God doesn’t want us to be alone.
It has always been challenging, as an introvert, to make friends as an adult. Once I ‘launched’ into the world, so to speak, I found that I have no talent in simply striking up a conversation and connecting with a stranger. When we were looking for a new spiritual home, my husband and I initially tried Trinity because of the historic building (“at least it will be pretty, if nothing else”) and later morning service. We felt so immediately welcomed and engaged that we never left. Trinity is home.
One of the things I have always loved about Trinity was that the members strive for connection - a bond that extends beyond the sanctuary. We study together, we eat together, we garden together… This isn’t a happy accident - it is by design.
The staff works hard. I grew up in the Methodist church, and I have never seen the clergy work so much on the ground floor to help facilitate this sense of connection. Have you grabbed a coffee with Pastor Tracey? I think almost everyone has, coming away with a better sense of where we could find connection, through individual relationships or via engaging any of our ministries. The pandemic made this even more challenging, requiring the staff to push themselves and their creativity to find new, remote, and safe engagement opportunities. This virus has changed how we connect, but it didn’t stop us.
Beyond the congregation, I love seeing a staff that works together. Every week, they meet and discuss updates from their focused areas of ministry, as well as coordinate where those ministries overlap. Trinity isn’t going to assign one person to help you with your needs - you’ll get an entire, well-oiled machine! Recently, the staff announced their fall retreat - an opportunity to rest, rejuvenate, and recharge together. It is a blessing to have our church leaders model these healthy behaviors for the congregation. I have full faith that they will return from their retreat with a deepened team spirit, ready to collaborate and serve!
God doesn’t want us to be alone; Trinity UMC works together so we can all find connection.
In 2021 I was asked to organize funeral dinners. Not knowing if I could handle it, I said yes. I have found it to be a very inspirational and caring opportunity for me to work with all the families we have served this year. With the help of Bruce and Pam Delaplane, we organized 6 dinners/receptions in the last 6 months. This could not have been done without the preparation of different food items from not only the committee but also others in the church. We did not have anyone turn us down when asked to provide a dish or work in the kitchen. The outreach of our congregation has been amazing. All you have to do is to ask for guidance from our Lord and you will receive.
Monica started at Trinity when I took this over and she has been such a big help in ordering supplies, preparing food and acting as a liaison between the ministers and myself. What a wonderful blessing she has been.
Pastor Tracey asked if I would write a blog about Trinity’s Friendly Visitors. At first, I wasn’t sure what to write or say, except it has been something I’ve always wanted to do after retiring.
As some of you know, my occupation was nursing and the last 7 years of a 44 year career was as a triage nurse. Throughout the years, I’ve learned to truly “listen” to what one is saying, not only their words but also their tone of voice. Many of those I listened to told their stories of being home bound due to illness or old age. Some had family and/ or friends that helped them, yet there were others who had no help at all. So, when I retired, I moved from Buffalo, New York to Lafayette, Indiana, where my sister and brother-in-law live. I then began looking for a church that was actively involved with their parishioners and surrounding community. In Trinity, I found the people were open, warm, friendly, and involved in different areas of their community. One of those being “Friendly Visitors” to Trinity’s home bound.
When I first became a visitor, I was asked to visit those at Westminster Village. At that time, there were 5 parishioners ranging in age from their 80’s to late 90’s. That first visit, I went with a former pastor to be introduced and meet them. After the initial meeting, I ventured out on my own, thinking of Jesus as he met those on his journey, not knowing how I would be received. Throughout time, my relationships have grown, hearing their stories, meeting their families, seeing tears of joy and sadness. Sometimes, the only thing they need is someone to listen and hear them, someone that shows up, someone who cares. The smiles that happen when they receive a visit, a phone call, a card in the mail for their birthday or holiday say it all. These may seem insignificant to those who can get out and about, but to them it is a big thing to know they’re remembered and cared about. Sometimes, the friendly visitor is the only connection they have to the “outside” world. With these visits and calls, relationships have grown. I feel honored and blessed that they share their stories and feelings with me.
When Pastor Suzanne joined the Trinity staff, one of the “ jobs” was to head the friendly visitors. Not only did she step up to the plate during Covid, when the only communication was via phone and zoom, she made sure to touch base with each friendly visitor, individually and make contact with each homebound. Pastor Suzanne is a blessing and an integral part of the friendly visitors. The homebound mention her often and express their gratitude for her caring about them, and making their relationship grow with Trinity. I want to say thank you to Pastor Suzanne and the friendly visitors, making the housebound feel loved, cared for, and not forgotten. Trinity is definitely living up to its vision statement: Growing in Love and service through relationships with God and community.
I didn’t know their vision statement that first Sunday that I attended church at Trinity. My wife and I had lived in the community for several years, and had tried several churches, before finding Trinity. We were impressed that Sunday with the warm and friendly acceptance from all that we met – some who went out of their way to welcome us and introduce themselves. We never looked back and have been attending ever since.
In that time, and as my work schedule allows, I have gotten involved in several activities and ministries that Trinity offers the community. Some of these include the Jubilee Christmas Ministry, which focuses on helping underprivileged parents to put Christmas gifts under the tree for their children; distributing food boxes from the Food Pantry to recipients in need of assistance; the Back to School Bash, which helps teachers and students obtain the supplies that they need for the school year; and most recently, I agreed to help out with Prism, a group which focuses on area LGBTQ youth who may be looking for a space to become comfortable with themselves, worship God, and meet others who may be on the same journey. All of these activities are worthwhile endeavors and allow me to give back to my church and my community.
Being a part of the gay community, the acceptance and hospitality shown on that first Sunday said more to me than those smiling faces could ever know. Now that I am a member of the church, the service to the community, is what keeps me coming back. I love that our church “walks the walk” and truly lives up to its vision statement: Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community. Trinity endeavors to do this through its tireless ministries - ministries that I am proud to be a part of and that are so needed in our troubled world today.
Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community. This is more than a statement. It is a vision that plays out daily at Trinity. Through our outreach, we have demonstrated God’s Grace and love to people who don’t often feel welcomed or included in other faith communities.
I feel blessed to be a part of the transportation ministry. I don’t ever want to take for granted that I am able to get to church and enjoy the many aspects of fellowship and worship. The transportation ministry is more than picking people up for church. It involves caring and sharing with each other and that gives us all a relationship that extends beyond the church walls. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing on Sunday morning than enjoying the fellowship we all have!
Jubilee Christmas is also one of my favorites! It is such an honor to organize Trinity’s Jubilee Christmas! Every year we receive families through Lafayette Urban Ministries who have struggled and need assistance. Trinity opens its doors to receive these parents with open arms. It is one of our bigger events and it is such a blessing to see all of you come together to give and serve. I am awed and humbled every year at the generosity, graciousness, and Christian hospitality shown to our guests. It truly shows our commitment to "Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community."
We are all blessed by the staff and lay members, led by Pastor Tracey, who continue to adapt to our community needs. These individuals work hard to ensure that "Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community" is not just a statement, but a living commitment.