Describe a moment in your worshipping community’s recent ministry that you recognize as one of success and fulfillment.
The visit from Bishop Hougland with 3 baptisms was very uplifting and energizing for our parish. The church was full of people, the bishop gave an inspirational sermon, and everyone’s spirits were running high.
Other worship successes include the substantial participation by our congregation, and the challenges of working with supply priests. We have made it comfortable for supply priests to come in and serve, while also being able to roll with the changes and deal with any difficulties that have arisen. Using a Lutheran pastor on occasion has led us to developing a service binder to simplify the celebrant’s role. This has been so successful that other parishes have requested using it.
Describe your liturgical style and practice for all types of worship in your community.
Trinity leans towards worshipping in a more traditional style. In past decades, we celebrated 8am “Said” Eucharists and 10am “Sung” Eucharists. More recently we have combined them to offer a hybrid 9am service with elements of the two former services. We also make use of Morning and Evening Prayer services, when suitable. During Holy Week, we offer evening services led by worship leaders. Trinity has also had picnic services in the summer. As for liturgical music, weekly we have hymns with piano or organ accompaniment. At special services we have children play instruments. We are open to other worship styles and music on occasion.
How do you practice incorporating others in ministry?
Nearly everyone in the congregation is involved in our services, at one time or another. The parish really celebrates the youth that we have in the church and enjoys having them participate in our services and providing music. All are welcome to join in the service as acolytes, lay readers, ushers/greeters, and musicians.
Trinity is involved with organizations that focus on building up the local community. These include hosting the community kitchen (soup pot) to feed the hungry; housing and supporting *cino interns (a grassroots organization seeking to build up the local community); hosting annual workshops to create a forum for our community to come together; and, aiding local support organizations through our facilities and/or donations.
We are unassuming and seek to do God’s work. Our slogan is “God’s Love in Action.”
As a worshipping community, how do you care for your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being?
Trinity currently provides supply clergy on a weekly basis to fill our weekly Eucharist services and provide any additional spiritual guidance if requested. We have a close-knit parish family that provides for each other – people communicate well to make sure others are doing okay, and provide emotional/spiritual support for those who may be having a down day. Efforts are made to help people get to church, if they are having physical difficulties, and we also take communion to people who are currently shut-in.
Parishioners host a Centering Prayer group that has had weekly meetings at Trinity for years. They use meditation and discussion to provide spiritual well-being for those in the community.
The Community Kitchen hosted by Trinity also provides physical and emotional sustenance to people in the community.
How do you engage in pastoral care for those beyond your worshipping community?
For years, Trinity has hosted a community kitchen twice a week to provide food and conversation for those in need. We have had a long term relationship with the local domestic assault shelter, providing them with requested materials to support their families. Our parish has also provided housing and other support of *cino, a group that seeks to build up impoverished parts of our town with a community garden and youth programs, among other projects. The DOK group at Trinity is involved in outreach activities that include mentoring youth, interacting with the local faith community organization, and hosting an annual community forum with a religious focus. We also have parishioners commonly active in national and international mission projects offered through the Diocese.
Trinity has had a number of members active at the Deanery and Diocesan levels of the church. We also have been involved in Diocesan mission projects and have recently sent a youth representative to EYE. Our parish has been paying our full assessment to the Deanery and the Diocese to support their activities, even in the years we were struggling financially as a parish. We have also been active with the Cursillo program in the past.
Describe your worshipping community’s involvement in either the wider Church or geographical community.
Our DOK group has stepped up to take on the task of outreach for Trinity. This includes volunteer efforts with mentoring students, involvement with the area faith community, and hosting a spirituality workshop. Mary Lou Vernon is the current contact.
Tell about a ministry that your worshipping community has initiated in the past 5 years. Who can be contacted about this project?
How are you preparing yourself for the Church of the future?
We have approached our priest vacancy open to new and alternative ideas. We have used supply priests, temporary priests in charge, and even shared a priest with another parish, so that he could approach the salary of a full time priest. Trinity also has a good relationship with the local ELCA church and we are seeking to strengthen that relationship.
Trinity sees itself as open, accepting, and forgiving. We recognize that the traditional model of ministry is now more difficult to attain and may not be part of our future. Despite going through a number of recent transitions out of our control, we have maintained a good, strong spiritual health. Though we have a traditional Episcopal background, we are open and accepting of varying worship styles and leaders. We see our strength in being active in outreach and are open to new ways of being a positive influence on our community.
Though we have had a number of people attend Stewardship workshops in the recent past, and we put forth programs featuring inspirational testimonials, we have come to see that stewardship is best practiced through outreach ministries. We therefore focus more priority on worship and outreach and less on income. In turn, with the focus on the right goals for the church, people feel called to give financially to our parish. The parishioners of Trinity give a large amount of volunteer hours every year towards worship and outreach activities. That being said, we also have a few annual fundraising activities that bring our community together – making giant chocolate eggs for Easter, and hosting pancake, spaghetti, and/or beef dinners.
What is your practice of Stewardship and how does it shape the life of your worshipping community?
We currently have very little conflict in our community. Trinity has had issues in the past with priests not fulfilling their duties. These issues were addressed/resolved using Diocesan intermediaries. Through resolving those issues, we have learned that both sides need to be more specific with communicating expectations. We have also learned to match our expectations to where we currently are vs. where we want to be. i.e. We don’t have a Sunday school or choir, so we shouldn’t expect a new priest to provide that when they come in.
Through these struggles, we have learned the following:
a. We can be an active, vibrant church, even with a half-time or less clergy
b. We need to be faster to identify issues and resolve them, before they escalate
c. We need to be more demanding of the Diocese to mediate if/when an issue comes up
What is your worshipping community’s experience of conflict? And how have you addressed it?
A recent former priest raised up a number of leaders in our worship community. This was done through Diocesan training programs for worship leaders and preachers, and in-house training by experienced lay leaders for other positions. The same priest held a few parish summits, used to find and build on our strengths at Trinity. We feel we currently have a strong core of leaders who can keep Trinity thriving regardless of our priest situation, though we have high hopes of retaining a priest who will strengthen us further in spirituality and outreach.
We have gone to a single Sunday service which wasn’t received well by all parishioners. Some other changes in our more distant past weren’t received well. What we have learned is that communication and open-mindedness are key factors to minimize conflict and keep the proper focus.
What is your experience of leading change in the church? When has it gone well/When has it gone poorly? And what did you learn?
a. God’s Love in Action
b. Ability to raise up leaders in the church
c. Able to change with the times
If you were to identify the gifts/skills you need in leadership as you move into the future, which words would you use to best describe these? (This should just be a list of four things!)