By Ruth Smith, Community Engagement Coach
Our community groups are going well – full of conversation and relationship building.
The community dinner and dialogue group brings together members of our congregation with community members –residents, service providers, public servants, interested citizens. We eat dinner together and then talk about issues related to an abundant community. There are seven elements of an abundant community, which a group of us documented during a community walk last week. These include care, raising children, health, safety and security, resilient economy, local food production, and environment. The foundation of an abundant community is recognizing and connecting the gifts of individuals in the neighborhood as well as offering hospitality.
Last month, our focus was on care and how we, as individuals do not just serve, but care, for the most vulnerable in our communities. The week after our conversation, I was waiting at the stop sign to turn outside the West Lafayette Payless and there was a mom and her young son on the corner, camped out with folding chairs and a sign asking for money for food and gas. The car in front of me took FOREVER to turn so I spent a lot of time watching them. The first thing I noticed is that the mom wore a headscarf. So, I was thinking about a conversation I had a few months ago with a friend of mine in the Muslim community who was talking about the divide between the professional families and those who need more financial assistance and the capacity of the mosque to provide for them. So it got me thinking about who I could call to offer community support. Then, I was thinking about what service providers I could refer them to. And then, whether or not I could grab some of the 4 boxes of Cheerios I just bought to give to them (especially considering I splurged on some really nice pieces of fish for dinner) and how I would get them out of the trunk with the kids in the car. And during all these unproductive thoughts, a young woman got out of a van parked in front of them and came over to give a hug to the mom. It looked like she either knew them or gave them something they needed. So, why couldn't I help? And at this point, it was time to make my turn. I'm still thinking about it. How could I have shown better care? Not just meeting needs, but care.
In both groups, I encourage everyone to continue to get to know their neighbors. In whatever part of the city we live in, we do not know our neighbors particularly well. Let's all be intentional about learning the names of our neighbors, talking with them, take them cookies, and check in on them if you haven't seen them in their normal routine in a while. These might be the people who live next door to us. Or, our neighbors could be the people we sit next to or who serve us at the coffee shop we go to 5 days a week. But just think about how these relationships have the power to transform our lives, the lives of the people around us, and our communities!
Join us for the next community small group on Monday, November 13 at 7 pm in the Church Parlor. This is a great opportunity to invite friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers. The focus is on community issues, and we seek to create a safe place for people to share their experiences. This month, we will be talking about supporting healthy lives. Individual behavior, social relationships, and physical environment are the major factors determining our health level. These factors are closely related to our local community ties. When we act together, we produce primary sources of health; but how does disconnect affect our health and the health of others? Caring for yourself and your health is important on a spiritual level as well. It glorifies God and is being a good witness. Plus, the healthier you are, the more energy you have to do what God has planned for you. What is one other reason that you think God wants us to be healthy? We will explore what healthy living means within a community context, and how we can better support our health and the health of others.
By Melissa Kramer
Trinity is ready to begin a new family-to-family ministry. Our team of dedicated volunteers has identified a need in our community to provide relational support to families in the Lafayette area. Through monthly meals and events, we hope to form lasting connections with the families we will be working with. No relationship can be one-sided, so the nature of this ministry is a partnership between the members of Trinity and the families. We want to get to know our neighbors, but we also want our neighbors to be able to know us.
Trinity is partnering with Lafayette Urban Ministry (LUM) in an effort to provide housing and respond to other identified needs for families in the Lafayette area. LUM will be handling the housing portion, while Trinity members will meet with the families on a monthly basis. These monthly gatherings will offer food and a time for families to grow together and connect with each other. Families will also be connected with church members on an as-needed basis to provide need-specific support.
We have identified three “tiers” or levels of volunteer commitment that will allow our church members to participate in this ministry without feeling overwhelmed. Our core group leading this ministry has met with Joe Micon, Executive Director at LUM, and will be organizing the monthly gatherings with the families. The second level of volunteers will be our “once a month” volunteers. Those who serve on a monthly basis will either make one monthly visit with a family, or they will be serving at the monthly meal. The third level is what we hope everyone will fall into. We will need occasional donated supplies that we will give to the families, as well as members of the church who have special resources/information/knowledge that they can share with the families. Maybe you have perfected the skill of budgeting and would like to help others learn how to budget. Or maybe you are a parent/grandparent and can empathize with other parents. We all have something that we can offer to others. In the coming weeks and months, be praying about how you would can enhance Trinity’s Family to Family Ministry.
The community garden continues to grow and our July Garden and Grill Meal was attended by nearly 100 people! An enormous “thank you” to the nearly 50 Trinity folks who came out to help with our second Garden and Grill on Tuesday, July 18! We represented almost half of those in attendance which allowed us the opportunity to really engage with our community.
The food was fabulous and the kitchen crew amazing. “Thanks” to those who “sweated it out” (literally and figuratively) putting up the tents, tables and chairs. “Thanks” to all those who served as table hosts and to the many, many folks who provided such a lovely variety of side dishes. Thanks to our grill masters and our musicians. We fed the hungry and sent some home with fresh garden produce. We got to know some Centennial neighbors. We had several repeat attenders from the prior month’s Garden and Grill meal, including a couple of community service providers. One case worker brought a few clients to the June meal and this month’s meal. She thanked our church for providing her clients with an opportunity to attend this meal. She remarked that, along with providing good home-cooked food, her clients had the opportunity to strengthen their social skills in a gracious and informal environment. What a blessing!
We are so thankful to all who volunteered and for the good and faithful work we are doing together to demonstrate the grace of Christ, build community and express unconditional hospitality and welcome.
By Mel Shoaf, Garden Manager
What kind of picture comes to your mind when you hear or read: A Garden? Is it the wonderful smells and lovely blooms of your favorite flower? Or do you immediately picture a fresh, red, ripe tomato? Or maybe it is more spiritual—the serenity of a shady nook in the corner of your garden. You go there in the warm months to drink your morning coffee or to meditate at the end of a big day. The Bible starts our lives out in a garden. God provides for us a Garden of Eden and our needs are taken care of in that setting.
Two years ago, Ken McCammon approached Trinity about growing pepper plants. At the time, we brought up an idea of creating a garden at Trinity. While it did not come to fruition at that time, I did not give up, and at the end of 2017, we approved a small garden in the south lawn.
Ken tilled and fertilized the garden patch and also planted four rows of early crops. On May 20th, members of the congregation and several community members planted several more rows. One week later, Janet and I planted cucumbers, tomatoes, and several squash varieties. So far the garden has provided radishes, leaf lettuce, and green onions. I am in the garden Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. It has been a joy to work in and I have found that our neighbors appreciate it. I talk to many of them and always make sure to make them feel welcome in our garden. This is a real asset to our church and the community.
We, as members of society, strive to hep each other in many ways. The Grow Local Association in Lafayette has several community gardens throughout the city. The goal of their undertaking is to help people access fresh produce at no cost to them. We only ask that they respect the garden and if they have time, as they “pick a veggie, pull a weed.” This is our first year with a community garden, and hopefully will be the first of many gardens.
The Garden Planning Team discussed the goals and purpose of our garden, and how it relates to the church's mission and vision, summarized by: getting to know our neighbors, building relationships with God and community, and making disciples.
We developed the following goals:
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