| Angelique Fiske
SPRINGFIELD – After being closed for more than 10 years, the Trinity United Methodist Church has turned its pool into something more. Trinity celebrated the transformation and renovation of the pool into the Bill and Lib Hall Community Room on Oct. 25.
The community room is a handicap accessible, multipurpose room that is “wired for technology needs,” according to Reverend John Mueller. The room also includes shower facilities and a kitchenette.
Mueller said people in his congregation and in the Springfield community have been waiting for the former pool to find a new use.
“People were very excited. It was a historic occasion because of the history of the pool,” Mueller told Reminder Publications. “When I go around the city, more often than not, people have a story about having swam in the pool or receiving a life guard certification. Now I think we’re excited about the new stories that are going to come from this space.”
The former pool was closed after decades of use because Trinity was unable to sustain it in terms of repairs and heating costs. As the congregation began thinking of what could be put in its place, Mueller said they wanted something that “would improve the quality of life for people in Springfield and beyond.”
Mueller said he hopes to bring English language classes to the room and has already started to partner with community organizations, like the Forest Park Civic Association.
He also is hoping to expand the afterschool program with Forest Park Middle School and services that are provided for the Springfield community.
Though Mueller said many people have stories about the old indoor pool, he looks forward to hearing anecdotes from people who will benefit from the new community room.
“Some years from now when people find out that I represent Trinity, they’ll think that’s where I learned how to speak English or where I was offered some homework help and it made a difference in my schooling,” he said. “Those new stories that will come from the types of experiences we will be able to share with one another in this space.”
Trinity had raised money for the room, but Bill and Lib Hale, members of the congregation for more than 50 years who left a large gift to the church, exceeded the fundraising efforts.
Mueller said the couple was “very down to earth, unassuming and humble people” and he was shocked by the gift they left. He said it felt right to honor them in this way.
While the opening of the community room offers the Springfield community a place to gather, Mueller said it is also a way for Trinity to say that it isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
“Trinity Church has been in the city for well over 100 years. A lot of congregations have gotten smaller, and some have chosen to leave the city and move to another place and some have had to close their doors,” he said. “I’m really excited that Trinity has said, by investing themselves in a project of this scope, we are going to continue to stay in the city. We are committed to this place.”