“Growing in love and service through relationships with God and community” is Trinity’s Vision statement. Pastor Tracey used Trinity’s Vision Statement as the foundation for her Lilly clergy renewal grant. Pastor Tracey’s various sabbatical activities are designed to deepen relationships with:
While Pastor Tracey is living out our vision, Trinity will be diving deep into our vision as well. Among other activities, May 17-18, Rev. Dr. John Whitaker, from Shiloh United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio will facilitate a retreat for our congregation. This retreat is open to everyone who is a part of Trinity. It is not limited to leadership. It is not limited to “official” members. If you engage with Trinity, you are welcomed and encouraged to participate!
The title of the retreat is The Choice for Community. The retreat will feature learning and discussion around such things as:
Rev. Whitaker is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and a certified spiritual director. He completed his Doctorate in Ministry at United Theological Seminary. Understanding and constructing healthy Christian community within American culture was the topic of Rev. Whitaker’s doctoral dissertation. Rev. Whitaker and Pastor Tracey served on staff together for four years at Church of the Cross United Methodist in Dayton, Ohio. You will find that Rev. Whitaker’s teaching is well-aligned with our congregational vision and values. Rev. Whitaker will also bring the morning message on Sunday morning, May 19.
Pastor Tracey’s sabbatical will begin on April 25. There are some special congregational gatherings related to the
sabbatical. Read below and mark these dates on your calendar!
Leave-taking Reception on April 7
April 7, following morning worship will be a “leave-taking” reception for Pastor Tracey. Join us in the Great Room for a time of snacks and fellowship.
Congregational Retreat May 17-19
The weekend of May 17-19, Rev. Dr. John Whitaker, a United Methodist pastor serving in the West Ohio Conference, will lead a retreat and preach for Sunday morning worship. Rev. Whitaker serves as Senior Pastor at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Cincinnati. He is trained in spiritual formation and has a D.Min. from United Seminary focused on the topic of Christian Community.
Pastor John will lead a retreat Friday evening and Saturday morning entitled The Choice for Community. The retreat will take place in the Great Room and will begin with a light dinner on Friday evening, May 17, at 5:30 p.m. and conclude around 8:30. It will resume at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning and conclude at noon. The retreat will focus on topics such as:
· Definitions of community,
· obstacles to community,
· community strengths and weaknesses,
· spiritual practices that strengthen community,
· inclusive community, and
· foundations of community.
This retreat is for the entire church. It is not limited to formal church leadership. Lily clergy sabbaticals encourage events for the congregation to grow during the pastor’s absence. This retreat will be a wonderful opportunity for learning and growth.
Rev. Whitaker and Pastor Tracey served together at Church of the Cross United Methodist in Kettering, Ohio in the late 90’s and have remained good friends. You will certainly be blessed by Pastor John’s leadership and teaching.
June Story Suppers
During the month of June, the congregation will have two opportunities to craft our “congregational narrative” as Morris DuBose, our narrative consultant, facilitates two story suppers. The entire congregation is encouraged to participate; but you only need to attend one of the two story suppers. The first will include a light lunch and will take place following worship on Sunday, June 2. The second will include a light dinner and will take place on Wednesday, June 19, at 6 p.m. Morris and table facilitators will lead us in celebrating and “cataloguing” memories of such things as: past pastors, our music program over the years, our missions and community outreach, how our surrounding neighborhood has evolved, memorable holiday traditions, etc. This will be an enjoyable, interactive experience and will allow us to craft our congregation’s narrative in preparation of celebrating our 200th anniversary in 2027.
Communication during Sabbatical
Keep in mind that Lilly sabbatical expectations are for there to be no contact between the pastor and congregation during the sabbatical period in order for clergy to completely “unplug” and rest and renew. Pastor Tracey’s church email will be forwarded and will be responded to by either Melissa or Rev. Jack Hartman. Many of you have Pastor Tracey’s cell phone number but calls and texts to the cell phone number will also not be responded to during the sabbatical time.
Pastor Linda will be in town and you are welcome to contact her with any pastoral emergencies as well. A full listing of how clergy duties will be divided will be available on April 7 at the leave-taking reception to assist you in determining who can best field specific questions or concerns.
Pastor Tracey’s sabbatical will include multiple opportunities with religious communities. As mentioned in a prior newsletter, there will be time with a Bruderhof community in the UK. A week will also be spent at
Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. Thomas Merton is this monastery’s most famous monk. Trappist monks are cloistered Benedictines, meaning that they are strictly focused on prayer and work. Each day they observe the seven prayer times – Vigils, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. The abbey is in a remote setting, very quiet and includes many trails through the forest.
In May, Britt and I will spend a few days in Portland, Oregon seeing the sites. It will be my first time in the
Pacific Northwest. Then, Britt will return home and Tracey will drive to Great Vow Zen Buddhist monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon. This monastery also follows a strict communal schedule with three one-hour meditation times each day. Like Gethsemani, it is in a beautiful setting surrounded by walking trails. At both
monasteries, nearly all of the day will be spent in silence.
Please join us for an after-worship “leave-taking” reception on Sunday, April 7, at 11:30. Although Pastor Tracey’s sabbatical does not officially begin until April 25, the reception is being planned earlier in the month so as not to conflict with Holy Week and Easter.
While Tracey is gone, Trinity will have the opportunity to celebrate life together in community through two Story Suppers. These will be led by Morris DuBose, our narrative consultant. Through the story suppers, under Morris’ leadership, Trinity members and constituents will craft the story of Trinity through the decades from the 1950’s until now. This congregational narrative will be shared and celebrated with Pastor Tracey when she returns from her sabbatical and will also become a resource for Trinity’s 200th anniversary celebration of our faith community in 2027. The first story supper will be held on Sunday, June 2, immediately following worship and will include a light lunch. The second will be held on Wednesday, June 19 at 6 p.m. and will include a light meal. Select the date most convenient for you. Whether you joined Trinity in the 1970’s or 2010’s, please come to share your perspective and experiences on our church family through the decades. Please RSVP to the church office (email@example.com). Direct any questions to Morris DuBose (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you read the title of this article, I imagine you were expecting a different interrogative pronoun. The question normally asked is, “What’s for Dinner?” But this Thanksgiving, I’d challenge you to ask “Who’s for Dinner?” as in “Who might I be able to invite for dinner?”
Church is not a place, but a community of people. Church is not just about worship or Sunday School or meetings. Church is the people with whom we are called to “do life” together.
In recent years, I’ve become aware of three Trinity folks who invite others to their home for holiday meals. Some of our members don’t have family close by for a variety of reasons. But church is family so what a perfect time to come together for a holiday meal.
This year’s stewardship theme “Setting the Table for Trinity” reminded us that Jesus’ mission of “seeking and saving the lost” was accomplished through table fellowship. Around the table is the place where we connect and grow closer to God and one another. There is something sacred about table fellowship.
If you would like to invite someone for dinner this Thanksgiving and are unsure who to ask, speak to Pastor Tracey. She can provide some recommendations. If you are a member without family and would like to join your Trinity family for Thanksgiving dinner, let Pastor Tracey know. What a blessing it is for us to gather around the table with one another.
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