We Make Disciples

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

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

Why does Trinity Church exist? According to Matthew’s Gospel, the reason is made clear – we are to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20.

Based on the Great Commission, Trinity Church follows the stated purpose of the United Methodist Church, “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The mission of our congregation is to make disciples. This is a four-fold task.

First, we reach out to people and welcome them into Trinity Church. We have the responsibility of connecting our church to the world around our facilities, and the communities where we work, play, shop, study, and worship. We have the responsibility of connecting our church to the hurts, doubts and questions of the people around us. Our mission is to find them, reach out to them, listen to them, accept them and share the gospel in word and deed.

Second, we relate to people and help them deepen their spiritual relationship with God. Trinity does this by providing opportunities for growing closer to God. Whether guests or long-time members, we all need God’s love in Christ. Through worship, prayer, study, honest sharing, and finding where God needs us to be in mission – we help each other discover that the Holy Spirit is not far off but a present reality among us. Through Trinity’s various ministries and missions we encourage each other to give our lives to Christ, to center our lives in a very real, living and present God.

Third, we nurture people in Christian lifestyle. Trinity Church helps people practice the disciplines of discipleship. Our church exists to serve not be served. We gather for worship not only for our own personal spiritual formation and growth, but also to prepare and equip ourselves for doing the work of love and be Christ’s disciples in our community and world. We are strengthened for ministry through worship, baptism, Communion, Bible study, prayer and all other means of grace.

Fourth, we support people in their ministry. As members of Trinity Church, we’re sent into our community and world to serve others in need and make our community and world more loving and just. We believe the Holy Spirit empowers and guides us. Where ever we go we expect to meet Christ already at work. Our congregation exists, in part, to surround and support each other in her and his ministry. With the loving support of this kind of community we can continue to grow.

All this is the mission of the church and Trinity Church. The only mission that counts is God’s mission. We need to view the world and mission in a new light. We no longer look at the world for gaps, so that we, in mission, can take God to where God is not now. Instead, we look at the world as God’s- a place where God’s love and care are already, and everywhere, at work. We don’t take mission outside Trinity’s walls – we go out to meet the mission already there.



Seeking God Through Prayer and Silence

Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor
Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

By Eileen Gilmer

Prayer is incredible. It can be life-changing and life-affirming. It can also be daunting for someone who thinks that he or she is simply not “good” at praying. We learn how to ride a bike, tie our shoes and write our names. But, rarely does someone teach us to pray. We grow up and still feel like prayer is something the pastor does in church on Sundays.

Last month, I wrote about our new prayer service on Wednesday nights in the Sanctuary. It’s at 6:30 p.m., following our new dinner offering at 6 p.m. Many of those who attend are the parents of young singers in our Children’s Choir—they also meet Wednesday evenings. Other people attending are from the congregation who have come to the dinner. We call it Night CAPS, which stands for confession, assurance, pardon and silence. These are all important elements of prayer.

What is prayer? It’s simply a conversation with God. Our Wednesday evening prayer time leads us through these elements, helping us to feel comfortable going to God. Prayer works best when we fully open our hearts to God; an open heart provides the open door to a deeper relationship with the God of grace. By doing this we become vulnerable, which is counter-intuitive to the way most of us live our Northern Virginia lives. But, in this vulnerability we confess that we all fall short. We become humble. Through this humility we receive the assurance and pardon we all so greatly seek.

And, then there’s the silence. What a rare opportunity to experience quiet. I love this quote from Mother Teresa: “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise. God is the friend of silence.” In the silence is where we most often feel the pull of God on our hearts. But we must be intentional in seeking out the quiet.

I hope you’ll join us for our Night CAPS on Wednesday. Come by and enjoy dinner, then join Pastor Keith and me for prayer.

I’ll see you in church!


God Confirms Our Life Transitions

by Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

In many cultures, there is a definite stage in life a child becomes a young adult—a person who begins to enjoy privileges of society as well as take on responsibilities and duties. For example in Latin America culture a Quinceañera is celebrated when a girl turns fifteen. It dates back to the Aztec and Mayan times, somewhere around 500 B.C. However, in our culture, as Nancy Brown (“Coming of Age”) notes, important stages in children’s lives are not celebrated. “Boys do not usually mark the transition. For girls, periods are kept very private and rarely spoken about….” Furthermore, she notes that this changing of relationships in family, society, and institutions are not recognized. I believe that the Church should fill that void left by society with Confirmation.

In Luke 2:39-52, Jesus at the age of 12 recognizes this transition from boy to a young adult. He stays behind in Jerusalem after Passover. Discovering his absence, his parents search for him. When they find him, he’s sitting in “the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” In response to his parents’ reaction to him slipping away from them, he says, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

This story reflects Jesus’ coming of age and understanding his identity in the world. He’s stating his position and also the transitioning of relationships with his earthly parents. The story should aid the church in understanding the confirmation process. Confirmation is usually understood as a time when young persons who were baptized as infants confirm their faith in Jesus and become full members of the church. However, I’m advocating a greater role for it: a ritual to help them deal with changing relationships with all aspects of society.

A long time ago, a boy knew when he became a man and a girl, a woman. The process of Confirmation will not reverse the prolonging of adolescence in our society. Nevertheless, it should equip children to prepare for this wonderful transition period and celebrate their becoming the person that God wants them to be. A Jewish father at a Bar Mitvah prays “Blessed be He who has released me from being punishable for this [child]” but I like for us to pray, “Blessed be He who has released my child from my hand to His!” And, we’ll continue to participate, encourage and contribute to the person’s spiritual journey with God.


Newsie Notes

Book Chat | Poinsettias | Tree Sales| Holiday Bazaar | Church & Society  Thanksgiving Lunch

Book Chat

In November the Trinity Book Chat turns to Tell the Wolves I’m Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt, a moving story of love, grief, and renewal. We’ll discuss the book on Tuesday, November 10, at 6:30 p.m., in the Trinity Library. Bring a light dinner (dessert is provided) and enjoy fellowship and lively conversation. Then we’ll take a break for the holidays! We’ll resume on January 12 with The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Phillipp Sendker. Contact Kathy Maher to be added to the e-mail list.

Christmas Poinsettia Order

The Sanctuary will be decorated with poinsettias for Christmas Eve. To purchase a plant in honor or memory of a loved one, fill out this form, enclose your check payable to Trinity UMC, and drop it in the offering plate or send it to the office by Sunday, November 29. The plants are $10 each. Please write “Poinsettias” on the memo line of your check. You will be able to take the plants home after the service.


Christmas Tree Sales

Our annual fundraiser to support Trinity’s Youth Group’s activities and the Boy Scout Troop 869 returns this Fall!


Christmas Tree Sales

Begin Friday, Nov. 27

2 – 8 p.m.

Sunday: 12 – 8 p.m.

Monday – Friday: 5 – 8 p.m.

Saturday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.


If you would like to help on the tree lot, please speak to Pastor Keith.

Church & Society

By Chris Wilbur

SHARE Angel Tree

It’s that time of year when we start thinking about our neighbors in need and how their situations will affect their holidays. Poverty is everywhere, even right here in one of the wealthiest communities in the country. SHARE of McLean is a local food pantry and family assistance program which provides needed resources for those living in need in McLean, Great Falls, and the Pimmit Hills in Falls Church. These people include the elderly, the homeless, immigrants, the working poor, and those unexpectedly coming into hardship due to the loss of a job, escape from abuse, etc.

Starting on November 8, you will have the opportunity to help one of these neighbors in need by choosing an angel and fulfilling their holiday gift wish. Most of the wishes are for gift cards because for those living in poverty, choosing what to buy is a luxury. Many elderly folks want gift cards to buy groceries or to fill prescriptions. Parents like to choose gifts to wrap up for their children and put under the tree. You may add a small gift, such as mittens, a box of candy, a book or small toy, to the gift card donation if you would like, but it is not required. There will also be some requests to assemble baby bags and adopt-a-family options available. Please return gifts to church by December 6. We ask for the gifts early so that they can be delivered to SHARE in time for their holiday party where they distribute the gifts.

November and December Collection

In addition, we will be holding a food drive for the SHARE food pantry during the months of November and December. Please place food donations in the bins located in the church entry way and in fellowship hall. The most needed items are 2-pound bags of rice, canned beans of all varieties, toilet paper, cooking oil, sugar, coffee, pasta, tuna, peanut butter, canned fruits, deodorant, feminine products.

Crafts for a Cause


Holiday Bazaar

9:30 a.m.—12 p.m.


beginning Nov. 22

Fellowship Lobby

Gourmet food gifts.… Sock Monkeys…. Pet toys and treats….. Star Wars gifts ….. Jewelry…. and more. All handmade by Trinity members.

Shop for a good cause! Proceeds will go to Crafts and the Honduras orphanage.

Crafts for a Cause work sessions this month: Mon., Nov. 2; Wed., Nov. 11; Mon., Nov. 16; Mon., Nov. 30. (no session on Wed., Nov. 25). We meet Mondays at 7 p.m. and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. on the dates listed above.

Thanks lunch



Giving Thanks For and Through Music

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

By Jerry Rich

Giving Thanks for Music

“Music is, I believe, one of the church’s great missionary opportunities. In its transmission, it has meaning for the faithful, for the faithless, and for those who have lost their faith. It is a mission whose spirit can be expressed in the home, by the family singing Christmas carols, or in the most magnificent ecclesiastical structure, by a highly trained choir. It knows no social, intellectual, or sectarian barriers. It expresses our loftiest ideals, our deepest emotions. It is one of the gifts of God which reminds us that we are above the other creatures of earth, but lower than angels.” W. Benjamin Hutto

Giving Thanks through Music

Here are some musical expressions of thanks to contemplate in this season of gratitude:

Johann Sebastian Bach: Sinfonia from Cantata 29 (We Thank You, God)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Song of Thanksgiving from Quartet #15 in A Minor

Leonard Bernstein: Simple Song from Mass

William Billings: O Praise the Lord of Heaven

Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite (part 1)

Joseph Curiale: Awakening from Songs of the Earth

Attrib. George Frideric Handel: Thanks Be to Thee

Gustav Holst: Finale from St. Paul’s Suite

Charles Ives: Thanksgiving from Holidays Symphony

Felix Mendelssohn: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God from Symphony #5

Claudio Monteverdi: Gloria from Mass of Thanksgiving (1631)

Arr. Stephen Paulus: We Gather Together

Jay Ungar: Thanksgiving Hymn from Harvest Home Suite

Valerius, arr. Williams: Prayer of Thanksgiving

Antonio Vivaldi: Autumn from The Four Seasons

John Williams: Hymn to New England


Lost in the Mashed Potatoes

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

By Ellen Fillette

It’s that time of year again. Turkeys are flying off the shelves, families are preparing to endure relatives, and the fire department is anticipating a few extra calamities. Cooking happens to be one of the things in this world that brings me great joy so it should come as no surprise that I anxiously await Thanksgiving morning. I absolutely love the chance to spend days laboring over a meal to share with the ones I love most. Thanksgiving mornings are filled with last minute trips to the grocery store and brief glances at the Macy’s parade between prepping each dish.

Now, I know that thanksgiving is not one of the designated church holidays, but my faith certainly informs my understanding of the tradition. In my preparations for this year’s dinner, I was struck by the thought of the story of Mary and Martha. I could not help but realize that I am often so lost in the Thanksgiving dinner preparations that I actually forget to take the time to give thanks. Sure, we say a blessing before our meal, but that can feel more like a formality than an outpouring of thanks. When was the last time I—like the psalmist— allowed my heart to “Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.” When did I last truly give thanks on Thanksgiving for family, friends, shelter, clothing, nourishment, transportation, peace, assurance, salvation, comfort of the Holy Spirit, or any of the countless other blessings I seem to gloss over on any given day. This year, don’t get lost in the mashed potatoes. Allow Thanksgiving to be a day where we grapple deeply with the blessings we have been given and remember where they came from.


Being Thankful

Biscuit stampHappy Fall, kids of Trinity!

One of my favorite holidays is coming up. Do you know what it is? That’s right; it’s Thanksgiving. I’m a Labrador Retriever and if you know anything about Labs, you know we like to eat. So, it makes sense that I love Turkey Day.

I also like Thanksgiving because it reminds us to be thankful. I have a lot of reasons to be grateful. I have a family that loves me, lots of friends and a great job as Trinity’s mascot. I also know that I’m lucky to have a place to live, and I never have to worry about having enough food. A lot of kids and pets can’t say the same. We should say an extra prayer for them this holiday.

Grab your Bible and find Psalm 107, verse one. It’s a good one to memorize.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.

This reminds us to always be thankful to God, and remember He will love us always and forever.

When you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal, be sure to think about the blessings in your life. I count you and all my Trinity family as special blessings.

Remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!