• Education Forums

Known and Loved: Janet and Garrett Powell

November 5, 2019

Our journey to Trinity began 27 years ago when I stumbled onto Trinity’s Sunday service broadcast on the radio. The music and the sermon were just what Garrett and I needed to hear that morning and I said, “I don’t know where this church is or what this church is, but we’re going next Sunday!” We went, sat in the last row, and never left.  


Over those 27 years, becoming known and loved has gone hand in hand with knowing and loving others.  


For years we’d always see the same people in what came to be our spot – the fifth pew on the lectern side. We’d pass the peace and say “have a good week!” as we left. In 2004, prompted by the Spirit, we decided to go out on a limb and invite 25 of these “unknown” people to our home. It was so wonderful to actually get to know them and hear their stories! The party became an annual event, our list of invitees grew, and we developed real friendships. Now we always try to reach out to those who worship around us with a friendly welcome.  


Ten years ago, Garrett decided to bring that welcome to the doors of the church and to serve as an usher. One of his stories stands out to us: A young lady came to church in a wheelchair and confided to him that she had a debilitating, terminal illness. Every Sunday he assisted her to her spot and helped her back to the T. One year she even miraculously attended our summer Trinity gathering and was enveloped in Trinity love. A few years ago, when she was just in her early 30s, she passed away; Trinity clergy and parishioners visited her bedside in her final days. We were exceedingly sad but so happy to see firsthand the difference that being known and loved through Trinity made in her beautiful, young life. 


We’ve felt that difference too. Several years ago, Janet decided to audition for the choir. Richard Webster and Colin Lynch said, “We’d love to have you. And – beware –this will change your life.” They were right. When Garrett’s mom had advanced dementia and was living with us and declining, choir members collectively prayed for us, called, and brought us meals. As a choir we’ve come to know and love each other and that is undoubtedly a huge part of what makes our music-making so meaningful to us and to the congregation.  


And when Boston suffered the most traumatic and painful event of our city’s recent history, the Marathon bombing, the area around Copley Square was closed as part of the crime scene and Trinity was invited to hold our Sunday service at Temple Israel. When we arrived early for choir practice, Patrick Ward was preparing for worship on the temple platform. He saw us enter in the back and said over the microphone, “OK, the Powells are here, we can start now!” In that moment we felt how far we had come from being back-pew visitors to being held in the personal, familiar embrace of a family. 


As we’ve faced these challenges and built these friendships, we have learned that “everything we have is a gift from God.” From the ability to open one’s home, to welcoming the stranger, to singing, to being called by name as we come in the door — every breath we take is a gift. So, we cannot do less than give back to the church and community that we love. We ascribe to the model of the tithe and strive to joyously give at least a tenth of our income to God’s work in this place. We are now retired, and our financial planner has said, “You need to stop this! You are on a fixed income.” Well, to date, that hasn’t changed our priorities.  


As we were composing this message, we saw that a friend who’s a Trinity parishioner quoted Pastor Megan Rohrer on Facebook: “Church is the place where we repeat through word, song, and embodiment God’s unshakable love for us and our neighbor. Each week we forget. Each week we try to remember again.” We are so blessed to have found this very special place filled each week with the Spirit of God and with such a wonderful group of brothers, sisters and cousins! We want to be a part of all that is to come for Trinity, and we welcome you to join us. 


Janet and Garrett Powell, Parishioners 


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