From Pastor Neil’s Study (M/A 2023)

Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies. Starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, the movie is about a self-absorbed weatherman, Phil Conners (Murray), and his sweet and innocent producer, Rita (McDowell), who are sent to cover the Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, PA. They are forced to spend the night in Punxsutawney, and when Phil wakes up the next morning, he discovers that it is February 2 — again. He is trapped in an endless loop, reliving the same day, over and over, and he is the only one that knows what’s happening.

What makes the movie so meaningful is that the experience ultimately changes Phil. At first, he simply tries to end the cycle, trying everything he can think of, including suicide. Then he takes advantage of the situation, stealing money, gorging on food (he never gains any weight), and trying to take advantage of women. But over time, Phil comes to accept his fate and use the situation for good. He learns to play the piano; he helps people in crisis. When he finally stops fighting, and starts living for others, he is given his life back.

In one memorable scene, Phil is in a bowling alley with two local guys. He says to them, “What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?” One of the guys replies, “That about sums it up for me.”

Sometimes, even though we are not stuck in an endless cycle of February 2nds, we know exactly what Phil Conner is experiencing. Every day feels the same, and nothing seems to matter, nothing we do seems to make a difference. We know what it is like to feel stuck, unable to move forward. Like Phil, we discover that living solely for our own benefit, looking out for number one, does not help. The possibility of new life — the start of a new day — begins when we start living for others. Specifically, when we surrender our lives to God and start following Jesus Christ.

Each of the four New Testament Gospels records Jesus saying something like this: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” (Mark 8:34b-35). This is how God works; it is the secret to abundant life. It is the power of Easter at work in the world.

The invitation to follow Jesus is an invitation to leave behind the endless cycle of meaningless days and discover the joy and wonder of following Jesus — worshipping God, growing in faith, serving Christ, giving generously, and sharing the Good News.

Surrender your life to God … and see what happens.

In Christ,

Lent and Holy Week at Trinity

Trinity’s 2023 Lenten theme will focus on Jesus’ dying hours and his final words as the Gospel writers recorded them. Last year we considered the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life. This year, Final Words from the Cross by Adam Hamilton will be our guide as meet the variety of characters who gather at the cross and reflect on the seven final statements of Jesus. Join us each week as we seek to understand the meaning of Jesus’ dying words for our lives today.

Here are some important dates to remember. See weekly emails and bulletins for additional information:

      • Lent Sermon Series – The Final Words from the Cross
      • Lent Study – Final Words from the Cross by Adam Hamilton
        Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. in-person and on Zoom
        Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on Zoom
      • Holy Week Worship
        April 2 – Palm and Passion Sunday 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
        April 6 – Holy Thursday Service of Holy Communion at 7 p.m.
        April 7 – Good Friday Tenebrae Service at 7 p.m.
      • Easter – April 9
        Eater Sunrise Service at 7 a.m.
        Easter Day Services at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.


Care and Compassion at Trinity Church

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The woman who wrote that quote was a psychiatrist who did ground-breaking work on grief. You’ve probably heard of the five stages of grief she documented: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She did amazing work in the area of helping those who are facing illness and death. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross got it. She did not shy away from the struggle.

Grief is just one of the challenges most of us will face in our lives. There are plenty of others. Some will be easier to get through; some will be more difficult. As Christians, we know from reading the Bible that we are not alone in our struggles. But, sometimes it can be difficult to remember that fact.

There’s another way you are not alone. You have clergy members who are here for you. We love being a part of your life in all the times you’ll encounter. We invite you to come by the church, meet us after worship or join us for coffee near your home or work. You’ll often find us meeting members for lunch or making phone-call check-ins. These personal connections are a vital part of what we do. You are our church family and we take your care seriously.

There will be times when someone might need help finding a mental health counselor. We are blessed to have a wonderful team of counselors who are as close as Trinity House, located on our campus. Between them, they cover many areas of expertise and treat all age groups, including children.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever need us. We are happy to listen, pray with you, provide support and help however we can. As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, you are the “most beautiful people we have known.”

I’ll see you in church!

Church Engagement

by Stephanie Grunenfelder, Worship Committee Chair & Executive Council Recording Secretary

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

One of life’s certainties underscored during the pandemic is that connecting with others is vital. At Trinity UMC, we are grateful to continue providing live-stream services to those in our church family who are unable to physically attend services but are also encouraged as more and more people begin to return to in-person worship. As churches, including ours, emerge from the worst effects of the pandemic, it is incumbent upon all of us to consider how best to serve and engage in fellowship with one another as Jesus instructed.

Trinity’s Executive Council meets 4-6 times per year, with the objective of managing the many moving parts of an active congregation. The United Methodist denomination has identified a structure for helping local churches do this with committees such as Church and Society, Staff-Parish Relations, Finance and others. For a church to function well, the children need education, worshipers need music, the building and grounds need attention, etc. Without the sustained, active engagement of volunteers, a church simply cannot thrive and grow as God intended. At the most recent Executive Council meeting, there was an enthusiastic discussion about how to engage more people in community – to strengthen and grow our church family.

Please prayerfully consider engaging in the life of the church, your church, this year. Trinity needs both leaders and assistants for activities and events, both inside and outside of traditional services. Listed below are a few of the ideas that came up during the executive committee’s brainstorming session. If leading or being involved in one of those inspires you, please contact Neil or Eileen. Perhaps there is something not on the list that you’ve been thinking about as well, and there are always opportunities for members who still aren’t comfortable with in-person events. All ideas are welcome!

      • Pancake Supper for Shrove Tuesday
      • Preschool Sunday
      • Small dinners together for fellowship
      • A youth event – brunch or food trucks
      • Family bingo night
      • Family movie night
      • Program on parenting for preschool families
      • MLK day of service
      • Combined service with the Spanish Iglesias congregation followed by a lunch
      • Vacation Bible School (in person)
      • Joint project with the church and the preschool community
      • Performance by preschool kids at church
      • Easter events
        • Walk to Emmaus
        • Stations of the cross
        • Easter Egg Hunt
        • Jellybean guessing game
      • Camp Highroad event
      • Revive the adult Sunday School class between the two services.

Our church will truly be blessed as we engage as a church family going forward. As Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:19-20).

What’s Happening at Trinity (M/A 2023)

1           Lent Bible Study begins
5           Martha’s Table
13        Crafts for a Cause
14        Book Chat: The Personal Librarian by Benedict & Murray
18        Christ House
20        Easter flower orders due
26        Celtic Service (on Facebook and Youtube)
27        Crafts for a Cause

1           Good Works Day
2            Palm Sunday, 8:30 & 10:30 a.m.
3            Maundy Thursday, 7 p.m.
4            Good Friday, 7 p.m.
5            Easter Sunday
7 a.m. Sunrise Service
8:30 & 10:30 a.m.
10         Office Closed
11         Book Chat: Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
12         Christ House
13         Crafts for a Cause
30         Celtic Service (on Facebook and Youtube)

Book Chat

Trinity’s Book Chat continues to meet on Zoom on the second Tuesday of the month. New readers are always welcome to join us. Our next meeting is Tuesday, March 14, and our book is The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Murray. Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris is our selection for our Tuesday, April 11 meeting. More details can be found at including this year’s reading list and Zoom information. Contact Kathy Maher for more.

Easter Flowers

On Easter Sunday, April 9, Trinity’s Sanctuary will be decorated with lilies, tulips and hydrangeas, given in honor or memory of loved ones. Please fill out the form. All memorials/honors will be noted in the Easter Sunday bulletin. If you order flowers, you’re encouraged to take them home after the service. Deadline is Monday, March 20.

From Pastor Neil’s Study (J/F 2023)

by Neil Hough, Senior Pastor

January has always been a month for dreams. I’m not sure exactly when I started seeing January that way, but for many years, I’ve felt a sense of excitement at the start of a new year. I think it’s because the transition from December to January is a natural time to do some personal reflection and think about what’s possible in the new year. A new year is a chance for a fresh start and, whether we make any official resolutions or not, many of us do think about what we want out of the new year. We may set goals or allow ourselves to dream dreams. I know I do.

Our January dreams may be large or small. In my case, I dream about everything from eating more healthfully, getting in shape, and sorting the files in the filing cabinet, to big dreams like places I want to visit and projects I want to tackle. I dream about skills I want to learn and personal qualities I want to develop. I dream about the way I want to live my life, the kind of person and pastor I want to be.

Unfortunately, I usually start with the best of intentions, but my excitement and motivation fades when the busyness and business of daily life kick into high gear. For many years, I’ve told myself that I’m going to write a book, but I keep putting it off.

Not only do I hope to finally get started on that book in 2023, I have other goals and hopes and dreams. There are things I want to see and do. There is much I want to accomplish and so much I want (and need) to learn. However, I know myself well enough to know that I won’t accomplish any of them through willpower alone. I’ve tried. And failed. Many times. Not only do I need help. I need grace. You see, what usually happens is that, when I hit the first speed bump, I give up (far too easily.) I become too much of a perfectionist and get so discouraged with my many imperfections that I give up. I justify my decision to postpone my dream or set aside my goal . . . until a more opportune time. I always tell myself that next year will be different.

What I’ve learned — the hard way — is that I need grace. Specifically, I need God’s grace. Trusting in God’s grace means my imperfections and life’s speed bumps do not have to be the last word, because God forgives my failures. God’s grace has the power to pick me up and get me started over and over and over and over again.

So, what I’m saying is that I’m beginning 2023 with a prayer. Not a prayer for great accomplishments (although I wouldn’t turn them down if they came my way), but a prayer for grace, God’s grace. By grace, through faith, we not only dream the dream of salvation (see Ephesians 2:8), we dream the dream of abundant and meaningful life. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)?

By God’s grace, 2023 is going to be the year. (A guy can dream can’t he?)

In Christ,



New Sermon Series starts January 8: Who is this man?

For Christians, following Jesus is the highest priority. But what does it mean to follow Jesus in 2023? Even though two billion people claim to be his followers and more than 70,000 books have been written about him, many of us still wonder: Who is this man? This series will survey the first book written about Jesus, The Gospel According to Mark in order to answer 2 questions: Who is this man Jesus? What does his life mean for our lives today? These sermons are for anyone who would like to know more about Jesus Christ.


Unfolding the New Year

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Welcome to the new year, y’all! I raise my cup of coffee to you and offer you my prayers for a wonderful 2023. It feels trite to say this, but how in the world is it 2023 already? Maybe we’ve become so accustomed to our pandemic-centric version of time, that suddenly it seems as though things are moving at a quicker clip. But, seriously. How is it 2023?

As I look ahead to this year, I realize it will hold some major milestones in my life. This month marks twenty years since I lost my sister to cancer. Hard to believe it’s been that long. Another one for the hard-to-believe category is that our youngest child will celebrate the last year of his 20’s. Another awesome milestone is that I rejoice in serving ten years in ministry.

“Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.”

Max Frisch

Time marches on, whether we’re prepared or anxious or defiant, or even a combination of those. A great quote on the subject comes from Swiss novelist Max Frisch. “Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.” I really like that quote because it perfectly describes how I envision time. It unfolds us, constantly exposing our ever-growing edges—pushing us to become better people, better loved-ones, better friends, better Christians.

I guess the first step in that last category involves defining what you and I consider being a better Christian means. It probably means something different to each of us. Does it mean coming to church more regularly? What about being more faithful in giving of our time or our financial gifts (or both)? Does it mean spending more time—or maybe any time—in conversation with God?

With a nod and thank-you-very-much to Max Frisch, I’m thinking that time is not truly what unfolds us. It’s God. But, here’s the thing. God leaves it up to us to take our creased and crumpled, folded and refolded, ragged-edged lives, and offer them up to God. It is only then that God can take our messy lives and, in a cosmic origami master class, unfold us into a thing of beauty—a beloved and beautiful child of God.

I invite you to do a little pondering this new year while it’s still shiny and fresh. Take a while to talk with God about the ways to unfold your life, and in the process allow God to enfold you.

I’ll see you in church!

Confirmation 2023 Starts on January 8

By Catherine Wethington, Director of Youth Ministry

Trinity’s 2023 Confirmation Class is just around the corner. Class starts on January 8, 2023 and will run through May. The class is for 7th grade and older youth, who have not previously participated in Confirmation. Pastor Anne Hough, will be the primary teacher. We will meet on the lower level of the Fellowship Building from 4 – 5 p.m. on Sundays. Confirmands are invited to attend youth group following each class for dinner and fellowship from 5 – 6 p.m. Register your youth today!

What is Confirmation Class?

In order to mature in their own faith journey, the confirmands will explore what the Bible teaches us, what it means to follow Jesus and how we serve God as members of the United Methodist Church. Confirmands will learn about our church history, our beliefs, and our practices. This class will aid in their spiritual formation on their lifelong journey as followers of Christ. At the end of the class each confirmand will decide if they are ready to become full members of the church.

Your Confirmand needs a Faith Friend

Each confirmand needs a Faith Friend. A Faith Friend is an active adult member of the Trinity Church family who will journey alongside a confirmand. They will check in weekly and will share their own faith journey and experience with their confirmand. A Faith Friend should not be related to the confirmand. Ideally, there is someone the confirmand can identify within our church family to fill this role. If you are unsure whom to ask, Pastor Anne or Catherine can recommend a Faith Friend to you.

Contact Pastor Anne or Catherine Wethington if you have any questions.


Children’s Corner (J/F 2023)

by Laurie Strollo, Director of Children’s Ministry

Hello Trinity families!

Welcome 2023, and welcome to a new year of Children’s Worship at Trinity! We have certainly been blessed with a heart-warming and meaningful Christmas season and Epiphany, and, before you know it, we will start the Lenten period in late February. Yet, time and again, I am reminded that we can grow in faith in all seasons and months of the year. Sometimes, we just need a little “coaching.”

When my children were young, they played rec league basketball during the cold, indoor days of winter. I can’t say that it was their favorite sport, but I know they enjoyed being part of a team, and being led by wonderful parent coaches.

I’m sure that you remember playing on a sports team or perhaps being guided in an academic or professional pursuit. Coaches unite their teams; they provide strategy and foresight; they challenge their team members to work hard and to be inspired.

Of course, we all have the ultimate Coach: God. He understands our weaknesses and reveals ways in which to grow stronger. He fights for us, and makes a way when we can’t see one for ourselves.

Every Sunday, during the 10:30 worship service, we have an opportunity to mentor and guide our kids in Children’s Worship and Club 56. We have lessons that explore scripture. We ask questions (there are no wrong answers!), and we grow in love toward God and our family, friends and community, just as Christ commanded.

The Bible tells us that faith is completed by actions. “…Faith was brought to completion by the works” (James 2:22). I invite you to volunteer to lead or assist us in “coaching” our kids to an active, faith-centered life.

I look forward to seeing you each Sunday this winter. Let’s come together in person to worship the risen Christ and spread his message of love to the world. You can contact me with your ideas, to volunteer, and just to connect.

Blessings to you all,

Miss Laurie


What’s Happening in Jan / Feb 2023


Sunday worship

             Sanctuary (in-person)

                   8:30 & 10:30 a.m.


                   8:30 a.m. YouTube

                   10:30 a.m. YouTube

Sunday Nursery Childcare

             8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Children’s Worship & Club 56

             Sundays, 10:30 a.m.

Youth Group

             Sundays, 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Pastor’s Bible Study (on Zoom/Hybrid)

Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.

Wednesdays, 7 p.m.

Prayer Group (on Zoom)

Wednesdays, 10 a.m.



1 Worship at 10:30 a.m. only

2 Office Closed

2 Crafts for a Cause

10 Book Chat: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

16 Office Closed

16 Crafts for a Cause

19 Lunch and Learn Event for Seniors

21 Christ House

29 Celtic Service (on Facebook and Youtube)

29 Crafts for a Cause



5 Martha’s Table

13 Crafts for a Cause

14 Book Chat: It All Comes Back to You by Beth Duke

18 Christ House

20 Office Closed

22 Ash Wednesday

26 Celtic Service (on Facebook and Youtube)

27 Crafts for a Cause

Book Chat

fd9a08619fe30bc9bcf2432c00eaadbb2740da295f98f9bef49541eb3e419e747da059023793de49Trinity’s Book Chat continues to meet on Zoom on the second Tuesday of the month. New readers are always welcome to join us. Our next meeting is Tuesday, January 10, and our book is Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. It All Comes Back to You by Beth Duke is our selection for our Tuesday, February 14 meeting. More details can be found at including this year’s reading list and Zoom information. Contact Kathy Maher for more.

Fellowship Hosts

Fellowship hosts provide snacks during Fellowship following the Sunday morning worship services. Please consider signing up for a week. The sign up is on a white board sitting on top of the coffee bar in the Fellowship Lobby.

Lunch and Learn: Senior Housing Options

Thursday, January 19, 2023

11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Fellowship Lobby

Join us for lunch and a presentation by Jeanina DiVittorio, a Senior Living Expert. She will speak on these subjects:

  • In-home care vs. retirement community living
  • Elder nourish and senior community programs
  • Retirement community options and their costs
  • How to decide when to downsize and move
  • Selling your home to help pay for long-term needs

A complimentary lunch will be served to all attending.

Please RSVP by January 16 to 703-734-0192 or The event is hosted by Trinity members Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy.


dc054ee9-279d-49ae-beec-2f340e06ed7bVolunteer with Trinity!

One of the many ways to get involved in the life of the church is to volunteer with one of our ministry areas. You can find details about various ministries on our website with contacts and sign-up lists linked. Go to the church website: and click on Get Involved. From that drop down menu, you will find a page for Volunteer. We pray you find something that fits your gifts and calling. All areas within the church would like to welcome you to their ministries.


One area that really needs volunteers right now is our Sunday morning worship Ushers. Not to worry if you’ve never greeted and ushered before. It’s easy! We ask you arrive at 10:15 a.m. on the Sundays you’ve volunteered, greet people and hand out bulletins, complete the count sheet, and then assist with the offering by making sure the plates are passed from aisle to aisle. We need two people to usher each Sunday, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from signing up. We can always find an extra person if needed! Visit the website as directed in the previous paragraph to volunteer.


From Pastor Neil’s Study, N/D 2022

You may not want to hear this, but Christmas is coming, and Trinity’s pastors and staff are already working on plans to celebrate Jesus’ birth with you next month.

Every year around this time, I think about a young mother who, several years ago, told me that her eight-year-old son did not want to come to church and did not like going to Sunday School. His reason was, “they keep talking about Jesus and telling the same stories all the time.”

I think many of us can relate to this young man. We do keep talking about Jesus and we tell the same stories over and over, again and again. It’s especially true around Christmas. Most people in our society — even people who have never been inside a church — have heard at least part of the Christmas story. Even if they get some of the details mixed up, most people know that the Christian celebration of Christmas is about a baby and a manger, and that stars, shepherds and wise men are somehow involved. And yet, despite its familiarity, the church tells the same story—year after year. We read the same passages of Scripture, we sing the same carols, put up the same decorations, watch the same Christmas movies, and observe the same family traditions.

There are several reasons for celebrating Christmas year after year. One is so that we won’t forget the story. We believe that the birth of Jesus set into motion a chain of events that have cosmic implications. We need to keep reminding ourselves what God has done and what it means for our lives. We all too often forget.

Another reason we celebrate Christmas every year is because we believe that God uses the Biblical stories to change our lives from the inside-out. We need to hear them again and again to allow God to have access to our hearts and minds. And because the Christmas story is so familiar, we have to be intentional about letting God break through the busyness of the season.

As we read the Christmas story again(!) this year, we’re going to Listen to the Angels. The Gospel writers (Matthew and Luke) tell us what happened, but it is the angels — God’s messengers — who tell us what it means. They have a very important message for us, if we are willing to listen.

So, I hope you’ll plan to join us for worship every Sunday during Advent and Christmas, including Christmas Day (which is a Sunday) as we Listen to the Angels. I pray God’s blessings for you and your family as you celebrate Christmas and discover once again that Christ our Savior is born.

Anne, Rob, Andrew, Emily, and Lucas join me in wishing every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving, a joyous Merry Christmas, and a blessed Happy New Year.

In Christ,