Baptisms from Fall 2011
What a joy it is to watch people be baptized. For some of us, it conjures up memories of our own baptism, while for those of us not yet baptized, it makes us wonder about its significance and symbolism. Whereever we are coming from as we witness this sacramental moment, we can not deny its power and beauty.
If you have questions about baptism or are interested in being baptized email our adminstrator, Candace Smartt by clicking here.
Celebrating Trinity's Youth by Jesi Allers
Here is a quick reflection from Youth Pastor, Jesi Allers, on our Youth Group and their upcoming Lasagna Dinner Fundraiser & Talent Show.
Sometimes teenagers don’t seem to get along very well. In a place like school, where there are lots of options to pick the people who look just like you, they tend to simply end up in community with mirror images of themselves while simultaneously growing a distrust of the other. Nature usually takes its course and they then grow up to be adults who do the same thing. I know this because most of my friends are like me.
Here the youth are huddled around the kitchen table on their retreat last year. (Don't worry, thumbs down is the new thumbs up.)
For some reason, however, the Lord has not seen fit to let this happen in our youth group. There is no ability to show up and anonymously slip into a sea of sameness. There are times when this feels hard. It takes work and intentional effort from both our kids and our volunteers to know and be known by people so seemingly different from ourselves. Yet through the Holy Spirit, these kids are known to each other; there is a familiarity, a deep calling out to deep.
One night a year we come together as a church community to celebrate our youth. If you have ever wondered what it would look like to have Taylor Swift take the stage, see Michael Jackson dance once again, learn how to solve a Rubik's Cube and smell pancakes cooking to the sounds of Frank Sinatra that Aunt Jemima herself couldn’t touch, all on one stage, in one hour, by teenagers who have little in common with each other…I can tell you. To me, it looks and smells and sounds like heaven. Each year I find myself stopping (despite the fact that there are probably people waiting for their food or something has been spilled) and looking at the people who surround me. I am taken aback and left breathless. Its not just the fact that our youth are celebrating each other, although that is amazing in and of itself for teenagers, but it’s the fact that our church as a whole is celebrating with them. It’s a moment for grandparents and kids, single people, married people, Christians and people who haven’t set foot in a church in a year to come together and eat, laugh and cheer. This breathless moment then brings me to tears.
Poised for greatness and perched on the deck railing at last Fall's retreat in North Carolina. This is where meaningful friendships are formed.
We are part of something so very special here at Trinity. I’m so proud of the church that we are. I’m so proud of the youth group that we have. Our lasagna dinner on Saturday the 22nd is a fundraiser for a retreat that we will be going on in November and that’s great, but most importantly, its an opportunity for us to come together as a community and eat and laugh with those who are not mirror images of ourselves. If you are able to make it, it’s not too late to sign up and join us. Shoot me an email with the number of people in your party and I will gladly add you to the RSVP list or sign up this Sunday in the atrium!
Alabama Relief Reflections by John Burke
Less than a week after the devastating tornadoes struck Alabama and Georgia, the staff at Trinity was looking for a way the church could help out. A woman named Rita, who was somehow connected with the Anglican Mission (more would be learned of this connection later), contacted Kris to say how much large chainsaws were needed. Within a week, three brand new chainsaws were delivered by Trinity to be donated to various groups throughout Alabama. The need for chainsaws continued, and through donations, Trinity was able to purchase three more chainsaws to give to Rita for distribution. Two of the donated chainsaws went directly to the Mayor of Pisgah, Alabama who immediately took them from Rita’s trunk to the truck of waiting first responders who quickly departed to put them to use. It was also around this time that the staff at Trinity was looking to see if we could develop enough contacts to send a volunteer group to Alabama to help out. The summer that followed was an amazing testament to what is possible when we listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and work through His power to further His kingdom.
We weren’t quite sure of the particulars while we were planning the first trip (where we would stay, where we would work, how we would get the volunteers, etc.), but what we were sure of was that the Holy Spirit wanted this thing to happen. Indeed, all the details just fell into place. St. Peters Anglican Mission of Mountain Brook, Alabama opened its doors to give a place to sleep to a group of ten volunteers who came together to give up a weekend to be the hands and feet of Jesus. When we departed Friday morning, less than three weeks after the initial contact from a total stranger about whom we still knew little, we had absolutely no idea what kind of volunteer work we would be able to do, if any. We took a bunch of donated goods from the congregation and headed to Christian Service Mission in Birmingham where we would meet Rita and drop off the donations. We then headed to a Red Cross relief center in Pratt City, a lower income and predominately black neighborhood in Birmingham that had seen severe damage from the storms. The Red Cross provided us with the chance to unload multiple tractor-trailers full of donated goods as well as an assignment to clear a fallen tree and other debris from a yard in the local community. By noon the first day, all our questions had been answered, and we were already seeing the impact of our work.
It was also on the first day that we would learn more about Rita, our local contact who was making this all possible, and get a first glimpse of Bethel Baptist Church – a place which God would burn indelibly on many of our hearts. Rita Green was a member of the AMIA’s prayer leadership team who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and now lives in Columbia, South Carolina. After the storms hit, she followed The Spirit’s lead, loaded up her car with a few supplies, and headed for Alabama. She then simply drove where the Spirit led through some of the hardest-hit areas, asking if there was anything she could help with and if she could pray for people. It was this mission that led her to Bethel Baptist Church. Bethel had taken a direct hit from one of the larger tornadoes, and their building was a complete loss. Through Rita, we have developed a lasting relationship with Bethel Baptist and have been able to do work for them on every trip since the first one. The first trip provided everyone involved with such a life giving experience that we immediately decided this was something that needed to be repeated. We scheduled a trip for June and a trip for July and had open sign-ups at church that quickly filled up.
Each subsequent trip developed its own mission and dynamic. Volunteers came with their own stories and relationships that worked together to give each trip its own identity. The second trip led us to Cullman, Alabama where we cut 16’ lengths of fallen trees that would be milled into lumber to erect a barn that would be used for a “Cowboy Church” that was attracting young members of the community. This trip was also marked by the inclusion of multiple musicians and wonderful, Spirit-filled worship, including a Sunday morning worship service in the ruins of Bethel Baptist’s sanctuary. On the third trip, we were able to do tremendous work on a cemetery connected to Bethel Baptist church and made new, lasting connections with members of the Pratt City Community. We were given lunch on Saturday afternoon by members of True Life Missionary Baptist Church, and we also shared a wonderful worship service with them on Sunday morning. The most recent trip had a couple of amazing things surrounding it. After the first two scheduled trips, we were thinking about whether or not to make another trip. We knew the work was there but just didn’t know if this is where the Spirit was leading us. We decided to send out an email to our list of past volunteers and people who had expressed interest and let the response determine if we would go again. After a somewhat lack-luster response, I simply felt we had accomplished what we were meant to accomplish for the time being. God had other plans. Two Saturday’s before the tentative trip date, we received a call from Rita that would change our minds. She had been attending a Dallas Willard conference in Birmingham, Ironically on “Hearing God,” when she felt the Spirit lead her to drive over to Bethel Baptist Church. The church building had already been demolished, and all that remained was a desolate slab and acres of fallen trees and scattered debris. She wasn’t sure why she was going or what she would find, but she obeyed. When she arrived, she saw that she was not alone. One of the Deacons of the church was also at the site. He expressed to her his gratitude for all the work we had previously done and how honored they would be to have continued help from volunteers from our church. The adjoining property was not covered under their insurance policy and still looked like a war zone. After the call, we decided we would simply go to the church body again in the form of sign-ups to fill the roster. Not only did we come up with eighteen volunteers, but we were also blessed with a large piece of heavy machinery that allowed us perform much more work. All in all, we have made four weekend trips to Alabama with over 60 volunteers. We have impacted six Alabama churches and countless members of the Pratt City community. The Holy Spirit has been prevalent in the foundation and implementation of each and every trip.
But this story would not be complete without mention of some of the miraculous stories we have come across along the way. On the very first trip, we saw house after house in ruins where all that seemed to be standing was a closet that amazingly still had clothes in it. One couldn’t help but think that someone must have been hiding in that closet. On each subsequent trip, we would hear the stories of God’s protection. From survivors who told of seeing their house disappear around them while they were lifted off the ground in a bath tub before being set back down without a scratch to the father and three children who were in a gas station who were able to escape just before the entire building was pushed off the back of a hill, we definitely heard more stories of redemption than death. But the absolute best story we heard came from a little house that sat directly across the street from Bethel Baptist Church. From the vacant lot of Bethel, we could see directly into this house where all that remained was a couple of interior walls and a recliner. One day, one of the former inhabitants ventured over to where we were working to share his story with us. His mother was elderly and had just had open-heart surgery the week prior to the storm. Normally she was bed ridden, but on the day of the storm, she had wanted to sit in her chair and had asked her son to help her into it. The chair had a mechanical lift that allowed her to get in and out of it, and she was still in this chair when the power was cut off by the impending storm. Once it was apparent that the storm was crashing down on them, the son had no other recourse but to throw himself on top of his mother to shelter her. After less than a minute of what was described as “ten freight trains” of noise and chaos, the son pried himself off his mother to realize that the entire roof and the two outside walls of the room were gone along with the bed. All that remained was the recliner, and the most amazing part of the story was that after he pulled himself away from his mother, he realized that one of the angel figurines that she collected had somehow come to rest between their two bodies.
While the stories we heard and the people we met are both amazing and miraculous, one of the most spectacular parts of these volunteer trips has to be the trust and camaraderie we have developed with the Pratt City community. In a neighborhood that is still wounded from the heated battle for civil rights that left Birmingham with the title of “Bombingham,” it has been amazing to see how God has used these missions to bring unity where there once was division. As Rita is fond of saying, we have “pushed back darkness” through the power of the Spirit in a time of loss and destruction. These trips have definitely been an example of God using all things for His good. We at Trinity can’t wait to see where God leads us next and are eternally grateful for the opportunities we have been given thus far.
An Interview with Sarah Garner on Signing & Ministry
Ever been worshipping at Trinity and noted the young woman at the front left signing to the congregation? We reached out to Sarah Garner asking her questions of how she learned sign language, how she uses it to connect with others and the ways the Lord has used this form of communicating for His kingdom good.
Marty Reardon: What encouraged you to learn sign language?
Sarah Garner: I met a deaf girl when I was in 8th grade with whom I wanted to be friends. We wanted to giggle and talk about boys but I was intimidated by having to talk to her adult interpreter in order to communicate with her. The interpreter started a class at my church specifically for kids in our age group so we could learn to communicate and become friends. She and I are still good friends today. I picked up the language more quickly and easily than anything else I'd tried to learn in life and I knew it was a gift from the Lord. I took ASL (American Sign Language) as my foreign language in high school and studied it in college through Georgia Perimeter's Interpreter Training Program.
M.R.: How did you begin signing for the deaf at Trinity?
S.G.: Providing an interpreting service at a church is a dilemma of which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do you wait for there to be a need for the service or do you have someone interpret each week for years before a deaf person attends? Last year at Health day I met a deaf man named Greg. I interpreted for him at Health day and invited him to come to Trinity. I didn't hear from him for almost a year. I was serving with another homeless ministry when I met Merry and her children. Merry had not been able to attend church because there wasn't anyone sharing the gospel in her language. I began bringing Merry and her kids to Trinity each week and through Merry I was reconnected with Greg.
M.R.: What other ways have you been able to use your skill in signing?
S.G.: I was recently blessed with the opportunity to travel to Russia as an American Sign Language Interpreter for a Deaf team. There, my team and I lead a camp for Deaf children. Contrary to popular belief, sign language is not international. Ideally we would have an English/Russian translator as well. Often the Holy Spirit's power of translation that was present in Acts was all we could depend on, and the Lord was faithful to help us cross the communicational divide. I planned to go only as an interpreter but the Lord exceeded my expectations and allowed me to create and execute the games and crafts with the kids at the camp. They seemed to really enjoy the games and we incorporated a Bible lesson into each of the crafts as a hands on way of learning. This approach also helped bridge the language barrier. During our time in Russia, the Lord gifted me with being able to quickly pick up Russian Sign Language. This allowed me to enter the culture and build relationships with the girls at the camp: talking about boys, life in America, braiding hair, and just being girls. Being given the opportunity to serve through an actual service (interpreting) AND spend time sharing the love of Christ with Deaf teen girls were fulfilling in every way. The weather was beautiful in Russia. I was blessed with some alone time in creation each morning and the Lord whispered His truth to me. It is my prayer that as I return to the routine of life here in the States that I am able to apply the lessons learned from the exciting events of my trip. I also pray to remember the characteristics of the Lord that He revealed to me during my time in Russia.
M.R.: How does your knowledge of ASL inform your worship of God?
S.G.: Just as we were created to worship, I was created to communicate in sign language. I believe that when we use our gifts to serve and worship the Lord it is a blessing to our Father as well as to us. There are times that I am interpreting and the Lord gives me a conceptual translation that changes and deepens my understanding of the message.
M.R.: What would you like to see accomplished in terms of a Deaf community/ministry/signing at Trinity?
S.G.: I would love for our Deaf ministry to be an extension of the Body in a way that brings the gospel to those who would not otherwise "hear". It is my prayer that the Lord grows the attendance of our Deaf community so that they can find a "home" within Trinity's walls and they would feel a part of the church, not an exception within it. I also hope that the Lord would draw in and raise up those whose gift is communicating with their hands; that they also can find a place to connect and serve within Trinity.
5 Questions for Ashley Mathews, Trinity's Assistant Pastor on Monday School
Marty Reardon recently pitched a few questions Ashley's way on Monday School. Ashley is Trinity's latest staff addition, coming on as an Assistant Pastor; facilitating classes, preaching and overseeing our efforts for making Trinity a more hospitable place of worship. Here is what she had to share on the fall's coming class.
Marty Reardon: Why Monday School?
Ashley Mathews: In addition to Sunday services and Small Groups, Monday School is designed to provide the church with another opportunity to engage with God’s Word in an intentional and transformational way. Since we do not offer traditional Sunday School classes at Trinity, Monday School provides a way for the church to study the Scriptures more broadly beyond the lectionary passages used on Sundays and in Small Groups. It is a chance to give focused and sustained attention to larger portions of the biblical text while also engaging with the perspectives and experiences embodied within our church community and beyond. In short, it is a way to create space to hear from God’s Word and from one another. Our prayer is that Monday School would be about the work of loving God with heart, soul, and mind, and in so doing, that we the church would grow in our love of neighbor and self.
M.R.: What is the format? How long are the classes?
A.M.: The classes are typically, though not exclusively, centered on the teaching of a well esteemed author or scholar either through a book, Bible Study, or video lecture series. When we are using a book study, it is standard to read portions of the book throughout the week as “homework” and then engage with the material in a small group setting for an hour and a half. The same is true if we are following a structured “workbook style” Bible study and varies very little if we are using video curriculum. These studies tend to run for six to eight weeks depending on the length of the material. However, there are many ways to interact with and study God’s Word, and we are ever expectant that the Spirit is forming and leading our church in new ways as we endeavor to grow in our knowledge of Christ.
M.R.: What should I expect? Homework? Lectures?
A.M.: Although the length and format of the homework depends on the material being used, a person can always count on a couple of things. One, there will be something to read, write, or think about outside of actual class time. Two, we will never require anything exceeding thirty minutes of daily reading. Oh! And three, it will be really good stuff!
Our goal is to become a people who read their Bibles to live, not simply to increase in knowledge. However, we will never become those people if we do not demonstrate sustainable practices. Because we value the variety of gifts and experiences embodied within our community, it is our practice to hear from as many different teachers and leaders as possible. That being said, participants should always expect primarily to hear from those around them in their smaller study groups. Our prayer is that a spirit of hospitality would extend far beyond the Café and the Atrium into our neighborhoods and wherever it is that we gather together as servants of the living Word.
M.R.: Who should sign up? What if I’m in a Small Group?
A.M.: People should come to Monday School who 1) want to develop sustainable practices for studying and meditating on the scriptures 2) enjoy studying the Bible and theology 3) want to know, listen to, and learn from others
People should not come to Monday School who are too stinkin’ busy! Seriously. Don’t sign up if you are at church four days a week. If someone is searching for a way to get connected socially at Trinity, Small Groups are the best way to go. However, if Small Groups are not an option or if someone feels like he or she has the time and the desire to do both, then Monday School is a great way to get connected.
5 Questions for Brad Mauldin, Trinity's Small Groups Pastor
Recently, Marty Reardon asked Brad Mauldin, our Small Groups Pastor, to share his vision for small groups and how he found his place at Trinity. Here is what he had to say.
Marty Reardon: Why Small Groups?
Brad Mauldin: Trinity small groups allow for a large community to turn toward one another on a consistent basis and in a smaller environment than a typical Sunday service. Small groups provide a platform for transformative relationships through the development of a deeper understanding of God’s word, spiritual friendships that intentionally encourage one another to the feet of Jesus, and a supportive and accountable environment to apply God’s word to our lives so that we are transformed and move toward our Lord’s hope that we develop the character and heart of Christ.
M.R.: What is the format of Small Groups at Trinity?
B.M.: Most of our small groups meet on a regular basis (weekly or every other week) in people's homes and spend time together hanging out, discussing the previous Sunday's sermon, and praying together. Many small groups also organize times together beyond the weekly meetings like a weekend retreat, meals together, or Braves’ games.
M.R.: What is your role as Small Groups Pastor?
B.M.: My role is to care for the vision of small groups at Trinity. In addition to keeping a finger on the pulse of our groups and how well they are reaching our goals, my role entails challenging, encouraging, and providing pastoral care and direction to the small group leaders.
M.R.: What is your vision for Small Groups at Trinity?
B.M.: My vision for Trinity small groups is that they would be a foundation of spiritual formation for our community. I am convinced that change takes place in the context of relationships since God Himself is relational. When we spend time with each other in the context of Christian community, we are in the midst of the deepest source of love, power, and strength through Jesus Christ. With the right intentions for spiritual friendships and focus on His word, this unifying power and strength in Christ can transform our hearts and help provide the foundation for intentional lives marked by a more mature and eternal focus on bringing God’s will to fruition here on earth as it is in heaven. Small groups can be a community that creates and sustains momentum toward kingdom-oriented living that bears the fruit of the Spirit in the actions toward one another and as the group member engages the daily rhythm of the ordinary details of their lives outside the group.
M.R.: What brought you to Trinity in the first place and how did that evolve into working here?
B.M.: My wife and I stumbled into Trinity over five years ago based on the recommendation of a total stranger. I was in graduate school at the time and during a weekend course sat next to an older lady who struck up a conversation on churches. I shared with her our frustrations in searching for a church community and she shared that her son had made a video for a church on our side of town. We visited the next Sunday and haven’t looked back. We got involved in small group leadership and other things like serving in the café and serving communion and the community has become our home. This past winter, as I was completing (finally) my grad school program at Richmont in counseling, the church approached me about taking on the full-time role of small group pastor. I had been working in education for a dozen years and most recently as the equivalent of a campus pastor. I loved my job, the school community, and the people I worked with every day. However, I couldn’t shake the sense that God had orchestrated this fork in the road and by accepting the job I was taking a step toward growing in areas He wanted to work on in me. So we excitedly (and I’d be lying if we didn’t say with some trepidation) accepted the invitation. Being life-long Atlantans, my wife and I (and our little girl Emery) are so excited to be even more integrated and planted, and to use the gifts and passions God has given us, into the Trinity and city community.
Alabama Two Months Later
Shannon Alderman edited this small video from the footage she captured on the most recent Alabama relief trip. If you are interested in going to serve others in this way, you can sign up in the atrium.
Continue to pray for those in the affected areas.
5 Questions for Trinity's Sister Church; Village Church Vinings
Village Church is a young church that has launched in the Vinings area. Curt Benham, Village Church's lead pastor, took a moment to answer a few questions from us here at Trinity. If you would like more information on the church, its mission and meeting times you can find that information here on their website: http://villagechurchvinings.org/
Jeff Guy: How did you first realize you were being called to begin Village Church?
Curt Benham: It all started with our neighborhood.
When my wife and I moved into our neighborhood about five years ago, we immediately fell in love with the place and with our neighbors. As we made friends there and as we started to have some “Jesus-y” conversations, we heard over and over stories of de-churched people. These friends of ours don’t have any extreme intellectual skepticism, and most of them aren’t mad at Jesus. They have, however, pretty-much bailed on church (mostly because many of them were burned by the church as some point in their lives). Most sadly, most of them have never really heard the good news of God’s one-way love for them in Jesus Christ. They grew-up hearing a message of “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” at church rather than the gospel. We really wanted them to know the unconditional love of Jesus rather than the “if you do better and try harder … then God might love you” message they received at church growing-up.
So to make a long story short, a little over three years ago the Holy Spirit gave me an inkling to start a church the could reach the people in our neighborhood.
Strangely enough, the Holy Spirit was doing the same thing at the same time in my friend Jonathan Adams’ heart.
So over the course of several years God brought us to a place where we were sure of our call to leave our comfortable ministry jobs at a very large church here in Atlanta and plant The Village Church.
J.G.: What did you feel specifically called to do with this church plant? Or, were there things and needs you immediately saw that you wished the church to meet?
C.B.: We had several years to think and pray about what kind of church we were called to plant. So when we actually started building our “launch team” (the group of Christians with whom we panted the church) we had a pretty good understanding of where we thought God was leading us.
Obviously, our main calling was (and is) to reach our unchurched and dechurched friends in our neighborhoods. So the question was (and is!): how are we going to do that?
We knew we wanted to be a simple church (not tons of programming for programming’s sake).
We knew we wanted to be a mildly liturgical church, and we knew that our liturgy would come from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. So it was natural that we joined the Anglican Mission.
We knew we wanted our church to embody three core values: Gospel, Community, and Mission. Here’s what I mean by that:
The good news of Christ and him crucifiedis the foundation, the walls, the roof, the EVERYTHING of what we do and why we do it. Only the gospel changes lives and brings us peace with God, and that’s the message we want our neighbors to hear and receive.
So when people come to know Jesus as their Redeemer, and when we Christians live our lives constantly astonished by God’s one-way love for us, then two things happen: We live in biblical community with each other (we actively love each other and we take care of each other) and we live our lives on-mission (speaking and living the gospel message into the lives of other people.)
So if we have people coming to know Jesus as their Redeemer, and if we Christians are living in gospel astonishment, and if we’re taking care of each other and loving each other, and if we’re on-mission in our everyday lives, that’s a win for us!
J.G.: Why Vinings? How did this become the place for the church?
C.B.: Simple. I live really close to Vinings and Jonathan lives really close to Vinings. It’s where we live and it’s where we hang-out. It’s where our friends live and hang-out too, so it just made sense.
J.G.: For the sake of families who are searching for a home to worship from, what sort of childcare is available? What is it like for the children?
C.B.: There are more young families than any other demographic in our church, so there are children EVERYWHERE on Sunday mornings! Our first hire was a children’s coordinator who designs and implements our Sunday mornings children’s ministry.
We have a nursery for the babies and three classes for kids – preschool, young elementary and older elementary. It’s not Nickelodeon, but it is relational and it’s fun and we talk about Jesus a lot with our kids.
We value families worshipping together, so families are free to choose to have their children stay with them for the entire worship service or to have them attend children’s ministry activities.
J.G.: How has God been at work through the church? What sorts of ministries and events have been inspired to sprout up?
C.B.: This whole Gospel-Community-Mission thing really touched a nerve (in a good way!) with our people. When you have people who are absolutely blown-away by Jesus’ love for them, and when you have people who want to let the world know about that love, some really cool stuff starts to happen. From simple stuff like a guy who started a Bible study in his home for the guys he grew-up with (two of them have become Christians!) to a couple starting Young Life at Campbell High School to five couples starting a ministry to help imprisoned kids in Africa (see www.sixtyfeet.org) to one family adopting two of those imprisoned African children, to all of us striving to love our families, do good work, love our neighbors and tell them about Jesus … through all of this God is at work!
5 Questions for Trinity's Sister Church; Church of the Advent
Church of the Advent began in 2009 and was sent out as a church plant under the leadership at Trinity. The leaders at Advent had all worshipped with us at Trinity for sometime. Since the church began a couple of years ago now, we thought it good to check in with them and hear what the Lord has been doing in their congregation and neighboorhood. Here is what Vicar, Dale Brown, had to share.
Jeff Guy: When and how did you become called to plant Advent?
Dale Brown: I have known since 1998 when I was skipping high school and driving down to Little Five Points that I was going to be planting some kind of church on the East Side of Atlanta. Over a ten year period, that vision became clearer and in 2009 things started to come together between the leadership at Trinity and some guys I recruited to help me plant a church. It was a long journey that included a lot of bumps in the road, prayer, and study. But God placed the desire in my heart for the East Side and in his timing he opened the doors.
J.G.: Does Advent share a common "DNA" with Trinity? And if so, how does worship favor or differentiate?
D.B.: I would say we definitely share a common DNA. I was with Trinity back when it was planted out of the Atlanta Vineyard, along with Daryl Boyer, our associate pastor. The whole leadership team at The Advent considered Trinity our home all the way up to launching out. We still don't see ourselves as necessarily separate from Trinity, but we see us both as participating members of one church in the city of Atlanta. The centrality of the Word and of Communion within our worship unite us with Trinity in the Anglican Way. However, we do tend to lean into the liturgical a little bit more than Trinity. For example, some of the things that might set us a part from Trinity is our use of incense, holy water, and the fact that I generally wear a collar. These things might seem strange, but they are a part of the ancient church and find themselves within the broader Anglican Tradition. Of course those things are not doctrinal they are simply a part of a long tradition in Anglicanism of liturgical worship which engages all five senses in worship. Within Anglicanism there is latitude for churches to use those things or not.
J.G.: You first began meeting at St. Paul's in Midtown and now meet in Kirkwood. Is there a significance to your location?
D.B.: St. Paul's was an amazing opportunity for us as a church. We were blessed with a very inexpensive place to meet and worship when we first launched out on our own. After meeting there for about nine months we were able to find a place on the east side in the Kirkwood area to meet. Our current location is significant; I grew up hanging out on the east side of Atlanta and for the past four years my family has lived here. We actually just bought our first house over here. Our church is about 1 mile away from Little Five Points and the East Atlanta Village. Likewise, we are close to Downtown Decatur. There is a real need for churches on this side of town. At the heart of it, The Advent exists to be a sacramental presence of Christ's love on the east side. That is why for me it is important to live where I worship. I come to church on Sundays to worship only to leave the doors of the Church to love the people right outside them. I get to see Christ in the sacrament and then hopefully continue to see Christ in our neighbors during the week. As the most well known Anglican C.S. Lewis says in the Weight of Glory, "Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses."
J.G.: Presently, what would you say your congregation is comprised of? Are they students, young, older, creatives, professionals, families, etc.?
D.B.: As a young church plant, we are blessed to have bit of all of those categories represented. We are generally younger, 20-30 somethings. We have a few families and a few older couples. We have people from all walks of life: students, general contractors, doctors, and entrepreneurs. We have several people who are involved in the arts. What's been interesting to me is that a lot of people are so eager to learn. We have regular classes on theology, church history, art, liturgy, and literature. We have reading groups on a variety of topics such as the "Lesser Known Works of C.S. Lewis". We'll soon have documentary nights where we will screen films such as "In Search of the Wrong Eyed Jesus" and "The Mystery of the Jesus Prayer: An Ancient Pilgrimage". We even have guest lecturers from different colleges and churches speaking on things such as "Liturgy and the Arts" and "The Spirituality of Tolkien and Lewis in their Writings". As a life-long student this is exciting to me. It is good to see people engaging in a life of thought, study, and culture.
J.G.: Where is the Holy Spirit leading the church at this present time and what challenges lie ahead?
D.B.: This is a very interesting question since we have just celebrated the Feast of Pentecost which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Holy Spirit is leading us, like He did in the Book of Acts, into mission. In the coming months we will be running the Alpha Course for the second time in the life of our church. This time it will be at Manuel's Tavern. We are entering into a time of studying and learning about Islam and our Muslim neighbors (we are close to the oldest mosque and Muslim community in the city of Atlanta) so that we can engage them and show them the love of Christ. We of course are not going to be targeting them with a mass evangelistic campaign, but we do hope to learn about a part of our community which is often kept at a distance by Christians either out of fear or laziness, in the hopes that we could show in practical ways the virtues of hospitality and love. In that way maybe some will come to faith in Jesus. However, I am absolutely sure that none of our Muslim neighbors will come to faith in Christ if they are kept at arm's length, that is what we are hoping to overcome. We are also working on building a sister church relationship with an Egyptian Anglican parish. All of this is some of the more organized efforts we are working through right now as we live out our faith in our community. As always though, we are continuing to remind ourselves that it is not just the organized events that shape mission, but that a large part of mission is continuing to learn how to love God and love our neighbors as are selves.
As in all churches, big and small, new and old, there are a lot of challenges. At the present we are looking for a place that will be a home for a while. Our current location has been a wonderful place to get a good core group of people together, but now that we have broken that 50-people mark we are looking to move into a larger space. We are searching for something that can accommodate our growing children's ministry and give us some more space for Sunday worship. Being wise stewards of the space we have while continuing to search for a new one close by is going to be the key for us to continue to be missional in our community.
To learn more about Advent and its mission, check out their website found here at www.theadventatlanta.org.
5 Questions for the Crew at Give Us Names
I recently proposed a few questions to the crew at Give Us Names, a missional organization seeking to bring light to an often overlooked injustice taking place within Columbia. Here is what they collectively had to say. For further exploration into the ministry and how you can be a part, go to their website at www.giveusnames.com.
Jeff Guy: What is the backstory of Colombia? How did Plan Colombia take shape and what has been the efficacy of this war on coca plants?
Give Us Names: Colombians say that not a single generation within their country has ever known peace. From the moment Simon Bolivar began his fight to liberate the country in 1810, there has been one constant in Colombia: violence. The violence that presently plagues the country began in 1948 between the wealthy minority and the peasant, working majority. The peasant rebellion was forced to flee to the countryside as the far-right Colombian government brutally cracked down. In the countryside the peasants formed a leftist-marxist guerilla group calling themselves the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia(F.A.R.C.). In response, the wealthy elite formed their own armed groups, private militias that Colombians broadly refer to as "The Paramilitaries". These two armed groups have been fighting with one another for decades, and the people of Colombia have been caught in the crossfire.
In the 1980's both the leftist guerillas and the right-wing paramilitaries began trafficking cocaine in order to fund their respective groups. These groups cashed in on the high demand for cocaine in the United States, allowing them to more than triple in size in the 1990's alone. By the late 1990's Colombia had one of the most violent internal conflicts in the world. It was at this point The United States government began to panic about the influx of cocaine on American streets, as well as the security situation within Colombia. In 1999 the United States launched a program to combat the production of cocaine within Colombia. This policy is known as Plan Colombia. In theory, this policy is carried out by flying crop-dusting planes into the Colombian countryside and spraying chemicals on and solely destroying the coca plant (the plant that is used to produce cocaine). In reality, the chemicals are dropped with little accuracy, destroying thousands of legal crop growing farms as well. This has lead to the forced displacement of thousands Colombian farmers. In addition to destroying the livelihood of legal crop growing Colombians, the production and export of cocaine in Colombia has seen little change.
J.G.: How did you become aware of the situation of these displaced Colombians?
G.U.N.: As a group, we had talked about going into the world to find, document, and tell stories of injustice for some time. As college came to an end, the conversation became more serious and we began to pray about where God might have us go. We all spent time researching and we all came back with the same response: Colombia. We would read stories on Latin American and Colombian news sites about hundreds of people being displaced in one single day. Realizing that these people were being displaced by a program funded with American tax dollars, we were alarmed that none of these stories ever reached mainstream media here in the U.S. It was at that time we decided to get to Colombia and see things for ourselves. That was in November of 2009.
J.G.: How does the organization hope to promote change for these displaced Colombians?
G.U.N.: The reality is that there can be no change for the displaced in Colombia so long as the people of the United States go unaware of their plight. As an organization we believe that putting a name and a face to the situation is first and foremost. We believe in the power of story. So we will tell the stories of these people to restore: Specifically restoring dignity to the displaced by giving them a voice. We will tell stories to empower: Specifically to empower the people of the U.S. to be a part of fixing what is broken in Colombia. And we will tell stories to reconcile: Specifically reconciling the people of the U.S.(you + me) with the displaced of Colombia. As we tell this story we will be partnering with organizations that have been working to change this broken policy for years. We will also be working on the ground in Colombia to provide sustainable agricultural options for those who have already lost their land and been displaced by this policy.
J.G.: The Film Leaving La Floresta, features one family that was forced to leave their farm. What does Give Us Names wish to do in telling the story of Olga and Abelardo?
G.U.N.: Well, like I said in the previous response, the U.S. policy that displaced Abelardo and Olga displaces others just like them everyday. We will use this film to mobilize normal, everyday citizens to pressure their representatives to see U.S. funding for fumigations come to an end. Abelardo and Olga's situation and story is one of thousands. Our hope is that by understanding and empathizing with one family, we may better empathize and be moved to action on behalf of the millions of Colombian families just like theirs. As for the current situation Abelardo and Olga find themselves in today, Give Us Names will be a part of helping them find a place they can once more call home. The details on exactly what that will look like are being hammered out as we speak, and we still have some work to do to ensure that solutions on the ground in Colombia are sustainable, desired, and celebrated by the farming community.
J.G.: What can be done to help? How can people get involved with Give Us Names?
G.U.N.: This summer we will be strengthening our network here in the southeast by putting on a series of house screenings of our film. We are doing this to adequately set ourselves up to do a more comprehensive tour of the film this fall. Other than these house screenings, we will not be showing the final version of the film again this summer. In early September however, we will be having an official premiere of the finished film at a theatre here in Atlanta(details coming soon). We of course would love to see the entire Trinity community at that event. So, to answer your question, what can people do to help right now? You can come alongside us to help us effectively plan and execute a fall tour of this film. As for the summer, we will be on the road in houses, but also putting on fundraisers around the city to enable us to hit the road in the fall. Your support is fundraising is always greatly appreciated. Right now is the time where we can dream and dialogue with members of Trinity about where, when, and how we can tell the story of displacement in Colombia. To help us tell this story in your house, college campus, and community, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. God is on the move in Colombia, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to play a part in it.
Alabama Tornado Relief Slideshow
What follows is a slideshow of photos taken by Candace Smartt on the first relief trip to Birmingham, Alabama from May 20th -22nd.
Two more trips are scheduled for the weekends of June 17th-19th & July 8th-10th. If you can go please sign up in the atrium. It costs $50 a person to go, but we also are accepting monetary donations from those who can't go, but who wish to sponsor those who can. People wanting to sponsor in this way can contribute to the basket on the info table in the atrium.
We still are recieving donations and here is an updated list of what is needed. Bring these items to the atrium. Thank you for being the hands & feet of Jesus.
• Cleaning Supplies
• Bottled Gatorade
• Frogg Toggs/Chilly Pads
• Fly strips
• Personal Hygiene (shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.)
• Feminine Care Products
• Canned Food
• Yard Tools (rakes, shovels, etc.)
• Storage Bins
Trinity Kids Easter Art Reception
Below are several pictures from the Trinity Kids Easter Art Reception which took place on Sunday afternoon, May 22nd. The children worked so hard on their works of art. It was a wonderful event and the children felt very celebrated so thank you to all who came.
Each week, Trinity's Kids are encouraged to respond to the scripture stories that are shared in their circles. Some children choose to draw, some paint, some sculpt, some write while some quietly contemplate. The works that were selected for the exhibition represent the efforts of many of the children who have chosen to respond in paint, markers and pencils. Sometimes their reflections on the scriptures are expressed in such a representationally clear visual manner, while other's reflections are rather abstract and expansive expressions of the mysteries intrinsic to the stories. Both of these expression methods are displayed for our enjoyment and contemplation at Trinity.
So the next time you get to church a few minutes early or you are slowly leaving, take a moment and honor their efforts with your gaze. We know their little icons are a way of peering into something magnificent that truly the children hold answers to and perhaps we've forgotten.
Thank you to Judith Brock for the quality shots. You can see her photography work here: http://judithbrockphotography.com/
Trinity Kids Video
This video was lovingly made by the very talented Andrew Tucciarone & Shane Ortiz. As it shows, Trinity Kids has seen an exponential increase in its number of children & is in need of more volunteers. For the next few Sundays, you can sign up to help at the info table in the atrium. There are many ways to serve.
2011 Easter Baptisms: Round 2
We are pleased to share a few snapshots from our baptisms that took place at the beginning of the Easter season. As we get more, we certainly will share them with you.
Continue to pray for these fine people as they carry this Baptismal covenant into their daily lives.
We would like to thank Kyle Hale for these great photos. For more information on this photographer go to his website by clicking here.
2011 Easter Baptisms: Round 1
We are pleased to share a few snapshots from our baptisms that took place at the beginning of the Easter season. As we get more, we certainly will share them with you.
Continue to pray for these fine people as they carry this Baptismal covenant into their daily lives.
We would like to thank Josh Booth for these great pictures. For more information on this photographer go to his website by clicking here.