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:
It is a pleasure to announce that Trinity has received a $25,000 Church Development Urban Transitional Community Grant from the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church to fund a church growth plan called Ready, Set, Grow.
In the winter of 2015, church growth consultant Rev. Dr. Dan Bonner of the Center for Urban Congregational Development identified that it would be critical to Trinity’s future for us to develop stronger relationships with our neighborhood and partnerships with area not-for-profits. These initiatives are geared toward achieving this goal. Strong relationships with our neighborhood and our community are essential if we are to fulfill our God-given vision of "growing in love and service through relationships with God and community."
Last fall a small, diverse group of Trinity folks formed a Dream Team to brainstorm ways to more successfully connect with our community. The ideas generated by the Dream Team were presented to the congregation after worship on Sunday, February 12, 2017. These ideas have been developed into four initiatives (see below) to grow community relationships with an over-arching goal of church growth.
The grant will be used to fund a one-year contract with a Community Engagement Coach to work with initiative teams and a Ready, Set, Grow steering team to develop and launch these new outreach initiatives. Ruth Smith, Ph.D., will serve as our Community Engagement Coach. Ruth’s dissertation involved a group of Somali refugees in Columbus, Ohio. Here in Lafayette, Ruth has launched multiple effective community initiatives. Having already served on Trinity’s staff, Ruth begins with a solid knowledge of our congregation and its members that will allow her to more effectively guide and equip us in launching these new initiatives.
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