Spring Brings New Life at Trinity
Pastoral Letter to the Congregation
April 20, 2022
Spring is upon us! Every day I walk with my girls and see the bees buzzing, smell the new blooms, and feel that wonderful combination of warm sun and cool breeze. I sense that something new is in the air! Do you?
We are also coming into a new season at Trinity. While many still join us for worship online, most have returned for in-person worship, many of whom have not been back since before the pandemic. We have also seen a number of new visitors. What wonderful new life! We are now entering into the endemic stage of the COVID-19 virus, and with that, we hope for a stable season ahead of re-establishing healthy rhythms and establishing new practices to help us grow.
I want to let you know of a few initiatives that we are working on as God leads us into this new season:
1. Congregational Reconnection
One thing we have heard over and over recently: we miss each other! After a long time of separation, we need some quality time to reconnect - we need a family reunion! See below for ways that Kory Tomlinson, our Pastor of Discipleship, is creating opportunities to reconnect.
-Fun and Fellowship Opportunities:
-Sunday Morning Fellowship Hour: weekly, starting this Sunday at 9:30 am - come to the Fellowship Hall for donuts, coffee, and good conversation! This is not meant to replace Sunday School long term, but serves as a starting point for us to start reconnecting after our time apart. We hope to relaunch Sunday School from this gathering a bit down the road.
-Summer Movie Nights: Grab some popcorn and soda! Our hope is to schedule a few crowd-pleaser movies early this summer that we can all come and enjoy together in the Fellowship Hall. Email Kory at email@example.com with movie suggestions! These are great opportunities to invite a friend who has never been to our church.
-Food Truck Sundays: There are so many delicious food trucks in Durham these days, and the after church lunch crowd might be the perfect opportunity to invite one for a visit! We hope that you might hang around after service together, find a seat in the Fellowship Hall or enjoy our beautiful lawn or prayer garden for a picnic. Look for an announcement coming soon.Email Kory with more ideas for reconnection!
Pastoral Visits, Coffee Meetups, and Office Hours
-As things open up and more people are returning for the first time since the pandemic, I am placing a particular emphasis on connecting with our congregation in person. Whether you want to talk about faith, the church, or just shoot the breeze, I always look forward to our time together. I hold office hours every Monday from 9:30am-2pm, and my primary day for visitations is weekly on Wednesday. I am calling through the directory, but you don’t have to wait! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text me at 334-791-5045 if you plan to come by or want to get together.
2. Focusing on Growth: Quality and Quantity
As we gather this Spring, I sense God is leading us into a season of healthy growth. That means in both the quality of discipleship in our community, and the number of disciples in our community. The good news is that this is something that God initiates, and we get to respond to - like the plants do as the seasons change. We don’t have to strive or stress! Here are a few ways I sense that God is leading us into healthy growth this season:
Personal Spiritual Growth: New Sermon Series “Practicing the Way”
-We are beginning a new 10-week series on Spiritual growth called “Practicing the Way” this Sunday, based on the curriculum by the same name found here. We will focus on a different spiritual practice each week that was given to us by Jesus for our growth in discipleship: Prayer, Silence and Solitude, Sabbath, Scripture, Fasting, Spiritual Warfare, Community, Simplicity, and Sharing the Gospel. Jesus’ goal in teaching us these practices is to provide practical tools for abiding with him in our everyday life. Where our last two series (Who is God? and Who am I?) were a great foundation for this topic, albeit sometimes a little heavy, my prayer is that this series would be a practical and accessible tool for us to help us become who God says we are in Christ. I encourage you to dive into this online resource and begin your own journey of growth as we go through this series.
-During this pivot point for Trinity, I am inviting the staff to join me in a time of introspection that we might grow as leaders so as to better serve you. We have begun reading through Ruth Haley Barton’s “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership” as a staff, and we are all finding it to be a great resource for our growth as leaders.
-We also are hoping to grow by receiving feedback from the congregation. We invite you to provide honest and direct feedback so that we can grow in leading this wonderful congregation. Please visit our staff page on the website to get email contact information so that you might encourage and provide constructive feedback for us during this season. We welcome it! We all want to grow as leaders. Please also feel free to reach out to a Staff Parish Relations Committee member who will provide that feedback to us as well: Mark Daughtridge (Chair), Erica Washington, Ted Benson, Pam Guidry-Vollers, Alexander Crowell, Carol Bond, or Karen Bullock.
-With so many visitors coming through our doors the time is here to invite people into the discernment process of becoming members. Praise God! I am calling through our many recent visitors and inviting them to one of our two Next Steps meetings coming up on April 24 and May 1st, where they will get to learn more about Trinity and sign up for our New Membership Luncheon on May 15.
-People are hungry to find a faith community right now! This is a great season to invite a new face to lunch after service or exchange numbers to get coffee later in the week. You are some of the most welcoming people I have ever met. Let’s continue our legacy of radical hospitality and welcome our neighbor well in the name of Christ!
3. Dreaming About the Future
After a long winter in the pandemic, Trinity is excited to see the new life that God is bringing about in our midst: resurrection life is at work! Here are some ways that we are beginning to till the ground in prayer and holy conversations that you are invited to be a part of.
-Trustees Discerning the Stewardship of a Bequest
-Our Trustees, led by Karen Westervelt, are currently praying and discerning how they might steward a significant bequest made to Trinity which was left by a late member in their estate. Please pray for them that God might guide them in their discussions. This is an amazing blessing and opportunity to invest in and advance our ministry at Trinity as we look to the future of making disciples in and from downtown Durham.
-Invitation to the Dream Team
We are hosting our first in-person Dream Team meeting on May 1st at noon in the Fellowship Hall. This is a group open to any member who wants to be a part of a non-voting, idea-generating conversation around Trinity's future which forwards their ideas on to operating and voting teams like the Trustees, Welcome Committee, staff, etc. for consideration. Our goal is to dream God-sized dreams for Trinity, and you are invited!
Beloved, it is a joy to be your pastor.
John calls himself “the one whom Jesus loves” all throughout his gospel account, and Paul calls the church God’s “Beloved.” My prayer is that, in this season of new life that God is bringing about, that you might see yourself as “the one whom Jesus loves” and “Beloved.” I am a witness to God’s love and grace being poured out in your midst through the power of the Holy Spirit as Father God transforms us into the image of his son, Jesus - that we may be one as He and the Father are one, that we might take up our cross daily and see daily resurrections, and that we might bear the fruits of Spirit for the healing of the hurting world around us.
I look forward to seeing all the new life God springs forth among you in this season!
Grace and peace,
Rev. Daniel Jackson