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Seeking the renewal of all things through Jesus Christ

Trinity Together | October 2015

News for 09.28.15
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A monthly look at our life with God, one another and our neighbors


Trinity Worship Ministry

For more information, visit the kickstarter webpage or email Isaac Wardell.


BY Drew Field, Executive Pastor

The congregation of Trinity Presbyterian Church spoke collectively into a survey this August. Here are the aggregate results of that survey.

This information equips our ministry teams and our leadership to plan ways that our church worships, cares, loves one another, serves our city, and supports Christ’s Church around the world. The results from Trinity’s survey give us literally thousands of points of data to put to use.

As I coordinate planning for the future, this information already has value for understanding who we are as a body of Christians. Like nearly all of you, I’m not a statistician (confession: that was my least successful math class at the University).

Yet even a novice can uncover a few surprises, affirm a few things that we intuitively expect, and bust a few myths of Trinity that we assumed were true. The real data experts who volunteered to analyze these results are picking up even deeper correlations and comparing the experiences of people in different groups.

Three things to consider before you click on the link and stare at pages of graphs.

Be encouraged by this information. The answers, despite their numerical coldness, reflect a love for God and a genuine passion for ministry. See how many of us care for the weak, the poor, or the outcast. In a town organized around accomplishment, that outward-oriented passion shows that God’s Spirit makes His people different from the world.

Even the criticisms are encouraging at one level: they are evidence of confidence in the gospel. A group of people that cannot criticize itself is dangerously prideful. Yet we know that we’re justified and forgiven, even loved, by God and therefore we have nothing to rest on except Him. If possible, read these results thinking of the real brothers and sisters in Christ who are represented.

Be helped by this information. All of the aggregate results to all of the questions are part of this extensive document. Since they represent the collective voice of Trinity, we all can be helped by the answers whether we are a ministry team leader or an active member.

The best way to interpret data like this is similar to interpreting other important documents: paying attention to the details but reading them in the context of the bigger picture. Data is not neutral but needs to be interpreted. Interpreted well (not just focusing on a few of the best or worst components), we might prayerfully decide better how to improve our ministry life.

Be aware of the risks. As hinted above, surveys like this are risky because they can justify pride, cynicism, division, or independence. There are two additional risks I see:

One is an over-reliance on the survey data to support actions that may go against a calling from God. Instead, let’s remember that we are to be shaped primarily by God’s holy Word and led by His Spirit. Our life is in Christ. The other inherent risk is our secular, consumerist disposition. We all have been trained by our culture to demand our preferences, to want happiness over maturity, to desire what’s cool over what’s good. We need to be committed to His Kingdom first as we use this data to reach conclusions about Christ’s church, even if they go against what we might prefer.

Additional information was gathered that cannot be presented well in this format, but is being used by leadership teams. Five focus groups offered valuable perspectives on Trinity’s parish and community life. The hundreds of anonymous comments from the survey are also being evaluated (using advanced software) for trends and insights.

With that in mind, I’m pleased to present the results of our August survey. I want to thank Nicole Fleming, Ron Nix, Stu Scott, David Lehman, and Tim Emerick for their hours of work.

Trinity Church Congregational Survey Results Summary


Full Session Meeting, SEPTEMBER 10, 2015

The full Session met on September 10 and welcomed visitors, including Dan Marotta and two ministry candidates. The Session, led by Greg Thompson, reflected on Scriptures and prayed for the congregation and ministries of the church.

The Session then processed the common administrative actions of approving minutes and releasing members who moved away. The Finance Committee presented a report to the Session about year-to-date finances and our low cash reserves, to alert the elders about the need to increase giving throughout the fall. Teachers were approved for Sunday School, and the current elder/deacon nomination process was discussed.

First, Dan Marotta reported on his progress as a church planting intern with The Falls Church. Dan, a former staff member and supported candidate in ministry, is now ordained as an Anglican minister. He presented his plan for a Richmond church plant, which will hopefully begin next year. We prayed for his work in church planting.

Second, the elders discussed three ministry candidates: Kyle O’Donnell, Ben Melchers, and Robert Cunningham. Kyle shared his testimony and call to ministry (Ben and Robert shared in previous meetings). We affirmed these candidates, recommending them to our Presbytery, and prayed for them.

Third, the majority of the meeting was spent discussing the five major Leadership Team charters. These Leadership Teams, led by groups of lay people, staff, and officers, guide the major ministry areas of the church under the direction of the Session. After a lengthy discussion about the process, carefully covering each aspect of responsibilities for these teams, the Session approved all five. This vote is the culmination of a process going back to spring 2014 with multiple discussion points along the way. The hope is for greater clarity in ministry, increased accountability and information, and a well-principled delegation of authority to ministry teams that carry the work of our church into their area.

Fourth, updates were presented covering the Strategic Planning process, congregational surveys, and the Women in Leadership task force. The Personnel Committee presented a quarterly review of Greg Thompson’s role as Senior Pastor with time for questions and discussion.

The Session appointed another elder to a three-year term on the CGC: Lee Livingston. Another elder for the CGC and committee assignments will be brought to the next Session by the REOC, pending confirmation with those nominated.

Next Meeting: Thursday, October 9, 7:00PM in room 201 as a CGC meeting

Questions? Email:

Session FAQ

What will elders do with the new Leadership Teams?

The five Leadership Teams (Worship, Community + Care, Spiritual Formation, Local Missions, and Global Missions) report directly to the Session. The elders have full approval of team charters, members of the team, ministry goals, budget, staffing, policies, and any major changes. These teams will report quarterly to the Session, keeping elders up to date with what’s happening in all areas of the church. Elders retain their responsibility to govern the church on behalf of the congregation, supervising all of these teams. The expectation is that the clarified structure will help our ministries thrive.


Alex and Amy Piedra met during their undergraduate time at UVA through Reformed University Fellowship. They were married in 2010, and the following year both received master’s degrees in education from UVA. Since then both have worked for the Charlottesville City Schools—she at Clark Elementary and he at Walker Upper Elementary. When they have free time, they enjoy gardening and board games. Alex plays softball and Amy works with “Girls on the Run”—a track and mentoring program helping young women through a challenging stage of life. For the past three years Alex and Amy have been engaged in the process of international adoption, which they anticipate completing over the next six months by bringing two toddlers into their family.

Having attended Trinity since 2006, the Piedras have been involved in a variety of Trinity ministries and outreach activities. Amy was an active tutor with Abundant Life during her college years and as a Spanish major, later helped found Trinity’s ESL program with which both Alex and Amy continued to serve until this year’s program hiatus. They also have worked with the Special Needs Ministry and enjoy participating in Friends for Life. In 2013 Alex was ordained as a Deacon and has served on the Diaconate’s Mercy Team. Additionally, Alex is currently serving as co-chair of the Local Missions Leadership Team, and both he and Amy are engaged with the work of local missions here in Charlottesville.

Alex expresses two desires for others in our congregation. His first concern is to see many more volunteers for the various programs that serve the Prospect neighborhood (Jobs for Life, Abundant Life, Prospect Prayer Group, and others). Second, because he and Amy found so much loving support from their small group as they have gone through the adoption process, he wants to encourage everyone to experience this special part of church life by making the commitment to join a small group.


David and Eleanor Mills met during their college years at an InterVarsity Leadership camp. After they married and David completed his PhD, they moved to Charlottesville so he could join the UVA faculty. Soon after arriving they met a young pastor and joined a group meeting together to start a new Presbyterian church. The following year, 1976, Trinity was established with the Mills as two of its charter members. David says that our practice of using baskets to receive the offering dates from Eleanor’s provision of her own bread baskets for one of the first services. Founding pastor Skip Ryan asked David to be trained as an elder, joining with three older men to form the church’s first Session. David remembers that prior to being ordained, all were examined by another PCA pastor, Tim Keller, who served a church in Hopewell at the time. Eleanor helped start the Trinity choir and continued to sing with the alto section for more than 30 years.

David remains a professor in the UVA Dept of Economics with a focus on micro-economic theory and regulation of industry. His hobbies include aerobic swimming, genealogy, and gardening—a pastime he shares with Eleanor. She has served Trinity in many ways over the years and has recently been involved with overseeing care of the gardens as well as inside plants and décor. The Mills’ sons were raised at Trinity and after periods of time away, both have returned with their wives to live in Charlottesville. Andrew, a CPA, and Dixie, a nurse-anesthetist, have a two-year-old and a son due to arrive any minute and all are part of Trinity. Jonathan played bass for a number of years with our music programs. He is now a psychiatric nurse practitioner and his wife, Maria, teaches at Venable Elementary.

David has a deep love for Trinity and compassion for its people that is evident as he speaks of Trinity’s long history and the ups and downs encountered along the way. He is encouraged by the continuing arrival of new members and excellent younger officers, an increasingly outward focus in service, and the rekindling of our faith lived out in an unbelieving world. David says he has always seen our people taking care of each other and that while turnover is a natural part of our church, it is encouraging to have those who spent a few years with us return or report their gratitude for the time they were here and the things they learned as part of Trinity. Many have told him that it was their first positive church experience.

David expresses a special burden to listen to, support, and encourage church members
who have felt excluded, hurt, disaffected, or experienced any difficulty with the church. He invites anyone to contact him at to make arrangements to meet and talk.



The elders and finance committee urge our members to support the work of Trinity Church generously so that we can accomplish our mission without further cutbacks. As Trinity heads into the final three months of the year, we are hoping for at least $840,000 to reach our annual giving goals. September ended with giving behind the Year To Date goal by $33,000. Year To Date spending was exactly on budget. Lower giving, however, and extra funds used from our reserves means that our cash balances are low. We've asked ministries to hold back on discretionary spending where possible as we look forward to increased giving.


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


Friday October 16: Students and families at Liberty Mills Corn Maze, email
Sunday, October 18: No Adult Education, parents of children and students please be looking for information on parent seminars during the 10:00am hour.

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