ARLINGTON -- The view from the No. 6 tee box at Lake Arlington Golf Course offers a symbolic and ironic juxtaposition of structures just to the northeast.In the foreground, across Pioneer Parkway, sits a landmark Arlington liquor store that has served this city for about as long as anyone around here can remember.Looming in the background, a few hundred yards away on the other side of Village Creek, is the new Trinity United Methodist Church, the cross on its steeple thrusting sharply into the sky.The addition of the $10.65 million church to Arlington's western skyline gives a whole new meaning to "Big Daddy's Corner" these days.When Trinity opens its doors to its spanking-new building for the first time on the first Sunday of October, it will become, from a facility and acreage standpoint, the largest Methodist church in Arlington.It will be another milestone on a journey that began more than six years ago when the 3,000-plus-member church at 3321 W. Park Row Drive voted to buy 21 acres at Green Oaks Boulevard and Pioneer Parkway.A year later, the church also bought 8 acres of Green Oaks frontage so it wouldn't face the very real possibility of being trapped behind a strip shopping center.It was a bold and aggressive move for a congregation looking not only to expand from a landlocked location but also to have a greater impact on the Arlington spiritual community."Trinity dares to do things differently," Senior Pastor Scott Youngblood said. "The change of locations demands that we change the way we think of ministry and how we can connect to the next generation. We will continue to offer ministry opportunities that appeal to an older population while we introduce opportunities that speak to younger adults and children."If our prayer and our planning is successful, we will become a regional church that reaches all of Arlington and into many of our surrounding communities."'The church is the people'As the crow flies, it's a little over a mile west to the new location at 1200 W. Green Oaks Blvd. from Trinity's longtime home at West Park Row Drive and Norwood Lane.But the trip has been fraught with challenges, including the loss of several longtime members who disagreed with some of the decisions.The most significant message, however, was delivered by the vast majority of the membership: In every vote along the way, at least 75 percent approved, and members stepped up to make the necessary financial pledges."Right now, the success story is that there's a building down there, but a building doesn't mean a thing because it's about ministry," Youngblood said. "The church is not the structure; the church is the people."This culminates the first of two building phases for the church, which hopes to add youth and administration buildings at some point.As with many churches, Trinity's membership has its share of senior citizens, folks who understand that they may not be around long enough to see the result.That didn't stop them from making a major financial commitment for the generations to come."We have to have a place to grow for the next generation and the one after that," said Margaret Singleton, who celebrated her 90th birthday in August. "That's what was important for me. Having a family life center will make such a difference for us."I know it's a bad time economically, a hard time, but I just felt all along like if we were meant to have that church, God would make a way for us."'The Promised Land'Leaving their home of over half a century -- Trinity has been in the same location since the mid-1960s -- has been difficult for members."Even the most supportive of our members have been experiencing a little bit of mourning, because they're losing something," Youngblood said. "They're losing some memories; they're losing contact with a building that's been the site of significant events in their lives."In the new building, Trinity will have a state-of-the-art sanctuary for worship and an activity center with a full-size basketball court that will also double as an auditorium for contemporary and praise worship services."Trinity has a strong history of traditional worship music," said Clif Christopher, a United Methodist minister who is president of Horizons Stewardship, based in Cabot, Ark., and who worked with Trinity on its capital campaign to build the new church."It's who that church is, and it will have a wonderful facility for that. But it will also have a venue for contemporary and praise worship, too."When the property was purchased and nothing was at the corner of Green Oaks and Pioneer but a grassy field, church leaders and members began calling it "The Promised Land."There is irony there, too.It took Moses 40 years to lead the Jewish slaves out of bondage and to the real Promised Land, a journey rife with challenges.Trinity has now had a small taste of what that's like."With the thousands of decisions we've made, nobody, not even me, agrees with everything we've done," Youngblood said. "We learned a long time ago that the more people you involve in a decision, the harder it is to make a decision but the better a decision it will be."Change, Trinity has learned, is not easy, but sometimes it's necessary for survival."Christians are willing to change when they become convinced that the change will further the kingdom of God," Youngblood said."If we allow ourselves to be influenced by fear of change, the church will eventually die. If the majority of members are inspired to conquer their fear and embrace change, the church will grow and become relevant to the next generation."Leaving home, Trinity discovered, is difficult.Coming home, however, makes it all worthwhile.Jim Reeves is a retired Star-Telegram sports columnist. He is the current lay leader at Trinity United Methodist Church.
The $10.65 million church is at 1200 W. Green Oaks Blvd. at the Pioneer Parkway intersection.
The first services are scheduled for Oct. 7: 8:30 a.m., early worship in the sanctuary; 9:20 a.m., praise and worship in the activity center; 9:30 a.m., traditional in the sanctuary; 11 a.m., traditional in the sanctuary.
An open house will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 14.