Triumph uproots from Sewickley to Ohio Twp.

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Changing one's mind can change everything else that matters, the Rev. Craig L. Giles said.

“When your mind changes, what you do with your time changes. When your mind changes, what you do with your resources changes,” Giles told the congregation of Triumph Baptist Church during his sermon on Sunday morning.

The perils of wasting time was the subject of Giles' sermon, but it also could be applied to the 108-year-old church's decision to make the most of its resources and time for ministry by relocating from a residential street in Sewickley in June to a building in Ohio Township.

The 400-member church needed the new building because it had outgrown its 5,440-square-foot space on Frederick Avenue, which was built in 1924, Giles said. A celebration service is set for 10 a.m. Sunday.

The 19,000-square-foot facility on Mt. Nebo Road in Ohio will allow Triumph to conduct its outreach initiatives — including a health care program, a food ministry and senior and youth programs — under its own roof instead of using other organizations' facilities, Giles said. It also can expand those programs, he said.

“We want the church to be an epicenter. We want some type of activity to be going on at the church every day,” he said.

Giles said when he became pastor 27 years ago, the church had about 40 members.

Deacon Arthur P. Woods attributes the growth since then to Triumph's efforts to fulfill the spiritual needs of diverse groups of people. “We're not growing for the sake of growth. We're growing with the goal of inclusion,” he said.

Triumph's new facility features separate rooms for age-specific ministries. Sunday worship services are held in the multipurpose room/gym, but a formal sanctuary will be added in three to five years, bringing the building's total size to about 38,000 square feet, Giles said.

Triumph is a historically black church that traces its history to the early black pioneers in Sewickley.

Black settlers made their way to Sewickley Bottom via the Underground Railroad, according to “African Americans in Sewickley Valley,” a 2008 book by Bettie Cole, a longtime Triumph member, and Autumn Redcross.

The black settlers worked as domestics for wealthy white families and as teamsters in construction as Sewickley flourished, the book said. During World War I, another group of black settlers was drawn to the jobs available in mills.

Triumph was one of five black churches that emerged between the mid-1800s and early 1900s and became hubs of activity in Sewickley, which segregated public facilities, according to the book.

“The church often was the only and most likely place to hold various community club meetings and gatherings,” the book stated.

Giles recognizes the important role that Triumph played in the black community's legacy in Sewickley, but he wants to diversify the church's membership in its new home, he said.

“Because we believe that the kingdom of God is bigger than just one culture,” he said.

The new location, with its proximity to interstates 79 and 279 and Route 65, will help with expanding and diversifying membership, he said.

Triumph's new church and land cost about $3.6 million. The church raised about $2.2 million in eight years through a capital campaign. The old church is on the market for $400,000.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or

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