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A Future History of Trinity Church
Dear Trinity Church and friends,
Grace and Peace and Friday greetings! I hope this message finds you well.
I invite you to imagine a future history of Trinity Church written many generations from now and entitled, Being Trinity Church: In The City of Boston and For The World. The preface to “Volume 1” begins:
For nearly three hundred years, ‘Being Trinity Church’ primarily flowed from worshiping together in-person on Sundays. In those days, congregational leaders defined Trinity’s ‘parish’ geographically, limiting the reach of its fellowship to those who lived near enough to the church’s buildings that they could regularly join the community for its liturgies and programs. When mass transit and, later, the automobile increased households’ mobility, Trinity’s reach expanded. Indeed, once the congregation completed construction of its spectacular Back Bay worship space in 1877 – one of the most beautiful buildings in the world – the Trinity Church ‘parish’ of the twentieth century grew to include most of Eastern Massachusetts.
Then, in the late winter and early spring of 2020, a global pandemic abruptly closed the Church’s buildings on Clarendon Street. Challenged to build Beloved Community by new means, the parish innovated ‘From Home’ experiences that further expanded its parochial boundaries. Soon, geography imposed no obstacle to ‘Being Trinity Church,’ for stirred by this Trinity community’s prayers and music, formation and fun, former parishioners who had moved away from Boston rejoined from all over the world; Episcopalians and alums of other denominations found an unexpected new home for their faith when they did not even know they were looking for one; and some who had never darkened the door of a Christian congregation discovered their curiosities excited by participating in the emerging movement.
After an extended period, a vaccine became widely available, and Trinity Church reconvened its in-person community with a shared relief and joy previously thought limited to legends in the Acts of the Apostles. The parish remained anchored ‘in the City of Boston,’ and, together, experienced a renewed gratitude for the simple and irreplaceable gifts of human contact and ‘congregation.’ Buoyed by this companionship and with the Commonwealth’s inequities given clearer relief by the suffering caused by the virus, Trinity’s hope-filled commitments to justice and mercy transformed its immediate community for the good.
During those same joy-filled days, some in Trinity’s ‘for the world’ congregation returned to their geographically local churches when those restorations became possible. Even so, the imprint of their Trinity experience shaped these souls in enduring ways, and, through live streams and new technologies, others in this distanced cohort continued as fixtures in the parish’s life – and still more joined them – participating in worship and programming, finding their communion with God continually deepened …
We, of course, do not know how the Trinity Church history of these days will be written, no more than we know how long this viral “winter” will last. Even so, we know enough already to recognize that our common life is changing, and that our “future history” is already underway. If we attempt to wait out this season aiming only to reconstitute as we were before the pandemic, then we will commit Trinity Church to reacting to this emerging world on the world’s terms. However, should we dare call upon the Holy Spirit to partner with us, then ours and God’s hopes could have a hand in writing what happens next – happenings deep in joy and grace, even if different in shape and appearance.
With permission from Bishop Gates, this Sunday we will veer from the Lectionary’s course and read Matthew’s demanding “Parable of the Talents” (Matthew 25:14-30). In the company of the Holy Spirit, I hope you will worship with us at 9:45am as we continue discerning how God is calling us to be Trinity Church – in the City of Boston and For the World.
Take care and be well,
The Rev. Morgan S. Allen