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Ahee

Worshipping in the great outdoors


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Memorial Church's sexton Dan Aggas, Doris Brucker and Elaine Hawes prepare for a lunch using Trinity Terrace as its setting. photo by Ann L. Fouty.

July 18, 2013
The name "Trinity Terrace" came to Maureen and Joseph Kaiser of Grosse Pointe Farms while they were flying. Was it divine inspiration by the nature of their venue?

As benefactors of the Grosse Pointe Memorial Church's new outdoor worship space, Trinity Terrace, the couple modestly says, "We have been blessed."

Trinity Terrace transformed the green space where years of summer services were held into a designated gathering site to be used not only for worship services but picnics, classes, weddings and memorial services.

"For 150 years people have donated their time and treasures to this church. We wanted to make sure this was built without any argument or animosity. We have God's love and God's joy as our benchmark to make this happen. There hasn't been one bad comment. Everybody embraced it," Joseph Kaiser said.

Trinity Terrace's inauguration day, June 2, saw 420 worshippers sitting or standing on the transformed summer worship service site. It's dedication also was the kick off for the capital campaign to raise $4 million in recognition of the church's 2105 sesquicentennial.

"The campaign committee came to Maureen and I," Joseph Kaiser said, "to sponsor or host this (Trinity Terrace) and be project leaders."

With a background in construction, Kaiser and his wife accepted the offer and promised the terrace, the sloping hillside and yard with a new playscape, would be done in six weeks, by June 1.

"It was started in mid-April and it will be done," he said. "Connell Construction tackled the project. They dug and poured concrete."

Because the terrace sits atop a steep slope a sturdy base was a must. It is firmly planted on a 6-by-3-by-3 foot concrete foundation with an 18-inch wall. Additional support is provided by 32 helical pilings, galvanized steel shafts.

The terrace has a circular wooden floor shaded by a long-limbed tree. The pulpit is placed each summer Sunday. The organist, guitarist and soloist are seated under the tree and on the wooden stage facing a landscaped area to accommodate 400 congregants.

Two series of steps lead down the hill to what has been dubbed the "Back 40."

Sunday mornings, as the multi-age worshippers gather, sitting on folding chairs to begin the service. A short children's sermon follows, after which the children leave the regular worship service to sit in a wide green space to hear a Bible story on the Back 40 and next to the lake. The children's area includes a playscape, room to run or roll down the hill and a vegetable garden the children tend. The garden's produce is donated to local food banks.

Back on Trinity Terrace, picnics, yoga sessions, wedding and funeral services can be conducted.

"Imagine (the men's) Bible study at 7 a.m. here," Joseph Kaiser said. "The sun burning off the lake, the freighters blowing fog horns, the geese honking, (and the men) saying a prayer. Those guys are teary eyed and mushy."

He added there are two feelings he would like visitors to experience: God's love and God's joy.

"We all have an ownership in this project because of the all-encompassing God's love," he said during the inauguration. "Please feel the joy of saying 'I do' to your spouse on your wedding day, or seeing the birth of your child, or the baptism of your child or holding a small child who makes eye contact with you and then bursts into a great big smile. Now add all those joys up and think how that feels inside. Multiply that by all the people in this congregation, then again by the past 150 years and then by the next 150 years. Wow! You should be bursting inside with joy."

However, the reason for Trinity Terrace is, as Joseph Kaiser said during the terrace's dedication, "A loving memorial honoring past, present and future caring hearts who share their time, talent and treasure in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit."

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