Christian Education

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

Christian education is the key to making the Christian faith a powerful attraction in the 21st century. I cannot stress strongly enough how vitally important Christian Education is on all levels of church life: from preschool through high school and all through adult life. Christian Education needs to be a multi-dimensional approach that focuses on commitment to Christ, small-group ministries, and evangelism. And, Christian Education needs a solid grounding in the Bible.

As a preacher and teacher my personal prejudice is that Bible stories offer fantastic, built-in opportunities for creative interpretation and leave lasting impressions on our children and youth. You and I are entering what is commonly called the post-Christian era. Increasingly, the visitors to Trinity Church, and any other church in the U.S., do not know the stories of the Bible. This makes preaching more difficult. Preaching requires a certain basic level of understanding of names, places, and events, etc. that have Biblical significance. Only Christian education lays this necessary foundation that enables those in worship to hear God’s still, small voice.

Christian education also enables Trinity’s church members to face real life issues from a Christ-centered perspective. Our mandate here at Trinity is to develop disciples for Jesus Christ and instruct our parish in all the essential elements of Christian faith and how that faith is relevant in common, everyday events. People everywhere are starving for knowledge of God and some awareness that God cares about each and every one of us. We desperately want to be taught how to “see God” at work in our own lives. Nothing does this as well as the combination of good preaching and good teaching.

Trinity expects the best from its leaders. Keith, Eileen, Jerry, Catherine, Harriet, Jose, Melissa, the Education Ministry leaders and I are committed to making worship at Trinity beautiful, sound in biblical teaching, relevant to life and challenging. The Christian Education team at Trinity is committed to growing persons spiritually and equipping our children, youth and adults with a strong foundation of stories of the Bible. Our ministry teams and education teams are investing the months of July & August in planning for the fall season. Join us Sunday, September 9 for the genesis of a wonderful year of learning about God. Shalom, Jim



The Power of One Word

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

One thing I always tried to teach my children was the power of words. Words of kindness and compassion can make a huge difference; they can often turn around conversations that get heated and they can lift the spirits of those in pain. Words matter. This is why I want to share with you a way to use a powerful word in your prayer life.

The Hebrew word is Hineni. It’s pronounced hee-nay-nee. We see it several times in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). This Hebrew word becomes three words when translated into English: Here I am. This one word packs a punch because it is used by great people in the Bible when they are answering important calls from God.

When God called to Moses from the burning bush, the answer was Hineni. God called Samuel three times before the boy answered him with Hineni. We read in Isaiah 6:8 that God asked, “Whom shall I send?” The answer from the prophet: “Hineni. Send me!”

Hineni means much more than we would automatically think when we hear the words “Here I am.” This one word means we are more than just here, we are open to God and willing to go where God is calling us to go and do whatever God has in store for us. Our hearts are ready and open to trust the One.

Here’s where you can incorporate Hineni into your prayer life, even if you don’t have a consistent prayer life. If you haven’t heard of breath prayer, you might want to look it up online. There are several sites that have ways to incorporate breath prayer. Here’s how it works: You take a deep breath in and as you exhale, you say a word, phrase or scripture. For example, someone might exhale by saying Jesus’ name, or saying a short phrase such as “Lord have mercy.”

I find the fewer the words, the better. That’s why Hineni is so great for breath prayer. It’s short and yet powerful. A former pastor of mine used breath prayer every time she drove through an intersection. She chose this because it served to remind her frequently to pray. I invite you to try breath prayer. If you do use Hineni, be sure to listen for God’s answer!

I’ll see you in church and until then, I’ll be praying for you.


Five Ways to Grow Spiritually This Summer

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

It’s summer and I thought it would be helpful if I could offer some activities to help you grow spiritually. I researched online and found some that I thought might be helpful.

Form a Small Group

The word ‘spiritual’ could mean a lot of things but to me, the essence of it is to draw closer to other people with the love of God. Make a point to meet with a group of committed friends and/or church members to talk about God and your inner life. The group could be made up of two people or up to ten, but I suggest a number smaller than five because the goal is to talk and to share our lives with one another. You could choose to talk about a book or life or the Bible. I find consistently meeting with others helps me to have insights and different perspectives.

Practice Doing Nothing

Maybe it’s not an activity, but this is one of the best things you can do to get to know yourself and grow spiritually. Meditation is one way of doing it, but it doesn’t need to be you sitting down and actually meditating. It could just be you laying on your bed for 10 minutes or just stopping and listening to your thoughts for awhile!

When you learn to be with yourself, you can start to work on becoming full and not being reliant on others to dictate the way you feel. This is quite possibly the most empowering thing someone can do and it all starts with getting to know yourself.

Vacation Church Search

Rather than taking a vacation from church, make church an exciting part of your vacation by celebrating service somewhere new. While on vacation, make it a point to find an old, popular, or interesting place of worship nearby. If you’re in the tropics, search for an open-air church. If you’re vacationing on the East Coast, check out an historical church. If you’re opting for a stay-cation this summer and sticking close to home, services at your church that you don’t usually attend. For example, our Wednesday noon service, the end-of-the-month Celtic service, or Sunday 8:30 service if you’re part of 10:30 service. You never know where you will find inspiration!


Exercise is one of the most spiritually grounding things you can do: it is about finding the thing that you love to do and doing it. Taking the dog for a walk every morning, joining a martial arts class or spending time in the morning dancing to your favorite music. These are all ways you can exercise, so try and find something that makes you feel good while moving and do that thing!

Some of the advantages of exercise are the obvious health benefits, but also being fully aware and in the moment. It is the sense of accomplishment that goes hand in hand with completing your workout and the progressive growth that comes with practice.

Write Your Prayers

Get in touch with your inner voice—the one who expresses her/his emotions freely and dreams without hesitation. Grab a pen and a notepad, and jot down your prayers. You can write in paragraphs, make lists, or even draw. Embrace the season by indulging your creative side. Open up your heart and mind to what God has to say and what God wants you to do. Write down your prayers and look them over at the end of the month to see how they were answered or how your perspective has changed since you wrote them.


Have a wonderful and spiritual summer!


On the Road Again …

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

The Virginia Conference lists 1,002 clergy under appointment full and part time. Together we serve the 1,205 churches throughout the state. On Wednesday, June 27, Virginia Conference 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. Across the Conference 43 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.

Yearly about one out of every 10 churches of the Virginia Conference will receive a different pastor.

On Sunday, July 1, twelve new pastors to the Arlington District will arrive in the pulpits of their churches prepared to work at making disciples for Jesus Christ. Those churches will swell in attendance as active and inactive members turn out to check out the new pastor or associate pastor.

The Arlington District will receive 12 new pastors, and bid farewell to 12 pastors who served our District in love and fellowship. There are seven incoming senior pastors and five incoming associate pastors. There are three retirements on our District. A new satellite church begins on July 1 called Restoration Loudoun. The District staff welcomes Michelle Holmes Chaney to be part-time Coordinator for Church Development, replacing Melissa Dunlap who will be appointed to Vine UMC as a part-time associate.

On another joyous note: we welcome the reappointment of the Reverend Keith Lee as our associate pastor who is the spiritual leader for our youth, the Education Committee and Young Couples. We are also blessed by the reappointment of Reverend Eileen Gilmer as a Local Pastor appointed to serve Trinity in Outreach Ministry. Eileen received her MA from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC in May of 2018. Join with me, Catherine, Eileen, Harriet, Keith, Jerry, Jose, our lay leader: Peggy Fox, and all the Trinity family as together we make disciple for Jesus Christ.

Shalom, Jim


Real-Time Prayer During the Week

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Let’s face it. Most of us feel strapped for time. Every day we must figure out what will be in and what will be out of our schedule. We feel life putting demands on our day and we can’t do it all. Often God gets put on the back burner. When something’s got to go, God will understand, right? It’s not as though we want to put our faith at the bottom of the to-do list, it just works out that way.

Here are some questions you might have about a new way for us to pray at Trinity.

What can I do about trying to fit God-time into my life?

I have an idea for you. It will only take about five minutes out of your day and you can become more actively engaged in prayer, reflection and encouragement. Please join me every weekday morning at around 8:30 for Facebook Live. We have a few minutes of scripture and reflection, followed by prayer. If you are already my friend on Facebook, you’ll be able to see it live. It will also be there if you want to watch it later in the day. If you are following Trinity Church, you can find the video on the church’s Facebook page right after I finish showing it live.

What are the benefits to me?

This is a great opportunity to go to God in prayer on a regular basis. Maybe you are uncomfortable praying. Maybe you have not prayed very often or maybe you’ve never prayed. No matter. The psalmist writes: “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3). This scripture tells us that prayer is an opportunity to share with God our thoughts, needs and thanks. It is also a time to give God an open heart that is ready to accept God’s guidance.

Does is take a lot of time?

Not at all! Each one runs about five minutes. We have a little scripture, reflection and prayer. As the psalmist wrote, “I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” If you have a prayer concern, let me know. We would love to lift up your concerns or celebrations.

I hope you’ll join us live on a weekday at 8:30 or watch a recorded version when it fits your schedule. We will lay down our requests before God and wait in expectation!

I’ll see you on the web or in church.


Young Families Help Build Trinity Community

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

We offer up a big shout out to all the volunteers who signed up for being part of NLI teams. From the responses we have so far, a high percentage of NLI participants are parents and leaders in youth and children’s ministry. One of the reasons why I am enthusiastic about children’s ministry is that many parents commit to faithful church participation to encourage their children’s spiritual formation. As a parent I know that it takes a whole church community to raise a child spiritually in the Lord. I offer two points to consider for NLI teams.

Young families appreciate the multi-generational ministry environment at Trinity where different age groups from toddlers to retirees thrive and grow spiritually.

This is a framework for young families to find their place in our community. Some churches are a one generation church which means only one age group (e.g. the elderly or just young adults) congregates. I find that young families want to be in a faith community where they find all age groups in which they experience the energy of children, creativity of youth, passion of young adults, growth of young families, stability of older families, and wisdom and experience of older members. A faith community that strives to be multi-generational is attractive to young families due to diversified characteristics that each age group contributes to the life of the whole. As we are observing now, Trinity is a great multi-generational church and is primed to receive many young families.

I ask that NLI teams understand this vital advantage of Trinity and seek ways to develop and sustain this advantage.

Young families desire relevant and meaningful programs and ministries that teach Christian values, help form significant relationships with one another, and assist in outreach programs to the community.

Trinity offers a full array of programs for children: Sunday School for children, Trinity Trebles, and Vacation Bible School. In addition Children’s Ministry sponsors fun-filled events like Trunk or Treat, Bounceback Sunday, Community Movie Night, Easter Egg Hunt and Advent Workshop. Some of my fondest memories at Trinity come from Children’s Ministry events. Most of these programs and ministries are organized and run by Trinity volunteers. I am very proud and grateful to our lay volunteers and leaders for such outstanding children’s offering of spiritual resources at Trinity.

One new idea that we’re implementing with the help of Trinity Men’s Group is “Casual Sundays.” This idea was suggested by parents because it’s tough to get little ones dressed and ready for church. On Casual Sundays, we have a less formal atmosphere and the Men’s Group holds a picnic. We’ll have one on June 17 to celebrate the end of spring semester. Please invite a neighbor on this Sunday.

For NLI, I recommend tweaking existing programs or developing new ones that encourage families to develop relationships with one another so that a new family who just moved into the area can find not just an array of children’s programs but a faith community that cares for one another.

What Will Your Role Be in Our Next Level Innovation?

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

What’s next for Trinity in NLI, Next Level Innovation? In May, the Staff and Lay Leader will develop a Worship Planning Team (WPT) to make worship more conducive to new visitors. Our target audience will be persons forty and under. The WPT will develop:

  1. A sermon series that is relevant to persons not now attending.
  2. The skill of integrating the theme of the service into the sermon, the music and audio/visuals
  3. The WPT will work to diversify Trinity’s music offerings and engage more laity in the music ministry.
  4. Explore and develop a video live-stream.

A Vision Funding Team (VFT) will be created using a team of persons oriented toward generous giving and who have skills around vision, gratitude and communications. The VFT will develop and deploy both a Stewardship Campaign and Capital Campaign for 2018/2019.

Trinity’s Executive Council will help create a Community Connection Team (CCT) that will develop a plan for improving Trinity’s hospitality. In the fall the CCT will lead our entire church in hospitality training. They will recruit and deploy greeters to all entrances of the church and the parking lot to assist new guests/visitors and those who may need assistance. CCT will develop one or two third-place ministries (soccer fields, gyms, coffee shops, pubs, etc.) which will connect TUMC to younger and more diverse ministries. Finally, the CCT will lead our congregation in a prayer walk around the local neighborhoods and possible third-place sites.

Lastly, our Executive Council will create a Vision Team (VT) which will deploy the volunteer recruiting and membership training programs so that they align with our church’s vision for our future.

We NEED YOU to join the NLI team(s) of your choosing. Speak to our pastors and lay leadership. Tell us where you see your gifts best aligning with the goals of NLI. Together we’ll build a beautiful and bright future for present and future members of Trinity Church and make the ministry of Christ among us known throughout McLean.

Shalom, Jim S.