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Cautiously Optimistic and Ready for 2022

This past weekend our Church Council gathered for a morning retreat.

Our plan was to gather over a couple of days for a potluck meal, some time for fellowship and group building, visioning and goal setting, and then run our business meeting for January. But, with the surging COVID Omicron cases we narrowed and focused our time for a Saturday morning (masked and distanced, but still in-person) to do some visioning together and vote on our new executive team.

We opened our time with each other reading Matthew 2:1-12 and praying together.

Then it was time to vote on our new executive team and get the sorting hat out to see which council members would be liaison to which Ministry Team.

We voted and sorted, and we trusted the work of the Holy Spirit.

The Executive Team for Church Council for 2022 and Ministry Team liaisons will be…

Josh Beaver, Church Council President and liaison to the Financial Ministry Team

David Pfennig, Church Council Vice President and liaison to the Stewardship Ministry Team

Kate Freiman-Fox, Church Council Secretary and liaison to the Racial Justice Ministry Team

Kathleen Collins, liaison to the Worship and Arts Ministry Team

Amanda Stoen, liaison to the Faith Formation Ministry Team

Susan Bales, liaison to the Outreach Ministry Team

Hillary Brown, liaison to the Church and Family Life Ministry Team

Toni Lehman, liaison to the Member Care Ministry Team and the Mutual Ministry Committee

Susan Norris, liaison to the Welcome and Visibility Ministry Team

John Whykoff, liaison to the Property and Technology Ministry Team

Ashlyn Rhyne, Lutheran Campus Ministry President and liaison to Lutheran Campus Ministry

Pastor Will Rose and Pastor Mark Coulter are also voting members of Church Council

As we move deeper into this new year, we invite you to get involved with our Ministry Teams. If you have any questions about what these teams do or have any inspired ideas for activities and ministries these teams could be a part of, please contact the council liaison.

For our time of visioning (thinking and reflecting on our mission and goals at Holy Trinity), we entered into a time of “wondering and wandering”, reflecting on the stories we are entertained by and entangled with.

We first shared our favorite stories…

The stories that rose to the surface were: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Mystery Novels, Bones, NCIS, It’s a wonderful life, Hamilton, Singing in the Rain, Historical Novels, This is Us, Ken Follett novels, The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Tar Heel Basketball, Humor and Comedy, LOST, Comic Book Graphic Novels, Lee Child novels, Sherlock Holmes, adventure stories

What are your favorite stories? What would you add to the list?

We then shared our favorite ways to consume these stories…

What rose to the surface were: Reading a physical book, TV at home (the small screen), Streaming shows and movies from the internet (on our phones, tablets or TV screens), Movies on the Big Screen in the Theater, Podcasts, Audio Books, Documentaries on the radio or podcasts.

What is your favorite way to consume your stories?

We then shared how we engage with, or process, these stories we love…

We shared together: Read more books on the subject or genre, watch it more than one time, listen to podcasts about it, discuss with family and friends, read articles, reviews and message boards online about the story (see what everyone else is saying about it), reach out to the authors and creators online, taking time to reflect on the story by myself on a walk or drive, and of course Comic-cons attending question and answer panels with the creators of these stories/shows/movies!

How do you engage with, or process your favorite stories?

Maybe you can see where we were going with all this.

You could make the case that what makes humans unique is our ability to create, share and reflect upon stories. All kinds of stories like sci-fi, adventure, mystery, history, documentaries, etc. We tell and process these stories to help us process the human condition and the questions that will not leave us alone.

We (Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry, as baptized followers of Jesus) have been entrusted with a story. The story of Jesus

In spite of religions, traditions, and human beings doing their best to mess this story up… this Jesus story is still around and it still captivates hearts 2000 years later.

That is amazing to me!

And so we asked ourselves and reflected at our retreat, “How do we share, engage with and process this Jesus story at Holy Trinity and Lutheran Campus Ministry?”

We shared with each other and discussed that we do this…

In community with one another (conversations, coffee hours, meals together)

In Worship with all of our senses (with prayer, hymns, poems, the sacraments)

Bible Study

Book Studies

The Seasons of the Church Year

Online engagements with streaming worship via YouTube, zoom connections, weekly emails, social media posts and message boards

Service projects

Investing our time and money into our congregation and the larger Church and the communities we are a part of...

...just to name a few.

What would you add to this list?

For 75 years we have been sharing, engaging with, and processing this story of Jesus.

And over the course of this pandemic we have extended our reach and have become more innovative. And of course we are still learning and adapting and evolving as a community of faith.

We are a 75 year old congregation and we have many more years left.

What else can we do to share, engage with, process and allow this story of Jesus to transform our lives?

We do a lot, and yet what else can we grow into and what else is God calling us to do? And how can we invite our members and friends to come along this adventure with us? Not just our Staff, not just Church Council, and not just our Ministry Teams… but our entire congregation.

So what’s next?

In an ever accelerating world that is obsessed with “bigger and better”, maybe we can continue to learn that faster and more “successful” isn’t what Christ is calling us to.

As we look at long range and short range planning...

What will Holy Trinity look like when we are 80 in 2026, or 85 in 2031, or even 100 in 2046?

Sure, technology will be different.

The how we communicate the story of Jesus may be different.

The way we see and operate in the world will absolutely evolve and grow.

But our core values of Worship, Faith Formation, Outreach, and Lutheran Campus Ministry will remain the same. Our mission of “loving God, loving neighbor” will not change.

The story of Jesus’ unconditional love and grace will remain constant.

As a church Staff and Church Council we confessed that we will most likely not be a YouTube viral sensation with a million subscribers, or a 100,000 member mega church anytime soon.

But we do have the gifts of nurturing relationships and community.

We are a safe and brave space to ask and explore the questions that will not leave us alone.

We are making a difference on the campus of UNC and in our neighborhood.

We are emboldened to lift and center the prophetic voice of anti-racism.

We have the gift of multigenerational age groups that can help each other grow in how we see God active in our lives and world.

We do have some tangible goals for 2022 and we are eager to move into a pattern of activities and gatherings like we had before the pandemic.

And yet, we understand we live and operate in a new world that can not escape the reality of the fall out from the pandemic and the possibilities of new variants emerging at any time.

And so, we will keep our expectations realistic and at the same time emboldened to continue to use the gifts we have to help and take care of one another.

As we head into the new year, we are going to fight the temptation to get caught up the “speed game”, and instead get back to the basics in learning how to be with each other again and how to be a community of faith together.

As always, if you have questions, you are wrestling with grief, you need someone to process life and faith with, you want to pray with someone, or just need to connect with us in any way, we (our church staff and members of Church Council) are here for you and you can contact us any time.

May we move forward in faith with a bold love and a stubborn hope, having faith that Jesus’ story is our story.



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