Meeting the Needs of the Young

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

There is today a cultural war for the hearts and souls of Protestant denominations. People are drifting away from the two most centrist denominations, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Methodist Church. These mainline Protestant denominations are not successfully engaging with the young in this country or protecting them from the erosion of contemporary culture. We need to stress wholesome fun, sports, warm mentoring relationships tied to Bible study and a personal relationship with Jesus. We need to provide a remedy from the isolation experienced by our young from the adult world and provide alternative models to the entertainment industry’s portrayal of adolescence, adulthood and family.

The mainline Protestant denominations must renew our focus on the needs of our young. Our graying mainline churches have, in the past, interpreted Christianity through the demands of peace and social justice agendas. And there is nothing wrong with these agendas so long as we don’t neglect the weighty needs of a personal salvation and relationship with Christ. Social justice and loving Jesus do not have to be in tension. Perhaps mainline Protestant churches need to initiate fresh discussions about the relation of traditional Christian beliefs to social justice issues.

Trinity Church addresses these concerns by beginning to focus on the individual child, partly out of the traditional evangelical impulse to save souls, but also out of concern for children in today’s culture. Our leaders here at Trinity are waking up to the real moral and spiritual forces of evil abroad that our young need our support to withstand. Every ministry at Trinity is trying to discover new ways for praise music to join hands with prayer book – that is to say, joining the love and merciful lifestyle expressed in the Gospel with the character formation our young need to live in the real world.

Trinity Church’s leaders believe that societal needs are changing rapidly, and in ways that call for our rethinking (and re-imaging) our understanding of the Christian mission. The Christian Church has undergone a reformation every 500 years. The spiritual reformation of the 21st century is underway. So what we do at Trinity now will make all the difference to our future. We seek a renewed pursuit of personal salvation without undermining our corporate responsibilities of the church to society. We seek to reach more young people in the McLean area and open their hearts to both the inclusivity of the Gospel and historic Christianity.

Perhaps we are living through a seismic shift in Christian history. That’s okay, provided we learn to keep a period of silence too, in order to discern God’s leading.

Shalom,  Jim Sprouse


Self-Knowledge and God Knowledge

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

As we dive head-first into the dog days of summer, I’ve been looking for just the right beach read. I already read a lot of books that pertain to God, scripture, church and leadership. Lately I’ve been looking for something to read during a trip to the beach—something to read for fun.

No matter what other books I might take with me, I won’t leave behind Yes, and …, a book of daily meditations. It’s by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and prolific author. I love his writing style. He pulls no punches for those of us who call ourselves Christians. He calls out our hypocrisy and shallowness. Sometimes his words can sting, but that’s only because they’re true.

In one of his devotions he speaks of our “operative God image” as being a subtle combination of our mom, dad or any other important authority figure in our life. In order for us to move past that view of God (for some that can include an image that is unreliable, scolding or punitive), we must begin an “inner life of prayer and in-depth study of sacred texts.” If we stay stuck in this early “God talk” and skip the self-knowledge and inner journey, Rohr says we remain in a “sincere pretense.”

But if we immerse ourselves in prayer and scripture study, Rohr says our lives are changed forever. “The miracle of grace and true prayer is that they invade the unconscious mind and heart (where our real truth lies)—and thus really change us!” This allows the love of God and love of self to “proceed forward together.”

Rohr also shares a phrase that he considers a foundation in our faith. It is: Your image of God creates you. I find this phrase so powerful in its truth. If your image of God is that of an earthly mom or dad, then you will assign human faults and limitations to God’s mercy and love. Alternately, if your image of God is one of limitless power, love and forgiveness, you are freed to be the people God is calling us to be.

I hope you have a great rest of the summer. When you’re in town, I look forward to seeing you in church!


August 2019 at Trinity

Aug. 5 – 9 Vacation Bible School Register/Volunteer at
Aug. 11 Martha’s Table Snack Making Sunday
Aug. 12 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.
Aug. 17 Christ House  
Aug. 18 Trustees

6:30 p.m.

Meeting by telephone
Aug. 18 Child & Youth Outing Nationals Game, contact Keith if you’re interested in attending
Aug. 18


Celebration of Life: James Hanson

2 p.m.

Aug. 25 Celtic Service

5 p.m.

Aug. 26 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

How Curriculum Is Presented

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

This summer during children’s Sunday School we will have a one-room class using a camp-like format. For its curriculum I usually take a prepackaged one and alter it to suit our context and situation. This year, I went with Roar! Life is Wild, God is Good from Group Publishing because I like VBS formats in general. However, it has received criticism for racial insensitivity. For example, an article from United Methodist Insight ( points out that institutional racism and the pervasiveness of ethnocentrism are so ingrained in our institutions—including Christian ones— if not careful, we pass on these harmful elements to our children in Sunday School. It goes on to point out examples of Group Publishing’s blind spots and lack of intercultural competency found in their Roar! Life is Wild, God is Good curriculum. In recent weeks, Group Publishing has provided some corrections. Critics contend that they should have completely replaced the material with corrections. I reviewed the corrected pages and I agree with the critics. To go through all the material and manually insert those corrections would take a lot of work and time.

The good news is that I always filter and alter all of our curriculum resources for our setting. Roar! is not the first one in my years of teaching that I had to filter and alter. I am conscientious in presenting theological ideas that convey the essence of Jesus and the theology of love. In fact, all early church leaders meticulously filtered out and explained troubling passages from the Bible. For example, passages in Joshua and Nehemiah were always explained. In Judaism, the stories in Genesis are so troubling, they start children’s education of the Torah from the book of Leviticus. I suspect you do the same consciously or subconsciously whenever you read the Bible or even the news.

The old adage “Don’t believe everything you read” is even more relevant today. We will be using Roar but with much discretion. We do this for all material presented in Sunday School anyway. In fact, I believe the Roar! curriculum will provide a great springboard into discussion about intercultural understanding and the need to diminish institutional racism and ethnocentrism. Looking forward to a wonderful summer Sunday School!


On the Road Again

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

The Virginia Conference lists 1,025 clergy under appointment full and part time. Together we serve the 1,200 churches throughout the state. On Wednesday, June 26, 57 clergy and their families will load all their personal belongings into a moving van and travel to their next pastoral appointment. Some will travel to large multi-staff church communities, others to rural congregations; all go in hopes of joining Christ in faithful ministry. Thirty-three of our clergy will try to adjust to being retired and will feel a bit strange when Sunday rolls around and they find out what life is like in the pews … again.

A typical year in the Virginia Conference sees from 25% to 30% of our clergy relocate to new assignments. This year only 5% of our clergy will take a new posting. On the average, congregations in our conference adjust to new clergy in the pulpit every three years. National studies compiled by various church institutes assert that the most effective years of pastoral leadership occur after year ten. Sadly, the marriage of most clergy and their congregations doesn’t last long enough to experience the benefits of long-term committed relationship and shared ministry through discipleship.

On Sunday, July 7, ten new pastors to the Arlington District will arrive in their churches prepared to work at making disciples for Jesus Christ. Those ten churches will swell in attendance as active and inactive members turn out to check out the new pastor. The Rev. Cathy Abbott will retire as District Superintendent of the Arlington District. Our new superintendent of Arlington will be the Rev. Sarah Calvert.

Trinity is proud to announce that Nila Curry graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary in May and will be living in Maryland. Nila has lived at Trinity House while at WTS.

On another joyous note: Keith Lee, Eileen Gilmer and I return to Trinity as your pastors. I am very glad that Keith and Eileen are my colleagues in pastoral ministry at Trinity, along with Michelle, Jerry, Harriet, Jose, our lay leader Peggy Fox, and of course, all of you. We make a great team. All of us are here to make disciples for Jesus Christ.

Shalom, Jim


What’s Happening in June

June 2 High School & College Graduate Recognition

10:30 a.m.

To add yourself or your child to the list, please email Harriet
June 3 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

See below for more.
June 9 Martha’s Table Snack Making Sunday
June 11 Book Chat

6:30 p.m.

Dinner, fellowship and 2019-20 planning
June 15 Choir Concert

7 p.m.

Small Blue Marble is the theme; admission is free. See below.
June 16 Church Picnic

11:30 a.m.

Bring a side dish or salad to share.
June 17 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

See below for more.
June 18 Trustees

6:30 p.m.

June 30 Celtic Service

5 p.m.

July 25– Aug 2 Mission trip to Honduras’ Heart to Heart Contact Keith Lee to get involved
Aug. 5-9 Vacation Bible School Register/Volunteer at
Crafts for a Cause

Crafts for a Cause meets twice a month on Monday nights from 7 to 8:30 in Room 124 to make comfort items for hospital patients. No crafty skills required. Upcoming dates: June 3, June 17.

Here’s a roundup of what’s been delivered recently by Crafts for a Cause:

    • 31 blankets made by Trinity members were delivered to the Linus Project, which is partnering with TAPS to provide 1,000 blankets at Camp Good Grief for children who’ve lost a parent to combat or PTSD. Thanks to everyone who helped!
    • To Fair Oaks Hospital, we delivered 80 baby caps, 20 neck pillows, two lap blankets, 9 NICU beds, and 7 surgery dolls.
    • To Christ House, we sent 20 knit caps for residents.
    • We made 25 pillowcases for hospital patients at Children’s Hospital in Richmond.
    • Chris Moore and our volunteers have prepared 50 dresses for needy girls in Honduras, another brainchild of the young women at The Leadership Center.

Thanks to one and all for putting your hands to work so that others might be blessed! For more information on Crafts, contact Molly Sprouse.

Graduate Sunday: June 2

This prayer is an ancient Irish prayer modified to bless our graduates.

May The Road Rise Up To Meet You 

As you graduate, may the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields

and during your journey,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand. Amen.

Trinity’s Music Ministry will present its annual concert on Saturday, June 15, at 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Soloists Emily Casey, Philip Keirstead, Catherine Wethington, Nadine Wethington, and Joey Wilson will be joined by the Chancel Choir and Trinity Ringers, all accompanied by Music Director Jerry Rich. The theme is “Small Blue Marble”, a nickname for our planet Earth after it was first photographed from space in 1972; musical selections from six continents will include Tan Dun’s Staccato Beans, a trio from Verdi’s Il Corsaro, A Whole New World from Aladdin, This Is My Father’s World, You Are the New Day, Croisez’s Three Tyrolians for piano trio, Phil the Fluter’s Ball, Vaughan Williams’ The Vagabond from Songs of Travel, Largo from Dvořak’s New World Symphony, Remember Me from Coco, Grainger’s Country Gardens, Ah! Non Giunge from Bellini’s La Sonnambula, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Narverud’s Sisi Ni Moja. Admission is free.


Trinity, May 2019

May 1 Widows’ Support Group

6:30 p.m.

May 4 Crafts for a Cause

10 a.m.

See below for more about this special session.
May 6 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

See below for more.
May 12 Trinity Trebles’ musical

10:30 a.m.

It’s Cool in the Furnace, for more, click here.


May 12 Martha’s Table Snack Making Sunday
May 13 Paul, Apostle of Christ

7 p.m.

Movie shown in the Chapel, see below page for more
May 14


May 18

Book Chat

6:30 p.m.

Christ House

10 a.m.

Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
May 20 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

May 21 Trustees

6:30 p.m.

Meeting by telephone
May 27 Office Closed
July 25– Aug 2 Mission trip to Honduras’ Heart to Heart Contact Keith Lee to get involved
Aug. 5-9 Vacation Bible School Volunteer at

Crafts for a Cause

Blankets for children, dresses for girls in Honduras, comfort pillows and blankets for hospital patients – that’s what Crafts for a Cause has been working on this spring. The group meets on alternating Monday nights from 7 to 8:30 to cut, stitch, stuff and sew, and turn piles of fabric into items of comfort. Upcoming sessions: May 6, May 20, June 3, June 17. There will be a Weekend Workshop to make t-shirt dresses for needy girls in Honduras on Sat., May 4, from 10 a.m. to noon in Room 124. We also have a no-sew blanket project to make a comfort blanket for children who have lost a loved one in combat or to PTSD. For more information, contact Molly Sprouse,

Paul, Apostle of Christ

The Engage Bible Study, a Trinity community-based Bible study that meets every Monday evening, invites you to a special movie presentation.

On Monday evening May 13, we will show the movie, Paul, Apostle of Christ in the Chapel. This 1 hour 45-minute feature film is an entertaining and informative story of Paul the Apostle and his friend Luke.

Join for a light potluck dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. The movie will start at 7.