Rarely am I rendered speechless, but Saturday was such an occasion. It began with the complete transformation of our parish hall into an art gallery. We took every shred of furniture to a giant closet upstairs and constructed large frames with black over them on which to hang art; we flipped bookshelves and desks to create gallery space. And we filled the entire place with local artists, exhibiting photography, paintings, drawings, felting, and ceramics. This is to say nothing of the sanctuary, in which the Stations of the Cross were replaced with bright linoleum prints by a famous local artist, and which was host to five different musical performances that afternoon, from young violinists to well-known guitarists and dulcimer players.
But here’s the piece de resistance: we also hosted the Chamber of Commerce Wine Walk, which guaranteed loads of people would be in our building to see the art and hear the music. Our folks provided an array of tasty cookies, cheeses (horseradish takes blue ribbon), and meatballs, providing hospitality to all the people who came through our space that day. One of our members stood outside in the cold all afternoon to direct people and convince them that yes, the winery was really in the parish hall- it wasn’t a bizarre joke.
It took all of us pulling together; Holy Trinity is a small congregation, numbering in the twenties. So, why, you might ask, did we go to all the trouble? Because that Saturday is the biggest Saturday in our town: part of the annual Victorian Christmas Celebration. You want to prove community buy-in? Then you must show up for the main events. We have a wonderfully gifted musical couple who organized the art and music; the rest of the congregation had the interest and willingness to provide good hospitality. And voila, a brilliant event was born.
We had fun. Yes, it was work. Yes, I collapsed on my couch in a dark room after the event concluded. But it was a blast and a complete success: now over 400 people have discovered where Holy Trinity is. I heard people coming in say they didn’t know this church was here; as they left, my greeter heard them say it was such a warm church. Mission accomplished! The full mission of reaching people for Jesus? Of course not. But getting people to know we exist in the community, that’s a terrific first step, and we’re working on how to follow-up.
I’ve gone from speechless to gushing, but I’m wicked proud of everyone’s work and everyone’s joy in the work. The work of getting known in a community, of sharing the love of God, is one that takes time and commitment; it requires understanding of what church is and how church is not about the people who already attend, but about those who do not yet attend. I’m gushing because that transformation is taking place at Holy Trinity. It will take time; it will be hard work. But the Holy Spirit is moving in new directions, at Holy Trinity and in this diocese. I’m excited and scared and interested to see just what she will do in our midst to change us and our communities.
Melinda Hall is vicar of Holy Trinity, Brookville