By Ms. June
NASHVILLE, TN — The month of July is not only a time to celebrate America’s Independence, but the marking of 10-years in which Father Bill Dennler has been Rector of the Parish at Holy Trinity Church in Nashville, TN. This leadership position keeps Father Bill busy with leading the church founded in 1852 by delivering the services, providing pastoral care visits and outreach. Regardless of the zip code of the church located near the JC Napier Housing Projects, the neighborhood is a high priority. Holy Trinity Church was designated as the African American parish for the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee in 1907. With a long history of Civil War and civil rights, the church and the mission still stand strong.
Father Bill stated, ‘we have a board that meets and makes decisions for the neighborhood and they discuss plans on the church’s mission of how they can make things better for the church, the community and the people.” Holy Trinity Church is also centrally located near the Nashville Mission and Room at the Inn which allows them to be of service to those in dire need. He acknowledges that the neighborhood has changed over the last few years and has become an area with a high concentration of those in need. “Most of the different businesses in the area have struggled but the church is located in a perfect place,” Father Bill stated. “We are called to provide outreach to the poor, the disenfranchised, and those that have experienced some kind of challenge in their life.” He further explained, “As the city changes and becomes more and more prosperous, our mission doesn’t change because that’s when the vulnerable also become more vulnerable.” Father Bill mirrors the church and their passion for those in need otherwise deemed as lost causes by society.
With Nashville being branded as the “it city” Holy Trinity often has many visitors joining their services every week as travelers and tourists visit the area as well as visitors from neighboring counties. This is a great benefit because they are a church that is available to the travelers and within close proximity of downtown and the hotels. The mission is further demonstrated as Holy Trinity extends minimal marketing efforts by placing cards and information in each of the hotels to let the visitors know they are available.
As issues of the removal of prayer in schools, and school shootings were addressed, Father Bill shared his challenges with some of the mandates but understands the changes due to diversity in schools. However, he said “I feel some time should be set aside for those who want to pray.” As a priest, and a member of the church he says this is a tough issue, but prayer is important. The priests often discuss church shootings in their meetings and gun control and ensure there are trained parishioners onsite to observe and look for things that may be an issue or red flag as worshipers arrive.
Holy Trinity is a small place of worship and Father Bill indicated when it comes to politics, “I’m not the type of priest that will get in the pulpit and recommend a person for office or pick candidates, but I will certainly address issues that are affecting people’s life.” He indicated that if religious leaders don’t recognize this, then they’re missing something. Father Bill believes there are certain things faithful Christians should address and make issues of.
As an individual that became a priest late in life, this is Father Bill’s first church and he acknowledges other than childhood he didn’t attend church often. He went back to church as an adult when he began seeking something to fill a void in life. He didn’t plan to become a priest but as time when on, he felt the hole being filled in his life and he began to attend church more. He was employed at a large trucking company in Nashville when he began the journey to priesthood by getting a college degree and started the long process of attending seminary school and the rest his history.
Father Bill expressed this is the best job he’s ever had and looks forward to serving the members who are often older, retired and hail from professions at Fisk, TSU and Meharry. The make-up is primarily African American, and they strongly support the elderly community in Nashville that come to church, the homeless and those challenged. From single parents, to homebound, they are here to serve. Holy Trinity welcomes the community to their morning service as well as their evening service where they provide a meal. They have an annual Jazz Event called Jazz on the Yard and their Blessing of the Animals day that focuses on pet adoptions. Father Bill says, “People are looking for hope and we try to instill hope that is lacking in people’s lives as our hope is in Jesus Christ.” This is the message that Holy Trinity continuously shares.
Holy Trinity Church is located at 615 6th Avenue South and welcomes the community to their Christian Education session at 9:30am, fellowship at 11:00am and their highly popular and life changing Church in the Yard service at 2:00pm.