September 14, 2015

Holy Trinity, Holy Smoke! Part 3

This is the last of a 3-part series about the relationship ministry of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in South Bend, Indiana. Read part 1 and part 2.

Holy Trinity in South Bend, Indiana, is a church with a passion for processionals with “smells and bells” around its neighborhood, and a penchant for developing relationships over food. So, what better symbol for one of its latest neighborhood events, a barbecue cook-off, than a grill-turned-thurible!

Everyone who competed in the “Holy Smoke” cook-off was asked to prepare 5 pounds of meat.

“We invited neighbors to come help feed neighbors,” explains Holy Trinity priest-in-charge Terri Bays.

The day included fire prevention education provided by the South Bend Fire Department and kids getting to sit behind the wheel of a squad car at the invitation of police officers who came for the food and fun.

Holy Smoke was another example of how Holy Trinity’s ministry is with its neighbors and community, not “for” them. For the past three years, parishioners have worshipped and prayed not just within the walls of the church, but on the sidewalks of the neighborhood. They’ve invited neighbors, police, and other government officials to eat, meet, and work together to combat crime and poverty.

While this ministry has blessed Holy Trinity with new members and renewed energy and focus, finances remain tight. The church is located in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Bend. Yet, proclaims Mother Terri, “We are not a dying parish. We don’t have to wait for someone to come rescue us. Our job is to find our own ministry gifts and use them.”

The Holy Smoke cook-off was evidence of that philosophy. The day was a fundraiser for the church as well as a time to fellowship with neighbors. Still, the church is searching for deeper spiritual growth for its members. That may come through something that hasn’t occurred at Holy Trinity for as long as most folks can remember: a call for financial pledges through an annual giving campaign.

Strengthening the ministry of stewardship is a growing priority for Holy Trinity. Some lay leaders recently attended a diocesan workshop that offered ideas for year ‘round stewardship. They liked what they heard, especially as explained in the book highlighted at the conference, Ask, Thank, Tell by Charles R. Lane.  Lane suggests that churches consider discipleship as the goal of stewardship, offering this goal statement:

"The goal of our stewardship ministry is to help God's people grow in their relationship with Jesus through the use of the time, talents, and finances God has entrusted to them."

Holy Trinity is a blessing to its corner of God’s Kingdom. Its people have prayed and listened to God’s answer: serve and be in relationship with your neighbors. Please join me in giving thanks for Holy Trinity’s witness and praying that God will continue to bless their faithfulness in the years ahead.

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