ELKHART, Ind. - Trinity United Methodist Church in Elkhart has just completed a $3.5 million community center.

Members of the congregation held an open house of the new center for the larger community on Sept. 20. Leaders from business, education, the faith community and government were invited to a "come and go" luncheon. Tours of the facility were available during the 90-minute open house. Elkhart Mayor Dave Miller offered a brief welcome at noon.

The 900-member congregation, with a worship service average attendance of more than 700 in four-weekend services, has talked for years about the construction of a youth center. The 35,000 square foot addition, built by Majority Construction, was completed under the leadership of Mike Downs, Trinity UMC Building Chairperson.

The Trinity Life Center (TLC) includes a youth center with stage and classrooms, a full-size gymnasium with wood floors, nursery school classrooms, playground, improved facilities for Riverview Adult Center, and adult classrooms.

Senior Pastor Mark Fenstermacher points out the church built the TLC for the larger community as well as to serve the congregation's ministry outreach needs.

"We believe God has called us to serve the region without abandoning the city," Fenstermacher said.

The construction of the TLC is actually a continuation of the congregation's tradition of serving the larger community. Once located in downtown Elkhart, Trinity UMC once had a full-size gymnasium and was located adjacent to Elkhart High School. Students from the high school used the Trinity gym space on a regular basis.

The congregation has hired Chris Lantz as a full-time director for the TLC. Lantz came to Elkhart as a recent graduate of the University of Indianapolis. He was a key player in the intramural athletic program at the UIndy. At Trinity, he works with a committee of Trinity lay members, headed by local educator Mike Ropp, to operate the center.

Dedication of the facility will take place later this year.