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. As I look at today’s date, I realize it was almost exactly a year ago we announced our intentions to formally introduce a new “Sunday morning schedule” after a season of intentional discernment and conversation. So, let’s recap where we have been over the past 12-18 months leading us to where we are today.
I arrived in September of 2017. We had 2 Sunday services; an 8:15am Traditional BCP Rite II service and limited music with an average attendance of 25, and a 10:45am Expansive Liturgy service with Choir and varied music with an average attendance of 65. That October we gathered for a series of all-parish meetings to start getting to know each other.
One of things that was clear from the start was a clear and compelling opportunity for us to become more intentional about the ties that could bind us together as a single congregation. Needing to understand the current reality, we continued to worship with 2 services from September to February while listening and thinking and talking about other models with the vestry and membership. Then in February 2018 (at the beginning of Lent), we decided to do a trial run of 1 single 10:00 Sunday service. 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 of this gathering was to again promote the idea of getting to know each better as two fairly distinctive worshipping communities were coming together.
For 3 months we lived into that new pattern. Following that 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. Then on Sunday, July 29, after our 6-month trial period, we had another parish-wide gathering and announced our decision to move forward with the Sunday schedule we are living into today:
9:00 Free Community Breakfast– We made the decision this past September to move 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 extend the invitation to the wider-community- to anyone downtown on Sunday morning who wanted to join us for a free meal and company. In this first full year the program has grown from hosting 15-20 Trinity members to an average of 60 “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.
10:00 Worship– Worship is starting to be understood as an extension of the hospitality and welcome that begins at 9:00 every Sunday. Worship is intentionally balanced each week with both expansive/inclusive language, a respect and reflection of our rich Anglican/Episcopal liturgy and roots, while also creating our own unique “soundscape” balancing a wide variety of music. Our Music program has expanded to include a High School Choral program, Choral Scholars and local musicians along with members of the Trinity community all in the first year of Nate Leonard’s leadership.
11:15 Conversation and/or Formation-throughout the year we work hard to balance times of teaching and learning with other seasons of relaxed conversation and relationship building. The purpose of both is the same: to build up our community through fostering the Kinship of God– our belief that we are indeed better together than alone.
So, on the eve of stepping away for a time of sabbath and renewal I do so with, as I said to start, a deep sense of gratitude, humility and awe. Together, with God as our beginning, middle and end we are moving closer every day to the Kinship of God. Thank you for all the ways each of you show up “for good and for God”!
Please take good care of each other while I am away. Know that you will be in my prayers daily.
I will see you all this Sunday 7/28, and then step away Monday 7/29- Monday 8/26.
May you never forget that you are loved.