Summary of Answers to 2011 Lenten Questions
The short questionnaires that appeared in the weekly bulletin each Sunday during Lent were the discernment committee’s first step in our effort to hold a mirror up to our parish to learn who we are, where we are coming from and where the Spirit is moving us. The first impression the committee drew from everyone’s responses is how passionate we are about Trinity. People spoke from their hearts. The people of Trinity are thoughtful, generous with time and attention, committed to spiritual growth, and care deeply about this community. People are proud of their church for its ability to live its mission and to care for people in need (social outreach). The committee truly appreciates the care everyone took in responding to the questions.
Over six Sundays, we asked the parish:
• What brings you to Trinity?
• What keeps you coming to Trinity?
• How would you describe Trinity to a close friend?
• How long have you been coming to Trinity?
• How has Trinity affected your life?
• What do we do well here?
• What aspects of Trinity have been most important to you?
• What would you like to see happen at Trinity going forward?
• How can Trinity help to foster your spiritual growth?
• What is the most important thing we do at Trinity?
• What is unique about Trinity?
• What, if anything, would you change about Trinity?
We found that certain themes ran through the responses from week to week, like threads drawing the answers together into a single fabric. The themes that emerged most strongly are explored below.
Spirituality at Trinity. Spirituality is a common theme running throughout answers in each of the six weeks. It is spirituality and a relationship with God that most strongly moves us to come to Trinity at first and to return to Trinity every week. Growing spiritually and as a Christian, gaining strength, renewing faith and seeking God’s presence are core concerns. Weekly time for spiritual comfort, guidance and prayer was repeatedly mentioned.
The Spiritual Community. People recognized that the spiritual community is what makes Trinity unique. Worship and liturgy are what we do well, and the most important thing Trinity does is to provide the opportunity for spiritual growth. As a congregation, we want expanded programs of Christian education and formation for all ages.
Worship and Music. People look forward to weekly worship and Marsue’s sermons. People are very moved by Trinity’s music and very grateful for (and even proud of) the music program, Dr. Kennedy, and the choir.
Friendships and Parish Family. Many people noted that they stay at Trinity because of the friendships they have developed with other members. People also described Trinity as a family, as their church family. Much of our loyalty to Trinity grows out of the friendships we have in the parish.
Raising Families. Many people noted that Trinity is or was an important part of raising their family, raising children to know God.
Personal History and Tradition. Trinity has a history of strong family membership and faithful participation. Members have celebrated their happiest times and shared their saddest times. They have worked together and socialized. As newcomers have become members, long time friendships and a sense of community have formed a spiritual bond.
Growth. A number of people want to see Trinity grow. Suggestions included canvassing the neighborhood, inviting the neighborhood to the animal blessing, and inviting friends and neighbors to church and church school. We will follow up on this in the coming weeks.
Communications People noted an improvement in communications over the past year, and specific efforts to address misunderstandings. We have much work still to do to keep people informed about how we are doing and where we are going. We are in a year of discerning where the spirit is leading us and exploring options for our future; we are working on our organization and finances. This committee’s attempt to understand the views of Trinity’s people and to present them as a mirror for the parish is also an effort to keep the members informed and engaged.
Demographics: 45% of the respondents have been at Trinity for less than 10 years.
Demographics of Responders
Ave # Responses 57
Gender 58% Female 42% Male
Age Ave = 55 Med = 59 Youngest: 9 Eldest: 91
Yrs Attending Ave = 20 Med = 15 Shortest: < 1 Longest: 73
Attendance Weekly: 86% 1-2 ea. mo. 14% Less often: 0
Years at Trinity < 1 yr < 2 yrs < 5 yrs < 10 yrs < 40 yrs > 40 yrs
17% 22% 30% 45% 83% 17%
45% of responders have attended Trinity for less than 10 years; 32% have attended over 10 years but less than 31; the remaining 23% have attended Trinity over 30 years up to over 60 years.
Trinity Discernment Committee: Vickie Ancona, Bill Baddeley, Bruce Beattie, Henry Brown, Don Raleigh, Laidy Stomberg, Margaret Thomas, Sarah Young.