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Rector’s Annual Address, January 2017

Much has changed in the nine years I have been rector and yet we are the same.

That is the nature of growth.  We grow and yet remain who we are.

The Gerry Sevick I was at 8 years old is not the same as who I am today. I have grown, gotten wiser (I hope) and become a better me than I was at 21.

Trinity is the same. There are values and community that remain the same while at the same time we have grown, increased our ministries and presence in the community.

Clergy and staff have changed over the years and yet Trinity continues to live out the call to worship God and serve the world in the name of Christ.

Throughout the years there have been moments that changed the course of Trinity’s life, yet Trinity remained.

  • First worship service in 1976 – 41 years ago this year.
  • 1981 moved into our original facility.
  • Received parish status in 1991.
  • The move to our first property with the debt it held.
  • The advancement from a small needy mission to a self-sufficient parish.
  • The move to this much larger and expensive facility.
  • The separation of vision between brothers and sisters in Christ resulting in a split.
  • The returning to a healthy relationship with our Bishop and our Diocese.

Each of these moments were seen as the beginning or an ending to a crisis. The root of the word “crisis” is turning point. It means a moment of choosing. We choose who we are in a crisis because we choose how to respond. Crisis does not have to be a negative moment in life if we are willing to embrace and choose our course of action. A crisis can be a defining moment.

Now I enter into my 10th year as your rector and I believe we are poised to enter a new moment, with a renewed energy, a renewed vision, and an opportunity to enter into a growth spurt that will help us engage as a church of the 2020’s.

In three years we enter a new decade – the 2020’s, and with this we are receiving a new call to serve Christ and make a difference in the world. It is in this present moment that we prepare to enter that future. Either we will enter that decade strong and energized, growing and thriving, or we limp into that decade, hoping to maintain what we have

From humble beginnings, Trinity has become one of the largest parishes in the Diocese, but not just the Diocese. We are in the top 1% of all parishes in the nation. We first survived, and then we grew; now we can thrive if we allow a faithful vision to define our past and present.

We are a force for good. We are a community living in the kingdom of God. But the power within this parish, lies in the hands of God and in our faithfulness to that God. We are not our own, we belong to Christ and as Christ’s own people we must serve the God who created us as a parish.

We can spend our energy worried about the monthly budget, or we can caste our eyes on the future generation of Trinitarians and how we can prepare for their arrival. We can focus on our own survival or we can focus on the future and our call as a Church to make and form new followers of Christ with total commitment.

You are a generous people; you give of your time, talent, and treasure with joy and commitment. We are blessed as you give to the ministries which include Sunday worship, pastoral care of our members, formation of our children and youth, adult Bible studies and fellowship groups, new member support, care for those who are hungry, in jail, homeless, lonely, shut-in, or just needing a moment when we treat them with dignity. This is not an issue of generosity but one of focus – an ongoing focus on financially supporting our day-to-day ministries – fully funding the ministries Christ has entrusted to us.

To do this we must think and act with focused generosity. We must give abundantly to the ministries that have been entrusted to us by God. I am asking that each of you look at your financial giving and ask yourselves if you are giving out of faith and commitment. To fully fund our ministries is vital to the future and only you can make that happen… not me, not the vestry, not the staff. You are the ones who must focus your generosity on supporting the ministries we have been entrusted with.

I am also asking you to hand over leadership to new members. Do not hold onto leadership for fear that someone might mess things up or do it differently from you. This is not a judgment on your leadership; it is call to look to the future.

I am asking that you make worship a priority in your weekly faith walk. I am asking the younger members and families to begin entering into new ministries and leadership positions.

Ten years is a long time to be rector. How long will God allow me to stay is an unknown. I know that one day I too must hand over the leadership to another. That day has not yet arrived. When it is evident that my leadership is having little to no effect on the life and ministry of Trinity, it will be incumbent on me to discern God’s will and to stay no longer than God wants me here. I do not want to be a detriment to the ministries or future of this parish. I do know that as long as I believe that God wants me here, I will not retire. I too must discern ways to adjust and make my focus, my leadership be directed toward the future.

However, right now we are at a turning point. Will the people of this parish respond financially so that we no longer have to worry week-to-week or month to month about whether we will be able to financially support the ministries we all want? Will you the people of Trinity Episcopal Church, The Woodlands do all in your power to support the ministries of this great parish so we can focus on our future?

Our stewardship theme this year is “Making a Difference” and that is what we are doing.

We make a difference as we gather every Sunday to worship and receive both word and sacrament as a community.

We make a difference as we gather our children together to learn to know the presence of God and to do His will.

We make a difference as we support and care for each other in good as well as difficult times, walking the way with each other and leaving no one behind.

We make a difference in the world we live in – both locally, nationally, and internationally. People know they are loved and cared for due to your support through time, talent, and finances.

We can continue to make a difference, not just in 2017 but as long as Trinity exists by:

  • Being people of vision and looking to the future.
  • Being people of generosity, focusing our giving so our ministries do not suffer.
  • Being people of compassion for those in pain or need.
  • Being people who believe that our call is to help people come to know and love God in all we do.

The Trinity tomorrow campaign is about the future. The Legacy Society is about the future, the conversations with staff and vestry are focused on the future. We are at the moment of decision.

Galatians 4:4-7English Standard Version (ESV)

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

This phrase, “In the fullness of time” has caught my attention. It says that God waits until the right moment and then calls new things into being. I believe this is our time… I believe God has been leading us to this time.

I am asking for a renewed commitment to the future of Trinity. Together we can make a difference – for the sake of Christ and to the Glory of God.