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Seeking the renewal of all things through Jesus Christ

Trinity Together | February 2016

News for 02.08.16
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A monthly look at our life with God, one another, and our neighbors



Four years ago Dr. Brian Fikkert visited Trinity for a seminar on serving people in need. The Trinity Mercy Team and a number of small groups had been reading his recent book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor and Yourself. The seminar was attended by more than 200 people, from Trinity and other area churches and agencies.

Fikkert and his colleagues at the Chalmers Center seek to help churches recognize the brokenness that leads to poverty—and how Jesus’ power can restore that brokenness. Following a day and a half of discussion about caring for people in a way that offers dignity and relationship, Dr. Fikkert suggested that Trinity consider leading a Jobs for Life (JFL) program for area residents. The first class was held in the fall of 2014.

Jobs for Life is about the dignity of work. It is a relational ministry that goes far beyond simply getting a job. Instructors Debby Clowney and D.J. Carter (pictured above) lead the class through lessons and discussions about the various facets of employment. Examples from scripture form the framework and add to the rich teaching. Loyalty and ethics? Look at the life of Joseph. Taking responsibility for your actions? Look at the life of David. Life to the full? Look to Christ.

Students prepare resumes, take an inventory of gifts and skills, and think through a vocational plan. Students also hear directly from employers about job opportunities and learn of many resources that are available to them in the job search. Mentors for the JFL program are called “Champions” and each student is assigned two. Champions play a major part in making the experience more than just a class about ideas and best practices. The Champion encourages, helps with problem-solving, extends friendship and hospitality, and connects students to a larger community.

A typical class begins at 6:00pm with a shared meal. The instruction portion begins promptly at 6:30 and includes lectures, discussion, and role-playing. Students are called on to share portions of the class lesson with others and to interact with the material. Along with gaining an understanding of supply and demand in the job market, increasing marketability as an employee, and a host of other issues, students gain insight into what it means to be an image bearer. The growth in esteem and confidence is palpable and visible from week to week.

Jobs for Life graduations have become increasingly beautiful events. Students, Champions, and the whole JFL team learn to walk together. It has been a life-changing, memorable experience, not only for the students, but for everyone involved. Here we enter into struggle, share our lives, and look hopefully and expectantly toward the Lord Jesus—together.

Recently, the Jobs for Life national organization sent out a video about how JFL is bringing reconciliation in Ferguson, MO. It can be seen here. We have had the privilege and joy of a similar experience as we partner with other churches and organizations to offer the dignity of work. Here we really do see one another.

The next JFL class begins March 1. A volunteer introductory session will be held at Trinity on February 17 at 7pm. Champion training and orientation will be February 24 at 7pm. Questions? Contact Joe Magri.


GROWInG FOR A LIFETIME: AN EVERY Age, Every Stage Catechesis

BY Wade Bradshaw, Pastor for Spiritual Formation and
Fitz Green, Spiritual Formation Leadership Team Member

Think about our day. We live in a secular age such that we cannot assume that we will learn how things are best done by tips coming to us from society. The Church has to help its people learn to follow Jesus in all sorts of very down-to-earth ways. This is not new; it has been this way before. In the early days, as adults from completely non-Christian backgrounds flooded into the Church, it invented rich programs called catechesis—preparing people for their new life in Christ.

When you hear the word catechesis, do not think of only children, nor of only memorized answers to set questions. That only started later when society was mostly Christian. At Trinity we are beginning to use the language of “Every-age Every-stage Catechesis,” and here is what we mean.

At life’s big transitions, for example retiring from your career, having a first baby, graduating from high school, coming into worship from children’s time—at each of these and many more, your church wants to help you. As part of our spiritual formation, at these and other transitions we hope to provide catechesis in three ways. First, we want to develop wise, biblical, and practical material to help you navigate the changes and open up new horizons. Second, we want to offer a mentoring relationship—a place where you can ask your questions and hear from someone who has already been through the transition before you. And third, when appropriate, we want to come up with a meaningful rite that goes with the change. We already do this in some transitions. Before someone is married at Trinity, a couple comes for premarital counseling (material). We like to facilitate the couple meeting with an older married couple (mentoring). And the rite is easy, of course, the wedding ceremony.  —Wade

Do you remember the Sunday morning this fall when Pastor Greg and Elizabeth O’Donnell stood up front with a swarm of 5-year-olds, all of whom reached somewhere between Greg’s knees and waist in height? Elizabeth handed each kid a Bible printed with their own name on the front, to mark their “graduation” from nursery into the service with us. It was a sweet moment, seemingly insignificant—is it really a big deal that these kids move from nursery to the sanctuary?—yet there was also something that felt very important in it. We as a congregation were marking that these kids are “us,” they’re fully part of us, and we were acknowledging and honoring their presence among us. Working with college students I have come to learn that knowing who “us” is as the body of Christ is critical in our time. There are so many other things drawing our allegiance and belonging. So this small moment, at this small transition, really did matter.

Catechesis through life transitions isn’t just for kids though. I can recall a transition in my life when I acutely felt the need of the church’s training, mentoring, and support. When our first child reached school age and we had to make decisions about private, public, homeschool, it was a confusing time. And when we sent him off to the first day of school, my wife and I were nervous, teary, excited, confused. What were we sending our son into? What sort of challenges would meet him there? Was he ready? Were we ready? We knew that parents sent their kids off to school every day, no big deal, but we felt like we were on our own. How do Christians do this? Or how do we do this Christianly? My hope for our church’s “Every Age, Every Stage” Catechesis is that it provides structure for us to mentor and support one another to thrive through the changing phases of our lives, submitting every area of our lives to Christ’s Lordship and following Him in mission into our world.  —Fitz


CGC Summary – January 14, 2016

The Church Governance Council met on January 14, welcomed visitors, and prayed for the congregation and ministries of the church.

The CGC then processed several annual items required by our denomination by electing a moderator and clerk for the year and setting a schedule, and then tackled the usual administrative actions of approving minutes and receiving or transferring members.

The CGC then heard an encouraging financial report for the 2015 giving, which was $2,350,000.

The CGC then went into executive session for an hour to handle a set of personnel committee items.

After arising from executive session, the CGC welcomed visitors and then worked on two other major items. The Ruling Elder Oversight Committee (REOC) proposed a policy on competing interests. After discussion, it was tabled for the following meeting.

The CGC received and discussed a lengthy report from the Architecture Review Task Force. The Task Force’s review and recommendations were met with great interest. Even though many items are a long-term project, the analysis of our property and potential uses for ministry were discussed. The report will go back to the session in March.

Next Meeting: Thursday, February 11, 7:00PM in room 201 as a full Session meeting.

Questions? Email:

Session FAQ

We’ve run out of questions that people have asked about the Session. Do you still have a question about how our Session or CGC works? Let us know by emailing and we will address it in future issues of the Session update.


Wes and Amy Zell met as undergraduates at Purdue University just over 20 years ago. After graduation each entered a master’s program at Covenant Seminary—Wes in Divinity and Amy in Counseling. During their five years learning and working in St. Louis they became friends with Greg and Courtney Thompson and were later introduced to Drew Trotter who recruited them to come to Charlottesville and work at the Center for Christian Study. They arrived in early 2002 to take on leadership of the undergraduate programs for men and women. Because of their many friendship and work connections they found their way to Trinity and soon became members.

Zells After having their first child, Amy focused her work at the Study Center on counseling, which she has continued. In 2010, Wes left the Center to once again become a student and work toward his PhD in environmental engineering, a degree he received seven months ago. He now works as a hydrologist for the US Geological Survey. The Zells have three boys ages 10, 7, and 3, and the older two attend Clark Elementary School. While Amy is an avid reader of fiction as well as books on marriage and family, Wes says his spare time is spent with his boys (partly in an effort to “tire them out”) or with their old house (in an effort to “make it less un-renovated”). Wes and Amy have increasingly recognized their dependence on the church for their own discipleship as well as the nurture of their boys; community life, including small groups, have been an especially meaningful aspect of their time at Trinity.

Wes has taught Adult Ed classes at various points throughout his time here. In 2012 he  was ordained as an Elder. He has been particularly humbled by the Session’s calling to keep the Scriptures as the animating core of both the leadership and the common life of our diverse congregation. Wes has brought skill and experience in this kind of study to his work with the Session and with two teams on which he was asked to serve—the Officer Development Ministry Team and the Task Force for Women in Leadership.

Giving in 2015 was strong at the end of the year, which helped Trinity to exceed the annual giving goal. Thanks! For 2016, January started off at $120,000, which is a slight increase over the previous year. Giving in January is typically much lower than a regular month (normal giving needs to be closer to $150,000). Please continue to give consistently, which allows all of our ministries to thrive throughout the year.


*This is a new addition to our monthly publications. In order for us to grow in generosity as givers, we must also grow in wisdom and discernment about our finances more broadly. Toward that end, you'll find here a brief stewardship suggestion each month.

Not following a budget or tracking your spending lately? This is a great time to start!  February is a great month to analyze your spending for January so you can spend well this month and going forward.

Want even more fun? Take this time in early 2016 to analyze your spending for all of 2015. We are all working on our 2015 taxes these days anyway—leverage your tax preparation efforts and combine spending reviews as well!


As our various leadership teams work toward the goals outlined in the hopes for our life together this coming year, they will be needing input from all of us. Each quarter, we will distribute a short online survey with questions on a few topics generated by leadership teams to help them in their work. Please take a few minutes to provide your feedback on these parts of our life together.

Sermon Podcast Small Groups
Morning Prayer Emails Current Adult Ed Offerings
Evening / Family Prayer Emails Spiritual Formation Retreats


Sunday, February 14: Resurrection Garden Workshop, 10am in the gym
Sunday, February 21: Adult Ed block 4 classes begin, 10am
Sunday, February 21: Budget Q&A, 10am in the parlor
Sunday, February 21: Small Group Leader Training, 6:30pm (email Tim Jones)
Sunday, February 28: Budget Q&A, 10am in the parlor
Sunday, February 28: Budget Discussion, 5pm in the sanctuary

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