• Trinity Voices

What is The Spirit Saying to Trinity Church?

Mark Morrow ('23)
June 18, 2020

June 16, 2020


Dear Trinity Church and friends,


What days we are sharing!  


Days of pandemic constraint, worry, and mourning, days of tragedy and hard-to-bottle fury, as we bear witness – again – to the horrific legacy of our national history when it comes to race. Our only reliable resources in such times are the ones our faith calls us to: community, introspection, love, the humility required to act on our values, and, for those of us who are white, to confront our ineradicable complicity. As Morgan put it in his deep and unsparing sermon at the June 1 prayer service: "Justice asks, What are you ready to change to end racism in this country?" 


We will not all have the same answer, of course, but we all need one, as does Trinity as a body. There is hard work of the most consequential kind ahead. 


So much has been stirring in our community life since last we wrote, even as a familiar and tender issue remains: When will we be able to resume worship together in Copley Square? The Bishop has just updated his current ban on corporate worship in a message that continues to discourage worship gatherings but allows individual churches to convene, if their leaders feel they can do so in a safe and prudent way.  


Your parish leadership is clear that this softening of the ban, while a welcome sign, cannot apply now or soon to a numerous and geographically sprawling parish like ours. We will need to be patient, and remain united in our separate worship homes, at least into the fall. The climbing infection rates in states and locales that moved quickly to reopen, and allowed large gatherings before Boston and Massachusetts did, should be a thunderclap of warning to us and to all. Worship at Trinity is, by definition and thank the Lord, a large gathering experience. We simply cannot risk being a vector of new risk, in our church family and beyond, and so we will not.  Morgan and Dr. Niven Narain, the Co-Chair of the “Being Trinity Church” group that has served as a cohort of conversation and reflection on these issues, are preparing a more detailed message about this that will be shared in next Tuesday’s email. 


Meanwhile, life together continues, with energy, creativity, and a heavy dose of Zoom. Our marvelous church staff has been crafting new ways to bind us together in this strange season. We are midstream in a run of Sunday services that feature hymns we selected as our favorites in a survey earlier this spring. Morgan just concluded a series of coffees with parishioners, each session with a vestry member on hand. And, just beginning, is an appealing and ambitious offering of coffees for small groups hosted by members of the staff. These are set to convene EVERY weekday from Monday of this week until July 26, when they will give way to another initiative in service of Being Together, "Camp Trinity." A program aimed at us all, with unique programming for every age group, the "camp" will run from July 28 to Aug. 2.  


 Another measure of our togetherness is the work of preserving the financial health of the parish in the midst of a national economic crunch. So far, the news is encouraging, with pledges and other regular donations coming in a steady stream, as Treasurer Olie Thorp reported to the Vestry a week ago. This is a heartening sign of collective commitment, and, for us to remain whole, one that must continue and accelerate as there are areas, inevitably, where we will have to absorb substantial losses. As one example, we currently project revenue shortfalls approaching a half-million dollars from our visitor-services and concert programming. The fiscal health of our beloved community is ours to ensure, which we receive as both a privilege and a weighty responsibility. 


We also want to share that Trinity Church did not pursue the federal Small Business grants that some churches and non-profits availed themselves of. Your parish leaders concluded that while Trinity Boston Connects, facing a potentially severe revenue shortfall, ought to seek this funding, Trinity Church itself should pass on that program. While we are and will be stretched, we recognize that other small businesses and non-profit organizations will have greater needs. We didn't want to risk taking precedence over another, truly distressed, applicant for these limited funds. The fact that many large and well-financed organizations did not make this moral calculus and lined up for this grant money, which was quickly exhausted, feels like confirmation of the difficult wisdom of our choice. 


To return to where this letter began, this is a period of necessary self-examination, individually and together. These past 12 months have been bookended by special services driven by the unthinkable – the father and daughter drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande to freedom, the unspeakable murder of George Floyd – yet our thinking must deepen further still to meet the moment, as the call for compassion and action will only get louder. Your Vestry, at their June meeting, set aside most of their meeting time to share their responses to a series of simple but jarring prompts – How are you? What are you needing? Where are you hurting? What do you hope for? What is the spirit saying to God's people of Trinity Church? What ensued was a rich, candid, and often emotional sharing, with feelings of anxiety, anger, confusion, and resolve all surfacing. It was a necessary beginning to a much longer conversation, one that we hope our entire community will join in, however and wherever they can. 


So, how are you doing? What do you hope for? What is the spirit saying to Trinity Church? 


We will seek answers as we follow this new and challenging path together. Please stay in touch, as summer settles in. 


With thanks and blessings,


Mark Morrow

Senior Warden


Jill S. Norton

Junior Warden