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Holy Trinity Church in community, on mission

by Jon Dennis Senior Pastor, Holy Trinity Church (Chicago)

As I write these words, I’m sitting at the California ‘L’ stop of the Green Line having just had lunch with Oscar Leiva, pastor of our West Side congregation. The relationship with Oscar goes way back. God drew Oscar to Himself while Oscar was just a sophomore in high school way back in 1997. Invited to youth group by friends from school, Oscar discovered students serious about Jesus, students who worshipped with intensity, friends who loved him. Intrigued, Oscar ventured on a Florida spring break trip with the group and met Jesus in a powerful way. Oscar crossed the line from dead to alive. Three months later, Oscar was sharing the gospel with other students in Tijuana, Mexico and soon leading others towards Christ at his public school. Does it matter? Yes, redemption matters. Today, Oscar is married to Megan and has three sons: newly adopted Obed (three) and twins Judah and Ezra (17 months) who are on their way to adoption. Twenty percent of the people in our West Side congregation come from an adoptive home. Does it matter? Redemption matters. The West Side is a broken place. Lawndale has never fully recovered from the 1968 riots that followed the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., prompting small businesses to leave the community. Little Village residents still rarely cross into Lawndale and vice versa. But God is growing the gospel there. And it is growing in all four of our congregations. On the North Side, two people have come to Christ in the last five months. Does it matter? Yes, it does matter. Our ministry is to people, and they are all around us. On the ‘L’ I see rooftops course by my train window, eye-level as we rattle east to downtown. Who lives in that building? People. Please continue on page 2

HYDE PARK Community groups end year of work in schools, pg. 4

DOWNTOWN Leaders learn biblical narrative from Simeon Course, pg. 3

WEST SIDE Couple with one-yearold prepares for mission field, pg. 5

NORTH SIDE Autum Space becomes home for young artists, pg. 2

2 We believe in the centrality of the Word, the power of the Gospel, the supremacy of Christ, the The United Center comes into view, quickly blocked by an apartment. That one is home to Derrick Rose, Joachim Noah—people. People Christ cares for. There is a story to tell in our city. God is doing something in our neighborhoods. This newsletter is a small

attempt to tell part of God’s story in Chicago, particularly at Holy Trinity, one single church spanning the city in four congregations. As of May 3rd, we are 14 years old! God has been faithful every step of the way—and our best days are ahead! In this first edi-

tion of our newsletter you will find stories of how God is at work among us. Enjoy! The Dennis family has been on sabbatical in Paris, France since May 22 and will return at the end of the summer. Please remember them in your prayers.

YOUNG ARTISTS IN OUR SPACE North Side –The gallery Autumn Space has been featuring young artists since its opening in 2010. This summer it has featured one of our West Side congregants, Kyle Schlie. For those unfamiliar with the gallery, here’s a little bit of its history. The Autumn Space is a 900 square foot white cube, in what the Gallery Director Brad Carter said used to be a textile warehouse, on the North Side of the city. Senior Pastor Jon Dennis approached Carter with the idea of the gallery in 2012 as a way to serve artists in the city. The model is called an “alternative space,” a gallery that is neither commercially run nor a museum. Both commercial and museum galleries typically feature artists who are already prominent, but an alternative gallery is a start-up space for young artists. “In the Autumn Space, because it is alternative gallery,” Carter said, “it allows artists to express themselves without the pressure of selling their work.” A career artist, he explained, makes a living mostly by showing in commercial galleries: the artist is given a stipend for creating the show, then will spend the year in a studio putting the pieces together. In the search process for com-

mercial galleries, Carter said, contractors often look at artists’ first and last showings. The last one shows how far they have come, but the first shows how they presented themselves to the world at the beginning of their career. When asked about a memorable show from this year, Carter described one with student Anthony Lewis of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Lewis came to the gallery and presented himself to the world as one who interacts with his space. He saw the massive white floor of the gallery and decided to use it for his exhibit, so he covered the floor with paper and made a drawing that would continually change throughout the exhibit, “because people would be walking

on it,” Carter explained. “Everybody had to put on those booties you get when you go into a hospital, and as they walked around observing the drawing, it rubbed everywhere,” Carter said. The drawing was done with graphite powder and graphite crayons. “We believe that Christ has Lordship over all things,” Carter said, “that he is redeeming the whole world.” The Autumn Space is a part of redeeming art, largely by presenting a space to serve local artists, like Anthony Lewis. Lewis has now graduated from The Art Institute and has booked his first commercial showing, at the Shane Campbell Gallery on the North Side. He is schedule to show there this November through January.

richness of community, a life of mercy, the irony of weakness and the significance of family.


SIMEON COURSE SPENDS SUMMER TRAINING DOWNTOWN LEADERS Downtown – Almost as long as our pastors have been planting the church, they have been managing a second ministry for training pastors and ministry leaders. Its name is The Simeon Trust, and pastors David Helm and Jon Dennis, along with their former pastor Kent Hughes, started it in 2001 to oversee ministry training initiatives in their churches and beyond. This summer, a division of their training program called The Simeon Course is being offered by Holy Trinity’s downtown congregation for community-group and women’s-ministry leaders. “Something personal about this gets me excited,” said downtown congregant Sarah McLaughlin, a teacher in women’s ministry.

“I went to two Bible schools, and coming out of both of them, I still felt like the Bible was on the high shelf. I thought, ‘Be careful with that book. You can’t just say what you feel it means.’ “The Simeon Trust trainings have shown me that, through careful study, I can understand Scripture.” This summer’s course is a 10week training program on how to read narrative in the Old Testament, as well as Epistles, Gospels and Acts in the New Testament. The Simeon Course is typically 20 weeks long, so this workshop is half of the normal curriculum. “We studied Esther in the downtown congregation last year,” said congregant and downtown women’s ministry leader Katina Yohpe. “It was my first experience with an Old Testament book being preached beginning to end in a literary way.” She is excited for the narrative portion

of the Simeon Course training, along with her husband Kevin, a former community-group leader who will also be taking the course. The downtown communitygroup leaders have a special challenge, said Simeon Trust Director of Training Joel Miles, a member of the downtown congregation. “How do we shepherd and care for our people?” he said. “They’re in 27 neighborhoods throughout the city,” unlike the other three congregations that are more local and neighborhood focused. “So we need to be training our leaders, because they are the ones reaching into the neighborhoods,” Miles said. “We’re targeting community group leaders and women’s ministry leaders, so that they will be able to teach the Bible more confidently wherever they are.” If you are interested in participating in The Simeon Course, contact Director of Training Joel Miles (

Far left: Art Institute graduate Tony Lewis preparing The Autumn Space for his first exhibit, “Ground Floating in a Most Peculiar Way.” Right two: West Side congregant Kyle Schlie’s recent exhibit, “The Things Behind the Things in Front.” Photos by Brad Carter, North Side.

4 Our vision is to see see the city of Chicago transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus.


Hyde Park – Community groups because Carnegie no longer has said. They also put on a movie in the Hyde Park congregation a French program, and because night for the school, and chose a have been volunteering in elemen- Hyde Park member Katy Clement film that openly shares the Gospel tary school events this year, as is a teacher at Murray. message. “About 75 parents and part of the congregation’s Serving Donna Dortzbach told simi- students watched the movie and Schools Initiative, begun last fall. lar stories for her team’s initia- applauded at the end,” she said Two of the events were with excitement. school dances. “We had about At Ray School, Leslie Roth, nine volunteers from the Elissa Stogner and their team church,” said Sandy Mulholheld nine events, involving 30 land about the Carnegie School adults and children from Holy father-daughter/mother-son Trinity. They painted the main dance. “We were a visible presoffice, the counseling offices ence at the dance,” she said, and the cafeteria, and gave “with the Jacksons at the door a thorough clean-up to those greeting and welcoming guests, rooms. Some Holy Trinity chiland the rest of us manning the dren also spent time gardening desert and snack tables and at Ray. taking tickets.” “Many parents and adminMulholland has sat in several istrators at Ray have thanked meetings with Carnegie School’s me for the work we have done assistant principal, along with there this year,” she wrote in an Hyde Park pastor Arthur email. “And at each work day, Jackson and Hope for Chicago the principal, Dr. Tatia Beckworker Alyssa Copenhaver. with, and many Ray School At an early meeting this parents worked alongside HTC school year, the church was members, which resulted in a The youth ministry took a week off in asked to help redo Carnvery successful collaboration. March and gardened at three local schools egie School’s library system. “To close out the year, Elissa in Hyde Park. Photo by John Mulholland, About eleven volunteers came Stogner and Jane Hensel put Hyde Park. and packed up books to be together a wonderful end-ofmoved out of the library and into tive at North Kenwood/Oakland year breakfast for the Ray teachthe classrooms. The school does (NKO) school. They also had vol- ers and staff. I feel very confident not have a staffed librarian, so unteers staff a father-daughter that we’ve built a solid, trusting the goal was to decentralize their dance, called “Princess and Me,” relationship with the school leadwhere the dads waited on their ers and PTA. We already have book collection. Members of Mulholland’s team daughters and showed them how our first workday scheduled for made up a database for the books a lady was supposed to be treated, the fall!” before sending them into the class- Dortzbach said. The initiative was started to ex“As an NKO parent, it was enrooms, so they could be easily tend the reach of the congregation found. They even took the school’s couraging to see my church fam- into the neighborhood and to deFrench materials and sent them ily be so supportive by coming velop street credibility as a church to Murray Language Academy, alongside the school,” Dortzbach that is known for its service.

We ar e one chur ch in f our congr eg ations, in community and on mission together.



West Side – West Side members Mike and Hope Rose, along with their son Eli, came to a Pilsen community group in April to explain their upcoming ministry in South America. So, how did God lead your ministry to this new work in Ecuador? In the spring of 2010 our Cru team (formerly called Campus Crusade) in Chicago began praying about a new international partnership. Our leaders were given a list of locations and narrowed it down to four: Ecuador, Zambia, Jamaica, or Rome. After three months we came together to vote on a place. That evening it was clear with over 60% of the votes going to Guayaquil, Ecuador and the other 40% divided between the other three locations. We knew that in choosing this new partnership that it might mean a few of our staff and students would need to be open to going there for a week, a summer, or even a year. What happened after you chose a location? We decided to lead the team for the first summer project to Guayaquil in 2011. Our time there was both good and challenging: we loved the relationships that we built and seeing so many students long to know Jesus, but we were less than excited about the living conditions and caring for the needs of our then one-year-old.

When we returned to Chicago in August, our Cru team began praying the Lord would raise up a “STINT team” (Short Term International Team) to go for one year. As we prayed, we began to consider the possibility of going as a family. We feel like this is a step of faith with the Lord. We know we will be giving up a bit to go, particularly the incredible community of our church family, but we also know that as we choose to obey him, he will lead and guide us through each and every step. How has Holy Trinity been during this transition? HTC has been such a blessing to us over the past five years. Sarah Flagel has volunteered to help us learn Spanish. The Hacketts/St. Aubyns’ community group has offered to specifically support us in prayer and encouragement while we are gone. Others have offered to help with watching Eli as we work on our financial support. A handful have even come alongside us to support us financially. HTC is one of the things we most hate to leave for a year. We are so blessed

to have such a wonderful church to call home. What are you up to in the meantime? From now until August we are working full time on support raising. From August through December our STINT team will work alongside the Chicago Cru team pioneering movements and doing outreach on Chicago campuses, as well as language learning. What does Eli think? We are not really sure that Eli understands that we are going. He has had two experiences in Ecuador so far—the first one was really tough on him, but the second was really positive. I think the biggest obstacles for him in going will be saying goodbye to friends and family for a year… and having to drink sour milk in Ecuador. How can we be praying for you? Pray for us and the STINT team to work diligently, and to trust the Lord with the financial support we need. Pray for God to work out logistics of housing, for students who accept Christ to grow in maturity and get plugged into the local church. And pray for us and our marriage as we raise a three-year-old there.


Volume 1, Issue 1: Summer 2012 Pastoral overseer: Arthur Jackson, Hyde Park

Managing editor and designer: Copyeditor: David Ulrich, Hyde Park Sarah McLaughlin, Downtown

All stories written by David Ulrich unless otherwise noted.

Writer or photographer? Contact to help with the next issue.

HTC News, Summer 2012  

The first newsletter for Holy Trinity Church (Chicago), featuring stories from the four congregations and a letter from Pastor Dennis.

HTC News, Summer 2012  

The first newsletter for Holy Trinity Church (Chicago), featuring stories from the four congregations and a letter from Pastor Dennis.