Come and See: Building Christian Community Committed to Radical Transformation What follows is our vision for Trinity in the year 2030. The work began in the spring of 2019. Written through the hearts and hands of many, reviewed, revised, rewritten and improved countless times over the course of two years making it ever more expansive and inspiring. It paints a picture of the ministry we will create together in the months and years to come. FINAL DRAFT of TRINITY’S 2030 Vision It is 2030. Trinity is alive with energy, purpose, and passion. We are a beacon of hope, healing, encouragement, and inclusion in Toledo and beyond. We stand in a beautifully restored and reimagined building; likewise, we stand in a loving, liberating, and life-giving online presence. We are living into our radical welcome and are actively seeking and serving God in all people, responding to the changing needs of our neighbors infused with a spirit of excitement. Ten years ago, we embraced the idea of Trinity becoming a Christian community committed to radical transformation. That transformation is clear within our church, the broader community, social structures, and most importantly, in our lives. We honor our long-held identity as a progressive, inclusive, creative faith community. Accessibility and relevance have been incorporated into that identity, as we welcome those who have yet to discover the love of God we have found together in this community. Acknowledging that we are all both broken and blessed, we sustain one another living out Jesus’ Way of Love – through worship, prayer, study, giving, service, and advocacy – extending God’s revolutionary love in all that we say and do in every aspect of our lives. As an intergenerational, multiethnic community, we remain committed to the work we began many years ago. Today we see our on-site and online communities have more than doubled, reflecting the diversity of our neighborhood and city. From our initial welcome, we have learned how to best support people on their spiritual journeys. More than three quarters of our community is integrated into one or more ministries or small groups, with more than half of the community involved as servant leaders for ministry, groups, projects, and service. Choosing courage over comfort, we remain active in the work of racial reconciliation and economic justice, collaborating with community partners affirming our baptismal promise to: Strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being. Through God’s action in our lives and in our community, the deep connections being formed are transforming our lives. Within the Trinity community, God has shown us we are better together: support for the challenges of living a life of love in a world with too much hate; glimpses of clarity in a chaotic culture; and witness for the wonder and joy of the presence of God in both the small and the eventful. Trinity truly is Christian community committed to radical transformation. We live from a place of gratitude for God’s work in our lives and in our community, in and outside our walls, moving forward together with continued hope. Walk into Trinity on any day of the week and find signs of life everywhere. Whether people are coming for worship, a concert or art exhibit, or to volunteer with one of our community partners, they find inviting spaces and radical welcome. We are intentional in our hospitality, seeking to offer the same care and concern for each stranger who walks through our doors as we do for one another.
Part of our welcoming spirit is our deliberate attention to accessibility, from thoughtful signage to help visitors navigate our historic building which is now completely accessible with the new elevator, to sign-language interpreters for worship and live performances. Accessibility is also vital for our online events through our expansive digital presence, Trinity@Home, with all online events closed captioned. The vitality of the community is reflected in growth in numbers and in spirit. Our worshipping community has doubled, with an ever-growing soft-borders community of people who join us for nonworship activities. Relationships are enriched through movie nights, public forums, and pop-up dinners. Members naturally reach out to support one another, with prayers, meals, and rides, showing up for each other in times of tragedy and joy. In response to the experience of the extravagance of our Loving God, we give out of a sense of abundance. Acknowledging the financial gifts of our spiritual ancestors, we share our own financial gifts with the church. Our planned giving program provides opportunities to serve the Trinity community well into the future. We measure our community’s vitality in many ways - qualitative and quantitative. In 2030, we are finding ourselves overflowing with joy, compassion, generosity, and radical love - evidence that God’s Spirit is at work among us and within us. Weekly and special worship services continue to be the primary reflection and experience of Trinity’s radical welcome. Through our liturgy, we combine our reverence for our rich Episcopal tradition with an expansive, modern expression of God’s love. We offer an open-armed hospitality, accessible theology, creative expression, and deep connection to God and to one another. Community participation is a hallmark of our worship. Members of all ages participate in worship: lighting candles, proclaiming scripture, and offering personal reflections. Our teens and young adults have adopted our intercessory prayer ministry, praying with those who request it. We responded to 2020’s pandemic with a new digital expression of sharing God’s love through online worship, and that ministry continues, providing yet another loving and joyful vision of Jesus’ Way of Love. We honor the liturgical seasons, exploring new ways to deliver the message of God’s love through prayer, ritual, and music. We create our own additional texts and music as another way to welcome many. The sum of all our worship aims to offer an experience of God's unconditional love, resonating throughout heart, soul, mind, and body. Our willingness to push the boundaries of Episcopal liturgy and our success in making it accessible has caused others to pay attention. The book we wrote about our practices -- a best seller for the publisher for three years -- details how we combine emergent spiritual expression with ancient liturgy, creating worship that leaves us filled with the joy of being fully alive. We are invited to present at least four times a year to dioceses across the Episcopal Church and other denominations. Music is an integral part of our worship, welcoming participation by members of all ages and levels of musical experience. Opportunities include Trinity choir, Trinity’s singers, our children’s choir, our house band, Trinity bell ringers, and our ever-popular ukulele choir, with other musical groups organically forming and dissolving. Our wide musical palette creates a unique soundtrack, pushing the boundaries of traditional church music. We move seamlessly from full-bodied congregational singing to an a cappella high school choir; from chamber music to opera, from traditional hymns to gospel, from contemporary praise to jazz (including popular weekly jazz vespers). The arts are also an important part of our liturgies within our sanctuary and online. The visual arts, dance, drama, poetry, puppetry, and more invite participants to engage with worship more fully.
It is exciting to see how our worship schedule has grown over the years. Today we have many days and ways to gather as a community both in-person and digitally. The 2020 pandemic pushed us from our worship comfort zone, and we have never looked back. We continue to grow and expand in membership and engagement through both in-person worship and Trinity@Home. We take pride in welcoming, through our doors and our digital presence, people looking for a way to follow Jesus, to proclaim the Good News, all while living into an expansive and progressive expression of Christianity. Spiritual formation refers to all we do as a community, encouraging lives of deep faith, commitment, and reflection. Growing out of three of the five promises in our Baptismal Covenant, we ask: Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers? Will you persevere in resisting evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? We answer: We will, with God’s help. Honoring the God-given diversity of our members, we nurture spiritual growth in a multitude of ways. Prayer partners and identity-based and topical small groups provide mutual support and nurture. Classes and study groups explore our faith and view current events through that lens. Our annual allparish retreat, planned and led by members, is one of our most well-attended activities, fostering a deep experience of God’s presence. We welcome the richness of interfaith gatherings and annually offer the Toledo Faith Speaker Series. These gatherings build meaningful relationships and a more respectful understanding of the wide diversity of faith traditions throughout Toledo and the world. Our commitment to the spiritual formation of our children and youth can be seen in worship. All ages worship together, even our youngest, so they grow up knowing that they are valued. These hands-on worship experiences provide developmentally appropriate learning and tangible connection to our rich traditions. Trinity’s children and young people know without a doubt they are wanted and welcome. Before or after our primary worship services, we offer formation opportunities for all ages. Our youth group is vibrant, involved in service, social, and formation activities locally as well as in diocesan youth events and the triannual Episcopal Youth Events. We are delighted when visitors say they are different due to what we offer and who responds. We encourage members to try new things and ask for what they need. The result: a vibrant and dynamic spiritual community with multiple opportunities for visitors as well as new and long-time members. Our commitment to social justice and social service is based on Jesus’ example and the final two questions of our Baptismal Covenant. We ask: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? We answer: We will, with God’s help. Our affirmative response encourages us to lean into the Way of Love; learn through our own and other faith traditions, as a welcoming, justice-seeking people propelled by God’s love for us, and our love for God. We make a clear distinction between social justice and social service, though they are two sides of the same coin. With social justice, we educate ourselves and work to dismantle structures that allow some groups to benefit while other groups are oppressed. With social service, we work with other organizations, providing direct services to our neighbors in need. Both parts – working to dismantle oppressive systems while also providing support to those in need – are part of the work God has called us to do. Long ago, we changed our language because words matter. Casting off terminology that reinforces toxic charity and an imbalance of power, we are no longer a church that performs “outreach.” Instead, we embrace kinship with our siblings and an ethic of working together rather than doing for.
We believe God calls us to freedom, and no one is free until all are free. We urge all members of our community to use their hearts for caring, their feet for marching, their souls for praying, and their resources to support our collective holy work. In support of this call, the Trinity Response Team connects our faith community with opportunities to mobilize for community issues and events requiring education, conversation, advocacy, and witness. Over the past 10 years, we have focused on gun violence, food insecurity, racism, human trafficking, young adults who have aged out of the foster care system, and homelessness of LGBTQ adolescents. To seek and serve Christ in all persons, we identify unmet needs in our community, partnering with others to extend our reach. Trinity is intentional, avoiding the paternalism of toxic charity and not duplicating efforts of other organizations. This process led us to offer free laundry services and haircuts to unhoused individuals and use of our commercial kitchen by social entrepreneurs. Our community commitment is long term and nimble enough to respond to needs as they arise. We invest in relationships with area organizations, including other service-minded faith communities, Toledo Public Schools, agencies serving children and youth, food/employment providers, and housing advocates. We recently celebrated a decade of partnership, that allows us to support young adults aging out of foster care. This is an often-invisible group whose marginalization we’ve long recognized and to whom we remain committed through an innovative group-mentoring model launched years ago at Trinity. We recently had our 25th participant finish this program, and Better Together Toledo has been identified as a high-impact program by the city, the state, and the Episcopal Church. Music and the arts expand our community engagement with the broader community for activism and advocacy. We sponsor free community concerts, workshops, and lessons for all ages and abilities. Our partnerships with schools and arts organizations have led to programs such as our resident artist program, bringing in diverse artists for a season of workshops, master classes, performances, art installations, readings, and lectures. Both our sanctuary and community performance space are in high demand, reserved months in advance. We offer flexible options, ranging from one-time space rentals to integrated programs with Trinity as a full partner. Our building -- literally an offering to the community -- provides creative spaces for public use indoors as well as on our newly redesigned plaza. Our fees are clear, reasonable, and elastic when necessary. The greater Toledo community uses our space in many ways: a non-denominational small-church music conference; dinners and event receptions; organizational retreats; performer auditions; concerts, recitals, plays, and poetry slams; and monthly dinners for youth aging out of foster care. People come as visitors, and many stay, finding a place of meaning, belonging and authentic community- a spiritual home. Come and See.