1976 to 1986
Trinity's Ministry in Challenging Times
Keeping the Faith
Remarks by Pastor Weber in early 1978 summarize what is at the heart of a good congregation. Pastor Weber said:
You and I, and most of all, God knows what is absolutely necessary for the "at home" life of a congregation: a sensitive and responsible church council, a dedicated and disciplined corps of church leaders in the Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, the strong support of the Lutheran Church Women, responsible and faithful leaders in stewardship and finance, loving and caring persons in social ministry, proud individuals in caring for the property of the church who take pride in the visible and material things, imaginative and joyful persons who lead and perform with joy in their hearts in the ministry of music, persons who take deep care for our youth and by doing this express high priority in the future of God's church and the leaders and workers of tomorrow, those who make provision for every worship service as custodians of the altar in careful preparation for events of celebration, and all of you who work behind the scenes and in the every day to let us see God's love in fellowship and caring for one another.
These strengths, more than ever before, were essential to churches like Trinity to ensure their continued vitality. Walt Belter, in Trinity's 30th Anniversary history noted that "the beginning years of the decade (1976-1980) were marked by a troubled national scene, rising inflation, increasing church maintenance costs, and the end of the 'baby boom'. These factors all played a role in maturing and changing Trinity's program and ministry."
One indicator of Trinity's maturation was its commitment in the mid-1970s to reflection and planning in the spirit of what was called the Christ-centered Goal Setting Project. Undertaken over more than two years, Christ-centered goals were intended to serve as the basis for continued spiritual and program development at Trinity. During this time, the church re-evaluated its many worship, financial, building, and ministries activities to assess how best to carry them out in the spirit of ensuring that Christ was fundamental to all that was done.
The Lutheran Book of Worship (the 'Green Book') was introduced during this time, giving new forms of expression to Trinity and its fellow Lutheran churches for keeping the faith. And the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's birth in 1983 offered a time of reflection and renewal on his life and ministry. Trinity's Challenges in Dynamic Times
In 1979, for only the second time in nearly 25 years, Trinity bade farewell to its pastor. After 16 years of service, Pastor Weber stepped down in order to serve in a pastoral exchange through which he would become responsible for developing a new mission in the Darnestown area in upper Montgomery County. Pastor Barron Maberry came to Trinity in the exchange, serving admirably through early 1981. Trinity extended a call to Pastor Maberry to serve as pastor, but Pastor Maberry accepted a counseling position in holistic ministry at Reformation Church in Washington, DC. Dr. Harry Yeide served as interim pastor for Trinity until late 1981, when Pastor John Manrodt, associate pastor at St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Mundelein, Illinois accepted a call and was installed.
In his first report to the members of Trinity in early 1982, Pastor Manrodt remarked about the excitement one has in meeting new people and getting to know a new congregation, developing new friendships and working relationships. Pastor Manrodt was reminding us about what is at the heart of the church: partnership with one another to spread the Good News.
An illustration of partnership at Trinity during this time was its Evangelism and Shepherd program. Thanks to the commitment of many during the first half of the 1980s, Trinity's outreach efforts grew and with it, membership and attendance. This effort helped turn around what had been a slight decline in membership in the late 1970s, particularly among active-confirmed members in the church.
A Snapshot of Trinity's Ministries in its Third Decade
A number of programs exemplified Trinity partnerships in the late 1970s and early 1980s were. Trinity sponsored missionaries abroad during this time; it established an intern program and welcomed several to its sanctuary. Trinity supported four refugee families in the decade. It promoted the Word and Witness program, a ministry developed to help individuals commit to studying the Word of God and developing witness skills.
Trinity also began, in conjunction with the Manor Montessori School, a partnership that would measure more than 20 years by the mid-1990s. And where would the Church be without its ongoing responsibility for its building; although no new construction was undertaken, Trinity would expend significant resources on maintenance and upkeep, ensuring that its structure could still be passed on to succeeding stewards in the coming years.
Always a part of a vital church, reminiscences of this time also noted the importance of fellowship: whether promoted by the Lutheran Church Women, Christian Education, Stewardship, or any of the other committees or groups at Trinity, all of the activities fostered community and celebration.
Perhaps there was another, more subtle element of partnership, beyond the linkage of Trinity with those outside the church and in addition to the coming together in partnership, simply to share one another's good company. A look at Sunday School activities in 1984 witnessed those gathered together in Christian Education undertaking together, in partnership, activities to support another facet of the Church's mission: social ministry. According to the Christian Education Committee:
One could not conclude this report without listing the good will projects our Sunday School has been involved in during 1985. Vacation Church School donated school supplies and money to Appalachia children. The Sunday School donated all proceeds from selling t-shirts at the Fall Bazaar to the needy children of Mercier County. And the Sunday School children brought in new toys for the children of Mercier County on two consecutive Sundays in November.