What a joy it was – on Pentecost Sunday – to receive the gift of God’s re-awakening Spirit “together in one place!” What fun it was to take photos, documenting that moment we opened those historic red doors!
This Sunday, May 30th, we celebrate God’s Trinity – a reminder that we are all inter-connected and tangled up together as community – even as the ways we experience God are interwoven and inter-tangled!
We know that this time of re-gathering will go on for an extended period, as some are more ready than others to come into physical presence as community. It is absolutely fine return gradually; this is why we will continue to offer our live-streaming service, as well as an outdoor Chapel in the Garden at 11:15.
I continue to enjoy Gazebo Office Hours, as I have pretty much all year – maybe not so much in January! If an outdoor conversation is more appealing, please let me know!
Blessings on this holiday weekend,
Worship with Trinity Church on Pentecost in Three Ways – Gathering in person in the Sanctuary at 9:30 AM; praying virtually with our Livestream at 9:30 AM; or gathering in the Garden at 11:15 AM! Please join us.
Friends, our scripture for Pentecost from The Book of Acts begins this way:
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
How amazing that Pentecost is the first day we will re-gather in our historic Sanctuary – to receive God’s Spirit ‘together in one place’! Equally amazing is that we continue to have the capacity to gather online and outside as well, according to our and your comfort as we ease pandemic restrictions.
Last Thursday, the map of COVID numbers in Newtown changed dramatically, to a level well within the guidelines set forth by our Diocesan Bishops for safe indoor gathering. We also saw new CDC guidance about the efficacy of vaccines.
We affirm that we are all in different places of comfort, and we encourage wearing of masks for the indoor service in this transitional time. Children and folks with various health concerns may not yet have access to vaccines; we are not all in the same place of safety. If you are not ready to come to the Sanctuary, that is just fine – we offer beautiful options for you as well!
For communion we will offer bread, the Body of Christ, at both the 9:30 and 11:15 services.
Friends, one of the happy challenges at Trinity Church is how to juggle the many requests coming our way for baptism, new people inquiring about our community of faith. New life is at our doorstep!
Within our office staff, we are gladly responding, and welcoming newcomers and new families. But to truly represent Trinity Church to our expanding community, to fully extend hospitality, we will need to expand our membership team –and soon. What a good problem to have!
As we move away from pandemic restrictions, we are already seeing new faces and greeting families who are moving to town. Let’s build on this new energy by expanding an Invitation and Welcome Team to work closely with Rev. Andrea and Kim Merrill in this beautiful ministry.
Please contact Andrea and Kim soon if you feel called to build up the body of Christ here at Trinity Church in Newtown.
Our Genesis II Team is off and running! We are meeting on the first and third Sunday afternoons with parishes across the Episcopal Church with leaders from the Presiding Bishop’s staff. We are getting to know sisters and brothers in faith from North Carolina, California, Maryland, Virginia … and we see already that many churches face similar possibilities and challenges.
We invite your prayers as we begin our ministry, learning and practicing the spiritual arts of invitation and welcome in our own neighborhoods. Trinity’s engagement in this ‘practicing community’ comes at a perfect time – as we begin to emerge from pandemic and return to our communal life.
As Pastor, I see that Genesis II comes at a perfect time in other ways as well … because I see how many people are coming to me every week - inquiring about baptism, about marriage, about being new in town and seeking a community of faith. I see new friends beginning to pray with us, and returning friends coming back around. We want to fully engage these beautiful souls in our ministries!
Please surround and uphold our Genesis II Team in your prayers: Frank Brill, Jean-Maurice Calmels, Nancy Cole, David Lias, Christina Lye, Sue Roman, Karen Wojtowicz, and Andrea Wyatt. Read more about it here: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/genesis-ii-re-vision-and-renew/
Please speak with Rev. Andrea if you want to learn more about this ministry, or want to join us! email@example.com
Dear Trinity Saints,
How are we feeling in this Easter season about the possibility of gathering as the body of Christ? I am grateful for your many responses to a survey about this question. A summary of this data is published in this ENews – read on!
First, our Vestry affirms a desire among you for a simple, spoken ‘Chapel in the Garden’ as we wait for risk levels around us to change. In our outdoor Easter experiment, we saw newcomers and visitors, children playing, friends greeting each other after many months, and communion distributed more safely than is possible inside.
We will now offer two ongoing Sunday services: 9:30 AM live-streaming from the Sanctuary, and 11:15 AM in the Garden. In inclement weather, we will cancel the outdoor service prior to 9:30 AM Sunday morning using Facebook/website.
Second, our Vestry affirms – given the increasing presence of vaccination in our midst – that when Newtown departs from the highest level (red) of viral risk, we will begin a gradual process of inviting worshipers in to our 9:30 AM service in the Sanctuary.
Currently, Newtown’s numbers represent very high risk. There is a battle between vaccines and ‘variants,’ or mutations; and we want to help vaccines win! Follow the data yourself here: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Data-Tracker
As we have said all year, Trinity will not gather inside the Sanctuary while Newtown is in the highest (red) level of risk. Your Rector and your Vestry continue to abide by the Godly counsel of our Bishops. I welcome conversation about my ordination vows to “respect and be guided by the pastoral direction and leadership of my Bishop.”
Please read our Bishops’ most recent communication here:
Friends, we are not of one mind, and this is fine. Our goal remains that of prioritizing the needs of our wider community - and of the most vulnerable among us - over individual preference. The body of Christ is a communal body; and, we live and move and have our being in an episcopal polity.
Peace be with you,
I invite you to a spirited conversation this Eastertide centered around a newly-published book written by the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers: The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline, and New Hope for Beloved Community.
I knew ‘Rev. Steph’ in Boston, where she was one of my sponsoring Priests as I entered the Episcopal Church’s process for Holy Orders. I am so looking forward to reading her book, which speaks to our present moment in such a timely and powerful way.
I invite you to join me at the Gazebo or Memorial Garden area – bring a lawn chair! – for conversation in the beauty (and outdoor safety!) of God’s Creation. We will gather on 3 Thursday evenings from 5:00 – 6:30 PM: April 22, April 29, and May 13. Please read the first 2 Chapters for April 22nd.
If the weather is miserable, we will gather on Zoom … which means I will ask you to Sign Up with Kim in our Church Office so that I can collect a list with your email.
Here is some publicity for the book, along with the Amazon link. (We will purchase a copy for you through the Church Office if you’d like!)
“This book will make a profound difference for the church in this moment in history.” -- The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry
“Sometimes it takes disruption and loss to break us open and call us home to God. It's not surprising that a global pandemic and once-in-a-generation reckoning with white supremacy--on top of decades of systemic decline--have spurred Christians everywhere to ask who we are, why God placed us here and what difference that makes to the world.
In this critical yet loving book, the author explores the American story and the Episcopal story in order to find out how communities steeped in racism, establishment, and privilege can at last fall in love with Jesus, walk humbly with the most vulnerable and embody beloved community in our own broken but beautiful way.
The Church Cracked Open invites us to surrender privilege and redefine church, not just for the sake of others, but for our own salvation and liberation.”
We prepare to enter into Holy Week on Palm Sunday. Christ’s triumphal procession into Jerusalem, followed by our solemn remembrance of his Passion.
Let us examine our hearts, praying with Christians - in all places and times - who have kept this tradition of walking with Jesus the final steps of his earthly ministry. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) wrote, in ‘On Keeping Holy Week,’ this invitation into mystery:
“Be watchful, brethren, lest the mysteries of this season pass you by without your gaining from them their due fruit. Abundant is the blessing; you must bring clean vessels to receive it, and offer loving souls and watchful senses, sober affections and pure consciences for such great gifts of grace.
All Christians practice more than usual devotion in these seven days and try to be more humble and more serious than is their wont, so that in some sort they may share Christ's sufferings. And rightly so. For the Passion of the Lord is here in truth, shaking the earth, rending the rocks and opening the tombs; and His Resurrection also is at hand.”
We bring before God our sorrow in needing to observe a second Holy Week in pandemic. As a reminder, we are following this state map, which shows Newtown and surrounding towns as “red,” with high levels of virus: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Data-Tracker
The ongoing guidance of our ECCT and Trinity leadership is that we will not gather indoors when our town is red. We also bring to God our hope of new life and re-gathering soon, as vaccinations increase.
Please join us in livestreaming worship on Sunday at 9:30 AM. Due to predicted heavy rain, we must, alas, keep our Palm Procession inside the Church on Sunday morning, rather than up and down Main Street as we had hoped.
Palms will be blessed and available in the Chapel beginning on Friday. The Chapel is always accessible through the red front doors of Trinity Church; we invite you to bring home a palm to your place of worship. We also invite you to spend time in the Chapel in prayer. You may wish to add a name or prayer to our Prayer Tree.
May each of us be blessed, witnessing these holy mysteries …
Christ’s peace be with you,
Dear Spirit Friends at Trinity Church,
As we move through pandemic, how can we intentionally prepare to invite and welcome new friends into spiritual community? This is the perfect time for us to lay the groundwork for new future just around the corner.
As we mentioned in our Annual Parish Meeting a few weeks ago, Trinity Church has been invited to join a group of parishes across The Episcopal Church for intentional coaching around inviting and welcoming newcomers and around new ministries.
This initiative, ‘Genesis II: Re-Vision and Renew’ asks:
“Is your congregation ready to see and engage the neighborhood you worship and serve in again for the first time, with fresh eyes, ready for something new God is already creating?”
Trinity’s Wardens and Vestry have meet with the leaders of Genesis II, and a Team is preparing to begin this work. We invite your prayers with this ministry! Please contact Rev. Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org for more detail!
We will focus on creating or deepening partnerships with our neighbors and community, doing so in conversation with other parishes engaged in this same ministry of re-growing intentional community.
What is Genesis-II: Re-Vision and Renew? The website describes it this way:
“Genesis II: Re-Vision and Renew highlights specific practices that strengthen parishes for the challenging, yet exciting, work of launching new ministries. We have a particular focus on the practice of building relationships with fellow parishioners and with the community around our churches. We see our COVID-19 realities and faithful responses to systemic racism as opportunities to practice the agility, adaptability, and neighborhood collaboration embedded in this project.”
Please read more here:
Friends, we invite you to share with us in the creation of a Prayer Tree in the Chapel of Trinity Church!
In the autumn of 2019 – just prior to quarantine! – Chuck and I traveled to Wales. Our destination was the ancient Cathedral at St. David’s, Wales. After landing in London, in our rental car, we made a rapid stop in Avebury, England. We visited massive neolithic standing stones at the Avebury Henge and Stone Circles (https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/avebury/history/).
At the Avebury Village parish church – in the middle of these ancient monuments – we found the door open. We also found a lovely prayer tree blooming with pink hearts! Each heart contains a prayer – a name of a beloved, living or deceased; a prayer held closely to someone’s heart.
St. James Avebury has been a house of prayer for 1500 years. It was a departure point for pilgrims journeying to Santiago de Compostela, Rome and Jerusalem. I could feel centuries of prayer in that place. As you can see from our tourist photos, the prayer tree is a sacred thing of beauty and memory. We added our own names and prayers, and it felt like a lovely, healing offering to God!
Creative, artistic spirits here at Trinity are helping us build our own Prayer Tree – and it will take each of us to bring it to life! As you know, our Chapel is open for individual prayer. You will find colorful construction-paper hearts - and yarn with which to tie the hearts onto tree branches. We invite you to write your prayer – a name, a concern, a memory, a longing – and tie it to the tree.
Our tree will be available on Valentine’s Day! Invite a friend or neighbor to add a prayer. As we journey together in this season, our prayers will grow and blossom … and our Trinity Prayer Tree will bloom with love and spirit!
Wednesday, February 17th is Ash Wednesday, the traditional threshold into the season of Lent. With Christians around the world, we enter into the holy season of Lent with penitence to prepare our hearts and lives for Holy Week. Ashes have long been an outward and visible sign of an inner spiritual reflection on our mortality, our human limitations and failings.
This year, Ash Wednesday falls just after Valentine’s Day, a powerful reminder of our need for God’s all-encompassing love for us. One of the Hebrew Scripture readings assigned by our Lectionary for Ash Wednesday is taken from the book of Joel. God implores us: “Return to me with all your heart.” (Joel 2: 12) Together, let us return to God on Ash Wednesday, God who is longing to welcome us home.
Trinity Episcopal Church will offer two ways to cross this ritual threshold into Lent on Ash Wednesday.
First, at 12:00 noon on our Labyrinth, we will offer an outdoor and socially-distanced prayer and ‘touchless sprinkling’ of ashes on our heads. Permit me to remind you that the imposition of ashes is considered optional according to our Book of Common Prayer. We can meditate upon our penitence and mortality without wearing ashes upon our body.
Apparently, sprinkling of ashes on the head is a more ancient practice than making the sign of the cross on the forehead! So, to be safe, this year, we will return to this more ancient practice.
Second, we will offer a live-streaming Ash Wednesday Service at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, February 17h. Please join us in heart and mind and spirit as we pray together! When we arrive at the place in the liturgy for the imposition of ashes (p. 265 Book of Common Prayer) we will offer instead moments of quiet reflection. We will invite you - in your own homes - to your own individual observance on mortality and penitence.
“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church,
to the observance of a holy Lent …”
The Rev. andrea castner wyatt
The Rev. Andrea Castner Wyatt is honored to accept the call of Trinity Episcopal Church to serve and lead as Rector. She looks forward with joy to walking with the people of Trinity Church, and to discovering with you what Jesus is up to in Newtown, CT. Contact Rev. Andrea at email@example.com or by calling 203-426-9070.