The Triune Baptist Church of East Hampton, which for some time has held services at the Neighborhood House on Three Mile Harbor Road, has begun meeting in a temporary home at St. David’s A.M.E. Zion Church in Sag Harbor.
The congregation is trying to raise money and finalize plans to build its own church on Route 114, just outside the Sag Harbor Village limits. Its temporary home at St. David’s will be closer to the property it hopes to build on. “The Lord is leading us back there now, where we will be until we build our own church,” said the Rev. Michael Jackson, the congregation’s pastor, this week.
Mr. Jackson said he thinks that the move will create a better atmosphere for worship. “We will be in a church now,” he said. “Plus, it puts us closer to the land that we have. We are moving closer and closer to our final destination.”
The congregation was first founded as Cooper Memorial Baptist Church in 1968, and has been struggling for more than 20 years to build its own house of worship. Services were first conducted at a house on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike owned by its founder and former pastor, the Rev. Minnie Cooper. When Ms. Cooper died in 1989, the house was reconverted to family use, and the group found itself without a place to meet.
The Rev. Anges Dozier then became the group’s pastor. Some years later, after a health problem arose, Ms. Dozier had to leave the congregation.
After fund-raising events, the congregation bought four wooded acres off Route 114 in Sag Harbor and submitted a preliminary site plan application to the East Hampton Town Planning Board in 1993.
In the interim, services were moved to Ms. Dozier’s house for a while, then to St. David’s Church, and finally relocated to the Neighborhood House in East Hampton.
In December 2003, the planning board approved the church’s site plan. In a 2006 interview, Ms. Dozier said that the church was waiting for its final approval from the Suffolk Health Department.
With the Mr. Jackson in the pulpit at St. David’s for the time being, the congregation will be concentrating again on the process of building and settling in its own permanent home.
“It has taken a long time, but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen,” Mr. Jackson said. “We are now in the midst of moving forward with all of the health codes, planning, and engineering. Hopefully we’ll start to see it move within the later part of this year.”
Mr. Jackson said he doesn’t want to speculate on why the process has taken so long. “Only God knows,” he said. But he believes that now is the congregation’s time. “We are very excited, as a church, so we are getting ourselves prepared.”
The St. David’s A.M.E. Zion Church was built in 1839 and is said to have been a stop on the underground railroad, with escaped slaves hiding underneath the pews in a space reached through a trap door in the main sanctuary.