Children and Youth at Trinity

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
It’s been a long time since I communicated through The Spire and I am glad to say hello! Due to in-person gathering restrictions, we have not been meeting in-person but the church has been, and is still, going strong with activities and events. I would like to share some of the plans for Advent.
Advent Page
Pastor Neil’s wife, Pastor Anne, is also an elder in the United Methodist Church. Although she’s retired, she continues to carry out her call to serve God’s people. One of the ministries on her heart is Children’s Sunday School. For Advent, she will offer videos and crafts related to Advent. These videos and links for crafts will be available at
Make sure to view them with your children. I’m grateful for Pastor Anne’s dedication and service to Trinity’s children and their families.
Christmas Eve Family Worship Video
Regardless of our in-person worship status, the staff plans to provide a meaningful Christmas Eve Family Worship experience through the internet. One feature of the service is for families to share a precious memory or tradition from Christmas. It should be about one-minute length and describe Christmas memories or traditions. Please let me know if you would like to contribute ( I would love to hear your story and make this a unique Christmas celebration opportunity.
Christmas Tree Sales
Winter’s coming! That means our Annual Christmas Tree Sale is near! The Scouts and Trinity did not want to cancel it because many in the McLean community depend on us for their trees. When I sent out an email to gauge the Trinity youth group’s interest in holding it, thankfully, I received many enthusiastic responses. Thanks so much for your interest and willingness to participate in serving our community. To ensure everyone’s safety, we will provide guidelines such as wearing masks and keeping socially distanced. Also, we ordered 200 trees so that we can end the sale in two weeks. That means if you want a tree you should plan to come by the first weekend.
Tree Sales: Opening Weekend
November 27 – 29
Friday: Noon-5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.
To help unload trees on Nov. 23 please sign up at:
All volunteers must bring a signed copy of the following document HealthAcknowledgementform__Scouting Update – 20201012.docx
To volunteer please go to:
Confirmation & Baptism Class of 2021
Confirmation Class 2020 held a Zoom service on June 7 and the video recording of the service was shared on the following Sunday. This class will have an in-person service when the situation allows. I will send out an announcement when the date is determined.
The Confirmation and Baptism Class of 2021 began in September! There are over twelve confirmands actively participating through the online platform. Some of the goals of the confirmands are drawing closer to God as well as becoming full members of Trinity. Please keep them in your prayers. As always, I’m so honored to be part of this journey with them.

From Pastor Neil’s Study

I once knew a man who hated receiving presents. It wasn’t that he was a modern-day Scrooge. He just didn’t want his family and friends to waste money getting him stuff. He had what he needed and didn’t want or need anything else. I never saw him do it, but I heard that if someone brought him a wrapped gift, he would refuse to open it. He was a faithful, generous Christian man, but he was stubborn. And I think he took pride in being stubborn.

What he didn’t realize was that by not accepting gifts, he was hurting the people closest to him. His wife, children, and grandchildren would get upset when he refused their gifts and thought he didn’t care about their feelings. He thought he was helping, but in reality, he was not. I haven’t seen this man in years, but I hope he has learned to appreciate the joy in the eyes of his grandchildren when he receives the gifts they offer him.

Sometimes, in our attempt to de-emphasize the commercial aspects of Christmas, we say that Christmas is not about receiving gifts. We say Christmas is the “season of giving.” But I think Christmas is a season for receiving as well as giving.  The truth is that, even though it’s not our birthday, God gives us gifts at Christmas. And God is pleased when we receive the gifts God gives us. That’s why our Advent and Christmas theme will be The Gifts of Christmas. The season of Advent starts on November 29. I hope you’ll join us for worship online every week and discover what they are; and I also hope you’ll be willing to receive the gifts that God offers you.

Because Christmas is about receiving and giving, and because it’s not our birthday, I want to encourage you to share the blessings you’ve received from God with someone who needs some help right now. You can support Trinity Church financially and help fund Trinity’s Mission and Outreach programs. You can support SHARE of McLean or Christ House or another local helping organization — the needs are great. You can share God’s blessings through the simple act of offering love and kindness to a friend or a stranger. There are many ways to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Anne and I feel blessed to be part of the Trinity Church family and are looking forward to spending Advent and Christmas with all of you.

Rob, Andrew, and Emily join us in wishing you a safe, healthy, and blessed Advent, Christmas, and New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Advent – Christmas 2020

On Youtube, Facebook & Zoom


F       Facebook (

Y       Youtube (

Z       Zoom, Meeting ID shown

SundaysWorshipF, Y
SundaysChildren’s Education Activities :
Mondays, 7 p.m.Engage Bible Study on Zoom: Contact Jim Wilson,
Tuesday, 10 a.m.Bible StudyZ: 894 8087 9762
7 p.m.
Bible StudyZ: 886 5257 6837
10 a.m.
Prayer GroupZ: 875 6105 5580
Tues., Dec. 8,
7 p.m.
Honduras Mission InformationZ: link will be included in E-News
Sun., Dec. 13Lessons & CarolsF, Y
Dec. 24Christmas Eve WorshipF, Y
Sun., Dec. 27,
5 p.m.
Celtic ServiceF, Y

A Code-breaker’s Legacy at Trinity

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Have you ever looked at the Trinity Church prayer list? You can find it every week in our bulletin. In the list you will find the names of our church family members, loved ones and neighbors, and even people we’ve never met but know are in need of prayer (think: researchers for a Covid vaccine or front-line workers). If you haven’t, I invite you to include them in prayer. Each one makes the list for a reason. You can also join us on Wednesday morning’s at 10 a.m. for our Zoom prayer group. Check our weekly emails and bulletins on how to join the prayer group as well as Bible studies.

Last year, we had the name Dorothy “Dot” Bruce on our prayer list. We prayed for her on her 99th birthday and when she was ill before her death. Then we prayed for her family. If you’ve been a longtime member of Trinity, you probably know her son Jim Bruce and his wife Carol. What you probably don’t know is the remarkable life Dot lived. She was recruited by the U.S. military in World War II. She answered the call to serve in a top-secret group of code-breaking women. Dot and her colleagues were able to discover the locations of Japanese ships in the Pacific, as well as intercept enemy supply movements. There is likely no way to fully know the number of American servicemember lives that were saved, but it has been estimated their work shortened the war by two years.

Dot had been sworn to secrecy and she kept that oath for 70 years. It wasn’t until then that she discovered their work had been declassified. This allowed her to speak to an author about their code breaking and its impact on the war efforts. Liza Mundy wrote the book Code Girls in 2017; Dot is featured prominently as a central character. This amazing women was also an educator, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. I know Jim and the rest of his family miss her greatly.

Now, the U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed legislation to name a Chesterfield, VA, post office after Dorothy Bruce. She resided in an assisted living center near that post office. The legislation was authored by Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who represents many of our Trinity members. If the bill makes it through the Senate, the new name for the post office will be the “Dorothy Braden Bruce Post Office Building.”

I tell you this story of Dot Bruce as we go into the Advent and Christmas seasons. I hope it serves as a reminder that those mentioned on our prayer list comprise more than an alphabetized recording of names. Each one represents a person—often a family—that is in need of, and is worthy of, all of our prayers. As we celebrate the coming birth of the Christ Child, may we honor his birth, life and teachings. After all, at the heart of most of Jesus’ teachings was the message to love and serve one another. Thanks to Dot Bruce, we are also reminded that each name carries a remarkable story of a loved child of God.

2020 Annual Conference Report

The 2020 Virginia Annual Conference met virtually from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2020. Due to the need for a virtual meeting, the agenda was significantly streamlined and consisted mostly of the essential business of the conference. Bishop Sharma D. Lewis presided over this 238th session. Attendees from Trinity UMC were as follows:

Neil Hough

Eileen Gilmer

Keith Lee

Bruce Luxon

Alesha Luxon

The good news is that despite the pandemic, the VA conference is financially secure. Though apportionment receipts are down 6.8% thus far in 2020, expenses have decreased as well. We have a way to go to make up the difference but our cash reserves and investments are strong and we have $2.2 billion in real estate!

The VA conference is also spiritually strong.  God has blessed us with 314,000 members with an average of 96,000 attendance. Close to 2,000 people were baptized in the past year and more than 2,700 people joined congregations by profession of faith. 82,000 are engaged in small groups. As the pandemic continues and our technology improves, this number will probably increase.

We want to remember in prayer the more than 50 pastors who retired in the past year, including our own Jim Sprouse, and the families of those pastors who went to be with God in 2020. It was a pleasure for Bruce and me to represent Trinity at this, our first VA Annual Conference. Please feel free to contact our pastors or us with any questions. 


Alesha & Bruce Luxon

Church & Society December Collection

As we head into the winter and holiday season, we’re often thinking of ways to reach out to others in our community. SHARE of McLean is a local nonprofit ministry and partner with Trinity that works year-round to meet the emergency needs of McLean and Northern Virginia families.

This winter, SHARE is suggesting the idea of Trinity members participating in a “reverse Advent calendar” (see below) as a way to support area families. Trinity members can assemble bags of listed items as shown on the attached calendar, and drop by Trinity or at SHARE in early January. To assist with this effort, Trinity plans to hold a drive-thru, drop off event at TUMC in early January (details to follow), with donations then transported to SHARE.

If you have any questions regarding SHARE or the winter donation drive, please feel free to contact Lisa Russell.

Many thanks for your ongoing support of the SHARE ministry through the years. We look forward to continuing our outreach through this winter donation drive.

Learn About Trinity’s Mission in Honduras

The Trinity family is cordially invited to attend a virtual update about The Leadership Center (TLC) on Tuesday, December 8 at 7 p.m. 

Meet Yesly, a Leadership Center student currently sponsored by Trinity. Yesly’s mother died when she was eight and she and her sister are being raised their her grandmother.

The Leadership Center provides a post high school, two-year educational opportunity for young Honduran women from poor rural communities. Trinity UMC has generously supported TLC since 2012 and has sponsored seven young women over the years. 

Please join Mission Committee Co-Chairs Dan and Chris Moore for an informative Zoom session about this challenging year in Honduras, complicated by COVID-19 and Hurricane Eta.  

We will share our pride in the achievements of our 78 alumni of The Leadership Center and our hopes for the future of this ministry.

The Zoom link will be available in the E-News.

Dear Trinity Church Family,

Neil Hough, Senior Pastor

It is with great joy and anticipation that I greet you today. There is so much I want to say and a lot you will want to know, but I’m going to keep this brief and simply say I am honored and humbled to be appointed to serve as the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church.

My wife Anne and I look forward to getting to know you and sharing ministry with you in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. As we move into the parsonage and get settled, I want to thank everyone who has welcomed us and helped make this transition possible. I especially want to thank Jim and Molly Sprouse, not only for their 23 years of service to this church and community, but for the many ways they have welcomed and helped us over the past several months. I know you join me in praying for them as they transition to the next set of adventures in their lives. I also want to thank my colleagues in ministry, Keith Lee and Eileen Gilmer, the rest of the Trinity staff — along with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, the Trustees, and the Parsonage Committee for their countless hours of service helping us move and welcoming us to the church and community.

We wish that we could be gathering in the sanctuary on Sunday morning for worship and fellowship. (We will. Eventually. But not until it is safe to do so.) In the meantime, we are going to find other ways to get to know one another. To start with, I hope you’ll plan to join us for worship online on Sunday morning and then sign on to Zoom for a virtual fellowship hour after the service. You’ll find details in the E-News and in the worship bulletin. There will be additional opportunities in the coming weeks. We look forward to meeting all of you!

Finally, I hope you have a safe, healthy, and happy Independence Day weekend. I look forward to seeing you in worship and on Zoom on Sunday.

In Christ,


Musicians and Charity

by Jerry Rich, Director of Music

Long before modern benefit concerts like Live Aid (1985) and Hand in Hand (2017), musicians were involved in raising money for charitable causes. Here are some examples.

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL gave concerts to fund London’s Foundling Hospital, eventually raising some $600,000 in today’s money with performances of his Messiah.

CPE BACH organized a concert for Hamburg’s medical poorhouse. It featured the Credo from his father Johann Sebastian Bach’s B minor Mass and GF Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

JOSEF HAYDN organized performances of his Creation, The Seasons, The Surprise Symphony, and The Seven Last Words to benefit a Viennese society that helped musicians’ widows and children.

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN performed in aid of the town of Baden after a fire almost completely destroyed it. His Seventh Symphony was premiered at a benefit for wounded Austro-Bavarian soldiers.

FELIX MENDELSSOHN wrote his Ruy Blas Overture for a theatre pension fund event. The British premiere of his Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture provided assistance for Silesian flood victims.

FRANZ LISZT played at a London charity dinner at age 12 to raise money for the widows and orphans of musicians. He later wrote his virtuoso showpiece Funérailles to help Hungarian refugees.

PIOTR TCHAIKOVSKY wrote Marche Slav to aid the Red Cross; evoking Serbian oppression with folk songs, the march ends with their Russian allies rescuing them to the tune of God Save the Czar.

GIUSEPPE VERDI created a rest home in Milan for retired opera singers fallen on hard times; it was supported by royalties from compositions like his 1874 Requiem. He also built a hospital near his birthplace.

EDWARD ELGAR (composer of Pomp and Circumstance) wrote Carillon to help WWI charities in Belgium. The next year his Polonia was composed to benefit Polish refugees.

MYRA HESS organized 1,700 lunchtime concerts in London’s National Gallery throughout World War II; these free performances included her noted Bach arrangements such as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.



A Virtual Book Chat

The Trinity Book Chat was cancelled in April, and the book–The Buried, by Peter Hessler, about the lives of ordinary people in the ill-fated revolutions of the Arab spring–will now be discussed via Zoom on May 12 at 7:00 p.m.. A link will be sent prior to the session. Our last meeting before taking a break for the summer will be on June 9, when we’ll talk about a classic: Persuasion, by Jane Austen. To join our email list, please contact Kathy Maher.