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 Ruth Smith and Melissa Kramer
One aspect of the Ready, Set, Grow grant was to redesign the Care Fund, our emergency assistance funded by your communion donations, to be more relationship driven. Over the past few months, Ruth has been researching programs and learning more about our community’s resources to figure out a way to better serve our neighbors in need. We found that we needed to bring together our Caring Fund and the F2F ministry, because both focus on building relationships with low-income families and individuals while supporting their financial, relational, and spiritual growth. This month, we began our new process.
The Caring Fund works to support and encourage low income people and people in recovery to improve their lives, building on their own actions, gifts and resources. Our goal is to develop transformative relationships with individuals and households, and through our daily life and work, glorify God, support ourselves and our families, and benefit our community. Our guiding verse is 1 John 3:17-18.
We offer gas/grocery cards, utility, and rent assistance to church members and individuals referred by our community partners: Home with Hope, YWCA Domestic Violence Program, and Food Finders. Other forms of assistance are determined on a case by case basis, and require approval from the head pastor.
If others stop by, and have been helped by us in the past, we will meet with them and determine if they are a fit for our program. For those who agree to participate in Family-to-Family, are already in case management, or would like individual on-going support through the Caring Fund, we will support their development as determined with the individual/family.
Volunteers with the Caring Fund work with individuals requesting help and referred to us from our partners. They connect individuals with jobs around the church with the maintenance team, coffee cart ministry, second Tuesday meals, community garden, and more and then follow up with them. If desired, volunteers work with individuals to develop an action plan for longer term support.
We need volunteers that will commit to calling families and individuals to check in with them, follow up, and help us build relationships with our neighbors. Training will be provided. We also need volunteers to attend and assist with the monthly gatherings. If you are interested, please contact Ruth or Melissa.
Following the Path of Christ Today
By Jeremy Grossman
In 1956, “I Walk the Line” became Johnny Cash’s first number one hit. With its signature Cash “freight train” rhythm, the song is catchy and has been covered numerous times and was also used as the title of the 2005 award-winning biopic of Cash. It’s easy to view the song as presenting a parable of Cash’s sudden rise to stardom: suddenly presented with fame and fortune (and the vices that go with them), Cash vows to his wife and family:
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.
I keep my eyes wide open all the time.
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds.
Because you're mine, I walk the line.
I find it very, very easy to be true.
I find myself alone when each day is through.
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you.
Because you're mine, I walk the line.
Despite these promises and good intentions, we know that Cash failed in his fidelity. He strayed from the path—he was unable to walk the line he had set out to follow. How many of us have experienced something similar in our own lives—a promise broken, a commitment not met, or just a plain failure? How many times have we failed to be examples of the Living Love of Christ?
As Pastor Tracey prepares a sermon series on the “Protestant Stations of the Cross” for this upcoming season of Lent and Easter, I thought about both the physical and figurative lines walked by Christ. What markers did He leave us to follow his path? As we often stray from the Line during the year, Lent strikes me as a time to make our way back to Christ, to get back to walking the line. Therefore, starting on the first Sunday of Lent, February 18, we will begin a new series of discussion topics during the Sunday School hour aligned to Pastor Tracey’s sermon series. Each topic is meant to mirror Pastor Tracey’s sermon later in the morning by focusing on a virtue exemplified by Christ as a different “station”—a signpost instructing us how to follow Christ’s footsteps and “walk the line.” The schedule is as follows:
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:
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