By Pastor Tracey Leslie
This year during Lent, our sanctuary will be decorated with art that reflects the Protestant Stations of the Cross. (The Protestant Stations differ from the Catholic Stations in that they represent only those scenes substantiated by the gospels.)
Each Sunday throughout Lent, we’ll focus on one station and a gospel story that corresponds with that station’s theme. For example, on the first Sunday, we’ll view the station of the Last Supper and consider Jesus’ Parable of the Great Dinner found in Luke, chapter 14. Both stories share a common theme of Jesus opening up his table and inviting us to dine with him.
I’m excited about this sermon series and the art that will accompany it. All pieces will be original works created by local artists in a variety of mediums. On Sunday, March 11, at 2:00 p.m. we will open our sanctuary to the community to view the art. A concert and readings will be presented at 2:30 p.m.
Following the program, refreshments will be served and those in attendance will have an opportunity to bid on the works of art. However, the art will remain in our sanctuary until Easter. On Good Friday, March 30, our 6:00 p.m. worship service will move us from station to station throughout the sanctuary as we hear the story of our Lord’s Passion and see it reflected in the artwork.
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
As I have frequently done since my arrival, I want to start the New Year with an update on Trinity’s Vision and announce an opportunity for all of us to come together to “tune up," refine and reflect on our vision as we continue to “grow in love and service through relationships with God and community.”
In January, 2015, Rev. Dr. Dan Bonner from the Center for Urban Congregational Renewal, consulted with us and delivered recommendations for our church’s renewal and growth. Through his consulting process, we named Trinity’s Vision (see paragraph above). Concerns or obstacles to growth identified by Rev. Bonner included our finances, our lack of a clear evangelism strategy (our “go” strategy), the lack of an effective and clearly-defined small group structure to strengthen and mature disciples, the burden of aging facilities, and a need to draw younger families and young adults. Several of the challenges Dan set before us have been addressed over time.
On January 30, at 6:00 p.m., we will have a Congregational Town Hall Meeting in the sanctuary to discuss next steps. Three things, in particular, will be discussed at this meeting. They are:
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
“Who’s FRAN?” you might be asking yourself. FRAN is an acronym for Friend, Relative, Acquaintance, Neighbor. Though our culture is increasingly unchurched, the Christmas season is still a time when people are more open to reflection on their spiritual life. In addition, many people struggle with depression or melancholy during the holiday season and may experience feelings of loneliness or isolation. So it is an especially good time to invite someone to join you for church!
Beginning December 3, for the four Sundays of Advent (Dec. 3, 10, 17, and 24), I encourage you to bring someone with you to church. On December 3, invite a friend. On Dec. 10, invite a relative. On Dec. 17, invite an acquaintance. On Dec. 24, invite a neighbor. It’s the FRAN plan. Please do not invite people who regularly attend another church. The goal is to invite someone who is not regularly attending a church.
Finding a new building and determining where to park and what door to enter can create anxiety. So, don’t just invite them; offer to pick them up. Make sure you sit with them during worship and introduce them to those who are sitting around you. Also, I encourage you to invite them to join you for lunch after worship. Make it your treat! It doesn’t need to be anywhere fancy or expensive. You might even invite them to your home for lunch. If lunch is too difficult, offer to pick them up early and take them for coffee. Invite them to join you for a Sunday morning study at 9:15. Small group studies are one of the best ways for people to get connected to the church. It’s a smaller and more informal group of people you can begin to get to know. In today’s busy and often impersonal culture, one of the best gifts we can offer others is our presence.
Beginning in November, Sunday bulletins will include invitations you can use to invite FRAN. A spoken, personal invitation is best. Pray for your “FRANs” before you invite them. But the invitations will allow those you invite to see the name of the church, service time, and our website address in case they want to check out Trinity in advance. Remember to let those with little ones know we have Children’s Worship and a fully staffed nursery throughout the morning.
We all want Trinity to grow and nothing is more effective in encouraging people to attend a church than a personal invitation from someone they know.
By Pastor Tracey Leslie
In the spring of 1990, I invited my neighbor in the apartment next to mine to go on an evening grocery store run. I didn’t know my neighbor well. But it was seminary housing; he was a nice young man and we’d begun to talk together on the way to class. Besides, I lived in the city and it was late and I didn’t want to drive through a dicey part of town that late by myself. He agreed. We didn’t know one another well, but on the way back to seminary I made some off-the-cuff remark about the distant future (that I no longer recall) and my neighbor (named Britt) said to me, “Oh, you don’t know; I could significantly alter your future.”
As a matter of fact, he did… Although I would have hardly imagined on that evening so long ago how our lives would intertwine. August 31 marked our 26th wedding anniversary!
As many of you have no doubt noticed, when I preach or teach, I often emphasize that Christianity is not a belief system; but rather a relational system. Being a Christian is about developing and growing a relationship with God through Christ AND – of equal importance – developing authentic, caring relationships with others.
In the spring of 2015, Trinity’s Church Council officially approved our current vision statement: “Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community.” Relationships are what Christianity is about. Relationships are what Trinity must be about.
Now that we have reduced our facilities (and the time, money and energy needed for their upkeep), we can focus more time and energy on building relationships. This September, Trinity will be launching several new small group study and fellowship opportunities as a part of our Ready Set Grow program. Jeremy Grossman has written a great article about the value of discipleship and a new study he will be leading on Sunday mornings. Check it out on page 6. Monday evenings will also be time set aside for group gatherings. Morris DuBose continues meeting with his Story Group as a critical component of our Ready Set Grow process. Beginning September 18, Abby Lietz Agee will be leading a women’s study on the first and third Mondays of each month. Also beginning Sept. 18, Terry Stamper will be leading a men’s study every third Monday of the month. Kristi Evans will resume her once monthly ladies gathering in her home on the 4th Monday of each month. And Ruth Smith, our Community Engagement Coach will be leading studies on the second Monday of each month to bring together members of our church and community to examine critical issues about building stronger communities and addressing community needs.
Nothing changes our lives as dramatically as relationships. I hope you’ve found value in the relationships you’ve formed at Trinity whether you’ve been here several months or decades. I hope you’ll take a step
toward deepening those relationships by engaging in a small group study this fall. Also, keep in mind that small group study is an ideal way to invite friends to check out Trinity. What better gift could you offer a friend than the opportunity to experience hospitality, make new friends, and deepen their relationship with Christ and others?
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