The Only Name That Matters

“In mid-September, at the annual Missional Summit—a gathering of leaders from all across the EFCA— four leaders with diverse perspectives shared with attendees about how they interpret the term ‘evangelical.’” Pastor Bryan was one of those leaders who addressed the specific question: What does it mean to be evangelical when you’re a young, urban church? Read his summarized talk below and make sure you read all of the perspectives at the EFCA blog.

A decade ago, I helped plant the church that I now pastor in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in an area of the city that is unique, diverse and constantly changing. There is a rich culture of food, art and summer festivals. And like many urban areas, we are in a progressive part of town. It’s common to see rainbow flags on front porches or signs promoting liberal positions and politicians in our neighbors’ yards. Anti-Trump protests happen regularly right around the corner from our church.

This is the environment where our ministry is taking place. So how do we reckon with the term “evangelical” and with all of the negative connotations it carries today? A simple answer I’d give is that we are protestant at the front door and evangelical around the table.

What does this mean? We’re protestant at the front door because there is a long history of Catholicism in Saint Paul. People are open to religious expression, tradition and Christian communities. When we decided to name our church, I called on my unchurched friends for their opinions. They didn’t like all of the hip names that were popular for churches at the time; they didn’t like “warehouse” or “vintage” or the “woodshed.” They didn’t trust those names, because if they wanted to explore the Christian faith, going to the “woodshed” didn’t sound like a safe place to be. They wanted names that were rooted in Christian tradition. And so we named our church Trinity City Church.

Some people ask me, “Are you a liberal or conservative church?” My answer is that we’re both. We believe that the Trinity has deep historical and theological roots. We don’t have any theological surprises here. We affirm the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed, and in that sense, I guess we’re conservative. But we’re also a city church that changes with the city, so in that sense, I guess we’re liberal.

We didn’t include the words “Evangelical” and “Free” in the name of our church. “Evangelical” comes with so many stereotypes. Even 10 years ago, for many in my city, “evangelical” meant a voting bloc rather than a people with a particular theological heritage. The current political climate has only heightened this assumption. So we don’t lead with the word “evangelical.” Our website says that we belong to a protestant denomination and if someone wants to have a conversation about it, we go deeper.

When I go deeper, I say that we’re part of the Free Church, a movement started by Scandinavian immigrants who were breaking free from the state-run Lutheran church. Typically, in my setting in Saint Paul, this reference to Scandinavians and Luther opens up the conversation more than the word “evangelical” would. But we’re honest and up front about it if people ask. I’m not ashamed of our evangelical heritage, but there are things we need to learn from and repent of in our history. To me, I define “evangelical” as people who believe in the five “Solas” and in the priesthood of all believers. American evangelicals can be known by their belief in the authority of Scripture, the centrality of the cross, the necessity of conversion and the expression of faith through activism.

Ultimately, we make a distinction between big-E Evangelicalism and little-e evangelicalism, drawing from Timothy Keller in his 2017 piece in the New Yorker. Big-E Evangelicals self-identify as evangelical but share few of the central theological beliefs that have united evangelicals throughout history. Big-E Evangelicalism has become a default identity that looks more like a civil religion or a political or nationalistic identity rather than a theological heritage.

In contrast, we’re little-e evangelicals: people united in the historical, confessional, multiethnic and global movement of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with no political allegiance or political identity. This is what we hold fast to. We are faithful to the Lord’s commission and lift high the Name that is above every name. I don’t know what we’ll call ourselves in the future, as a movement of enduring saints, but I know that the name we will continue to confess is that of Jesus Christ—and that is the only Name that matters.

 “Alejandro Mandes, executive director of All People ministry, opens the Q&A session for the four speakers (left to right): Pablo Cachon, Bryan Lair, Jenni Key and Kenneth Young.”  Credit: EFCA

“Alejandro Mandes, executive director of All People ministry, opens the Q&A session for the four speakers (left to right): Pablo Cachon, Bryan Lair, Jenni Key and Kenneth Young.”

Credit: EFCA

Immanuel Fellowship - Trent Senske

This week Immanuel Fellowship and it’s pastor Trent Senske are taking over Trinity’s social media. Check back through out the week as we will be getting a glimpse into Trinity’s first church plant

What neighborhood do you live in?

Bancroft. Minneapolis, MN. 

What’s your vocation?

Pastor

What's your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

The seasons. Really! Everyone in my family has a different favorite season. Living on the Southside gives us the privilege of experiencing urban seasons and also quick access to the most beautiful parks and lakes anywhere. 


How long have you been planting IF?

Laura and I moved back home to Minnesota in August 2016. So, in some ways we have been planting Immanuel Fellowship since then, but back then we didn't have a name or neighborhood for the church. We merely moved to pursue God's call on our lives to plant urban, multiethnic churches. After getting assessed through the Acts 29 Network, I spent a year doing training through Fellowship Associates and another year as a Pastoral Resident at Trinity City Church.


How do you serve at IF?

Church planting is not for the faint of heart, nor for those don't like to wear many hats! In short, I get to serve Immanuel Fellowship as its founding pastor. That's the answer to the "vocation" question, but it might be more helpful to say that I serve the church uniquely as the direction setter and the team leader. 


What’s something you appreciate about IF?

Hmmm... one of the things I love about Immanuel Fellowship thus far is that our people are "unassuming." Don't get me wrong, the people God has called into planting the church are a bunch of All-Stars. Every week I find something out like, "Oh, didn't know that guy has been a part of starting 3 businesses. Wow, she is opening her own music venue. Geez, I had no clue he's been mentoring those high school dudes and helping them get to graduation." Our crew is wonderfully talented but they don't wear it on their sleeves. There is a humility about them and a servant-hearted mindset among them. I pray the Lord sustains that quality and that many in our neighborhoods are attracted to it. 

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Getting Through the 2018 Twin Cities Marathon

This Sunday the runners in the Twin Cities Marathon will be going through our neighborhood via Summit Avenue. Our Sunday Gathering will still be at 10am. In general, if you're coming to the Sunday Gathering from north of Summit, then you'll have no problem getting to the church building. However, if you're coming from south of Summit, then you may have some of your typical routes blocked off.

Here is the route:

Here are the relevant notes about road closures:

Miles 15-21 - Shut down approximately 6:40 a.m. Reopened approximately: 12:00 p.m.

  • Take nearest thru street to freeways

  • Lake Street crosses the course without delays

Miles 21-26 - Shut down approximately 6:40 a.m. Reopened approximately: 2:30 p.m.

  • Take Ayd Mill or Grand Avenue into downtown Saint Paul to go around State Capitol area

  • Ford Parkway crosses the course without delays

  • I-35E through Downtown Saint Paul is an alternate route around the course

Trinity Faces - Maddie Binsfed

This week we will be getting know Maddie Binsfed in our effort to learn more about the people that make up Trinity City Church. Be sure to check out Instagram and Facebook this week as Maddie shares life from her point of view.

What neighborhood do you live in?

I currently live in the dorms at the University of Northwestern, but I grew up in Rockford, Minnesota.

What’s your vocation?

I’m finishing up the last semester of my visual arts education degree, hoping to be licensed and teaching art after I graduate in December.

What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?

I’m never bored! Even though life is crazy busy right now, whenever I have a lull or free time, I always have so many things I enjoy doing, like reading, baking, painting, drawing, or spending time with friends.

What's your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

I love being so close to so many things, like the Minneapolis institute of art, a plethora of coffee shops, and being close to friends at Northwestern and Trinity.

How long have you attended TCC?

Since November of 2016, almost two years.

How do you serve at TCC?

Currently I serve as a scripture reader, and I would love to get more involved after I graduate.

What’s something you appreciate about TCC?

I love the layout of the services, how Bible-based the sermons are and the friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

Tell us about your art show? Inspiration?

I have always loved photographing landscapes, whether I see a beautiful sunset while on a bike ride, or stormy clouds while I’m driving home. I was inspired to try translating these little moments onto canvases, not to create a piece identical to the photo but to have a new little world existing on its own.

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Questions for Christians Sermon Series

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This Sunday we start a new sermon series called “Questions for Christians.” We did this series back in 2014 as well. The 2018 series repeats three questions from 2014 (numbers 2, 3, and 8 below) and adds five new questions.

For several weeks, the congregation submitted common questions they receive from those who don’t identify with the Christian faith. The selected questions below include the most asked questions or questions with common themes.

Here is the schedule for the series:

  1. (09/23) How is the church any different than a business protecting its brand?

  2. (09/30) Is Christianity and science compatible?

  3. (10/07) Why does God allow so much suffering in this world?

  4. (10/14) Don't the OT stories and laws contradict the life and teachings of Jesus?

  5. (10/21) How can Christians be so hateful and arrogant?

  6. (10/28) Do Christians really believe God torments people in hell for eternity?

  7. (11/04) What is the relationship between the Christian faith and politics?

  8. (11/11) Why do Christians have such a narrow view of sex?

Our Church Family Walks with the Reed Family

For the fifth year since her mother died, Trinity City Church member Laurel Reed will participate in the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Team for Cures 5k Walk/Run in St. Paul.

Laurel’s mother, Ardy Germann, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008. Multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell, according to the Mayo Clinic website. Multiple Myeloma causes cancer cells to build up in the bone marrow and leaves the body unable to fight infections.

There is no cure.

“It’s not curable, just treatable,” Laurel said. “You can do chemotherapy, or my mom had a stem cell transplant that they can try to give you more time, but it’s kind of like maintenance.”

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When Germann was diagnosed, Laurel was a freshman in college. In 2011, Reed moved to Minnesota to help her father take care of her mother.

“One of the medications she was on to fight a fungal infection … one of the side effects caused her to lose her vision, so she was legally blind from that,” Laurel said. “That took away a lot of her independence.”

Laurel and her family also began to attend Trinity City Church in 2011, thanks to her mother’s research.

“My mom was actually the one who found the church online and told my husband, Jack, to go there,” Laurel said. “She was really into finding churches for people and helping them look. She was always up for doing research for people.”

In 2013, Germann died due to multiple myeloma.

“She still had a lot of really good quality of life,” Laurel said. “In those five years of life, she saw all her kids get married and was able to live with it for as long as she did, which was a huge gift and blessing to our family.”

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The next year, Laurel and her family did the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Team for Cures 5k Walk/Run for the first time. The 5k wraps around Lake Phalen in St. Paul.

“We did it the first year after she died,” Laurel said. “My family does it as a way to honor her and raise awareness. The first year, we had six people on our team and last year, we had over 50. It’s grown as a fun thing to do in her honor.”

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This year, the 5k is on Sept. 23 at 11 a.m. The overall Twin Cities goal is to raise $250,000 for multiple myeloma research, of which more than $55,000 has been raised. The Ardy Germann team are hoping to raise $10,060 and have raised more than $4,000 so far.

People are able to sign up to participate in the race as part of the Ardy Germann team at walkrun.themmrf.org/twincities18/team/view/80374/Ardy-Germann-Team. The website also has an option to donate for those who aren’t able to participate in the 5k.

Funds raised from the 5k have tripled patient survival, developed 10 new treatments in 10 years and launched more than 60 clinical trials, according to the foundation’s website.

“I wish it wasn’t a thing, or even something we had to do or talk about, but that’s the reality we have in our family,” Laurel said.

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Laurel said people who attend Trinity City Church who never ended up meeting her mom have participated in the race in the past.

“It’s really, really awesome,” Laurel said. “That’s been kind of a weird thing that people don’t know that part of who I am. It means a lot that even if they didn’t meet her, they still come and support. It’s really awesome.”

Registration for the race for adults is $35, $15 for children ages 6-17 and $5 for children five years old or younger.

Go to themmrf.org for more information.

By Maggie Stanwood. Stanwood is a multimedia reporter for the Prior Lake American newspaper in Prior Lake, Minnesota.






Rooted: The Ministry Year Ahead

Merriam Park was built between the 1880’s and the 1930’s as a neighborhood between the two downtowns. It holds not only turn-of-the-century buildings but established institutions in this neighborhood. Protestant and Catholic congregations built church buildings and schools during this time. A Catholic priest started the University of Saint Thomas in 1885. Just south of this neighborhood in MacGrove, a Presbyterian minister started Macalester College in 1874 and the college has been at the present site since 1883. A Methodist congregation built our church building in 1913 until they merged in 2010 with Hamline Church in Midway, which is when Trinity City Church started weekly Sunday Gatherings.

 1849 Marshall Avenue as it looked in 1913 before the later additions. 

1849 Marshall Avenue as it looked in 1913 before the later additions. 

Look around this neighborhood and you’ll see not only century-old properties, but also the long established presence of the communities who have grown deep roots here. As a new church, we’re like a young tree recently planted on the boulevard. Yet we’re growing deeper and deeper roots in this community with no plans of transplanting. Our vision is to be rooted in our neighborhood as an established Christian presence, making disciples that join in the renewal of our city and world for the next 100 plus years.

This commitment of established and deep presence is the main emphasis for this ministry year. It’s an emphasis that’ll take more than one year. Yet even large endeavors need to begin somewhere. This ministry year of 2018-19 is about being “Rooted.”

The last ministry year (2017-18) was a time of “Reset.” This included re-organizing our staff and leadership teams, re-thinking the budget, and re-energizing our volunteers. What do we hope to accomplish for the “Rooted” year?

Over the next five weeks, I’ll be preaching through a sermon series called “Rooted” in order to highlight the goals for the “Rooted” year. These sermons will include:

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  • 08/19: Rooted in Christ

  • 08/26: Rooted in Community

  • 09/02: Rooted in the City

  • 09/09: Rooted to Plant Churches

  • 09/16: Rooted on Campus

In addition to the sermon series, we have some important events coming up that will highlight the Rooted theme and begin accomplishing some of the goals. These include:

  • Trinity Leadership Conference (09/08). This is a one day conference for our volunteer leaders, deacons, Community Group leaders, etc. to prepare for the upcoming year.

  • Rally and Commissioning Sunday (09/09). This Sunday will be a time to re-launch Community Groups and to join ministry teams for the next year. In addition, we will be praying and commissioning the Immanuel Fellowship team to begin weekly Sunday Gatherings.

  • Immanuel Fellowship Begins Weekly Services (09/16). The Wilder Complex in south Minneapolis is the place to gather this Sunday. There will be a “vision lunch” afterwards to talk values, vision, and answer questions.

In addition to these dates, there are other important things coming this fall. Children’s Church will be restarting, and a new Sunday School class will begin meeting from 9:15 to 9:45am for kids third grade and up. There will be a couple luncheons after the service for undergraduate and graduate students. A new monthly gathering for those new to Trinity will begin in September.

With just a couple more weeks of August left, things are picking up steam for the next ministry year. There is so much more ahead for this year of “Rooted.” It’ll be a year of growing together in our rootedness in Christ, in Christian community, in service to our city, in our support of a new church plant, and in our impact on the local campuses.

Let’s get started. May God work in us in order to fulfill his good purpose for this ministry year!

From 10,000 Lakes to a Skyline of Mountains

Trinity City Church will soon be missing out on a few familiar faces.

Daniel Parks and Annika Parks, who have both volunteered in various positions throughout their time at the church, are moving to Boulder, Colorado soon for Daniel to pursue a doctorate in conducting at the University of Colorado.

“I’m looking forward to living in the mountains or having mountains in the skyline,” Annika said. “And the climate is a bit more stable — not as midwestern crazy.”

Daniel has been the music director for the music team and deacon of music for two years. Annika served as the kitchen coordinator last year and also serves on the music team.

“I have been involved with music ministry since I was about 12 or 13 years old, Daniel said. “I started volunteering with the music team almost immediately. I think the second Sunday we were attending, I introduced myself to the music leader at the time. Annika started helping out in the kitchen not long after and did that for a few years.”

The couple — who have been married for almost eight years — met in high school. Though they attended different high schools, their families attended the same church in Appleton, Wisconsin. Daniel and Annika started dating a few years later, when they were in college.

Daniel and Annika both said they grew up looking to their families as an example of volunteerism, especially in the church.

“I think that’s something that’s modeled in our families and that’s a normal part of our experience was volunteering,” Daniel said.

In 2013, Daniel got a job teaching in River Falls, Wisconsin, so they moved to St. Paul. They found Trinity in its early years after an online search.

“It felt normal to be in a smaller church plant,” Annika said.

Annika is a professional photographer, specializing in wedding, engagement and family photographer. Daniel is a music educator and musician who recently finished up a Master’s program at the University of Minnesota.

While Annika said she’s looking forward to the new topography, Daniel said he’s looking forward to starting his doctoral program in Colorado.

“I love learning and I really enjoy being a student,” Daniel said. “I’m excited to begin my last run of schooling in my life.”

Neither of them work for solely a paycheck, and are passionate about their jobs, Annika said.

“It’s nice to love what you do,” Annika said.

But, the couple will miss the relationships they’ve cultivated through Trinity. Annika said she will miss the family she used to nanny for and Daniel said he will miss the people he’s gotten to know through volunteering at the church.

Both of them also said they’ll miss the tacos at a few of their favorite restaurants, Maya Cuisine and El Taco Riendo, and will have to find a new taco place in Boulder.

By Maggie Stanwood. Stanwood is a multimedia reporter for the Prior Lake American newspaper in Prior Lake, Minnesota.

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Duluth Baptisms

On July 5th, Pastor Bryan baptized Jacob Cloutier and Katherine Chmielewski (now Katherine Cloutier) in Lake Superior near downtown Duluth. The next day he officiated their wedding. Watch the video of these baptisms above. 

"We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life," (Romans 6:4). 

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Antioch Community Church's New Home

Antioch Community Church is a sister church of Trinity City Church as Hope Community Church planted Antioch in 2008 and Trinity in 2010. Antioch and Trinity have partnered in various ministries throughout the year and share a common vision and mission.

Both Antioch and Trinity share a vision to make disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the urban neighborhoods where they live and worship. A part of realizing this vision includes local churches ministering from physical spaces within their neighborhoods. Every church family needs a church home. Trinity has a home at 1849 Marshall Avenue in St. Paul and Antioch recently moved into their new home at 1121 NE Jackson Street in Minneapolis.

Antioch moved from the Ukrainian Event Center to the Waterbury Building this spring. This new space meets the needs of this growing local church as they continue to minister in Northeast Minneapolis. Trinity was one of many supporters who made this move and space renovation possible.

In the video above, Pastor Andy gives Pastor Bryan a tour of Antioch’s new home.

 Image: Antioch service at the Waterbury Building Credit: Antioch Community Church

Image: Antioch service at the Waterbury Building
Credit: Antioch Community Church

Trinity City Church Sending Out Immanuel Fellowship this Fall

Trinity City Church is a community of witnesses who not only share the gospel personally but also corporately by starting new churches. This last Sunday, Pastor Bryan announced that Trent Senske is now a Church Planting Resident at Trinity, which means Trinity is the sending church for Immanuel Fellowship.

Immanuel Fellowship will have preview services and neighborhood parties throughout the summer. In addition, here are some key dates coming up this fall: 

  • September 9: The Immanuel Fellowship Team will be commissioned at Trinity City Church
  • September 16: Immanuel Fellowship begins weekly services at Laura Ingalls Wilder Complex in south Minneapolis. 
  • October 14: Celebration Service for Immanuel Fellowship supporters at the Wilder Complex.  

Stay updated on the latest details by following Immanuel Fellowship on Facebook

In the audio above, Pastor Bryan exhorted everyone to support Immanuel Fellowship by doing one (or more) of the following:

  1. Praying: commit to praying regularly for this church plant.
  2. Giving: donate to Immanuel Fellowship. 
  3. Advocating: spread the word about Immanuel Fellowship especially among those in south MPLS. 
  4. Joining: become a part of the Immanuel Fellowship team! 

Everyone at Trinity City Church can do at least one of the above options. It's a specific way we may continue to make disciples who join God in the renewal of our city and world!

 Pastor Trent shares the vision and values of Immanuel Fellowship at the Space Preview.

Pastor Trent shares the vision and values of Immanuel Fellowship at the Space Preview.

Trinity Faces - Jole Miller

It's time for the next installment of Trinity Faces, Jole Miller! This week we will be getting know Jole in our effort to learn more about the people that make up Trinity City Church. Be sure to check out Instagram and Facebook this week as Jole shares life from his point of view.

What neighborhood do you live in?

Macalester-Groveland

What’s your vocation?

I'm a collegiate rep with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I work with athletes and coaches from Mac, UST, and CSP. 

What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?

I was a member of the skydiving club at the University of Edinburgh.

What's your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

I like the cultural diversity, the outdoorsiness, and the unique shops and restaurants.

How long have you attended TCC?

Since the spring of 2014.

How do you serve at TCC?

I serve with children's church, grounds crew/ snow removal, van driving, and carrying around miscellaneous objects.

What’s something you appreciate about TCC?

TCC is the first church I went to where I feel connected to the other members. Family is one of the core identities at TCC, and we genuinely live that out. 

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Reset

We're only five months into 2018, but we're just a few months away from finishing the ministry year for Trinity City Church.

During the 2017-2018 ministry year, we've been in the midst of a “reset” that will be wrapping up this summer.

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If you're new to TCC, we're currently transitioning from a a 100+ church to a 200+ church.

This transition has included re-organizing our staff and leadership teams as well as re-thinking the 2018 budget.

Some of these things have already taken place. The 2018 budget is approved, we hired two new Ministry Assistants on staff, and we've voted in new members of the Governance Team.

Other things that are taking place and/or are in the midst of a reset:

  • The Overseer Team will start training potential candidates to increase the size of the team.
  • More effort and support will be given to Community Groups and their leaders in order to multiply beyond 10 groups in September.
  • The leadership teams of Trinity are still assessing what other staff hires need to be made circa summer.
  • Finally, an important part of this reset is re-energizing our congregation and volunteers through storytelling. We will be increasing communication about how God is calling so many of you in your lives to make disciples who join God in the renewal of our city and world. In fact, we want to hear your story right here.

But as the reset wraps up this coming summer, what’s next for the 2018-19 ministry year?

More on that in the next journal entry.

Trinity Faces - Megan Arneson

This week we will be getting know Megan Arneson in our effort to learn more about the people that make up Trinity City Church. Be sure to check out Instagram and Facebook this week as Megan shares life from her point of view.

What neighborhood do you live in?

Merriam Park

What’s your vocation?

Social Worker/Higher Education - I have both my bachelor's and master's degrees in social work.  While I'm not on the front lines and interacting with clients on a daily basis in the field of social work right now, I am still working in this same area, but in a higher ed setting. 

What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?

I have mad-cribbage skills.  I once won a cribbage tournament; ask me about it sometime. 

What's your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

The diversity of ethnic foods and farmer's markets

How long have you attended TCC?

8ish years

How do you serve at TCC? 

I am a member of the Governance Team (overseeing the business aspects of the church) and a participant on the Care Team ministry, 

What’s something you appreciate about TCC?

The emphasis on caring for one another well and how we're growing and learning together what this means for our church family and the greater communities that we come in contact with on a daily basis. 

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Trinity Faces - Brianna Rogers

This week we will be getting know Brianna Rodgers in our effort to learn more about the people that make up Trinity City Church. Be sure to check out Instagram and Facebook this week as Brianna shares life from her point of view.

What neighborhood do you live in?

We have hit the one year mark in our first home this February living in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul.

What’s your vocation?

My official title is Interpretive Naturalist but most people get that confused with a naturist so I just say outdoor education. Picture me chasing butterflies in an open field with a bunch of kids at a nature center... Yea that's pretty much what I do ;)

What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?

I get super excited to go to the dentist. If I could get my teeth professionally cleaned everyday I totally would!

What's your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

I love the small town feel of historic Saint Paul with all the benefits of living in the city. The many opportunities to be a tourist in your own neighborhood and the closeness to parks, rivers, and lakes!

How long have you attended TCC?

Since the summer of 2012

How do you serve at TCC?

Some of the ways I serve at TCC is as a co-leader with my husband David for the Fairmount Community Group and we serve together on the usher team. I also serve as a Deaconess on Trinity's Directional Team. 

What’s something you appreciate about TCC?

I look forward to waking up and going to church each Sunday morning to worship Christ our Lord with fellow believers. To be renewed and refocused on the work He has done in my own life and is continually doing in our city.

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2018 Lent and Holy Week

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Holy Week is here. At Trinity City Church, we started the season of Lent with an Ash Wednesday service, and last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday. This week we'll be gathering for Maunday Thursday meals, a Good Friday service, a community egg hunt, and finally celebrating Easter with baptisms.

What is the meaning and significance of this time in the church calendar? Let's consider some of the explanations from The Worship Sourcebook (the rest of the post quotes The Worship Sourcebook under each heading).

The Season of Lent

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the heart of the Christian gospel, and Good Friday and Easter are two of the most significant celebrations of the Christian year. Lent is a season of preparation and repentance during which we anticipate Good Friday and Easter. Just as we carefully prepare for big events in our personal lives, such as a wedding or commencement, Lent invites us to make our hearts ready for remembering Jesus’ passion and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.

The practice of a forty-day preparation period began in the Christian church during the third and fourth centuries. The number forty carries biblical significance based on the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty-day fast in the wilderness. The forty days of Lent begin on Ash Wednesday and continue through holy week, not counting Sundays (which are reserved for celebratory worship). In practice, many congregations choose to focus Sunday worship on the themes of repentance and renewal. As a period of preparation, Lent has historically included the instruction of persons for baptism and profession of faith on Easter Sunday; the calling back of those who have become estranged from the church; and efforts by all Christians to deepen their piety, devotion, and readiness to mark the death and resurrection of their Savior. As such, the primary focus of the season is to explore and deepen a “baptismal spirituality” that centers on our union with Christ rather than to function only as an extended meditation on Christ’s suffering and death.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. By the fourth century the Western church had determined that the Lenten period of fasting and renewal should correspond to Christ’s forty-day fast (Matt. 4:2), and, by counting forty days back from Easter (excluding Sundays, which remain “feast” days), arrived at the Wednesday seven weeks before Easter. At one time Lent was primarily viewed as a period during which converts prepared for baptism on Easter Sunday, but later the season became a general time of penitence and renewal for all Christians. Thus Ash Wednesday became the day that marked the beginning of the Lenten renewal.

The aim of Ash Wednesday worship is threefold: to meditate on our mortality, sinfulness, and need of a savior; to renew our commitment to daily repentance in the Lenten season and in all of life; and to remember with confidence and gratitude that Christ has conquered death and sin. Ash Wednesday worship, then, is filled with gospel truth. It is a witness to the power and beauty of our union with Christ and to the daily dying and rising with Christ that this entails.

The imposition of ashes is often central part of the worship service. Ashes have a long history in biblical and church traditions. In Scripture ashes or dust symbolize frailty or death (Gen. 18:27), sadness or mourning (Esther 4:3), judgment (Lam. 3:16), and repentance (Jon. 3:6). Some traditions also have considered ash a purifying or cleansing agent. All these images are caught up in the church’s use of ashes as a symbol appropriate for Lent. In Christ’s passion we see God’s judgment on evil; in our penitence we express sorrow and repentance for our sins; in our rededication we show that we are purified and renewed. The ashes, which often are the burnt residue of the previous year’s palms from Palm Sunday, are often mixed with a little water and carried in a small dish. As the leader goes from worshiper to worshiper, or as worshipers come forward, the leader dips a finger in the moist ash and makes a cross on each person’s forehead (the “imposition”), saying words such as “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or, “Consider yourself dead to sin and alive in Jesus Christ.”

In some contexts, the imposition of ashes may be a barrier to thoughtful Lenten worship because of its newness or because it may be misunderstood. Most important is that worshipers rend their hearts (Joel 2:13). Decisions about whether or how to practice the imposition of ashes should always take into account that the service should build up the body of Christ.

Palm Sunday

The events framed by Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and his resurrection are some of the most dramatic and theologically important of the entire scriptural narrative. These days feature not only the drama of the triumphal entry, trial, last supper, and crucifixion but also poignant prayers and prophetic teachings of our Lord. John’s gospel devotes eight of its twenty-one chapters to this week alone! The week begins with Passion/Palm Sunday and ends with the “three days” (also called the Triduum, from sunset on Thursday to sunset on Easter Day), the period during which we mark Jesus’ trial, death, and resurrection.

The first Sunday of Holy Week is commonly called either “Palm Sunday” or “Passion Sunday.” Those who call it “Palm Sunday” tend to focus on the entry of Christ into Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9). Those who refer to the day as “Passion Sunday” tend to focus on Jesus’ suffering. This is especially appropriate in contexts in which participation in midweek services on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday is difficult or minimal, and, as a result, worshipers would sing “Hosanna” on one Sunday and “Christ arose” on the next, with little attention to Jesus’ suffering and death in between.

But even for congregations that celebrate the day as Palm Sunday, it’s important to capture the irony of the day. This is the day on which Jesus entered the city in triumph, but as a part of his journey to the cross; this is the week in which crowd’s cries of “Hosanna” would soon turn to “Crucify him!” One helpful approach to Palm Sunday worship is to begin by focusing on the procession into Jerusalem and then to concentrate on the suffering and passion of Jesus.

Maundy Thursday

On Maundy Thursday the church remembers the last evening Jesus shared with his disciples in the upper room before his arrest and crucifixion. Maundy Thursday marks three key events in Jesus’ last week: his washing of his disciples’ feet, his institution of the Lord’s Supper, and his new commandment to love one another.

The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin mandatum novum, referring to the “new commandment” Jesus taught his disciples (John 13:34). In other words, this is “new commandment Thursday.” Maundy Thursday worship naturally features the Lord’s Supper and, in some traditions, an act of foot washing or another sign of mutual love and dedication.

Celebrations of the Lord’s Supper can call attention to the many theologically rich dimensions of the Last Supper itself, including its attention to communal love and its clear eschatological orientation (its focus on hopeful anticipation of the coming kingdom).

Good Friday and Easter

Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ. It’s called “good” because of what Jesus’ death means for the redemption of the world. Worship on this day may focus on three aims: (1) to narrate and remember the events of Jesus’ death, (2) to open up the meaning of these events for our understanding of God and the redemption accomplished by the cross, and (3) to invite worshipers to renewed prayer and dedication.

All the hopes and expectations of Christians are realized in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, making Easter the most celebrative day of the church year.

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Trinity Faces - Sara Wright

This week we get to peek into Sara Wright's world in our next installment of #trinityfaces. Be sure to check TCC's Instagram and Facebook this week as we get a glimpse into Sara's life.

What neighborhood do you live in?

Merriam Park, Saint Paul

What’s your vocation?

I'm a stay-at-home mom at the moment.

What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?

This is hard to come up with something.  I guess a lot of people might not know i used to live in Alaska. I also once tried to grow a pet dred in my hair for about a week. It didn't work.

What's your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

The people

How long have you attended TCC?

About 8 years

What’s something you appreciate about TCC?

I love that TCC is relatively small and has a close community feel to it.

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The FCA House Story

Three years ago, David Melms couldn’t get the idea of a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) house near Macalester College in St. Paul out of his head.

Melms, who graduated from Macalester College in 2013, would take prayer walks around his neighborhood and see houses for sale. Melms had been one of the students to start the FCA ministry on campus in spring 2010.

“I would walk by this one house time and time again and it would be for sale and it just sparked something in my mind about, ‘well, how cool would that be if there was a house for the FCA ministry that had somewhat of a legacy to it where I knew that Christians were there year after year and it was a place where people could go chill and have fun too,” Melms said.

The FCA ministry is on college campuses across the country, led by student athletes and coaches working to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so the idea for a campus ministry for Macalester College stayed in Melms’ mind. During his college years, Melms had formed a friendship with Paul Olson, who is a member of the Macalester College Board of Trustees.

Olson had also recognized a need for a Christian ministry on Macalester College.

“They don't formally recognize campus ministries at Macalester, even FCA, though we love and want the best for the campus — so, our good relationships and trust as alumni leads to being welcomed into the athletics department,” Melms said.

Olson approached Melms about two years ago and proposed buying a house to create an intentional student ministry near most of the college campuses in St. Paul.

“(Olson) wanted to take those steps and buy a property near Macalester, but his wife was only wanting it if it would be something intentional like a student ministry, and that’s what they proposed,” Melms said. “I’ve always wanted something like that and I’d been praying for something like that, so it ended up being a yearlong journey to search for the right house.”

The group eventually found a house about a block from Macalester College, with an unfinished basement. Olson made an offer, which was accepted and the first people moved in 2017.

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In the spring, renovations began on the basement to create a common space for those living in the house. The renovations included a prayer room, a kitchenette, tables for studying, a laundry room and an entertainment area.

The leadership spent six months working on the basement.

“This is all new to us, too, so it’s not that it’s not a good time for a story but the story is just starting to unfold,” Melms said.

The benefits of the house for Christian students are twofold — on one hand, students get face-to-face interaction with other students of faith living in the house, including Melms and his wife, who live upstairs. The other part is that the students have been gifted with a house and so should become disciples on their campus.

“They have this incredible home, because it’s not a college home — it’s a half-million dollar property that has been gifted to them, so it’s not your typical college apartment unit,” Melms said. “So the expectations for living in the house are that you’re excited about growing your faith and you’re excited about growing in a Christian community and you’re wanting to bless your campus with the house that you’ve been given.”

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Everything about the house was made possible through the grace of God, Melms said.

“It isn’t really a story about an FCA staff guy or an FCA ministry, but there is just a ton of people that have been really generous in the process and God has just given us a great deal of confidence,” Melms said. “We had a confidence through it all that God is going to do something with this and he’s shown us he’s going to do this.”

 

This post written by Maggie Stanwood. Stanwood is a multimedia reporter at the Prior Lake American. She also freelances for the White Bear Press Pub and the Elk River Star News. Read more of her writing at this website

Trinity Faces - Micah Taylor

This week we will be getting know Micah Taylor in our effort to learn more about the people that make up Trinity City Church. Be sure to check out Instagram and Facebook this week as Micah shares life from his point of view.

What neighborhood do you live in?

I guess since Whitney said West 7th is "the best one", I'll say the bestest one: Highland Park.

What’s your occupation?

I'm a husband and dad who gets paid to design websites. I also occupy myself with music, photography, bicycling, and co-owning a bakery.

What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?

Most folks at TCC don't know that, for most of my life, I had really long hair. Mother nature is a cruel barber.

What's your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

The bicycle/fitness culture is inspiring. And yes, I try to bike in the winter; I have the broken collarbone to prove it.

How long have you attended TCC?

A year and a half-ish... I'm not good with dates... ask my wife.

What’s something you appreciate about TCC?

Well, the welcoming people first and foremost. That being said I appreciate the meshing of the old and the new at TCC. Raised in a liturgical church and coming previously from a more passionately evangelical church, I appreciate that there is a home for both at TCC.

Micah Taylor
http://www.micahtaylor.com/

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Trinity Faces - Tyson Phipps

We are restarting a campaign to learn more about some of the people who make up our church family. This week, our featured TCC student is Tyson. Read more about Tyson below and make sure to check out the TCC Instagram account to see what life looks like from Tyson's eyes. 

What neighborhood do you live in?

I live in Roseville while I’m studying at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul.

What’s your vocation?

I’m a full-time student, a Resident Assistant in the dorms, and a Gallery Assistant at the Denler art gallery on campus. 

What’s something a lot of people don’t know about you?

I grew up as a missionary kid in Turkey; my parents are still church planters there.

What's your favorite thing about living in the Twin Cities?

The art community, lots of awesome activities for any mood, and Punch Pizza.

How long have you attended TCC?

About 2 years.

What’s something you appreciate about TCC?

I love the focus of growing in the gospel with the neighborhood and community. I feel like with TCC I can value the joys of life more. 

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