Trinity StoriesAll Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world's first day.
Matthew 13:34-35 – The Message
The Rev. Dr. Stephen Applegate
One year ago today my family and I were welcomed with open arms into Trinity Episcopal Church. December 1st was my first day on staff, and being here has felt like the culmination of a lifetime of struggle and hard work. Having gone from full time ministry to the private sector and back, I have worked a lot of terrible jobs, and it didn’t take long before I had a bad day. When people asked how at Trinity has been for me for most of this year, I’d respond with, “this is the most consecutive good days I’ve ever had,” and that still remains true. I didn’t really have a horrible day until July 11th when Priest Lisa announced to the staff that she was leaving.
To share some of my history, this was the fourth time in my professional ministry career a lead pastor/priest resigned within/just after a year into my coming onboard. Of those four churches, two have since then closed their doors.
But Trinity is not like other churches, and I think it is easy for us to forget that at times. When the extraordinary becomes the status quo, it can be hard to see how truly special you all are. I had my “come to Jesus” moment and became a Christian when I was 18 years old. Since then I had joined many other churches, looking and longing for a denominational home. I thought I had found it a few times, but when we joined Trinity it was clear God was saving the answer to my search for the Episcopal Church. It has been such an honor to become an Episcopalian, to have our son baptized here, to be a part of this wonderful family, and to be welcomed home by you all.
While this year hasn’t turned out as expected, I would like to share some incredible numbers with everyone. So far in 2023 we have fed over 800 people through our Food for Thought community partnership, almost 200 people have received NARCAN training since we have partnered with the Health Department’s safe syringe exchange program, and of those trained 17 of them have reversed an overdose with NARCAN, saving lives. We have seen our community grow and change in so many ways. I am honored and excited to see what God has in store for 2024.
Grace and peace.
George Benson (he/him)
Today is “Leftovers Day,” when we eat turkey sandwiches, turkey noodle soup, and – an old friend’s favorite: turkey hash.
A quick Google search offers “9 Easy Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes,” or the “25 Best Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes,” or, for the desperate, “31 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes to Clear Your Fridge With” (pardon the grammar!). Creative cooks aren’t lacking for ideas! And then there’s the ever-helpful answer to the question: How long are Thanksgiving leftovers safe to eat? (The answer – three or four days in the refrigerator, so Monday at the latest.)
Needless to say, too much turkey can get tiresome. The children’s poet Jack Prelutsky (jackprelutsky.com) captures the feeling perfectly in his poem “Leftovers”:
Thanksgiving has been over
for at least a week or two,
but we’re all still eating turkey,
turkey salad, turkey stew,
turkey puffs and turkey pudding,
turkey patties, turkey pies,
turkey bisque and turkey burgers,
turkey fritters, turkey fries.
For lunch, our mother made us
turkey slices on a stick,
there’ll be turkey tarts for supper,
all this turkey makes me sick.
For tomorrow she’s preparing
turkey dumplings stuffed with peas,
oh I never thought I’d say this —
“Mother! No more turkey… PLEASE!”
Of course, it’s only those who have more than enough to eat who have the privilege of complaining about too many leftovers. For many – especially in those places where people are at war with one another – food and water are scarce.
The Holy Scriptures have many stories about crop failures, droughts, cities starving under siege, and widespread famine. Things have been hard for many for a long time.
But the Bible also has stories of abundance. Perhaps the most famous of them is the story of Jesus’ feeding 5,000 men – and, Matthew writes in his Gospel, “women and children besides,” so maybe 15,000 people were fed?
Do you remember that, at the end of the meal, there were leftovers. Matthew says, “Everybody ate and was satisfied, and they picked up twelve baskets full of broken pieces.”
I’ve long been intrigued, not only by how the story ends, but by how it begins. Twelve baskets of leftovers were gathered at the end of the meal, because someone shared “five loaves of bread and two fish.”
As you enjoy that turkey sandwich or that piece of leftover pie, find some way to share the abundance with which you’ve been blessed. If you want to help locally, consider the Toledo Food Bank. If you are looking for an Episcopal Church response to need throughout the world, there’s Episcopal Relief & Development. And the United Thank Offering has a $100,000 challenge grant, matching donations that will go to the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.
Giving Tuesday is just four days away. You should have eaten all your Thanksgiving leftovers by then and be ready to share your abundance. Miracles happen when we do.
Thanksgiving is early this year – almost the earliest it can be in November. I suppose that will make it a good year for retailers since there will be a few more “shopping days ‘til Christmas.” Thank goodness a few stores have backtracked on the recent practice of opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. I’m grateful that they’ve opted to give employees the day off.
Terry and I will travel to New Hampshire – a trip planned long before I knew I would be coming to Toledo. Daughter Kate and her husband, Mike, moved to Litchfield a year ago September, and I have yet to see their home. She has gently reminded me of this, so I need to remedy the situation. Our kids are spread out from east coast to west, so it’s just not possible for us all to gather in one place for turkey and pie. FaceTime and phone calls will have to serve as substitutes for being together in person.
We’ve hosted many gatherings in our home over the years welcoming “all sorts and conditions”: foreign students from Denison who weren’t able to go home for the holiday, truck drivers who hauled mobile broadcast equipment to Columbus for the Ohio State-Michigan game, and a few folks whom we knew would otherwise be alone for Thanksgiving on a day when gathering with others is what it’s all about. Whether you are traveling or staying put, I hope you are part of a gathering somewhere.
Billy Collins, the former Poet Laureate, captures the feeling of the day perfectly in his poem, “The Gathering.” You may already know it, but if not, here it is:
Outside, the scene was right for the season,
heavy gray clouds and just enough wind
to blow down the last of the yellow leaves.
But the house was different that day,
so distant from the other houses,
like a planet inhabited by only a dozen people
with the same last name and the same nose
rotating slowly on its invisible axis.
Too bad you couldn’t be there
but you were flying through space on your own asteroid
with your arm around an uncle.
You would have unwrapped your scarf
and thrown your coat on top of the pile
then lifted a glass of wine
as a tiny man ran across a screen with a ball.
You would have heard me
saying grace with my elbows on the tablecloth
as one of the twins threw a dinner roll
across the room at the other.
Whether you have your elbows on the table or are dodging throwed rolls, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I have many, many things to be grateful for this year, but I’m especially grateful to be serving as your Interim Rector.
The 207th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Ohio convenes this evening in Wooster with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 5:30 pm. The convention banquet will follow. Tomorrow morning, the convention’s business session will begin and then wrap up later in the afternoon. This convention is the first at which Bishop Anne Jolly will preside. Trinity will be represented by three lay delegates, each of them with seat, voice, and vote – Mary Beroske, Hugh Grefe, and Jolene Miller. As your Interim Rector, I will be granted the courtesy of seat and voice, but won’t have voting privileges since I’m a priest in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. George Benson, our Director of Community Engagement, will also attend the convention as an observer, providing him the opportunity to learn more about how the diocese supports the ministries of its various parishes and congregations.
Diocesan conventions are a time when lay and clergy delegates from each congregation in the diocese gather for worship and fellowship, and to discuss and make decisions about the budget, resolutions, canons, and other issues. You can learn more about this year’s meeting by going to the convention website here: https://www.dohio.org/convention.
The Diocese of Ohio occupies 48 counties in the northern half of the state. It was the first diocese of the Episcopal Church to be established outside the original 13 colonies. At present, there are 95 parishes – some large, others small, and still others somewhere in between.
Shortly after Ohio was admitted to the Union, the first Episcopal church, St. John’s, was established in the state at Worthington in 1804. (Fun fact – I served as interim at St. John’s from 2019-2020.) Philander Chase, a graduate of Dartmouth, was called to be St. John’s first rector in 1817. A year later, he was elected the first Bishop of Ohio, and immediately began founding congregations and organizing the diocese for mission. A force to be reckoned with, Bishop Chase established Kenyon College and Bexley Hall Seminary. To give you some idea of his energy, between June 1820 and June 1821, he preached 200 times, baptized fifty people, and confirmed another 175 while traveling 1,279 miles on horseback!
Your interim and lay delegates won’t have to travel to Wooster on horseback, but we will still appreciate your prayers. Here’s the prayer For a Church Convention or Meeting from the Book of Common Prayer:
Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in the Diocese of Ohio for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
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MUSIC & THE ARTS
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MARK YOUR CALENDARS! A fabulous concert is coming to Trinity October 8th at 3:00 pm. Lead by Kevin S. Foster, NOVA, or Northwest Ohio Vocal Arts, is a small professional choral ensemble making their debut performance in our sanctuary. If you love choral music, this is...