The Life of the World to Come: Program Year 2021-22

September 2, 2021

Dear Trinity Church and friends,


On October 10, 1957, Joseph P. Richardson and Henry Richardson Shepley – grandsons of Trinity Church architect H.H. Richardson and partners at the architectural firm their grandfather founded – were overseeing the restoration of our Copley Square home.  On that fall day 64 years ago, the pair wrote to you – wrote to me, wrote to all us Twenty-First Century Christians – and set their letter in a time-capsule they tucked behind a panel high in our central tower.


“It is now over 80 years since the church was consecrated by Phillips Brooks, and it is our hope that this restoration will remain intact well into the 21st century.  We are living in a most interesting period in the world’s history, the Russian satellite, Sputnik, launched last week, having passed over this church this morning at 6:40!  We pray to God that, 80 years from now, in the year 2037, the horror of intercontinental missile warfare be averted forever.” An image of the full letter may be found here on our parish website.


As they, in their time, dared offer hope for the future they were investing their labors of heart and hand, so, too, do we now do the same.


Today I write to announce our 2021-2022 Program Year theme:


The Life of the World to Come.


Sunday after Sunday, we conclude our profession of faith with this phrase.  In the creedal context, “… the life of the world to come” invites our belief in a resurrection beyond our mortal horizons.  As we begin this new Program Year – our second consecutive launched during this pandemic – we offer the phrase as a broader invitation to look beyond our present age and to dare imagine God’s hopes for our future – beyond “the horror of intercontinental warfare;” beyond this virus; beyond all the sufferings of our time.  And believing our “eternal life” is already underway, our hopes immediately join those of Brooks’ consecration, the Richardsons’ prayers, and the holy aspirations of all the Trinity Church faithful who have served this city for nearly 300 years.


Thanks be to God, we will take a consequential step into this new life when, on September 12, we regather for in-person worship inside our treasured Copley Square home.  On that Sunday, our schedule will be as follows:


  9am   Worship from the West Porch (outdoors, minimum constraints)

10am   All-Ages Formation

11am   Holy Eucharist, Rite II (indoors, masked, pre-registration required)

12pm   Coffee on the Porch

  5pm   Holy Eucharist, Rite II (indoors, masked, pre-registration required)

  6pm   Lemonade on the Porch


Mindful of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts’ directives that went into effect only last week, and keeping current with civic, state, and federal guidance, your parish leadership – Vestry, Regathering Task Force, staff, and ministry leaders – have worked faithfully to develop protocols to ensure our richest, safest return.  Next Tuesday, September 7, we will share details about our strategies, including instructions for worship pre-registration.  That same day, “comfort calls” to everyone in the parish will begin – with intention to check-in on how you are feeling and to answer any questions you might have.


Between now and then, I share that the year will begin with a three-week sermon series on I Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul’s hymn to love.  Each Sunday will present a contemporary reading of a different section in the text, holding before us that urgent, essential foundation of life in the world to come.


Please also find below descriptions of our plans for those first three Sundays of our Program Year: September 12, 19, and 26.  In addition to these highlights, I am excited to share word of a Prayer Wall, which will center our fall together, through our Stewardship season and into November.  Designed and built by parish craftsmen and artists Greg Cope, Brad Johnson, and Rich Worthen, the public installation will front the Square and display not only the penned prayers of our congregation, but the hopes of our neighbors and passers-by who want to speak their hearts into the coming world.  In time, all these petitions and aspirations will be included in a time capsule we will stow for the Trinity Church of 2071.


Finally, the inaugural colors of our Life of the World to Come graphic could be encountered as either a sunrise blooming over our familiar spire, or a sunset descending beyond the same.  As we brace for this fall – uncertain as all those before it – may we at Trinity Church choose to see a warm, bright, rising, joy-filled sun, believing that our God is making all things new, continually and forever … and even now.


With Love, in Love, and for Love,




Re-gather / Re-connect / Re-discover

Sundays, September 12, 19 and 26

Church porches and grounds

10:00 am and 6:00 pm


Join fellow Trinitarians of every age for some long-delayed joy out in the fresh air on Sunday mornings and at the close of the day. Mindful of current COVID restrictions, we've planned fellowship and formation to be out of doors or sheltered by our porches.  All programming welcomes all ages.  Families may opt to stay together or participate in activities or small group conversations individually.

  • September 12: Re-gathering 
    • Come and have breakfast -- or a breakfast sandwich -- while we visit with each other, play some classic summer lawn games, craft a "word bracelet," hear some live music or script a prayer for our outdoor prayer wall. We'll have suitable "late day" snacks for those joining us after worship at 5:00 pm.
  • September 19: Re-connecting
    • How do we begin to tell each other about these 19 months of "alone together" as God's people? What would you put into a time capsule to tell the Trinity Church parish of 2071 about our lives and experiences of 2020/2021? We invite you to bring an object -- or a picture of an object -- to church with you on this Sunday to share in a small group conversation with other parishioners about the history we have lived through since March, 2020.
  • September 26: Re-discovering
    • If we're lucky, we have some chances to learn a lot about each other in the course of "being church" -- but it's a process that usually takes months or years! This morning, in a fun and largely silent group exercise, we'll try out a new way of "surfacing the narratives" -- and re-discovering what a varied and surprising assortment of people call Trinity Church their home each week.