Every now and then I find it helpful to look back and reflect on some aspect of our shared ministry. I do so today, not with a posture of pride as much as with a deep sense of gratitude, humility and awe. Following is a short tour through the story of how we have worshipped and prayed together over the past three years.
I arrived among you in September of 2017. We had 2 Sunday services; an 8:15am “Traditional” Rite II service with limited music and an average attendance of 25. Then we offered a second service at 10:45am with what we described as an “Expansive Liturgy” using liturgical sources beyond the Book of Common Prayer and included Choir and varied music with an average attendance of 65. In October of that year we gathered for a series of all-parish meetings to start getting to know each other, telling stories, sharing history and offering hopes for our future.
Then in February 2018 (at the beginning of Lent), we decided to do a trial run of 1 single 10:00 Sunday service to see if we could build a more united community with a common identity and deeper relationships. It was at that time we also added a “small continental breakfast” for the membership upstairs in My Brother’s Place at 9:00. The purpose was to again promote the idea of getting to know each other better as two previously fairly distinctive worshipping communities were coming together.
February-April 2018 For 3 months we lived into that new pattern. In March 2018 we sent out a parish-wide survey to garner feedback and input from anyone willing to respond. We received 56 responses to the survey and held meetings in April, May and June to share the results and have further conversation.
Sunday, July 29, 2018 (after our 6-month trial period), we had another parish-wide gathering and announced our decision to move forward with the Sunday schedule we had been trying.
September 2018 – We made the decision to expand from a continental to a full breakfast every week; we decided we needed to develop Breakfast teams to help host, serve and clean every week; and we decided to open our doors wider and invite anyone downtown on Sunday morning who wanted to join us for a free meal and company.
In that first full year, we grew from hosting 15-20 Trinity members to an average of 45-50 “breakfast guests”- the majority of whom come from the wider community and are finding a place to be fed and seen and heard and known by name week after week.
September 2019 – We made the decision to shift our minds and hearts to embracing the possibility that “church” actually started at 9:00 every Sunday upstairs in My Brother’s Place where musicians came to offer an opening song at the start of every meal, I committed to welcoming every guest by name and offering handwritten nametags for all guests and a growing number of teams of volunteers learned to work together to offer a full hot breakfast.
Sunday, March 8, 2020 – We served our last full hot breakfast before having to shut the building due to COVID-19. By then we had been averaging close to 70 breakfast guests every Sunday.
Sunday, April 5, 2020 (Palm Sunday)- launched our current worship format through our new umbrella descriptor- Trinity@Home. Since then, each Sunday we have pre-recorded an hour-long Sunday Morning Devotion that premiers “live” at 10:00 through both Facebook and directly from our Trinity website. We have done our best to stay true to our progressive spiritually, intentional aesthetic, creative approach to liturgy while still offering excellent music and engaging preaching using new technology and increasing the number of contributors/participants offering various components of every service.
Needless to say, I have left out other significant pieces of our story over the past 3 years together including:
- Significant work on our physical building attending to deferred maintenance
- Increasing our engagement and understanding of our endowment and increasing stewardship and generosity
- Searching for and cultivating the most amazing church staff we could ever dream of having
- Growth and expansion of our music program including adding a High School component
- Investing in our neighbors and neighborhood cultivating relationships with local agencies as we explore what it means to work side by side with others- and so much more!
But my focus today is to take a moment with you, step back, take in a deep breath and thank God for every step of the journey we have taken together so far!
As we continue to be in the middle of this pandemic I want to assure you of 3 things today.
- We are committed. Your Trinity staff and vestry love the ministry we have been entrusted with and with every passing week in this new time we are growing and learning how to be the church in new, faithful and exciting ways.
- Your well-being and connection mean the world to us. We continue to look for new ways to connect and hope that you will take advantage of opportunities throughout the week to find us and each other. Having lunch with me on Tuesdays or joining the Lectio Divina group on Wednesdays or Compline on Fridays are all meaningful ways to connect.
- We are growing. In the midst of this unsettling time, in so many ways, we are so grateful to not only have found a way to offer meaningful worship and formation opportunities, but have a community that is expanding its reach.
Here is a quick look at some numbers from the past 3 years. I offer them with thanksgiving to all of you who are getting more and more comfortable spreading the Good News of the love of God and how we are living into a particular expression of that love at Trinity.
|2018||2019||2020 YTD (July)|
|Average Sunday Attendance||94||106||*See Note below|
NOTE: Since moving to our on-line format, we have been tracking when and how people tune in to join us both on Sundays and after the services have gone “live”. Click here to see a full report that is shared with the vestry every month. Highlights include:
- During the course of the past 16 Sundays our “peak view” per household = 83
- To date the average views of each Sunday service over the same period = 490
In other words- more people are joining us on Sunday week after week AND more people are watching and/or sharing the services throughout the week.
So, while I miss each of your familiar faces, and yearn to greet new friends face to face, I take great comfort in knowing that God is surely doing something new through and with us all. Thank you for trusting God and your community, for staying connected, and stepping into leadership roles and for your love of one another. It is an honor and privilege of a lifetime to walk these days by your side.
May you never forget that you are loved.