Who knew last September, when we said farewell to our beloved Rector Fr. Tom that we would be embarking on a journey that would be long, painstaking and mysterious? Remember how we all thought we knew the path Trinity would take to install our new rector? We were sad to say goodbye, but felt secure in our future. We had assurance that there would be little need to worry. Patrick was the one- a native son who would walk us forward into the future. We had our plans.
I'm not a bible scholar. In fact, my knowledge of scripture is fairly shaky when I need to pull up a passage or apply a verse on occasion. But I do have a love of stories and a predisposition to apply bible stories to my everyday situations. Recently I've been thinking about Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert. Remember how, in October, Patrick said during our meeting with Rev. Tolzmann, that this time ahead for Trinity will be our wilderness experience? Well, wasn't he right?
While there are many differences, I would like to draw your attention to several parallels between Trinity and the Israelites in the desert.
1) We don't know where we're headed.
2) We're afraid that what's ahead is not as good as what we left behind
3) We worry that we'll run out of provisions to get us through the journey.
Do you agree? So like the wanderers in Exodus we too are challenged to trust. We're on a faith journey.
Trust- All healthy communities build on a foundation of trust- and we all know saints among us in this parish who trust in Jesus regardless of what life deals them. We honor them and look up to them. And, at times, all of us as believers have exercised our trust in God, our faith that Jesus is the answer to our soul's cry.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB
It occurred to me just a few days ago that this time in our church, this wilderness walk of Trinity's, is a first for us. We have all trusted that God will protect and go before our missionaries. We trust that our ministry efforts will be fruitful. Our clergy has taught us and went before us to show us how to walk out in faith. Individually we can name events and situations that had required trust. But have we ever, as a singular group, the congregation of Trinity, had to seek to hear God's voice and follow his lead without a parent figure, our deeply known clergy, leading the way? Some of you were here when Fr. Howard retired. While we went through a transition process then, we didn't have the same level of concern because in addition to our interim, we had our assistant, Andy, who stayed in place to carry Fr. Howard's ministry forward. We were happy with that and thought to replicate it with Patrick- and why not? This is a logical way to keep doing what we do without change. We had our plans.... But God has other plans for us. God has faith in us. He believes in us. During this transition time we are being called to walk in faith and trust that God is guarding and guiding us- all of us. This is a tall order. At any given time someone in this loving community of Trinity is worried, scared, or mad because we're all, after all, human beings and have feelings. It's built into our natures to sometimes retreat or find comrades who share our fears and look ahead at the future with alarm. At times like these we need to remember that God has faith in us, his church.
Joshua knew all about this. He was directed by God to take the land across the Jordan for their own. He was a young and new leader. When he sent explorers ahead they returned with reports of giants and fearful things that causes the community to worry and grumble. Then the Lord spoke:
"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you."” Deuteronomy 31:6
We are eager to "get this over with". I've heard this phrase repeated many times over the past year. "The sooner the better". (Truthfully, at times I have been one of those voices) I'm thinking the Israelites were pretty justified in their eagerness to reach the finish line. Remember, God deliberately sent them to randomly hike the wilderness for forty years. Why? It seems clear that He had some things to teach them. They just couldn't get it right, so he send them around and around until they did. What about us? Could this time we have together as a parish be God-given time for us to rely on each other? Could God have orchestrated this time to strengthen our individual relationship with Jesus and with each other? I sincerely believe so. God forbid that we leap ahead of his guiding light- the pillar of fire- and attempt to slay giants on our own. If there has ever been a time at Trinity that we need to pull together, to pray together, to love each other as brother and sister it's now. As long as we are walking together, sharing our lives, or hopes, our fears and our love of Christ, we'll be okay because God has plans for us:
“For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NASB
, Have you noticed a bunch of people huddled around laptops and iPads at all different times and places around the church this last month?
That would be your Discernment team, hard at work responding to questions for the Ministry Website.
Our responses will be posted by the diocese and read by clergy who are in the beginning of discerning their call to move where God sends them.
Here are a few of the questions:
All of the information we have been gathering from you through during our Parish Breakfast, the history boards, the question of the week, etc. has helped us to craft responses that reflect who Trinity Church is. When we have completed this phase of work, we will share with you.
Another part of the work of the Discernment Team has been to look closely at our own website and make adjustments and enhancements so that the site is easy to navigate, up to date, and inviting to those who stop by for a visit.
Amanda Lavallee and Carolyn Clement have been working on loading new content and hope to have the Rector Search section finished by the end of the month. However, there will be on-going needs for keeping our website current.
A small but mighty team of "Trinity Techies" has met and have agreed to meet quarterly to discuss the 21st century tech needs of our church. They are: Melien Lavoie, Hap Osborne, Larry Holl, Jeff Sutton, Amanda Lavallee and Carolyn Clement.
Search around our site www.trinitytariffville.org, and remember to send any thoughts, comments or commendations to the Discernment team at email@example.com.
Trinity Discernment Team,
Elaine Chagnon, Carolyn Clement, Troy Mcfarlane, John Nagy, Kathy Sutton, Ray Williard, Kathy Zirolli
The Discernment Team has been busily engaged in reaching out to you, the parish, for information that well help set the vision for the future direction and ministry initiatives for Trinity. Our common purpose and goals can be discerned through listening to each other and acknowledging that the HolySpirit is most strongly present and speaks through sharing what we believe and feel in our common life together at Trinity.
The Parish Gathering for Conversations on Feb. 4 was well attended with nearly 80 parish members enjoying fellowship over breakfast. We talked about our feelings in this time of uncertainty, and our hopes for each other and the parish as we move forward into the “wilderness” of our search for ordained leadership. The results of this day are still being analyzed, but I left with some clear impressions after our morning together.
While we shared openly about our common anxiety in changes ahead, our negative feelings diminished significantly over the course of the morning. It’s clear that when we gather to meet together and open our hearts to one another the Holy Spirit speaks and encourages us.
Our vision of who it is that God is calling to lead us was captured in posters (currently hanging in the parish hall) that depicted the qualities and characteristics of our ideal leader. Every one of us was struck by the uniformity of the 8 posters that were created at each table. We can rest assured that there is agreement in the Spirit among us!
The conversations at our tables captured by scribes were given to each member of the discernment team. We have spent the last three weeks reading through your remarks and praying to know and understand God’s leading. All of the information will be shared with you in the coming weeks as we package it into an understandable format.
We also have been asking you to respond to weekly questions that capture your thoughts and hopesfor the future ministries of Trinity.
-What are your concerns (regarding the process of transition)?
-Name up to 3 activities, programs, ministries or events that have helped you grow in your faith. What can we improve or add to help others grow closer to Christ in this church, and in our neighboring communities.
-Have you witnessed or personally experienced healing through the ministry of Trinity? Please share.
If you have not responded to any of the above questions, or if you wish to ask a question of the team, please send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In His Name~
The Discernment Team
“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV
The work of discernment is an important step as one encounters life’s stages and changes.
Remembering the past is the first step to envisioning the future. We have to know who we are and who we have been before we can become who we want to be.
In the life of our parish, as we undertake this journey into our new future, let’s gather our communal memory of all things Trinity and celebrate the overwhelming evidence that, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place”(Gen.28:16).
Starting DECEMBER 18 you are invited to visit the parish hall and add your memories to the History Gathering posters there. Sticky notes and pens will be available for you. Every member of Trinity, past and present, is encouraged to share your remembrance of important people, events, personal life experiences, etc.
The information you post will have several purposes.
1) The sheer magnitude of God’s blessings and provision of the past is the encouragement we need, to remember that He is working his purposes now through us and through this place.
2) We have had multiple experiences here that might not be known or remembered by all of us. By sharing those experiences we can draw on our imaginations about our future.
3) People who are leaders, whether ordained or lay, have left indelible marks on us. By simply posting their names, others will remember and be blessed.
4) The Discernment Committee will synthesize this information and use it to complete our parish history to post on our website and share with our new rector.
We’re excited to see what God has done in our church, and encourage you to pray with us!
Kathy Sutton- Chair
Senior Warden Troy McFarlane’s Note To The Parish:
Thank you all for helping us to show Father Tom and Maryjane how important they have been to our parish. I’m sure they felt the love. I would especially like to thank the Celebration Planning team for all their efforts: Louise Boehm, Ellen Corriveau, Pat Joy, Bob Chagnon, Bob Jugenheimer, Moe Lavallee, Paula Kern, Carole Noonan, Ed Gaidos and Father Patrick, for planning the Service and the Retirement celebration.
As you are all aware, we began this process by establishing three teams, the Retirement Planning, the Prayer Team, and the Discernment Committees.
We printed our prayer for the parish and distributed them several months ago, I am hopeful that you have all been praying for us during this process. The prayer team has been steadfast in their prayer for us. The Discernment Committee, led by Kathy Sutton, has completed their review of our website and have accumulated the documents and content required to update the website. They will be working with our website folks to get the new content in place.
That being said, it is time for us to begin the official actions required by the Diocese to transition to a new Rector. We (the Vestry) have a meeting scheduled with our Consultant from the Diocese (Lee Ann Tolzmann) for October 18, 2016. She will also be here on Sunday October 30th at the 9:45 service to meet the parish. We will work with Lee Ann to identify an Interim for Trinity. We will also begin to get input from all of you to determine the future needs of our parish. I have included here a Link to the “Leaving Well Policy” from the Diocese.
Senior Warden Trinity