annual music festival – has opened their doors even more broadly to those who might not otherwise step foot inside a church. Several musicians have played shows at Trinity UMC and then shown up to play again during Sunday morning worship services.
“We have folks come from all kinds of other churches and people who don’t even go to church or who are scared to go into a church,” Hall said. “Our mission is to be a vital part of the community and to be active with the folks here in Savannah.”
For more information about Trinity UMC’s Trinity Sanctuary Concerts, including their Thursday Night Opry series, visit www.trinity1848.org.