From Pastor Neil’s Study (Fall 2021)

I’ve been thinking recently about the power of words. We use words all the time: at home, at work, at school, at church. What we say and how we say it has great influence on our lives and the people we interact with every day. For many of us, maturity in Christian faith begins when we start to pay attention to our language — what we say and how we say it.

It has been said that prayer is the language of our relationship with God. This is a helpful definition because it reminds me to pay attention to the words I use when I’m communicating with God in prayer. One of the most important ways we use our words is to deepen our relationship with God in prayer. We need moments of silent, wordless, time alone with God, but we also need to take our joys and concerns to God. When we pray, we experience the power of words.

But words not only have power when we speak them, they also have power when we hear them. The healthiest relationships in our lives have a critical balance of speaking and listening. The best listeners are the people who pay close attention to our words and work hard to find meaning in what we say. One of the best gifts we can give a friend or loved one is to listen to them and allow their words to have an impact on our lives.

As Christians we know that the words we read in Scripture have the power to change our lives: especially the words spoken by Jesus. This summer, we’ve been listening carefully to the words Jesus used to teach us in parables. Jesus’ words are powerful and life-changing. If we want to be one of his deeply committed followers, we need to heed the words of the heavenly voice that speaks to Peter, James, and John on the mountain top in Matthew 17:5, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” I hope our collective efforts to “listen to him” through the parables have been meaningful for you.

Finally, because words are so important and so powerful, I’m planning a new sermon series that will start on September 12. It is called, Stung by the Tongue. In the four weeks of the series, we’ll look at portions of the New Testament Letter of James and consider the power of words and learn how we can use our words for good, for building others up while speaking the truth in love. My hope is that you’ll plan to join us for worship (on-line or in-person) and invite a friend, family member, or neighbor to join you.

I look forward to seeing you every Sunday at Trinity.

In Christ,

Pastor Neil

Blessing of the Pets

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

During our time of Covid, many of us have turned to our pets for distraction and even a mental health boost. The Washington Post reports that shelters adopted out dogs and cats in record numbers. (The hope now is that the animals will not be returned as people go back to working in person.) Our pandemic experience has been made much more tolerable by having our dog Henny around. She has gotten my husband and me out of the house every day for walks, she’s reminded us that play is a good thing, and she has consistently let us know how much she loves her family. Henny is a Dutch Shepherd mix who recently turned four-years-old. We rescued her when she was seven-months-old, about ten months after our beloved Labrador Biscuit died. In this photo she has a rawhide in her mouth. You can see how she keeps us entertained!

It’s almost time to celebrate our favorite animal friends. Mark your calendar because the Pet Blessing at Trinity Church is on October 3.

Pet blessings are held around the world. They were started to honor St. Francis of Assisi. He was an Italian Catholic friar who lived about 840 years ago. Francis did a lot to draw attention to the poor and needy. He also loved all animals, recognizing them as part of God’s great creation. (St. Francis was even known to carry on conversations with the birds in the trees!) In the year 1228, Pope Gregory named Francis the patron saint of both animals and the environment.

Here are the details of how we’ll celebrate the pets of our parish:

Important information: All dogs need to be on leashes. Cats and all other critters need to be in cages or other appropriate carriers. Henny will be there. We can’t wait to see you and your pets!

Children’s Ministries at Trinity

by Anne Hough, Interim Children’s Ministries Coordinator

I know that many of you have been wondering what is happening with the children’s ministries at Trinity. I want to assure you that we are working on plans that will be safe for your children and also exciting for them. We hope that the following ministries will make worship a more meaningful time for children and parents.

As we have returned to in-person worship services we have provided special children’s folders in the entrance to the sanctuary. These folders are available for children’s use, as presently they need to remain in the sanctuary for the whole service. The folders are color-coded according to reading ability: non-readers, beginning readers, elementary readers, and advanced readers. Each folder contains a clipboard, a Bible storybook, plain paper, a couple of Biblical coloring or activity papers, pencils, and crayons or coloring pencils. The folders for the younger children also have lacing cards, while the better readers have a copy of the Lord’s Prayer so they can participate when everyone prays.

We are also making plans for a new Children’s Worship experience beginning sometime in the fall. (Start date to be announced.) This will occur during both the 8:30 and 10:30 worship services. Following the children’s time in the sanctuary, children from 4 years through 4th grade may come with the leaders to room 303 in the Fellowship Building. (The Nursery will be available for children 0-3 years.)

In Children’s Worship, we will begin with circle time around our worship table, lighting the candles, talking about them and other special parts of worship and receiving their offering which will go to a mission project. Each child will have the opportunity to tell us something special about their week and after this we will join in a prayer together. Then it will be story time. We will be using many different children’s books that connect with a Biblical teaching so we can learn more about following Jesus. After the story time the candles are extinguished, and we move to tables for activity sheets, crafts or games that expand on the lesson until parents collect their children following the service.

Although 5th-6th graders will remain in the Sanctuary during worship for now (the folders are available for them), we are also working on plans for a new ministry for them called Club 56! More information on that will come later.

I hope all this will reassure you that we love your children and are working hard to make sure there are great ministries at Trinity to help them learn about God’s love. If you have any questions, please contact me at eaehough@gmail.com.

Blessings,

Anne

Youth in Service to Others

by Catherine Wethington, Interim Youth Director

One of the foundational tenets of the United Methodist Church is to live in service to others, or as John Wesley phrased it to “put our love and faith into action.” This year the youth program at Trinity will be leaning into this foundational tenet by finding ways to give back to our Trinity Family, our local community, and our global community. Our goal is to participate in one service-oriented activity each month. Some examples of these opportunities are food and clothing collections for organizations like SHARE, selling Christmas trees, assisting our international missions programs, reaching out to our Trinity Family in nursing homes, and making sandwiches for Martha’s Table. The opportunities for service are endless and I encourage the youth to suggest activities as well.

Our first service project will be an International Coastal Clean Up hosted by Ocean Conservancy. Ocean Conservancy (OC) is a non-profit organization headquartered right here in DC. Their mission is to work with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges with science-based solutions to create a healthy ocean and support the wildlife communities that depend on it. For 30 years OC has organized International Coastal Cleanups all over the world, making it a long-standing global movement. The local cleanup in DC will be held on Kingman Island on September 18, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Kingman Island is near RFK Stadium and the Stadium Armory Metro stop. The day will begin with a welcome, safety instructions, and history of the island. Volunteers will clean up the island for approximately 2 hours, grab and go lunches will be provided. Everything you need to participate will be provided by Ocean Conservancy and people of all ages are welcome to participate. At the end of the cleanup all the trash collected will be weighed and added to their international cleanup database.

This event has become increasingly popular and in September of 2019 they had approximately 1,000 volunteers attend. Due to covid they have decided to cap the number of volunteers allowed to attend at 400. The evite will be posted soon and we don’t want to miss our chance to participate. If you would like to join, please let Catherine (umtrinityyouth@gmail.com) know so she can reserve a spot for you.

Let’s bring this global movement to our Trinity Family and take action to improve our local community and our international community.

September – October 2021

What’s Happening at Trinity

Key:

F       Facebook (facebook.com/TrinityUMCMcLean)

Y       Youtube (youtube.com/UMTrinity)

Z       Zoom, Meeting ID shown (all Zoom passwords are 1205


Offering Envelopes – Would You Like? Or Not?

As more members of Trinity are utilizing Pushpay or other online donation tools, the desire of some for your own personal box of offering envelopes seems to have waned. We also understand that there are those who desire to utilize personalized offering envelopes as a way of personally giving their treasures to God and the church. No matter how you give, it is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

We want to make giving opportunities streamlined for everyone, and therefore ask you for a bit of information to help us out. If you are not receiving offering envelopes and would like envelopes, please let us know through a personal email to the church office manager, Harriet Latta. If you have been receiving envelopes, but do not desire to use them in the future because you give electronically, we would ask that you send an email to Harriet so we can take your name off the envelope printing list. Harriet’s email is hlatta@umtrinity.org. Thanks for your help with this information.

It cannot be said enough: Thank you for your contributions to Trinity.


Be Scam Aware

With the advancement in technology allowing us to communicate easily by phone, text and e-mail, we are also seeing an advancement in scam tactics. Churches are not exempt from these scams. No matter how you receive a message, please be sure you know the request is from a legitimate company or person. For example, the most popular scam targeting church members is an e-mail that appears to be from the pastor. But, it’s not. How can you tell? The two biggest clues are in the sender’s e-mail address and in the content of the message. The sender’s email address—that’s the part that includes the @-sign—may contain part of a person’s name or it might just look like random letters. The part that follows the @-sign is the key. A request from Trinity’s pastors will always come from @umtrinity.org addresses. The message itself is usually one to two sentences. The sentence structure, grammar, spelling and word choices are usually indicators of a scam. A recent scam included the sentence, “Kindly reply me when you get these.” Does that read like a sentence written by one of Trinity’s pastors?

Scammers who call, text or e-mail sometimes request gift cards. They ask you to go buy a bunch of gift cards and will even stay on the phone with you while you drive all over town trying to accumulate enough cards to fulfill their request. It’s ok to hang up on scammers.

When in doubt, you can call the church to verify the legitimacy of a message.


From Pastor Neil’s Study

In their 2011 book, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results, Lovett Weems (Founding Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership in Washington DC) and Tom Berlin (Senior Pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon) describe, “The two most important words for fruitful leadership: so that.” (Page 19.)

They point out that the Bible has many examples of the importance of these two simple words: “so that.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

Tom and Lovett insist that we (both individual followers of Jesus and congregations) who are sent into the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, need to have clear “so that” statements — so that we stay focused on our mission and purpose and accomplish the outcomes God intends.

In other words, it’s not enough to “do church” or even “do church” well. We “do church” so that the people we serve have life-changing encounters with the love and saving grace of God, so that they will love God, grow in faith, and serve Christ, so that they will become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

I’ll be honest, I’m both inspired and convicted by the way Tom and Lovett challenge us to think about who we are and what we do. I need a regular reminder that my life will bear fruit, and our lives together will bear fruit in ministry, when we “transform activities into outcomes using so that. (From Bearing Fruit, page 24.)

My challenge for you, as we begin to emerge from the cloud of the pandemic, is to spend some time with the activities of your life — especially church activities — and work on a so that statement. I believe that if you do, your life will bear much fruit.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

In Christ,

Pastor Neil

A Hard Place to Leave

Dear Church Family,

Thank you for our journey together at this wonderful congregation. As time passes, I’m sure I will fondly look back on our time and remember all those great moments we had. Thank you!

It’s been a blessing to be a pastor at this church. I’m grateful you have been gracious and kind to me and also to my family. Because my family enjoyed their time here, they were sad when I informed them about my new appointment. A pastor can’t ask for a greater request than having his/her family feel at home at the place of ministry.

I’m also grateful for so many leaders and members who supported all the ministries I was a part of. The children’s education, youth group, confirmation classes, Honduras mission trips, children and youth choirs, Appalachian Service Project outreach, young adult ministry, children’s ministry, VBS, preschool, video ministry, and Christmas tree sale were all possible because countless faithful volunteers stepped up and gave their time, talent and treasure for our faith community. Your love, kindness and generosity towards God and toward one another have given me encouragement and hope to continue my journey for God’s service.

Also I want to note your encouragement in helping me to develop my creative ministry skills. I did not know about puppetry, video editing, play writing, or making children’s videos before I came to Trinity. Through your acceptance and encouragement, I was able to develop these skills and others. One of the memorable children’s moments was when I performed as Mr. Rogers; it was a beautiful day in the Trinity neighborhood.

Lastly, I want to remind you how wonderful you are as a congregation and individuals. You are talented, faithful, generous, kind, creative and much more. One of the reasons for my sadness in leaving Trinity is that I will not be part of the transformative growth and change God will do through you in the future. Please allow me to be your Instagram or Facebook friend so that I can continue to witness the fabulous work and ministry in your life and ministry.

-The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make God’s face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up God’s countenance upon you and give you peace.

Keith Lee

A New(ish) Year’s Resolution

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Maybe the title of this article should be A Midyear’s Resolution. But this summer feels more like the start of something new, rather than the second half of something old. The last thing we need is for the second half of 2021 to be a continuation of the first half of the year. I think we’re all ready for something different. Call it a reset, a do-over or a fresh start; whatever you call it, let’s consider it new.

Fortunately for us, God is brilliant at taking awful situations and creating out of them the unexpected, even the beautiful. Think of where we were in the summer of 2020. We had no idea how much longer we would be living our lives apart from the people we love and the activities we longed to experience once again. While this summer is not going to be exactly as it was two summers ago, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Instead of looking for a time that is the same as it was, why not look forward to a time that is shiny and fresh and brimming with possibilities?

This is the message God conveyed in Isaiah. Check out this verse:

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert
. Isaiah 43:19

For those who would know what it meant to wander in the wilderness and experience the misery of life in the desert, this was more than just a pep talk. This was a promise from a God who was known for keeping promises. As if it were not enough to promise a way through and out of whatever wilderness and deserts God’s people might encounter, this was a promise for something completely new, better and exciting.

Thousands of years after those words were recorded, we are still a people who are turning to God, praying for our God to create a new thing in a world slammed by the unholy trifecta of pandemic, divisiveness and racial injustice. But fortunately for us, God is really good at taking situations that seem dire and finding cause for us to hope. That is why I am proposing we look at the second half of 2021 as a reason to celebrate a new(ish) year. 

What better way to do that than by making new(ish) year’s resolutions? Unsure if those pants (the ones that actually button and zip, not the ones with drawstrings, y’all) still fit? Make a new(ish) year’s resolution to exercise more … or some! Still haven’t learned to play that musical instrument you were sure you’d have time to master during lockdown? Make a new(ish) year’s resolution to learn via YouTube, Zoom or in-person lessons! The opportunities are endless.

There is one resolution I would love for you to consider. Your Trinity clergy and church family miss you. Even if you haven’t watched our services regularly online, do not worry. They’re still available on YouTube and Facebook. And, a dedicated group of church members has been diligently working on ways for us to safely meet more regularly in person. We are so grateful for all the time and effort that has gone into the services we’ve had and those that are yet to come.

Please plan to make Trinity a part of your new(ish) year’s resolution.

I’ll see you (soon!) at church.

Healthy Church Team Update

By William Liu and Jim Wilson, HCT Chairs

The Virginia UMC Conference Bishop, in response to recent amended Virginia Governor Executive Orders, has determined that much of what the Healthy Church Teams (HCT) were doing to help church’s return to in-person worship, can now be managed by smaller teams who are closely aligned with church’s Executive Committees or Councils. The new local church organizations will closely align with what the Conference is calling Post-COVID ReEntry Groups (PRG). Each church is being asked to make their own decisions about various previously identified safety protocols, and any associated relaxed rulings. With that in mind, and with concurrence of the clergy and the Church Council, the Trinity HCT will do one more modification to the church Healthy Church Team Plan, and enter the next phase of protocol actions. Several key members of the HCT will support the Church Council as it goes forward to keep our congregation and communities safe as we see COVID-19 move from a pandemic to an endemic.

A quick shoutout of thanks to all those who participated as members of the HCT to ensure the overall safety of the church. They are: Barry Beach, Dr. Cynthia Bernard, David Case, Peggy Fox, Pastor Eileen, Pastor Neil, Ray Gilmer, Brian Grunenfelder, Harriet Latta, Pastor Keith, Jamie Loving, Susan Maines, Margie Meak, Dan Moore, Mary Newcomb, John Smith, and Emily Yosmanovich.

Start looking for new direction and protocol information as to heading back to in-person inside services as of July 1, and what that will entail.

Thanks for all your support!

This Summer at Trinity

We’ll Meet Again

By Jerry Rich, Director of Music

In the past year, Trinity’s music program has created 153 videos (63 keyboard, 49 choral, 33 solo vocal, 6 handbells, 2 solo violin) as well as numerous hymn videos for its weekly online services. Our songs have spanned four centuries and have used the language of classical, jazz, and pop music to proclaim the Good News. While we have enjoyed sending out these musical “postcards” (as in “wishing you were here”), we also look forward to the time when we will once again be able to share our sounds with you in person, providing sacred music moments to complement the weekly Trinity church service. Please stay tuned for future announcements about opportunities at Trinity to sing in our choirs, join our handbell ensemble, or provide solos.

Trinity Preschool

By Emily Yosmanovich, Director of Trinity Preschool

Trinity Preschool concludes another successful school year despite the many challenges and obstacles of operating through a pandemic. The school would like to extend many thanks to the Trustees, Healthy Church Team, and staff who have performed various tasks, large and small, to keep us open to serve the community during this time! In the coming 2021-2022 school year, we are excited to announce that Trinity Preschool will expand to include a new multi-age class, a Kindergarten class and Playcare extended hours programming for ages 2.5 -6. Enrollment is well underway, and interested families are encouraged to visit our website at www.umtrinity.org/preschool for more information.