422 West 57 Street
New York, NY 10019
Pastor Robert Helm
Trinity Presbyterian Church
Trinity Presbyterian Church, located in the historic Clinton or Hell's Kitchen section of New York City, started as a Sunday School mission over a stable on Tenth Avenue in 1877. Today the 100-member congregation -- although limited by space, membership size and funds -- carries on a diverse ministry that continues to focus on youth and children along with the homeless, older persons, and the theater/arts community.
Lacking endowment and wealth, housed in two old tenement buildings, able to pay its pastor only a half-time salary, and dependent on volunteers, Trinity -- like the varied immigrant populations that have lived in its neighborhood over the years -- is a community bound together in a common struggle, searching for hope of a new life in the midst of doubt and material weakness.
Unprotected by bank accounts, it faces each day as a community the same realities of each of its members and their 35,000 neighbors who confront head-on the contradictory and crushing stresses of our society and often live more out of hope than by plan. As it served earlier immigrants, Trinity now seeks to open itself to new arrivals to its community as a visible part of what St. Paul calls Christ's body on earth. Sharing the hardship of its neighbors, Trinity -- like them -- has discovered the strength and hope that are the basis of the communion which is the heart of the church.
|Clinton, also known as Hell's Kitchen, is a community as well worn and sturdy as a waiting room bench. It has historically been a place of immigrants. A poor place, teeming with those searching for something new, it was a neighborhood where even the most impoverished immigrant saw signs of hope of a new life. The cramped railroad tenements -- with narrow air shafts providing ventilation, and spindly fire escapes, the only respite from summer's heat -- carry traces of the past etched into their faded brick and worn stoops.
The antiquated tenements continue to welcome new immigrants. Today the Latin American fills the streets with festival while the children of past immigrations search for something in the city of their ancestors that is missing in their parents' suburbs. Both share Clinton, along side remnants of earlier migrations -- the elderly who live as hidden pools of water left by receding tides.
Almost hidden by surrounding skyscrapers and only a few feet from rushing traffic and pedestrians, Trinity Church seeks to be a place of welcome and service in this community in the midst of the conflicting forces of our culture.
Central Presbyerian Church (then located on West 57th Street) assumed responsibility for the Trinity Sunday School in 1890 and transferred it to a building on the west side of Tenth Avenue just north of 57th where the mission became known as Mitzpah Chapel. In 1886, Mitzpah moved to Trinity's present location at 422 West 57th Street. Mitzpah remained part of Central Church until 1947 when the Presbytery of New York City organized the Trinity congregation. Dr. Robert Buche served as pastor of Trinity until 1970 followed by the Rev. Alan Sorem for three years and then the currrent pastor -- Dr. Robert Helm who came to the congregation in 1975.