Over the past 2 weeks, 42 members of our Trinity community came together, gifting us an hour of time to share their perspectives on what this past year of engaging Trinity@Home has been like for them. If you were not able to join us, or have more to share, either because time did not allow, or you have something else to add, you may click HERE and take a minute to complete an on-line form to share those thoughts with us. I would like to follow up our time together today with two offerings; first sharing some of my perspective and experiences and then, at the end of this blog, provide a summary of what we heard during our sessions together.
From my perspective, this year has been akin to being thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool by a well-intentioned swimming instructor believing you will succeed in your efforts to stay afloat regardless of your disbelief.
Here is the narrative that will live on in me for years to come:
It began Thursday, March 12, 2020. I placed a call to our vestry wardens (Donna Steppe & Roberta Durham) and asked if there was any way they could come meet me in person later that afternoon- something was happening, and we had some important decisions to make together. They came without question. Within 48 hours we had the first part of what we thought would be a 4-6 week plan. We decided to suspend in-person worship and sent out an in-home devotional for the membership for the upcoming Sunday, and then worked around-the-clock to figure out how to live web-stream the next few Sundays in the sanctuary, and we did; clunky as it was.
Two weeks later we had to pivot again and leave the building; I will never forget packing up our tabernacle (aka tacky over-sized plastic storage bin) with symbols of our shared ministry- including all your colorful name badges and then literally walking out of the church carrying that bin vowing to find a way forward for as long as we needed to be safely apart.
You know the rest of the story- since Palm Sunday (April 5, 2020) we have garnered the support and participation of this sacred community to create together what we now call Trinity@Home. We knew NOTHING when we started and did it anyway. We were, well, truth be told, I was, scared and unsure if we could find a way to survive, and yet in many ways we have surely thrived. For the past 56 Sundays we have stumbled, fallen, gotten back up, surrendered to God and the strains of this separated existence, and leaned into a new and unfamiliar dependency on the grace, forgiveness, encouragement and love of this chapter of life in Christ together.
When we gathered for 5 “Listening Sessions” these past 2 weeks many of you shared what has surprised, fed, and delighted you about Trinity@Home. A few of you also courageously spoke your truth sharing that Trinity@Home has not fed you. I get it- all of it- and am truly grateful for the perspectives offered.
So where does that leave us today? In the months to come, how will we navigate our way, again, back into a new reality once we are able to re-gather for in-person worship? Honestly, that has yet to be decided, but as of today, hear is what your vestry and I know without a doubt:
- We are indeed progressive, inclusive, and creative- and now can add resilient.
- We have an opportunity to reimagine who and how we grow as disciples following Jesus.
- We do not need to be afraid or have all the answers right now.
Beyond that I will repeat what I have been saying for a few weeks now: We will never “go back” in the sense of forgetting or not integrating into our future where and who we have been over this past year. Trinity@Home is here to stay- it has a faithful membership and a liturgical integrity of its own meeting the heart’s desire of so many. We are also committed to discovering a way to come back together in person on a weekly basis for worship that feeds us as members of the incarnate Body of Christ. We believe God is calling us to do both- we just need to discover how- but the WHY is abundantly clear; BIG LOVE needs 2 big, healthy branches to express who and how God is calling us to be.
I want to end my reflection with both a deep bow of gratitude and a word of humble apology. Thank you for showing up again and again however you have this past year- whether as a liturgy participant or as one of the hundreds of people that have tuned in weekly (and throughout the week) to be a part of our spiritual offerings; this truly has and does take a village and I am overwhelmed with the generosity and courage evident in us all. And finally, to those for whom Trinity@Home does not work well or have been in any way disappointed, I am sorry- truly. What I do find comfort in, is that this too, like everything other than God’s love in our lives, is both holy and temporary and necessarily imperfect. We are bound together by a love that defies the limits we may try to place on it and confess our dependence in the promise that with God all things are truly possible- and you my beloved friends remind of this day after day; thank you. You have taught me how to float and then swim in the water of God’s love. This has been the greatest honor of my life to walk this road with you- dying to so much inside so that new life, new love, new epiphanies have room to flourish.
May you never forget that you are loved,
Post-Pandemic “Listening Sessions” Feedback Summary
5 Meetings 4/17, 4/18, 4/20, 4/24, 4/25
42 total participants
Question 1: What has surprised, delighted, fed or inspired you through this season of Trinity@Home worship services?
- Services are centered around people/community and not a building or a priest (14 responses)
- Visual appeal, creativeness, wide participation, authenticity of services (9 responses)
- Connection beyond Toledo & our ability to share & grow ‘church’ (7 responses)
- Accessibility to church (not bounded by time or location) (7 responses)
- Importance of Music (6 responses)
- Convenience & accessibility beyond Sunday (5 responses)
Question 2: How have you been involved in our common life over the past year and what have you learned-how have you grown? Has there been a particular class, event, study, gathering or project that has nurtured your soul?
- Sacred Ground was “life-changing” (21 participants)
- Choir participation (9 participants)
- Virtual Coffee Hour (8 participants)
- Offering Trinity@Home worship pieces- readings, prayers, music etc. (8 participants)
- Draw Me Nearer Lenten Art Workshop Series (7 participants)
- Book Club provides community and joy (7 participants)
- Faith & Race Series (6 participants)
- Ukulele Choir participation (5 participants)
- Advent Sanctuary Meditation (5 participants)
- Vestry important, inspiring work (4 participants)
- Facebook commenting during Sunday worship (3 participants)
- Weekday evening Lectio Divina (2 participants)
- Friday Evening Compline (2 participants)
- Evening Exhale Yoga (2 participants)
- Trinity Youth Pen Pals (2 participants)
- Sermon/Reflection Guest (1 participant)
- TSN Lunch preparation (1 participant)
- Trinity Card Guild (1 participant)
- YWCA 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge (1 participant)
Question 3: What has this season taught, offered, inspired, challenged, or fostered for our future as we continue growing as a community of faith?
- Overall comments: Trinity@Home has resonated deeply with many and would like it to continue
- Our challenge is to find a balance of hybrid formation/offerings/classes (24 participants)
- We must support staff/volunteers needed to sustain in-person & Trinity@Home (13 participants)
- We can share “church” in new and meaningful ways (6 participants)
- We have succeeded in expanding lay leadership & participation (4 participants)
- Trinity@Home provides an experience of engagement rather than performance (4 participants)
- We have found joy thru Trinity@Home AND look forward to in-person worship (2 participants)