Our Church: A Banquet Table

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

The leaders of Trinity Church assemble monthly to discuss the present and future direction, ministries and outreach of our church. Leaders from Education, Finance, Outreach, Trustees, Worship and Youth try to answer questions like:

  1. What is God calling Trinity to do as a Body of Christ?
  2. How can we extend the fellowship and friendship of Jesus to the greater community?
  3. How does worship equip us for Christian mission and ministry?
  4. What are Trinity’s strengths?
  5. What are our children and adults learning in Sunday School & worship?
  6. What do the neighborhoods in McLean need us to be for them?

We often sit around tables in conference rooms or in living rooms and discuss these questions for hours. God’s spirit continues to fill and bathe us all in energy and excitement. Through it all one particular observation emerged: that Trinity Church is like a wonderful banquet table prepared and hosted by Jesus Christ. All members and guests are welcome and invited. Yet, each one of us has specific tastes, and at Trinity we try our best to serve all those tastes. Our desire is to make our banquet table a place of love, fellowship and joy. Our church buildings are like that banquet table, too. We want all who attend and seek a relationship with Jesus Christ to be included, appreciated, served and loved.

For half a century Trinity has tended God’s banquet table with a spirit of love and thanksgiving. Our Fellowship Building is used by our church, community and local first responders 24 hours a day. Let’s be thankful for God’s generosity and enjoy the opportunity that is ours to invite and welcome so many persons in our community who have not yet found a place at the table.

During this Thanksgiving season I ask that you pray for the fellowship of God’s Spirit through our friendship with each other and our surrounding neighborhoods. To be God’s friend in McLean is a wonderful gift. A friend accepts you as you are; a friend loves; a friend forgives; a friend cares; a friend prays.

Pray for all the persons and families in the neighborhoods surrounding Trinity. Respond with your heart!

 

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A Chance to Feed Others

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

How is it already November? I know I ask myself this question each year. As we move closer to Advent, I have a great opportunity for you, your family and even your friends. In this busy time of year, I hope you’ll find space in your schedule to take part.

Trinity Church is proud to take part in Rise Against Hunger. (That’s the new name for Stop Hunger Now.) This is a wonderful project that helps feed hungry people across the globe. Families are welcome to attend. (Children should be ages four and up.) It’s a good opportunity for multi-generational service. Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger relief organization that helps impoverished people throughout the world. They are committed to ending world hunger by 2030 by supplying meals as well as through sustainability efforts.

We are aiming to make 300,000 meals at our McLean event. It’s a lofty goal, for certain. We’ve done this before and I have no doubt we can do it again. At the end of the day, this will bring the total number of meals packaged by the McLean community to 2.5 million since 2010.

Rise Against Hunger

Saturday, November 3

Lutheran Church of the Redeemer

Shifts start at 8:00 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

To sign up, go to their site: http://bit.ly/mealpacking18

Come join people from all over our community to help.

I’ll see you at church!

 

Kidmin Conference 2018

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

Toilet paper spewing out of makeshift leaf blowers. Participants frantically gathering rows of it that were strewn around the auditorium. The audience cheering. The room appearing to be in chaos as a designated player stands motionless on stage while game participants wrap him/her with oodles of TP they collected. The side that finishes wrapping up their ‘mummy’ first, wins raffle tickets for a chance to score a brand new 2018 Chevy Malibu. The excitement was real! And so was my skeptical mind that barked in my head “how does anything here relate to making disciples of children through Sunday School?” But since I was there already, and was given a scholarship to attend, and with literally hundreds of committed Sunday School teachers from all over the country cheering on, I thought “Why not just go with it?” (To see the video go to https://youtu.be/64rp2dvITYA or search ‘youtube trinity united methodist church kidmin conference’) And seriously, I learned a lot from the Kidmin Conference that was held in Nashville Oct 3-5. Here are some of the takeaways from my participation.

Games Serve Useful Functions in Spiritual Development

Repeatedly the presenters and workshop speakers promoted the use of games and other engaging strategies to teach students. Games often offer life lessons; plus, students love playing them. I’ve shared this point with teachers and encouraged them to utilize them in class.

I would like to dedicate a shelf in the Fellowship Building to store board and other kinds of games. If you have some that you no longer use or need, please consider donating them.

Teachers Require Attention and Encouragement

About a fourth of the workshops were dedicate to (and half of the speakers for the main sessions mentioned) encouraging teachers and children’s pastors. One speaker said, “If you’re thinking about quitting, you’re not alone. But here’s the good news; we’re here to encourage you and to remind you that you’re making an eternal difference in the kids. So keep at it!” Lack of volunteers, average of 1.3 Sundays a month attendance, and lack of gratitude and attention from church leaders and members are some reasons for discouragement. But I want to remind us, we love our teachers! Please let them know.

Teachers Need Resources

One of the many benefits from the conference is receiving valuable lessons and tips from speakers and workshops. I bought some books and found others in our library. I will have them available for our teachers in the Fellowship Building. Look for them in Room 301!

Our Students Require Both Engaging and Contemplative Activities

Engaging programs and activities will attract and retain students at Trinity. At the same time, contemplative programs should be offered to counter the over stimulated environment around us. The conference was about engagement, creativity and creating excitement. However, a contemplative approach was never mentioned. But the absence of it, screamed even louder in my mind. There is a need for silence and introspection. Even though we might not recognize the need for Sabbath, silence and slowing down, I urge parents and teachers to find creative ways to find that quiet center.

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to Ray Gilmer, Melissa Harris, Barbara Long, and Loren Monroe for their generosity in donating AV equipment for Sunday School classes!

 

A Life-Rebuilding Ministry of the United Methodist Church

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

The United Methodist Committee on Relief [UMCOR] is the not-for-profit humanitarian agency of The United Methodist Church. Since 1940, UMCOR’s mission –  providing relief in disaster areas, aiding refugees and confronting the challenge of world hunger and poverty – has helped to heal the hurts of humanity in nearly 100 countries. UMCOR maintains a corps of trained disaster response specialists for quick reinforcement of national efforts and keeps a supply of relief materials in warehouses for dispatch when and where required. It also trains disaster response specialists in their own countries as part of a global ministry by a global church and works in partnership with other international agencies.

For many years Trinity Church members have given with a sense of pride and confidence to the United Methodist Committee on Relief. I want to remind you that UMCOR follows the professional accounting and auditing regulations of The United Methodist Church. When you give to the United Methodist Committee on Relief you can be sure that your money will go where you want it to go. One hundred percent of your tax-deductible gifts go to the emergency or project that you designate. UMCOR’s administrative costs come from other sources, especially the United Methodist One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

United Methodists are stepping up to the challenge of Hurricane Florence and ministering to many people who are in crisis. United Methodist churches in North and South Carolina are acting as shelters for displaced people and relief workers. ERTs (Emergency Response Teams) are present at the disaster sites. Dozens more churches are supporting local shelters by providing food, transportation, Internet and phone usage, as well as meeting other needs.

Of all the Christian denominations that provide relief and emergency assistance in times of crisis, my experience is that none rivals the abilities of UMCOR to respond immediately and on a global level to any crisis or emergency. You make this life-rebuilding ministry possible through your financial support of UMCOR’s projects and World Service giving. On behalf of a grateful pastor and the denomination of which you are a much-appreciated member, Thank You! And may you continue to bless and be a blessing to persons whose very lives depend on your continued generosity.

Shalom,

Jim

Discover Trinity

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Have you taken stock of your New Year’s resolutions? It’s been ten months since you probably made them. Or, maybe you’re a planner and are getting a jump start on your 2019 plans.

I hope one of your resolutions is to become more involved at Trinity Church. It’s never too late or too early to start. Do you like to speak in public? We would love to have you be a reader during worship. Do you have a passion for feeding the hungry? Help us with Martha’s Table Sunday by buying the bread, making sandwiches and snack bags, or delivering them. Do you have an interest in finance, administration, children or adult education, worship, or social justice? We have a place for you! God has placed a call on your heart. Trinity would love to have you live out that call with your church family.

Where do you get started? If you are thinking about joining Trinity or are interested in finding ways to get involved with the church, we invite you to join us for our Discover Trinity classes. Here are the details:

Discover Trinity

October 14 & 21

9:30 a.m.

Chapel in the Fellowship Building

Childcare is available during this time. The nursery (also located in the Fellowship Building) is open for infants and toddlers. Older children are welcome to join us.

During our Discover Trinity classes you will have a chance to meet with church leaders, as well as find out about what it means to be a United Methodist and member of Trinity Church. Plus, you’ll have a chance to ask questions about Trinity or the greater United Methodist Church. We would love to have you join us for both classes but welcome you, even if for only one.

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can always reach me at the church or through my email: egilmer@umtrinity.org.

I’ll see you at church!

 

Creative Play

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

Israel is known as the “Startup Nation” – the country with the highest number of startups per capita in the world! Over the years, Israeli startups have given rise to innovations in a range of fields, from agricultural irrigation and GPS navigation to life-saving cancer treatments. World class technology companies, such as Samsung, Intel, IBM, Google, Amazon just to name a few, have research and development facilities located in Israel due to access to creative and innovative tech savvy human resources. There are many factors for its innovative tech culture. In trying to identify these factors, some educators point out Israel’s creative approach to education as one contributor.

When I was able to observe its preschool system while I was staying in Jerusalem, the most prominent feature was a free play approach to education. In the early educational stage, it seems to have no formal curriculum and structured learning; mostly, children played outside and engaged in various art activities. For parents who are not Israelis, they think this approach is frivolous and undisciplined. Their main complaint was “In Israeli gans (Hebrew for preschool and kindergarten), all they do is play?!”

When I was looking for one for my daughter, I visited a preschool. After observing I thought to myself, “Why should I pay for this when I could just gather neighbors’ kids and play at the local playground?” But I was curious, so I asked one of the administrators, “I was told that playing was one of the main features of the Israeli education system. Can you explain the reason for this?” She corrected me and said, “We engage in creative play, not random play. The first verb in the Bible is the word “created” and we believe it is one of the most important principles of education.”

That surprised me in two ways. First, Israelis are mostly secular. Only twenty percent of the population practiced religion. In fact, many non-religious Israelis have a disdain for those who do. Therefore, when an administrator at this secular preschool quotes the Bible as a guiding principle, I was pleasantly taken back. Second, I read that passage multiple times and never thought of it in this manner. But after hearing her, it made perfect sense. The first act of God was to create. Furthermore, we are made in God’s image, so we should act to emulate our creator. Of course!

I recall all this because I would like to incorporate more play, specifically creative play and learning in our children and youth education. I love formal learning because that’s all I know. But playing games and creative approaches in teaching bring greater attentiveness and interaction. If you have creative approaches you would like to implement please let me know!

 

Sunday School—It’s for Life!

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

The United Methodist Church wants to re-energize Sunday school and spark new ministries. Can you imagine a Charge Conference where the Sunday school teachers are the first people elected to hold office for the up-coming year? Can you imagine a church where 60 to 75 percent of those who attend worship also attend Sunday school? Can you imagine a Sunday school so vital that it has sparked so many other ministries that the church building is used seven days a week?

Here at Trinity Church, we don’t just imagine these scenarios at Sunday school, they are our immediate goals for 2018-2019, and we’re making things happen. We offer classes for people of all ages, and they’re taught by the members and staff of our Trinity family. Some classes are sharing the teaching and leadership role rather than having only one teacher. New and exciting opportunities for Christian Education are offered this fall and spring. Check them out!

Our denomination, at the national level, is encouraging us to fill in the generational gaps. We’re learning that by doing that it tends to move the local church forward. It also tends to draw people with children who boost attendance in the children’s and youth classes.

As the nation’s third-largest religious body (behind Roman Catholics, and Southern Baptists) we United Methodists are more influential in seats of power than people realize. This means that what is taught in our Sunday school classes helps determine the religious morals and values on the larger scale. Sunday school is where the action is. Trinity Church kicks off the new Sunday school year with a celebration on September 9. On the 9th, we will also have a backpack blessing. All followed by a church-wide picnic. Please plan to join us. Sunday School – It’s For Life!