We’re All Shifting

by James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

Trinity Church has been selected by the Virginia Conference and the Arlington District to participate in a program called Shift. Shift is about enabling a very good church to become a great church. We’ve agreed to engage this program over the next 13 months. Every mission and ministry area will be asked to make certain changes, shifts, in the ways we’ve been doing things. There are actually a series of five shifts that when combined together will shift the culture of our church – yielding vitality and fruitfulness. These five shifts are: from Fellowship to Hospitality; from Worship as an event to Worship as a lifestyle; from a focus on Membership to a focus on Discipleship; from an attitude of Serve Us to one of Serve Others; and from church finances driven by a Survival Mentality to one of Generosity.

Our first Shift will be from Fellowship to Hospitality. Here are a few things to help us rethink how we do Hospitality:

  • Between 60% and 80% of people who visit a church were personally invited.
  • People who visit a church decide within the first 10 minutes whether or not they’ll return. This is long before the pastor preaches or the music begins.
  • People are more engaged in the life of the church if their friends and associates are also engaged.
  • Follow-up with first time guests is a key factor in maintaining the relationship.
  • The driving force in the decision to return is the personal connection of the members of the congregation and not the greeters or the pastors.

While hospitality in our modern culture takes the form of fellowship where we welcome friends to our table, in the biblical world hospitality centered around how the stranger is welcomed. The driving force behind the building of hospitality relationships is how we express God’s unmerited love, grace. It is a grace that flows from the center of our experience of God’s grace that extends to all people.

We love because we have been loved. We welcome others because we have been welcomed. We invite others to discover this grace because of what we’ve learned about the transforming power of God’s love. Over the next year every mission & ministry area of Trinity Church will Shift toward becoming a more grace-filled, hospitable, worshipful, discipleship serving others with radically generous hearts.


Giving Up or Giving More for Lent?

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor
Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

We are well into the Lenten season. These forty days (minus Sundays) that lead up to Easter are to prepare our hearts and minds for the magnitude of the Messiah. Easter is what makes Christians, well, Christians. We will celebrate this Jesus who lived and taught, died and rose. And, it is what transpired in those three decades from birth to resurrection and beyond that is so astounding. Even those close friends who would carry on his teachings didn’t fully grasp it all right away.

What are we, as 2015 followers of The Way, to do this Lent? Maybe you grew up understanding that Lent was a time to give something up. It’s a somber season of self-denial. We must suffer in our own little way, just as Jesus had to suffer in a much greater way. That’s what many of us were taught. Is that really what God wants from us?

I absolutely believe that Lent serves as a great opportunity for reflection. But, does giving up chocolate or television lead us closer to God? Maybe. I prefer to think doing more, not less, can help us grow in that understanding of God’s grace and overwhelming, loving sacrifice.

Here’s what I mean: Consider making this Lenten season about truly serving others. Write a note to someone who could use a kind word. Don’t check email for an entire Saturday, and instead spend time with someone who needs your undivided attention. Look someone in the eye as you pass by on the street and say hello. Find something each day that takes you out of your comfort zone and puts you squarely in the midst of God’s mercy to get through it. Go to God in prayer … and then listen.

I look forward to worshipping with you. Please know, you are always in my prayers.


March Music

Insightful Questions

by Ellen LaCroix, Children’s Choir Director

Ellen LaCroix, Director of Children's Choir
Ellen LaCroix, Director of Children’s Choir

Every week children’s choir ends with a brief devotion. This year we have been exploring the question, “What is God’s name?” We have talked about God being called The Rock, Redeemer, Savior, Light in the Darkness, Father, Mother, Abba, Yahweh, Healer, Comforter, and so many more. I have not yet been able to make it through a full lesson without someone’s hand shooting up with a question. Now, some of these questions are quite silly. “Ms. Ellen, can you tap dance?” or “Why does your hair look funny today?” But some of the questions are truly insightful. Take a look at this list of the top ten insightful question from the semester. What do you think the answer is?

  1. Why do monks take vows of silence?
  2. If Jesus is God’s only son then why are we also called children of God?
  3. How do you learn about the Bible?
  4. If Jesus loves everyone, then does that mean we welcome everyone in our church? Even the people who don’t believe in God? Even the people who have done bad things before?
  5. What does it mean to be redeemed?
  6. If Jesus heals people in the Bible, does that mean God heals my feelings when they are hurt too?
  7. If Jesus is God’s Word made flesh, does that mean that Jesus is God?
  8. Was Jesus created when he was born at Christmas or has Jesus always existed?
  9. If we say God the Father can we also say God the Mother?
  10. How can God be three different people but still one God?


March Tune-Ups and Musical Offerings

by Jerry Rich, Director of Music

Jerry Rich, Director of Music
Jerry Rich, Director of Music

I look forward to two experiences this month that should help me become a better church musician. On March 7, I’ll attend a church music workshop given by the distinguished conductor William Payn; it will focus on: 1) choir warmups that encourage blend, enunciation and healthy singing; 2) motivational “CPR” choral techniques that focus on Connection, Partnership and Relationship; and 3) a reading session of anthems that are inspirational, enjoyable and easy to learn. On Sunday, March 15, I’ll conduct my high school choir in a Choral Eucharist at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral in Nashville, Tennessee; the two dozen students from Potomac School will sing anthems by Attwood, Byrd and Hilton and assist with the service music in this beautiful Victorian Gothic church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Trinity’s Chancel Choir will present two new anthems in March (Pete Seeger’s Turn, Turn, Turn and a beautiful setting of a Charles Wesley hymn by noted contemporary composer Dan Forrest) while bringing back three choir favorites: Craig Courtney’s poignant Take My Life and Let It Be, WA Mozart’s tender Kyrie from his Missa Brevis in G, and Tom Fettke’s dramatic Palm Sunday arrangement of Caccini’s Holy. The bell choirs’ Lenten offerings will be Bach’s melodious Bist du bei mir and Judy Endean’s stirring arrangement of The God of Abraham Praise. If you’re thinking of joining one of Trinity’s adult choirs, now is a perfect time to attend a rehearsal and see what we’re preparing for Easter!


Wesleyan Structure for Small Groups

Nick McMichael, Youth Director
Nick McMichael, Youth Director

by Nick McMichael, Youth Director

When I was growing up, I always thought Lent was the time of year that came before Easter when the weird Christian people tortured themselves by giving up things they loved. It was also the time of year when McDonald’s sold Filet-O-Fish sandwiches two-for-one! Although these assumptions I had were true, Lent is about so much more.

Lent is the season that represents the forty days Jesus spends being tempted in the wilderness after his baptism. It is that time of wrestling with temptation and worldly things that leads up to the beginning of Jesus’ three-year ministry. In remembrance of this story, Christians sacrifice something in their lives for the forty days of Lent in order to participate in Jesus’ struggle with Him. But, that story happens three years before the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the story which we remember during Holy Week and Easter. So, why do we put this season on the Christian calendar right before Easter?

Lent is a season of preparation. In the story of Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus is preparing for his ministry. In a similar way, the Gospel of Luke sets up the whole story of Jesus’ ministry as a period of preparation for the cross. In Luke, Jesus and his disciples go through a whole narrative of traveling toward Jerusalem, which was the Holy City of the Jewish people. They are traveling there because the celebration of Passover is coming up and making a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem is a normal thing to do for this celebration. This is a celebration of freedom, and it is at the end of the week that Jesus is killed by the Romans and then raised from the dead by God. The season of Lent reminds us of the pilgrimage that Jesus and his disciples had to take to get to Jerusalem. This pilgrimage was more than just a physical journey. It was a spiritual time of preparation for Jesus and his disciples along their journey. This journey would lead them to Jesus’ death and resurrection, no small event.

So I urge you during this Lenten season to view this time leading up to Easter as not just some random obligation in which the church says you should participate, but rather as a time of preparation of your heart and soul for the salvific death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Be present in that story of the wilderness this year, and travel through it together as a Christian community as we make our way to the cross with Christ.



Connections Sunday School Class

Beginning on Sunday, March 1, and through Palm Sunday, the class will experience Lent through the study: The Lord is Our Salvation by Katie Z. Dawson. The Cokesbury website offers the following description of this study:

Dawson opens the Scriptures to show God’s redemption at work in the men, women, and communities of the Bible. In her personal and deeply insightful reflections, you are called to see and embrace Christ’s salvation in your own life and in the world around you.

All are welcome to attend, advance preparation is not required. The class will continue to meet in Room 205 from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. on Sunday mornings and be led by Karen and Andy Briscoe.

The History of Christianity continues on Sundays (9:30 a.m.), Mondays (10 a.m.) and Wednesdays (7 p.m.).

Children’s Sunday School and Children’s Worship are always in need of more volunteers.

What’s Happening In March

bookchatTrinity’s book club will meet on Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Library to discuss China Dolls, by Lisa See, a sweeping story about three young women in pre-World War II San Francisco. In time for baseball season, April’s selection is Wait Till Next Year, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Contact Kathy Maher for more information.


The February Church Council meeting was postponed and will meet Tuesday, March 3.


Easter flower orders due March 15. Order forms here.

craftsCrafts for a Cause has been busy making lots of fleece and flannel items to ward off the cold and provide comfort to hospital patients and shelter residents. The group made a batch of fleece blankets for homeless families at the Carpenter’s Shelter in Alexandria. Special thanks to Emily Weaver for delivering the blankets last month.

We’ve also been working on new projects for Fair Oaks Hospital, which requested fleece and flannel lap blankets and pillows for chemotherapy patients, arm pillows for breast cancer patients, and knit caps for cancer patients. Thanks also to Nell Gilmore for knitting a boatload of newborn baby caps, and to Peggy Trapp for making the knit caps for adults while she was recovering from surgery. Trinity’s crafts ministry enables us to bring a lot of warmth and comfort to all ages!

Our work sessions this month will be Mon., March 9, and Mon., March 23, at 7 p.m. in Room 124. Everyone’s welcome to come help us cut out fabric, sew, stitch and stuff a variety of projects. For more information, contact Molly Sprouse at 703-356-4896 or mollysprouse@gmail.com.

Missions Update

Dan & Chris Moore have now been in Honduras for two months. They are having an experience of a lifetime volunteering at The Leadership Center. TLC provides a three-year free educational program provided to young women to learn English, leadership and entrepreneurship. Dan is teaching business classes and Chris is teaching Psychology and Computer Literacy. They and some students have taken field trips to visit other towns to meet with business owners. You can catch up with their weekly notes back to us on the Missions Blog.


Church & Society

March Collection Drive to Benefit Martha’s Table

During March, we’ll be collecting unopened travel-sized toiletries (such as shampoo, conditioner, and soap) for Martha’s Table, a center in Washington, D.C. that supports families in need. These toiletries will be given as Mother’s Day gifts. Please place your donations in the collection bins in the church narthex or Fellowship Lobby.

Thanks to everyone for your donations of dental hygiene products during the month of February. These products will be used to make dental health kits for SHARE and Christ House.

DC Scholars at Stanton

Many thanks goes to the Trinity membership for their February donations of tissues, antibiotic wipes and gels to DC Scholars at Stanton. These supplies were greatly appreciated.

The construction at Stanton prevents us from tutoring as we have in the past. We continue to assist middle and high school students from the McLean area when they visit and teach Stanton students during the winter and spring. If you are looking for a way to be involved, please contact Suzanne Hamilton, 703-759-6264, suzanhamil@aol.com.


Basic CMYKApril 2: Maundy Thursday, 7 p.m.

April 3: Good Friday, 7 p.m.

April 5: Easter Sunday: 6:30, 8:30 10:30 a.m.



What Do You Call God?

Biscuit Gilmer - always ready for a walk and to answer your questions.
Biscuit Gilmer – always ready for a walk and to answer your questions.

by Biscuit Gilmer, Trinity Church mascot

Hi, kids of Trinity! I hope you are ready, because spring is almost here. It starts on the twentieth of this month. I’m ready for more sun, longer walks and warmer weather.

My friend Catherine sent me a great email. She asks: What is God’s name? Awesome question, Catherine!

Did you ever ask your mom or dad how your name was chosen? Sometimes people are named after their parents or grandparents; special people or special places. I got my name because my yellow coat kind of looks like the color of a biscuit. (Or, maybe my mom and dad were just hungry when they named me!)

Everyone else has a name, so it makes sense that God would have a name. You should look at Ms. Ellen’s article this month. She talks about how the kids in Children’s Choir are discussing the names that we call God.

Back to Catherine’s question. What do we mean when we call our Creator by the name of God? We are actually saying who God is, and not God’s name. That’s right. It’s like calling me dog, or a baseball player pitcher, or Rev. Sprouse pastor. But, I think God’s cool with that.

Another thing to do is get your Bible and go to Exodus 13:13-15. In that section Moses asks God what to say if people ask God’s name. God answers, “I AM WHO I AM.” Wow!

What to call God isn’t as important as remembering to call on God. We do that through prayer. So, keep up the prayers! And remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!