21st Century Christianity

by James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

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

The Christian church is now some 1980 years on this side of the first Easter which remembered and celebrated the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. We and generations of Christians before us have labored for centuries to carry the Easter message of the transforming love of Jesus Christ to the world. You and I are part of the first generation of North Americans to live in a society that no longer appreciates the presence of Christianity. Many are hostile toward the institutional church, unless its gospel is intertwined with a form of civil religion. The early church shared the gospel of Jesus in a religiously plural, but hostile world. The 21st century has brought Christianity full circle.

Early Christians came together to celebrate their lives together with God through prayer, table fellowship, and teaching about the Way. They also went out from the great Temple into the streets to be martyrs (witnesses) to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Their message asked persons to embrace the Way of Jesus as the rule of God in their hearts. They established small groups that met in homes for nurture and fellowship. It was through these small groups that a larger sense of community developed. Finally, they experienced persecution and arrest from religious authorities and non-religious people because the Way they chose affected the economic practices of society and challenged established religious traditions.

Based on these essential concerns of the early church and what is becoming obvious to us by now of the emerging world we can conclude a few ideas about the church in the 21st century.

  1. Our primary mission will be to establish Christian communities in the midst of a hostile and violent world.
  2. The mission of these communities will be to proclaim the rule of God to all people.
  3. Our mission’s dominant theme will be the Way of life prefigured in the life and ministry of Jesus.
  4. The life of prayer will be necessary to keep our Christian communities focused on our mission as witnesses to the Way.
  5. All church and community leadership will be based on faithful service to the Way of Christ.
  6. Denominational loyalty and church affiliation will be challenging.
  7. And finally, all Christian communities in the 21st century will need to be able to stand on our own… to self-sustain.

Our excellent leadership of Trinity Church believes that, based on the life of the early church, the only way to survive and move forward in our time is for our congregation to turn outward to the world. All our ministries and missions need to shout to the entire world that Jesus is the Way without being judgmental on the worth of others with regard to their religious beliefs, or their nationality. Our mission involves embracing our passion for social justice and the demand Christ makes on us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive sins, and love the enemy. All of which is emphasized through word and deed by Jesus.

To embrace the possibilities and opportunities of life and move forward as followers of the Way of Christ all our missions and ministries must be willing to exist for the sole purpose of bringing this new life to others who are not yet experiencing it. You and I must invest God’s gifts of time, talents, treasures, and our very lives to turn society upside down so that, from time to time, those who are usually last can be first at the table of the world’s bounty. You and I need to discover, as we move forward into God’s future, the courage needed for embracing and offering this new life in Jesus as the Way. We are fellow pilgrims along the Way that leads us more fully and deeply into the wonder of God’s love, presence in the world, and mission. This is the most healthy and hopeful way to live as Easter people to the world.


Spring Cleaning: Cleaning Out the Clutter

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor
Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Clutter. We all have it. Sometimes it’s the stuff that piles up, gets in your way and seems to double in size when you’re not looking. You don’t have to qualify as a subject on a hoarder’s reality show to feel like you have too much stuff. Once those papers or magazines or things-you-need-to-keep-because-you-might-need-them-someday get too stacked up, it can be overwhelming. You don’t know where to start.

Then, there’s the emotional clutter. Maybe it’s in the form of guilt. Maybe it’s self-doubt. Maybe it’s the leftovers of an unhealthy relationship. That kind of clutter is harder to get rid of than a stack of old The Washington Post Sunday Editions. Just like the physical clutter, the emotional type slows us down, gets in our way and keeps us from freely moving about our lives.

What to do? Maybe it’s time for a good spring cleaning. Reflect upon and pray about what’s in your life that’s holding you back. Pray for discernment on how to get rid of the clutter that is blocking your relationship with God and your relationships with those whom you love.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.” What a great quote from Albert Einstein. To take that a step further, with simplicity comes clarity. How do we find that simplicity and clarity? A good way to start might be to meditate a few minutes a day on scripture. Here’s a good one to get you started:

Show me your ways, Lord,

teach me your paths.

Guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5 (NIV)


I’ll see you in church.


Music: Abide with Me & 100% Chance of Rain

by Jerry Rich, Director of Music

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

“Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide. The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, help of the helpless, Lord, abide with me.” This hymn—a favorite of King George V and Mahatma Gandhi, recorded by jazz legends Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, sung on board the sinking Titanic and at the 2012 London Olympics, featured on television’s Doctor Who and Doc Martin—speaks as much to us today as it did when Henry Lyte wrote these words 168 years ago.

Reverend Lyte, vicar in the fishing village of Lower Brixham, Devonshire, England, ministered faithfully for twenty-three years to his seafaring people, writing sermons, poems and hymns. But Henry’s lungs were affected by the seaside’s damp winters, and while in his early fifties he developed tuberculosis. On September 4, 1847, age 54, he entered his pulpit with difficulty and preached what was to be his last sermon. He had planned a therapeutic holiday in Italy. “I must put everything in order before I leave,” he said, “because I have no idea how long I will be away.” That afternoon he walked along the coast in pensive prayer then retired to his room, emerging an hour later with a written copy of Abide with Me.

Shortly afterward, Henry embraced his family a final time and departed for Italy. Stopping in Avignon, France, he revised Abide with Me—it was evidently much on his mind—and posted it to his wife. Arriving in the French Riviera, he checked into the Hôtel de Angleterre in Nice, and there on November 20, 1847, his lungs finally gave out. When news of his death reached Brixham, the village fishermen held a memorial service; this was when Abide with Me was first sung.

By Ellen LaCroix, Director of Children’s Choir

Ellen LaCroix, Director of Children's Worship & Music
Ellen LaCroix, Director of Children’s Worship & Music

Well, it’s that time of the year again. Children’s Choir is gearing up for the spring musical! On Sunday May 10, we will share with the congregation, 100% Chance of Rain by Walter S. Horsley. As the Choristers Guild website states, this musical tells “the story of Noah, his family, the ark, the flood, and God’s covenant with humanity. This rendition of Noah and the Ark incorporates lilting melodies and infectious humor with the promise of ‘100% chance of love!’”

If you are not a member of the Children’s Choir, but want to join us for the musical we would love to have you! We meet Wednesday nights 6 – 7 p.m. During the first thirty minutes, we share a meal together and then we rehearse music for the last 30 minutes. This can be a fun, engaging way to get plugged in here at Trinity and find a place in this community. During the month ahead, we will not only learn the words to songs or the melody. We will also take a closer look at the Bible story itself. What exactly is an ark? How many people and animals were on ark_8462cit? (Hint: the answer isn’t just two of each kind!) What is a covenant and why do we need one? It is going to be a fun and exciting time to worship God through music. I hope to see you there!



Get Involved: Book Chat, Crafts for a Cause, Church & Society

bookchatTrinity’s book club will meet on Tuesday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the Trinity Library to discuss Wait Till Next Year, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s touching memoir about her love of family and baseball. Bring a light dinner, if you wish–or perhaps some peanuts and Cracker Jack! We’ll close out the season on May 12 with a classic: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you’re interested in Book Chat, contact Kathy Maher (Kathyngs@gmail.com) to be added to the email list.


craftsCrafts for a Cause has a lot of new projects going on this spring, as we continue to provide more comfort items for Fair Oaks Hospital. We’ve been working on heart-shaped pillows for breast cancer patients, lap blankets and pillows for chemotherapy patients, along with neck pillows, stuffed bears and surgery dolls. We’ll be cutting, sewing, stuffing and stitching at two work sessions this month: Mon., April 6 and Mon., April 20, both at 7 p.m. in Room 124 in the Sanctuary building. Everyone’s welcome, materials and instruction provided.

There is an ongoing demand for knit caps for newborns, so if you’d like to crochet or knit some of these caps, we have patterns and yarn for you. For more information, contact Molly Sprouse at mollysprouse@gmail.com or 703-356-4896.


Church & Society

April Collection Drive

For the month of April, Church and Society is collecting clothing for Christ House and Carpenter’s Shelter. Christ House, a residential medical facility in Washington, D.C., specifically needs new or gently worn spring and summer men’s casual clothing in sizes small to extra large, new men’s underwear any size, new socks any size/color and new or gently worn sweat pants for men in any size. Men’s clothing only. Donations will also aid Carpenter’s Shelter, serving homeless and formerly-homeless adults and children. Please place your donations in Church and Society’s collection baskets or closet located in the Fellowship Building.


Thank you for the travel-size toiletry items collected during the month of March. Personal hygiene kits will soon be assembled using those items, and given as Mother’s Day gifts to women coming to Martha’s Table.


DC Scholars at Stanton Elementary School

Trinity’s commitment to Stanton Elementary in Washington, D.C., continues to benefit the school’s students and faculty. If you would like to get involved, please contact Suzanne Hamilton at suzanhamil@aol.com, or 703-759-6264.



Adult Sunday School

The History of Christianity will continue on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. in the Library. This class also has sessions on MOndays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Connections Sunday School Class

Beginning Sunday, April 12, the Connections class will focus on marriage. We will discuss the material in the book “The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage” by Rob and Kristen Bell. According to the author, “This book is about the deeper mysteries of marriage. Something powerful and profound happens in marriage… We believe that you can grow in your awareness of these realities, learning how to better see what’s going on in the space between you and how the love can flow all the more freely between you. It’s called the zimzum of love.”

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.


Worship: Hospitality & New Sermon Series

Shift into Hospitality: Be a Greeter

by Kathy Maher, Worship

Kathy Maher
Kathy Maher

Through a new program at Trinity called Shift, we’re striving to deepen our mission and ministry. Our first goal is to Shift from Fellowship to Hospitality.

Is Trinity your church home because you feel welcome here? Perhaps you were greeted warmly the first time you walked though the door. Won’t you pass that feeling along? Greeting before the service only takes a few minutes, and it can be done at your convenience. It’s a great way for individuals to help once in a while or for couples or families to volunteer together.

Here’s how it works: If you usually attend the 8:30 a.m. service, contact Karen Taylor at 703-241-7576. Karen sends an occasional email asking for greeters; just sign up for the date of your choice. Greeters at this service also make coffee (easy instructions are provided) and bring a snack to share. If you’d like to greet at the 10:30 a.m. service, you can sign up online at http://bit.ly/1030greeters or call Linda Drumheller at 703-448-6702.

After that, all you have to do is come to the service a bit early and greet people as they enter, offering a friendly hand and a warm smile. That’s all there is to it. Join us at Trinity as we Shift from Fellowship to Hospitality and welcome others as we have been welcomed.

sermon series foundations


Missions: March Mission Trip

By Jose Rivera

Jose Rivera
Jose Rivera

This last trip to The Leadership Center (TLC) in Honduras, I had the privilege of traveling with Victoria Todd and Sharon Tanner. Typically, I travel with Dan and Chris Moore, but this time it was a little different. Dan and Chris were already there to welcome us and to say goodbye. They have been doing a wonderful job and everyone on campus is crazy about them. It will be very hard for the students and everyone on campus to say goodbye to them. The students are always sad even when a group leaves after only a week on campus. I cannot imagine how they will feel the day Dan and Chris leave at the end of their three-month stay.

During my trip, the plane and car ride were uneventful as all of my previous trips have been. Our group was involved in teaching and many different projects. We also made connections with everyone on campus. Personally, I had a great opportunity to connect with the construction workers, Elías, Marcos, Christian, Gerson, and Javier. Although the focus of our mission trips is the students, I like to spend some time helping them and talking to them. I believe they have needs just like the students do. Please keep everyone in TLC in your prayers. Feel free to ask me about TLC and consider joining us the next time.

Read more about Trinity’s ministry in Honduras on our missions blog.


Holy Week Worship at Trinity UMC

holy_10061cWorship at Trinity UMC

March 29: Palm Sunday 8:30 & 10:30 a.m.

Celtic Service at 6 p.m.

April 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.

Easter Sunday April 5 6:30 a.m. We’ll greet our risen Lord with the rising of the sun.

(No Sunday School classes or Children’s Worship on Easter Sunday.)

All Pre-K and Kindergartners are invited to join us for special Easter activities during the 10:30 a.m. worship service in Rooms 402-403. We will learn about Holy Week while decorating jewelry, posters & more.


Did God Create Himself

by Biscuit Gilmer, Trinity Church Mascot

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

Hello to all the children of Trinity! I hope your April is off to a fun start.

I received a great question from my friend Bennett, who is four years old. He asked me if God created himself. Wow, Bennett. You’re super smart to ask such a good question!

The best way to answer any question like this is to turn to the Bible. I hope you have one. If you don’t, please let Pastor Jim or Pastor Eileen know. They will be happy to give you a Bible.

Let’s look at the first book of the Old Testament. It’s called Genesis and it was written in Hebrew. The name Genesis means “in the beginning” in Hebrew. Grab your Bible and look up the first verse of Genesis. That’s Genesis 1:1. A parent, grandparent, or older brother or sister can help you.

Do you see what it says? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Pretty cool. The entire book of Genesis is about how God created everything: the sky, sun, moon, stars, earth, animals and people. Genesis talks about the creation of everything. What the Bible does not talk about is the creation of God. Why is that? It’s because God was never created. God has always been.

That’s hard for us to understand. But, it makes sense because God is bigger and more powerful than anything we’ll ever know. God is bigger than anything that could be created. God had no beginning and will have no end. Because of God’s greatness, we know that we’re never alone and that God can always help us. Praise God for that!

Keep your questions coming. And remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!

Biscuit paws