Thinking Outside of the (Gift) Box

Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor
Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

By Eileen Gilmer

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? I tend to shop online for most of the gifts I give. The hassles of parking at any shopping mall in December is a test of my patience and hospitality! Knowing that, I tend to shop from home.

Are you stumped about what to give the person who has everything? I might just have the solution for you. Instead of giving another scarf or box of candy, how about giving a cow or maybe a box of nails? You can donate to any of several great causes in someone’s name for Christmas.

With Heifer International, you can buy a family on the other side of the world a goat, flock of chickens or a water buffalo. Your gift recipients here will know these animals were given in their names and will help families in need.

Is your loved-one a pet lover? Then consider donating items to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. There’s a whole list of items they need. Towels, dog or cat food, batteries, and even Target gift cards are requested. Check out their Amazon Wish List for details.

Maybe your gift recipient is more the Habitat for Humanity type. For what you’d spend on a sweater, you can instead put that money toward a doorbell, roof shingles or everything including the kitchen sink. Literally!

And, don’t forget all the great ways we are serving those in need through Trinity Church. A donation to Trinity can help our orphanage in Honduras, our ministry through Martha’s Table, and much, much more.

There are so many ways you can give a gift this Christmas that also lives out Christ’s call to serve those in need. I hope you are able to get your shopping out of the way so that you’ll have time to reflect on the wondrous gift that is Christ to the world.

We’ll see you on Sunday and Christmas Eve!

Christmas eve

The Christmas Vision for Children’s Sunday School

By Keith Lee

Do you know of churches in this area that are well known for their children’s ministry? Some are known for Bible studies or ethnic group outreach or young adults but I can’t find one that’s specially known for their ministry to children and for young families. Some have tried, but if you were to ask Christians who live in this area, they would be hard pressed to come up with an answer.

Maybe I’m not informed as I should be, but my point is that children sometimes are neglected or even vulnerable spiritually. In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth we read that His life was in danger by King Herod. Unfortunately, Herod’s paranoia resulted in the death of multiple babies in and around Bethlehem. In Luke’s account, we see that Jesus’ parents couldn’t find housing and had to give birth in a stable, then place the newborn in a manger. These Christmas stories remind us of the vulnerability of children.

One of the challenges I believe God has placed before us is the spiritual care and growth for children in our congregation and community. Imagine a generation of Jesus lovers! The demographers are calling those who were born after 2003, Generation Z. They will be completely different from the Millennials. How may we support, encourage, educate and most importantly disciple them to love Jesus and to follow His ways?

The answers are not simple but also not difficult as we might imagine. It could be consistent Sunday attendance so that our children develop relationships with teachers, friends and members, where Trinity is a living faith community that’s core to their lives. It could be active parental involvement as teachers, as assistants in classrooms and/or participants in Sunday School classes so that parents model faith in the church and home. It could be lifting up regular prayers so that our children know that God’s Kingdom advances not with our feet but on our knees.

I, as the education director or as the “Next Gen Pastor” (as some churches are adopting), promise that I stand with you in ministering to our children and their friends. In close collaboration with Trinity lay and clergy leadership I would like to see this ministry go to the next level. Not only will we raise children to be disciples who love Jesus but also become a ministry known in the area for its emphasis on next generation ministry!

One of the developments you will see with Children’s Sunday School is a change in its format. Students will meet in the fellowship building downstairs in the open area by the stair case. We will have a greeting time, time for song and praise, then a prayer with scripture reading, and then a Bible story presentation. After this gathering time, we will divide the students into three groups that will meet in the classrooms nearby. The objectives are community building, fostering Christian values through Bible stories, interactive learning, sharing lives, lifting songs and praise, and encouraging prayer life. I look forward to seeing you and your children at 9:30 on Sunday mornings!


What’s Happening in December

Advent Studies | Wed. Dinners | Bazaar | Calendar | Book Chat | Tree Lot | Couples' Retreat | Young Adult Bible Study

Advent Studies

Bible Study with Pastor Jim will use Mike Slaughter’s Christmas is Not Your Birthday to examine the real meaning of Christmas, beginning the week of Nov. 29. Class will meet Sundays at 9:30 a.m., Mondays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. The class will not meet on Dec. 23

Connections class will prepare for Christmas with Finding Bethlehem in the Midst of Bedlam by Joseph Crowe. We will discover how Christ breaks into our confusion and unrest in the world and brings love, joy and peace into our lives and the world. All are welcome to attend, no prior preparation required. This Advent study will meet on Dec. 6, 13 & 20.

Wednesday Night Dinners

Langley Hall, 6 p.m.

Dec. 2, 9, 16

There’s something for everyone! Youth Choir (7th grade & up), Children’s Choir (ages 4—6th grade), Bible Study with Pastor Jim, Night CAPS, and fellowship. A freewill offering will be accepted to help cover the cost of the catered family-friendly meal.

All are welcome.

Crafts for a Cause

Holiday Bazaar

9:30 a.m.—12 p.m.


Through Dec. 20

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.

Also, join us at an upcoming work session to make comfort items for hospitals and shelters: Wed., Dec. 9 and Dec. 23 (10-11:30 a.m.); and Mon., Dec. 14 and Jan. 4 (7-8:30 p.m.).


  • Dec. 1: Registration Deadline for Advent Workshop
  • Dec. 6: Advent Workshop
  • Dec. 8: Church Council & Charge Conference
  • Dec. 13: Children’s Pageant
  • Dec. 16: Teacher Appreciation Dinner
  • Dec. 20: Lessons & Carols
  • Dec. 23: Office closes at noon
  • Dec. 24: Christmas Eve worship at 5, 8 & 11 p.m.
  • Dec. 24-25, 31: Office Closed

The Trinity Book Chat will take a break in December and resume on Tuesday, January 12, with The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Phillipp Sendker. We meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Trinity Library; bring a light dinner (dessert is provided) and enjoy fellowship and lively conversation. Reading the book isn’t even required! Contact Kathy Maher ( to be added to the e-mail list.

Charge Conference will be held Tuesday, Dec. 8 to approve the 2016 church officers, budget and other related items.

Christmas Tree Lot Hours

Sunday: 12 – 8 p.m.

Monday – Friday: 5 – 8 p.m.

Saturday: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The 2016 Couples’ Retreat will be held Feb 26-28 at the Poplar Springs Inn & Spa in Warrenton, VA. You can make reservations with Karen & Andy Briscoe now.

Safeway Saver Stamps – Thank you to everyone who has been collecting the Safeway Saver Stamps for new cutlery for Trinity and our Missions. With both Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays approaching please continue to ask for them at Safeway and to deposit them in the jars in both the Fellowship Lobby and the main Kitchen.

Young Adult Bible Study will resume their Bible Study & fellowship in the Library on Sunday, Dec. 6 following the 10:30 worship service. They will meet each week.


Christmas Is Jesus and The Musical Joy of Christmas

Christmas is Jesusby Ellen Fillette

On Sunday, December 13, the Children’s Choir will present their Christmas musical, Christmas is Jesus. Try as we might, Jesus always seems to take a back burner in our Christmas celebrations. The following passage is an excerpt from the upcoming musical. I hope you will hold onto these simple words and allow them to guide your season of preparation.

Christmas is Savior, Messiah and King,

The reason we all celebrate and we sing.

For carpenter Joseph and Mary with the Babe

Have swaddled up Christmas and laid Him in the hay.


Christmas is the night sky blazing and bold,

Filled with heavenly angels sharing what they were told,

Bethlehem hillsides and shepherds and sheep,

Unaware of the miracles unfolding as they sleep.


Christmas is a manger, a stable and stall.

Creation is bowing in worship and awe.

Peace and goodwill to all of earth’s men.

Christmas is where this love story begins.

Christmas is family, friends and food,

And every little child trying hard to be good.

Decorations of red, green, silver and gold,

And the singing of carols that never gets old.


Christmas is busy, our calendars we fill,

But our hearts are empty if we don’t stop to be still.

So we promise to kneel before the Word made flesh.

We will bow down and worship and give Him our best.


This Christmas we worship the Gift from above.

Our voices will praise and sing out our love!

Glory and honor to the great Gift that frees us!

Glory! Hallelujah! Christmas is Jesus!

-Luke Gambill & Rhonda Frazier

The Musical Joy of Christmas

By Jerry Rich, Director of Music

Our ringers and singers are looking forward to sharing the musical joys of the Christmas season with you! We will sing selections from Handel’s Messiah and contemporary carols by John Rutter; we will also present settings of In the Bleak Midwinter, Infant Holy, Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming and O Holy Night. For Sunday, December 6 we will have a guest violinist at both services; the Children’s Choir will present its Nativity musical on December 13, and on December 20, the adult choirs will offer a service of Lessons and Carols. On Christmas Eve, please bring your heartiest caroling voices to the Sanctuary to help us proclaim the birth of the Christ Child!


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.

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.

December Collection

In addition, we will be holding a food drive for the SHARE food pantry. 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





peanut butter

canned fruits


feminine products.


Mission Team Headed to Honduras

By Dan Moore

hondurasThe Leadership Center  is located on a beautiful pine covered mountain campus in a very rural region of Honduras. There, 30 young women are learning English, leadership and business skills. Trinity sponsors three of these wonderful young women, Daniela, Yudy, and Dayana.

Join our friend Jose Rivera, who has traveled many times to TLC, and a small mission team to fellowship with and teach these terrific young women. The team will depart Monday, February 8 and return on the 15th. There, the team will connect with Chris and I who will be at TLC for 6 weeks. Please consider joining us for a wonderful spiritual growth opportunity as we share our life experiences with one another and seek to empower these wonderful young women. You will learn about organic coffee farming, raising chickens and aquaponics! There will be daily devotionals and hikes to waterfalls. You can spend time with the students in their classes, as well as just talk with them about their lives and yours.

It will be an adventure you will never forget. Invest a week -it will be a gratifying and humbling experience for you to share with your family and friends back home.

For more information, contact Jose Rivera or Dan Moore.


Where Was Jesus Born?

Biscuit stampHappy Advent, kids of Trinity United Methodist Church! What an awesome time of year. Advent is the season where we prepare for the birth of Jesus. It’s as if there’s a giant birthday party for Jesus, and we’re all invited! That reminds me of a question I received from Ms. Lauren Michelle’s first and second grade Children’s Education class. They ask: Where was Jesus born? Great timing!

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. That’s Christmas! That answers when we celebrate, but our smart Trinity children want to know where. How do we answer that? We look to our Bibles. That’s right, it tells us all we need to know. Matthew and Luke talk about Jesus’ birth. We read in Luke that Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth, but had to return to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem to be counted by the government in a process called a census. While they were in Bethlehem, Jesus was born.

Here’s something really cool. Bethlehem is called the city of David. You might remember David when he was a boy and fought a giant named Goliath. David grew up to be a king one thousand years before Jesus lived. He was also a relative of Joseph’s. So, Jesus was considered to be from the “House of David,” meaning he was a relative of David. This was predicted, or “prophesied” in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

Ask your parents to help you find Bethlehem on a map. It’s in the country of Israel. Bethlehem is 5,904 miles from McLean. If you took a plane from Washington, if would take you about 15 hours to get to Tel Aviv, then you’d still have to drive another 47 miles to get to Bethlehem. Although Jesus’ place of birth is far away from us, his presence is as close as our heart. As we celebrate with gifts on Christmas Day, let’s also remember the greatest gift of all: Jesus.

Merry Christmas!



Stewardship: Is it Generosity or Service?

By Jim Wilson

We at Trinity are the beneficiaries of a long and wonderful legacy that extends back to the 1780s. Our facilities and community of faith have been provided by successive generations of believers and dedicated members, who have made possible the structures that support our worship, our fellowship, and our meaningful service to the surrounding communities.

The past, present, and future of Trinity are linked together through us, and the position we hold in the timeline of our faith community calls us to serve in several ways. First, we are asked to honor a rich heritage filled with traditions, growth, service to our community and compassion spread worldwide. Second, we are asked to responsibly manage all that God has given us to ensure a future for Trinity that is strong, diverse, and able to meet the needs of those who will worship, serve, and commune in fellowship for many years to come.

Over the past two years, as we have structured our annual Stewardship campaigns we have focused on the theme of Extravagant Generosity: The Heart of Giving. Generosity is a term that sometimes can be confusing in its use. Some may think it is reserved for only the wealthy, yet in most cases it is not really about our bank accounts. It is really about our hearts. It should be remembered that “generosity” reflects God’s nature.

During the past several months a group of Trinity members have been investigating ways to “shift” our approach to effective ministry. This “shifting” is a transformational process designed to assist local congregations, like Trinity, in exploring the best practices related to developing healthy systems (hospitality, worship, discipleship, service, and generosity) and the application of these practices to the local context. As we approach the time of stewardship commitment it is being suggested that we “shift” our thoughts so as to ensure a tie between generosity and service. Because stewardship really is both!

The generosity that we all participate in through our contributions of time, talents, and treasures to Trinity and our communities, has a very deep service aspect to it. Generosity and service are centered in our heads and in our hearts. With our heads we can discern what proportion of our income we will offer to our Lord with joy in our hearts. Through your generous spirit of service which comes from our hearts, we reach out to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, shelter those in peril, and most importantly, nourish our souls by spreading the love of Jesus. Our forefathers would be very proud of where we have taken Trinity over the years, and how we are “shifting” our stewardship, to be of both generosity and service.

On Stewardship Commitment Sunday 2015 (December 13 ) we will all be asked to center our heads and hearts and make Trinity our #1 priority in our generosity and service. Your generosity will allow Trinity to meet all the needs of our programs, missions, and ministries, while your service will be a critical factor is helping us achieve our purpose of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Look for a Stewardship campaign letter to come in the mail during the first week of December with an enclosed pledge card. Please listen to your head and heart as you reflect on stewardship as being both about generosity and service.


Doing Christ’s Ministry Together

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

by James C. Sprouse

What defines your life? Is it wealth? Is it belongings, house, family? Is it faith? Many persons live with a scarcity mentality… always worried that we must hunt, gather and hoard as much as possible, storing up for some imagined rainy day. We also focus a lot on self-gratification. But the Bible promises God’s joy and blessings for those who choose to live another way – the way of sharing with others.

I want to express my appreciation for your generosity in 2015 through your gifts, tithes and offerings to Trinity Church that have improved the lives of so many of God’s daughters and sons. Through your support of Martha’s Table, we’ve fed 18,000 people who were hungry in D.C. Of those who have dropped by Trinity Church in need of food or medicine we helped over 600 persons with food cards, and dozens more to prevent utility service interruption and eviction – just to name a few of the ways you’ve affected the lives of others. Thank you!

I encourage you to help Trinity Church meet our local, Conference, world missions and benevolence goals for 2015. Although we’re running behind our offerings for this time last year we still have 4-5 Sundays left in the year and 3 worship opportunities on Christmas Eve. Your personal and financial support of Trinity Church provides the floor for of all our missions and ministries, not the ceiling. This floor is the safety net you’ve helped create for our general operating expenses, ministry and mission outreach, and loan repayments. I would like to see our Church finish 2015 achieving all our outreach goals and obligations. Your generosity also brightens the outlook for our ministry in Christ during 2016.

To this end… God has created you and me in God’s very own image – which is a willingness to give and be generous with others. This design is part of our makeup; and we actually need to be generous. It makes us healthier people, both spiritually and physically. Thank you in advance for another wonderful year of service to Christ at Trinity Church. May your Christmas be blessed with joy and God’s peace. It is my hope that 2016 is filled with all good things for you – the blessings of health, good friends and opportunities to love one another.

Christmas eve