From Pastor Neil’s Study, S/O 2022

Have you ever noticed that we — human beings — are very good at labelling ourselves and others? We’re very good at attaching a label: smart, foolish, rich, poor, good, bad, conservative, progressive, … etc. The labels we give ourselves and the labels others give us become our identity, and we often experience the Pygmalion Effect and start to believe and live into these labels … whether they are true or not.

Let’s be honest, some of our labels are accurate and helpful. Positive labels give us something to live up to. These are the kinds of labels that we readily accept. Who among us does not want to be thought of as smart, successful, trustworthy, compassionate, friendly, or loving. It feels good to be labeled that way. Even if we don’t always think of ourselves as smart, successful, trustworthy, compassionate, friendly, or loving, we’re usually happy to have others think of us that way.

But let’s also be honest about the fact that some of our labels are painful and carry a heavy burden. Not many of want to be labeled as stupid, foolish, failure, cruel, or hateful. We don’t like to be seen that way and it’s not healthy or helpful to see ourselves that way.

You may want to think about the labels you carry with you and the labels you give to others. It’s difficult exercise to look honestly at our lives, but it’s also the way we begin to grow.

As I think about the power of labels — for good and for bad — in my life and in the world around me, I’ve started to think that we, as followers of Jesus, might do well to look at some of the labels we get from God. How does God, who sent Jesus into the world to save us from the power of sin and death, label us? How does God want us to see ourselves? How does God want us to see one another?

These are important and challenging questions. They are worthy of our time and attention.

So, to help us grow together as followers of Jesus, I’ve decided that, starting on Bounce-Back Sunday, September 11, I’m going to preach a series of sermons that I’m simply calling Labeled. Using the New Testament Letter to the Ephesians as our guide, we’re going to consider the way God labels us. These are the labels that really matter. They are the labels we can and should live up to and live into. (I’m also going to teach a companion study on the Letter to the Ephesians this fall. Look for information in weekly eNews and Sunday bulletins.)

I think it will be a relevant and helpful exploration of Christian discipleship. I hope you’ll join us for worship every Sunday as we discover what it means to be Labeled by God. I look forward to seeing you.

In Christ,


Blessing of the Pets and Stocking of the Shelves

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

pets_23197cOctober is a great time. The leaves are changing, the air is cooler and we celebrate the blessing of the pets. Mark your calendar and grab your furry friends because the Pet Blessing at Trinity Church is on October 2. It is a wonderful tradition that Trinity has celebrated for decades. This year, you don’t even need a pet to take part. We’re adding an opportunity for you to support a local organization that helps dogs and cats needing homes. Trinity is teaming up with the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation. For those taking part in the blessing, please consider bringing a needed pet supply item with you. For those not taking part in the blessing, we’d love for you to find an item or two on the list and drop it off in a drive-through at the church. Details are below.

But first, a little background on the tradition of pet blessings. These events are held around the world. They were started to honor St. Francis of Assisi. He was an Italian Catholic friar who lived nearly 800 years ago. Francis did a lot to draw attention to the poor and needy. He also loved all animals, recognizing them as part of God’s great creation. (St. Francis was even known to carry on conversations with the birds in the trees!) In the year 1228, Pope Gregory named Francis the patron saint of both animals and the environment.

Here are the details of how we’ll celebrate the pets of our community and how you can support Lost Dog & Car Rescue Foundation:

Trinity’s Pet Blessing

October 2

2 p.m.

We’ll meet in the courtyard outside the Fellowship Building.

(If it rains, you can find us in Langley Hall.)

Important information: All dogs need to be on leashes. Cats and all other critters need to be in pet-appropriate carriers.

LDCRF logoHere’s where to find a list of items we’ll be collecting that day:

For those participating only in the drive through drop-off:

October 2

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Drive around to the back of the church and Trinity’s youth group members will assist with the unloading of your items.

Thanks for helping us celebrate the wonderful pets in our lives!

Children & Youth Ministry, Fall 2022

Children’s Corner

by Laurie Strollo, Director of Children’s Ministry

Hello Trinity families! A new school year has started! Are you excited, energized, and maybe, to tell the truth, a little scared? I admit that, even as an experienced teacher, I feel the same mix of emotions going into a brand new classroom and a brand new school year. A little nervousness is to be expected, of course, anytime we enter uncharted waters. After all, kids today have a lot going on: they face packed schedules, new teachers, new friends, new lessons to learn – and they face navigating around obstacles, like peer pressure and discerning right from wrong. What advice does the Bible give us as we sail through these waters?

gator signLet me answer that question this way. When I was on vacation this summer in coastal Kiawah Island, South Carolina, I biked past a swampy lagoon that had a sign posted. “Warning: Alligators. It is Illegal to Feed or Harass Alligators.” As I biked away (without seeing a ‘gator and not particularly sorry that I hadn’t), I thought “Why was it necessary to post such an obvious thing?” Doesn’t every adult and child know instinctively that it would be very foolish to tease an alligator? Later, as I was reviewing my pictures, which included that sign, I realized that sometimes reaffirming an obvious truth makes a whole lot of sense. Can we read too often John 3:16? Can we ever hear too many times the well-known song, Jesus Loves Me? Can we ever really overemphasize to our kids that they are a masterpiece created by God? The Bible tells us so.

So as we plunge into this new school year, let’s reaffirm to our kids this eternal truth: God loves you. God loves you when you are aceing a test or scoring a goal, and He loves you when you are not. Let’s love Him back by being disciples in the world who share the Good News.

I hope you will join us every Sunday during the 10:30 service for Children’s Worship and Club 5/6, and for all our fun events throughout the year, starting with Bounce Back Sunday on Sept. 11. Let’s work together to make this a great school year! You can contact me at with your ideas, to volunteer (yes, please!), and just to connect.


Miss Laurie


5 Reasons to Join Youth Group This Fall

by Catherine Wethington, Director of Youth Ministry

  1. Friends – At Youth Group you can develop long lasting friendships with other Christian youth.
  2. Service – Youth group offers opportunities throughout the year to volunteer and serve others in our community and the world from environmental clean-ups to food drives, and more.
  3.  A Safe Place – Youth group is a safe place where you can totally be yourself. A place where you can share your achievements, your failures, your joys, and your sorrows and be loved and seen through all the ups and downs that life throws your way.
  4. Grow in Community with Christ – Youth Group is a place where you can learn about Christ with others who have similar beliefs. You can learn how to live through the teachings of Christ, meet adult mentors who are also trying to live in the way of Christ, and participate in the life of the church.
  5. Fun! –Youth Group is synonymous with … Fun! Imagine: Nerf Wars, Movie Nights, Overnight Retreats, Pool Parties, and more. You won’t want to miss it!

Youth Group resumes regularly this fall starting on September 18. Youth in grades 7 through 12 are invited to join us for all youth meetings. You do not need to be a member of Trinity UMC to participate in youth group. All are welcome, invite your friends, too!


Trinity Round-Up, Fall 2022

  1. Book Chat
  2. Bounce Back: September 11
  3. Fall Women’s Retreat: Seeking Inner Peace
  4. Thank You from Grace Ministries
  5. World Wide Missions Committee Announces Trip to The Leadership Center

Book Chat

Trinity’s Book Chat will begin another season of reading and chatting on Tuesday, September 13 at 6:30 p.m. They will continue to meet on Zoom on the second Tuesday of the month. New readers are always welcome to join us. The September book is Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams, and the October 11 selection is The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict. More details can be found at including this year’s reading list and Zoom information. Contact Kathy Maher for more.

Bounce Back: September 11

After the 10:30 service, we’ll move outside for a potluck meal together (bring a dish to share!) and have games and a bounce house for the kids. It will be a wonderful way to reconnect as we return from COVID and summer vacations. Let’s Bounce Back to Trinity together.

Fall Women’s Retreat: Seeking Inner Peace

Are you longing for spiritual renewal and having a closer relationship with God? Needing a time of rest, relaxation, and fun? Do you want to spend time with good friends and have the chance to make new ones? Then give yourself the gift of attending our Fall Women’s Retreat.

Reverend Anne Hough will be leading this day retreat on Saturday, October 1 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Trinity Church in the Fellowship Building. The cost to cover lunch and supplies is $20 payable by check, or through the church app, and designated for the retreat.

To facilitate planning, please register as soon as possible, by emailing Anne.


Thank You from Grace Ministries

World Wide Missions Committee Announces Trip to The Leadership Center

Trinity members are invited to visit The Leadership Center in rural Honduras: November 1-8, 2022, with Chris Moore. Chris is looking for a small team to learn first hand about this women’s educational ministry that Trinity has supported for many years. We will meet and work alongside the 50 current students, helping with homework, chores and visiting classes. Prepare to share your time and talents and plan to be inspired. Contact Chris for details and further information.

What’s Happening at Trinity, Fall 2022


Sunday worshipSanctuary (in-person)
      8:30 & 10:30 a.m.
      8:30 a.m. YouTube
      10:30 a.m. YouTube
Sunday Nursery Childcare8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Children’s Worship & Club 56Sundays, 10:30 a.m.
Youth GroupSundays, Time TBD
Pastor’s Bible Study (on Zoom)Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.
Wednesdays, 7 p.m.
Prayer Group (on Zoom)Wednesdays, 10 a.m.


5Office Closed
6Executive Council
6Crafts for a Cause
11Bounce Back Sunday
13Book Chat
17Music Concert: Brassolatura
19Crafts for a Cause
25Celtic Service (on Facebook & YouTube)


1Women’s Retreat
2Pet Blessing
3Crafts for a Cause
9Oscar Serrano (Honduras) visit
10Office Closed
11Book Chat
17Crafts for a Cause
30Celtic Service (on Facebook & YouTube)
31Crafts for a Cause


1-8Honduras Mission Trip
5Rise Against Hunger
8Book Chat
11Office Closed
14Crafts for a Cause
20Hanging of the Greens
27Celtic Service (on Facebook and YouTube)
28Crafts for a Cause

An Invitation to Sing at Trinity

by Jerry Rich, Director of Music

choir_20628cWe welcome new singers. The members of Trinity’s Chancel Choir minister to others through music. Our rehearsals start on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 11:45 a.m. in the Sanctuary; each week we will learn music to share at the 10:30 a.m. service.

Choir lets you:

1) Be a part of the church’s worship life

2) Fellowship with others who feel God’s call to serve through music

3) Experience how music becomes an extension of God’s word

Qualifications for joining a choir include:

1) Loving Jesus with all your heart

2) Wanting to express through music what God has done for you

3) Being willing to serve at Trinity

You don’t have to be a great singer (although we are blessed with those!). If God has called you to serve in a choir, others will help you begin your journey in this new way to serve. Remember that “God does not call the qualified; rather, he qualifies the called.” Why not give us a try! Questions? Please email Jerry Rich.

A Thank You from Grace Ministries

Dear families of Trinity UMC,

Every year each of your family members is a blessing for a kid that is going to start the school year soon! Thank you very much for your generosity and your great heart donating a pencil, a ruler, a notebook, erasers, backpacks and all the necessary school supplies!

May God bless you and your love ones.

Many thanks on behalf of the families and children of GRACE Ministries, Culmore UMC neighborhood.

Ana María López, Site Director

From the Pastor’s Desk, Summer 2022

I recently heard a friend and colleague talk about why he is a United Methodist (UM) and why The United Methodist Church (UMC) is important to him. He was saying that, during these difficult days in the life of the UMC, it’s important to remember why we are UM’s and what the UMC means to us. As a result, I’ve been thinking about why the UMC is important to me and why I am a United Methodist.

It’s easy for me to say that I’m a UM because I grew up in the UMC. My father was a pastor, and the church was at the heart of our family life. Then, even though I initially thought I did not want to be a pastor, I still found myself involved in the UMC as a college student and young adult. There was always something comfortable and familiar to me. It was my home.

When I finally answered the call to ordained ministry, and began my seminary education, I had to think seriously about why I was a UM and believed I was called to be a UM pastor. I couldn’t simply say that I’d always been a UM, I had to own it for myself.

I’m certain that my responses have changed over the years, but today, I am a UM because of our theology of grace, our insistence that Christian faith involves our head, heart, and hands, and our connectional structure.

You have heard me say and will hear me say it a lot (I hope) that I believe that God’s love and grace is the most powerful force in the universe. It has life-changing power. At the heart of UM theology is the belief that God is the primary actor in the world. God’s grace works in our lives before we are aware of it (prevenient grace), God’s grace saves us from the power of sin and death (justifying grace) and God’s grace transforms our lives so that we come as close as possible (in this world) to Christ-like perfection. Our response to God’s grace is to be aware of it, accept and trust it, and allow it to have its way with us.

You have also heard me say (I hope) that when we have been blessed, by God’s grace, then we are called and sent into the world to be a blessing. UMs believe that our relationship with God is not limited to what we think or what we feel. As UMs we are sent into the world to change the world through works of mercy and works of justice. Following Jesus is not just what we do when we’re at the church, following Jesus is about what we do at home, at school, at work, and at play.

Finally, I am a UM because I believe in the connectional nature of the way the UMC is organized. The UMC is a global denomination, guided by the work of the General Conference, Jurisdictional and Central Conferences, Annual Conferences, District Conferences, and Charge Conferences. (If you’re keeping track, Trinity’s Charge Conference is part of the Northern Virginia District Conference, the Virginia Annual Conference, and the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference.) This means that, through the connection of the UMC, we are part of something far bigger than ourselves. Through the connection of the UMC, we are in mission around the world, on the ground where there is need. Through the connection of the UMC, we are partnering with God to do life-changing and life-saving work (discipleship, education, health and wholeness, peace and justice) in more than 130 countries. Through the connection of the UMC, calls to ministry are nurtured, clergy are credentialed and appointed, congregations are supported so that individuals and families can live the Kingdom life God intends: a life filled with grace; a life of head, heart, and hands; and a life of weekly worship, growth in discipleship, faithful service, generous giving, and enthusiastic sharing of faith.

I know that there are countless ways to answer the questions about why I am a United Methodist and what The United Methodist Church means to me. It helps me to answer these questions and I hope it’s helpful for you to read them.

Now it’s your turn: why are you a United Methodist? What does The United Methodist Church mean to you?

In Christ,


What God’s Creation Teaches Us About Human Nature

by Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

daffodils 2Now that we are in the throws of summer, our thoughts wander toward the beach, vacations, and cookouts. It’s easy to forget that just a few months ago we were surrounded by the color and newness of spring. Surrounding the amphitheater outside our Fellowship Building is a lovely, curved flower bed. It has shrubs lining it and in spring it lights up with beautiful Red Devon daffodils emerging from their bulbs. (Don’t be impressed that I knew the type of daffodils, or even that they were daffodils. Thank you, Google!)

One rather chilly day in late spring, when I was bemoaning the fact it wasn’t warmer outside, I took a walk with my dog Henny. I stopped to take in the beauty of the peach and white-colored daffodils—amazed at the intricateness of the blooms and marveling at God’s creativity. The beautiful flowers were framed by the glorious green leaves shooting up around them like a backdrop designed to showcase their beauty.

daffodils 4I noticed another, single daffodil, then another. They were not in a grouping as the others were. These were individual flowers, not even in the flowerbed with the others. These individuals were actually set apart from the other daffodils, growing by themselves in the grass! It was so striking to me. I just stared at them. Then, it occurred to me that the daffodils that were outside of the congregated flowers were just like people outside of the church. How many times have we encountered those who never felt at home in the church—any church? How many times have we met those who felt injured or ostracized by a church?

I was reminded of those flowers when I read about a recent survey done by the Barna Group. Their work frequently shows up in the inboxes of clergy. The story reported that of the Christians they surveyed, about a quarter of them said the “practice of discipling others hasn’t been suggested to them,” and nearly as many say they “haven’t thought about helping someone grow closer to God.” (The statistics come from their book, Growing Together: A Three-Part Guide for Following Jesus and Bringing Friends on the Journey.) As for the 25% who haven’t been told about the importance of discipleship, shame on all of us church leaders! This is a basic tenet of our faith tradition and is based on the teaching of Christ.

As followers of Jesus, we know we are to live out his call for all of us. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). We find direction and encouragement in the message Jesus gave to his disciples. Not only does he tell us exactly what to do, but he lets us know we won’t be alone in the journey. “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Everything we need to walk the walk will be provided for us. If you have ever felt left out, whether in your family, among friends, classmates, or even at church—who is better equipped to share a message of hope and belonging? Whatever you need to share the message of God’s saving grace and love is available to you.

I believe those lone daffodils in the grass, as a part of God’s great creation, can teach us something about those who surround us and are looking for the good news of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and hope. It’s up to us to take notice and follow the timeless teachings of Jesus.

I’ll see you in church!

Summer Series, 2022

Summer Sermon Series & Summer Bible Study

Sermon Series: The Seven Deadly Sins (and The Seven Holy Virtues)

Starting Sunday, July 3, Pastor Neil will be preaching a series of sermons on The Seven Deadly Sins (and the Seven Holy Virtues). There is no list of Seven Deadly Sins in the Bible, but centuries ago, the church named these sins and called them “deadly.” This series will explore what they are and why they are so dangerous. We’ll learn how to name them and confess them in our own lives, and we’ll discover the corresponding virtues that God’s grace makes possible. The Deadly Sins are some of the ways we interfere with God’s intentions our lives. Join us in person or online each week as we discover that, when we reduce the interference of sin, we experience more fully the Kingdom life that God dreams for every one of us.

Summer Bible Study: The Seven Deadly Sins

Pastor Anne Hough will be teaching a Bible study on The Seven Deadly Sins to compliment Pastor Neil’s summer sermon series. The Zoom study will be offered on four Tuesday mornings at 10:30 and Wednesday evenings at 7:00. Each week’s class is connected by the theme but can stand alone if you are unable to attend each one.