“It’s Time!” The Story of Trinity’s Seasons
Presented during the Luncheon Program of the March 13th Kickoff (around 12:15pm)
Ecclesiastes 3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
Frank: To tell the history of anything—a people, a nation, a church—is to tell a story of the seasons. Or more precisely, the changing of seasons. Winter draws to an end, and it’s time for spring. The planting has finished and it’s time for harvest. Trinity is 150 years strong, because it has always recognized the turn of the seasons. When God places a new thing on the horizon, we’ve been ready to say “it’s time.” Trinity’s story stretches back far more than 150 years, to the first day of creation, to the call of Abraham and Sarah, and to the first Easter morning, when God decided it was time to do a new thing in Jesus Christ.
Frank: But today, we’ll start Trinity’s story with the birth of the Methodism in late 18th century England, some 100 years or so before Trinity formed as a congregation. This was right about the time that 13 colonies were on the brink of fighting a war of independence from Britain. Ruffled collars and powdered wigs were in high fashion, though you weren’t allowed to wear ruffles and be a Methodist.
Simon (as John Wesley; Walks out reading a book, talks in British accent): I’m John Wesley, and I’m very good at reading while walking. I read and walk as much as 12 miles a day. But that’s neither here nor there. At age five, I was rescued from a fire in my father’s parsonage, and I knew the Lord saved me for a reason. I became an Anglican priest like my father, but the Anglicans did not behave like very holy Christians. My brother Charles and I started a reform movement. We would gather people in small groups to pray and ask the question: “how is it with your soul?” People started calling us “The Methodists.” I think it was an insult, but the name stuck. I went from town to town preaching in the open fields, and inviting people to a methodical life of holiness. Sometimes they threw rotten tomatoes at me, but it was all for the glory of God. I’ve always believed that “the world is my parish.” So I wanted to send some Anglicans to the New World. But the Revolutionary War had broken out, and the Americas wanted nothing to do with the Church of England. That’s when I decided it was time. I ordained two preachers and sent them to the Americas, not as Anglicans, but as Methodists!
Colonial Christmas music plays
Clarence (As Francis Asbury): I’m Francis Asbury, one of the first bishops of the Methodist church, appointed by Mr. Wesley himself. There were many Methodist preachers already in the Americas by time I arrived. They rode on horseback and preached the good news across the frontier. But in 1784, just one year after the Treaty of Paris, it was time to become an official church. We called for an organizing conference and gathered at Lovely Lane Church in Baltimore on Christmas of 1784.) I was ordained as a bishop on that grand occasion. What better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus than to start a church to proclaim the good news!
Frank: Methodism came to its own in the fledgling nation called The United States of America. Methodist preachers on horseback spread across the frontier, holding tent revivals and calling people to conversion. (The Battle Hymn of the Republic plays) Methodists were also caught up in the deep divides between North and South. Some Methodists were staunch abolitionists, just like John Wesley himself. Others failed to live up to that doctrine of social holiness. The 1860s brought the American Civil War. President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, but the Thirteenth amendment, prohibiting slavery was passed that same year. It was time for the country to turn over a new leaf.
Andy: In 1866, one year after the Civil War ended, Solomon and Ellanor Leamon of Germantown –that’s right—the Leamons of Leamon farms – donated ½ an acre to build a place of worship for the Methodist Episcopal Church. In September of 1866, the Methodist Congregation in Germantown was first formed –that was 150 years ago this year. Two years later, it was time for the congregation to build their first place of worship. They built a log cabin.
Alexas: Lincoln logs—which, by the way, were recently inducted into the toy hall of fame—were so named because they originally included instructions for building a model of President Lincoln’s cabin. Trinity’s first building was a log cabin, built just three years after Lincoln’s death. Trinity’s log-cabin building was 36 feet by 22 feet. That’s a little bit bigger than one of our large Sunday School classrooms today.
Becky: A few years later, in 1872, the Leamans donated adjacent property for the cemetery, which still stands today, just across Route 118 from the church. Though few gravestones can be seen, this is a final resting place for some of the saints of Trinity and Germantown community members.
Frank – Time marched on and we came to the turn of the century. (Maple Leaf Rag – Scott Joplin plays) The first decade of the nineteen-hundreds was a season of invention and innovation at home and abroad. In 1902, the neon lamp was invented, brightening up the streets. A device for making tea automatically was patented by an Englishman. He called it “An Apparatus Whereby a Cup of Tea or Coffee is Automatically Made,” and it was later marketed as “A Clock That Makes Tea!” Also in 1902, the Wright brothers designed the Wright Glider and flew it in the winds of Kitty Hawk, seemingly defying gravity. And in 1903, the Ford Motor Company built its first car, the Ford Model A. Trinity caught some of that innovative spirit as well, and they stepped out in faith in a big way.
Hap: Around the turn of the century, Trinity realized that its log cabin wasn’t going to be big enough to allow the congregation to grow. In 1902, it was time. Trinity built a small church with seating for 100 people. They took out a mortgage for a whopping….$500! The land cost $80 bucks. A hitching post was erected so that people could ride their horses to church. I ought to talk to the trustees about bringing that back! The only light came from a candle chandelier and a pot belly stove provided the heat. In 1903, the congregation officially took the name Trinity.
Frank: Maryland had always been a border state between Northern and Southern regions of the country, and many homes had been divided by Civil War. Long after the war’s end, sectional wounds still took time to heal. Many churches, including the Methodist Episcopal Church, split into two groups—southern and northern congregations.
Julia: Around the turn of the century, Trinity’s congregation also split into Northern and Southern congregations who worshipped in separate buildings
Chelsea: But in 1939, it was time. The two congregations came back together. This reconciliation was long overdue. Coming back together was a sign of our unity in Christ.
Julia: We lament the moments of church’s history in which we did not live up to God’s word, which says that “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male and female. But all are one in Christ Jesus.”
Chelsea: And we celebrate how much has changed, and the many ways that this church now reflects the diversity of the kingdom of God.
Frank: (“The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra plays) Time passed, and we arrive at the golden age of the 1940s, a great decade for music in the United States. Swing, big band, and jazz in the early 40s brought folks onto the dance floor. By the late 40s, household names of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Dean Martin were well loved. In 1949, Frank Sinatra starred in the film “On The Town” directed by Gene Kelly.
Justin: (wearing chicken costume): Also In 1949, Trinity UMC had its first booth at the Montgomery County Fair! That was 67 years ago, and now the Chicken BBQ booth is an annual tradition that brings Trinity friends, family, and community together. Rev. Bonnie darts in to briefly dance with the chicken to Frank Sinatra.
Sarah: Also in the 1940s, Trinity dug out the basement of the church to build its first place for Sunday School. Later on, Sunday School classes were held Friendship House. The minister’s wife, Eleanor Jones, played the guitar the children all sang hymns together. They had a little white plastic church, and on their birthdays, the children would drop a penny for every year. This was the beginning of our Sunday School ministry.
Frank –As the DC area began to boom, so did the little town of Germantown. The 1960s and 70s brought more than just bell-bottoms and 70s music (Beegees- Stayin’ Alive Plays). The Germantown masterplan was adopted in 1968, creating six villages with neighborhoods, schools, and shops. Montgomery College opened its Germantown campus in 1978. The little town that once had 100 residents was now a bustling suburban metropolis. In 1986, Germantown was the fastest growing zip code in the D.C. area. The 1980s saw a population growth of 323.3%. This was Trinity’s season.
Bill: I came to Trinity in the mid 1980s. I hadn’t been attending for very long, when I was asked to be on the finance team. I said “sure” and only THEN did they tell me that there were plans for a new building. Our church was beautiful, but the Sanctuary only fit 100 people. All around us, Germantown was growing, and we knew that we wouldn’t be faithful to God’s call if we didn’t make a change. It was time.
Bill – We hit a few bumps along the way, but eventually we built here at 13700 Schaeffer Road. We broke ground in 1988. We weren’t able to build a proper Sanctuary, but even the fellowship hall tripled the size of our occupancy, and the Education wing made space for dozens of children. In 1992, the building was formally dedicated. We put an advertisement in the newspaper that said “Trinity United Methodist Church: Now Open” It was finally time.
Nancy – While the building was being constructed, Trinity worshipped at Cinnamon Elementary School off Clopper Road, and the choir rehearsed in my living room. We were so glad when the building was built, and it was time to go to our new home.
(Play Turn, Turn, Turn, The Byrds)
Frank: The last 25 years have been a season of growth and stability for Trinity. Through the faithfulness of God and many dedicated church members, we have expanded our ministries to serve families and the community of Germantown. We’ve had a little fun along the way.
Jacob: Many years ago in 199_, I was baby Jesus in the Nativity Play. Justine here, was Mary. We’ve both grown up in this church, and we’ve been nurtured by the ministries. We recently took a picture reenacting our starring roles in the Nativity play. Now I serve on the church council, and I can’t imagine my life without Trinity.
Justine: In ___ I went with the youth group to the first Rock Retreat. It was held in a hotel basement, gathering of a couple hundred people. (elaborate)
Andre: We had been married in our home country, but we decided it was time to be married here in the Methodist Church. We were married here on July 3, 2010, and this congregation has been our home for many years.
Diane: In the mid-1990s, the local organization, Germantown HELP which provides food for Germantown residents moved into our building. We have a copy of one of the original leases for renting them space. We rent it out for zero dollars and zero cents, because Trinity is committed to serving the community of Germantown.
Keystone: In 2014, we started the Korean Ministry here at Trinity. By the end of 2014, we decided that “it was time” and so we started Sunday worship services in here in January of 2015.
Violette: In 2016, I went to the ROCK retreat with 28 youth from Trinity – our largest group ever. The conference is no longer held in a hotel basement; it’s in the convention center of Ocean City and there were over 5,000 people in attendance.
Frank – That brings us to today—2016. Trinity celebrates 150 years of God’s faithfulness and turns towards the next 150 years. Our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ is more important than ever. All around us is a world that longs to experience the Easter message – the saving love of God. So we look to Jesus, the pioneer of our faith, for new direction and the next big God thing. What is the next season in Trinity’s story? What is it time for now?
Devin: It’s time to send our youth on their first weeklong mission trip, so they can serve those who are less fortunate. We’re so excited to be taking two teams of youth and adults to Camp Hope in Frostburg MD, for a week-long mission trip this summer.
Samantha: Trinity has a long history of expanding its space to welcome newcomers. It’s time to update our Sanctuary so that I can be more comfortable inviting my friends to come and experience all the ways that Trinity has taught me to love God.
Bob: It’s encouraging to see just how far Trinity has come in being good stewards of the resources God has given us, and how we have achieve financial stability. I believe that if we all pitch in, we can do even more. It’s time to wipe out our debt, and prepare a better future for Trinity.
Emily: Polly is our oldest member of Trinity, she is 95 years old, and she is one of our most faithful members. Every week, I have the privilege of bringing her to this church that she loves.
Polly: God has been faithful to us for 150 years, and now it’s time to celebrate!
Frank: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.
Everyone: It’s Time to Celebrate!