Category Archives: Blog

Rector’s blog

Summer Sermon Series

June 25, 2017

When challenges come our way and external resources are not readily available, people wonder about how to gain strength. With today’s cultural changes and prolonged delay of general economic growth, many people are at times puzzled about what next step to take.

Examples of the past can bring inspiration. People like Moses or Mary, catacombs Christians, or the leaders of our country’s 1776 revolution often had to create strengths without many external resources available. This is how people often committed themselves to inner strengths, also called virtues. The most prominent ones have been listed as “cardinal” virtues: prudence, courage, justice, and temperance. These personal qualities create tremendous value on a personal level and for the community and, however desired they may be, they cannot be bought. Besides the cardinal ones, there are also “theological” virtues, inner strengths that are developed through our connection with God: faith, hope and love.

These inner strengths belong to the core of what relationships and communities need, what character building is all about. Needless to say, these virtues deserve some further reflection, which is why our summer sermon series will take some time to reflect on them.

Sunday June 18: Introduction to the virtues
Sunday June 25: Prudence
Sunday July 2: Courage
Sunday July 9: Justice
Sunday July 16: Temperance
Sunday July 23: Faith
Sunday July 30: Hope
Sunday August 6: Love

2017 Strategic Planning for Trinity’s Future

June 18, 2017

Sunday June 25, after the 10 a.m. morning Eucharist.

In order to explore options for growth, it is very important that we hear the views and thoughts of everyone connected to our parish.

As a first step, I propose that we meet for a parish-wide conversation about the future of our church. We strongly encourage all members and friends of Trinity Church to join us for this planning conversation in the Church’s Undercroft on June 25, after the 10 am service.

Summer Planning Meetings

June 4, 2017

Trinity’s ministries are rich and thriving. We all are very grateful for so many blessings and service to share. To plan our upcoming year of ministry, all are invited to join the following planning meetings, especially if you are engaged in one of them particularly. The meetings will focus on the calendar of events and meetings, on the coordination of communication by ministry team, on feedback, and on outreach with the wider community. We have six ministry teams at Trinity:
1) Liturgy & Spirituality,
2) Music and the Arts [including Trinity Players and Poetry],
3) Care [including Pastoral Care, Homeboard, Holiday Bazaar, WednesdayClub..],
4) Christian Education,
5) Outreach, and
6) Building [Properties and History].

Meetings are set for the following dates in the Undercroft:

–Monday July 10, 5:30pm: Trinity Care, including Pastoral Care, Wednesday Club, Prayer Circle, Holiday Bazaar, Supper Club coordination.
–Friday July 14, 6:30pm: Music and the Arts, including Music Committee, Poetry coordinators, Trinity Players
–Monday August 14, 5:30pm: Outreach, including Chapel on the Green, Spiritual Fellowship, Community Works, Trinity Grants
–Sunday August 20, 11:30am: Christian Education, including Sunday School, Sunday Forum, Bible Study groups
–Monday August 28, 5:30pm: Trinity Building, including Sextons, Properties, History Ministry, Outside Flowers
–Monday September 11, 5:30pm: Liturgy and Spirituality, Liturgy Committee, Spirituality group, Acolytes, Lectors

Trinity Welcomes a New Assistant Rector

April 15, 2017

In this season of Spring and new life we feel blessed to announce the arrival of our new Assistant Rector, The Rev. Elíse Ashley Hanley. Elíse is currently working in New York and was ordained to the priesthood last October, 2016.

We are thrilled to welcome Elíse as our new Assistant Rector. Her first Sunday at Trinity will be on April 30.

I am both humbled and thrilled to be called as your next Assistant Rector. From the moment I first arrived to interview, I could sense that Trinity is a unique and special place, a vibrant and spirit-filled parish committed to serving both its immediate and greater community. A born and raised New Yorker,  I most recently served at the Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I attended the General Theological Seminary, and graduated from Union Theological Seminary in May 2016. Prior to seminary, I worked at Marble Collegiate Church as Director of Mission and Outreach, as well as Coordinator for its Women’s, Arts, and LGBTQ fellowship groups. I also helped to oversee the outreach programs of my sponsoring parish, St. Bart’s, including their 365-night a year women’s shelter. I am a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and I worked as a stage production manager on, off, and way off Broadway prior to discerning a call to the priesthood. I am married to Chris Ashley, who also graduated from Union last May with a PhD in Systematic Theology. He is currently a Chaplain Resident at Weill Cornell Medical Center. We live with two outgoing, friendly cats. A longtime vegetarian and animal lover, I also enjoy running, theatre, documentary films, traveling, Irish music and step dancing. I so look forward to meeting all of you, and to worshipping, serving, and growing together.


Love Bade Me Welcome

March 12, 2017

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But Quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack’d anything.

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

George Herbert..

Grace Awakening 2

February 26, 2017

Why Grace Awakening you may ask? At Trinity our community is acutely in tune with the needs of our time. And it’s been a tough period for many people, with many still facing distrust and lost faith in institutions. So maybe it’s time to listen to each other, listen to our inner voices and remind each other of what is best in us, of our American values, our democratic ideals, and the joined Abrahamic roots we have in common in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Honoring and rediscovering the grace that is already among us will rekindle in us the power of a new beginning. We will find again a way to build community,  not built on some big idea or on a complicated 33-step program to happiness, but based on the simple practice of waking up to the beauty of grace present all around us, in all of us. Reminding each other of the gift of this world, of our bodies and souls, of our commonalities and differences we have the amazing potential of coming together in resolute hope and bathing in the Grace, regardless of our background or preferences.

It is this Grace Awakening that we would like to promote in this year’s season of Lent and Easter time at Trinity, as a community, with a series of speakers, times of prayer, and concrete opportunities for community engagement.

We indeed seek to support community leadership among us and to embolden each other to raise our prophetic voice in a time when our society again needs this, a voice to defend the oppressed, the refugee, people burdened by poverty or suffering from addiction. Through our community leadership each one of us can help to reconnect with a culture of healthy civic engagement and political dialogue. From the perspective of Grace Awakening this engagement is self-evident, a natural part of our calling to see and restore Grace in each other and ourselves.

And so we pray that Christ may guide our steps while we reach out to each other to awaken this power of Grace.

Grace Awakening 1

February 19, 2017

With or without God? The contemporary wrestling with the God factor could be a variation on U2’s song, With or Without You, that continues with the line:  I can’t live, with or without you? At some level contemporary culture is trying out life without God, but simultaneously there is a hunger to reconnect with God again.

Long before political change was added to our daily diet of change digestion, we already have been meditating on vast changes that our culture and our churches are going through. These waves of change include our sense on how to find God in our day and age, on how to live spiritually centered in our world that looks so different than the Biblical days.

2017 is the celebration year of 500 year Reformation, Martin Luther hammered his copy of the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Castle church door. Reading this copy today, the words sounds surprisingly fresh. They resonate with our culture and church that is hungry for renewal, while finding ways to preserve what we find essential.

At Trinity we are joining this longing for renewal, but rather than pitching another Great Awakening, a movement that was apocalyptic, focused on guilt, atonement and the evil status of the world, we decisively seek to reconnect with the hope and profound goodness expressed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. That founding document of Christianity brought a Grace Awakening, a sense of hope and new beginning in an age overflowing with change.

Our season of Lent and Easter at Trinity will focus on this Grace Awakening, through speakers, prayer meetings, reflections. Thanks to all collaborating with our Grace Awakening experience at Trinity.

Blessed Snow!

February 12, 2017

Blessed Snow! I realize the snow storm may have caused harm, may have thrown our schedules off, but there is also another side to the nor’easter. There is barely any other event that brings people into the streets these days, that binds people in our neighborhoods, or that even stimulates people to ask for help, because their snow blower ran out of gas or they need more milk for the kids. That community side of the snow is a blessing and you can tell it by looking at people’s faces: all smiles.

Rekindling this sense of connection among people might be one of the side effects of the current climate in our country. More and more people are reaching out to each other to find ways in which they can embolden each other, they can shoulder other people’s needs, or rally together, as if they are going through a snow blizzard. That community part is positive. Because, while our age of institutional decline did start a while ago, it took some time to realize that whatever institution we are taking about, state or church, presidency or media, they all rely on the corner stone of society: the people. “We The People” isn’t simply a slogan or a claim, it is also a truth on how humanity advances, is protected, and might excel.

If I may, this sense of people power is also part of our Christian movement and it has been from its early days. Fairly quickly followers of Jesus started talking about the “work of the people”, “lit-urgia”, or “liturgy”. Today “liturgy” is the churchy term for worship, but it was the Christian way of calling worship service what it is in truth: not the privilege of a holier few or a richer elite or a spirited worship band, but the service of grace finding implementation in all people and through all people. “Liturgy” isn’t simply a slogan or a claim, it is also a truth on how humanity advances into humanity, how humanity is protected and how humanity may secure the bond of dignity in God.

And if snow is helping people to connect and stimulating us to reflect on this “work of the people”, I say: blessed snow.


February 3, 2017

What is one to do in this political season? Many of us are reaching a point of exhaustion regarding the high-level tension in the national political ‘conversation’. Many others are ready for action and are calling all leaders to join in.

The main concern of churches should be pastoral and ethical. Pastoral includes caring and praying for all in need, regardless, including for our political leaders, which is a Biblical tradition. The equally Biblical ethical concern includes a permanent call for justice, outreach to people in peril, and advocacy against oppression. But the general conversation, or what is left of it, is spilling over into deafening hate speech, hardening positions beyond the audible reach of the voice of these concerns.

To address this situation, much more will be needed than can be expressed in this enews format. But one thing we all need in these days is a break from the political frenzy. What are the chances to get such a break? Our family decided to go to Kidcity, the children’s museum in Middletown, CT. It was the best escape strategy for the week. The “museum” transports children and adults alike into different universes of the farm life, the ocean world, or the excitement of the 1950’s. To see the children interact with smoke and bubble machines, carrots gardens or loaves of bread made us see once more how much promise, potential, and joy is coming into these children’s lives.

Back in the car ride home our smartphones were immediately telling us again about the latest political issues. But our Kidcity experience made us realize right away the deep need we all sense to find a community and a country that creates the same room of promise, potential and joy for our children. Of course we cannot transform the reality of daily life into a Kidcity dreamland. But there are multiple opportunities. One example is the McKinsey Company that calculates the value of such promise and potential when addressing the question of women’s equal pay. Their conclusion is stunning: advancing womens’ equality would add 12 trillion dollars to the global growth.  (

My prayer today is that we find more of these experiences and studies that contribute to promise and joy for the future of all.

Inauguration Day

January 20, 2017

On this Inauguration Day we all are united in care and prayer for the future of our Union.  The exceptional societal challenges of our time have impacted the election of a new president that is unlike any previous one.  Watching the transition of power today, I was touched on how civil and dignified the ceremony was, highlighting how America is a country of “We, the People.”

The ceremony and speeches reminded me that, when our Declaration of Independence was signed, loyal Americans were of one mind to protect “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” 240 years later we are all called to be of one mind to protect the freedom for which so many fellow Americans before us sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

While democracy throughout the world is going through growth pains, so many countries look to America and its world leadership. On this Inauguration Day we all join each other, put our trust in God, and pray that God’s grace may guide our leaders, our president and secretaries, to do all in their power to protect our nation and fortify the dream of life, liberty, and happiness for all Americans. And we pray that We, the People, do all in our power to do the same.