Despite the doom and gloom of many reports, congregation still flourishing
The population of Mt. Healthy, Ohio, tucked between Cincinnati and Hamilton, like many areas in our synod has seen dramatic changes. These changes include demographics, family income, education levels and numbers of residents. These types of shifts too often find congregations like Trinity Lutheran Church in Mt. Healthy unable to adapt and survive, let alone thrive in the new surroundings. So, when this congregation reports a healthy growth, and active in-reach AND outreach ministries, we had to share their story.
Mr. Bill Schnier, Trinity's council president, sent Bishop Dillahunt an enthusiastic letter of success and hope. Here's part of that letter:
Thanks to Pastor Todd Cutter, a full 13-person Council, and many, many helpful hands around the church, we have good Sunday attendance coupled with an abundance of nurturing and outreach ministries. Everything is well supported by an annual General Operating Budget of $397,000. Last year we enjoyed a $14,000 surplus and this year it will be about the same. Over and above the operating budget, thousands of additional dollars are designated for our many ministries as well as our usual ongoing committees.
The nurturing ministries are: communion ministers, prayer shawls, Faith on Tap, homebound visitation, birthday cards, yoga, WELCA, congregational meals, three Bible studies, work days three times per year, and a monthly book club.
Our outreach ministries are really booming: Feed Your Neighbor (a community meal in its eighth year averaging about 95 every Thursday), Kate’s Cupboard (baby supplies given to needy first-time mothers with 14 new mothers served in October and 13 returnees given diapers and wipes), blood drive four times per year (Trinity is the number two church in Cincinnati for donating blood), WELCA (shipped 27 quilts for Lutheran World Relief), Mt. Healthy Alliance (food pantry in Mt. Healthy served 482 families in October), Trunk or Treat (usually about 150 children are given candy and about 300 are served lunch), Easter Egg Hunt (about 150 kids hunt for eggs), Christmas gifts for needy children (90 served last year), muffin ministry (for second-time visitors), community garden (30 plots offered at no cost), and the Peace and Justice committee (working with immigrants in Mt. Healthy).
Finally, numerous outside groups use Trinity Hall for their activities: woodcutters, two dance groups, yoga, GED classes, and precinct voting.
We have three special services each year: Advent Event, a pet blessing, and a Thanksgiving Eve pie fest. Our traditional and contemporary services average about 185 combined each Sunday and are very inspiring due to terrific sermons by Pastor Todd Cutter and fabulous music headed by our organist/pianist, Nancy Tolford-Peeno. Our 15-person choir sings at the traditional service and six singers and four musicians form the Breakout Band during our contemporary service. We sent 13 youth to Lutherridge for summer camp and six youth to Detroit for a service project. Our Sunday school teachers are second to none with 15-20 in class each week.
What you may notice is that everyone in the congregation is working to support the congregation, its members and the surrounding community. The pastor, the council, the sunday school teachers, the musicians, the women, the men, the children--everyone is kicking in and doing their part to share God's love. This is a perfect example of how we are stronger and better together: joining Jesus in the restoration of the world.
Trinity Lutheran Church, Mt. Healthy has been around since 1853. Their enthusiasm and commitment to their members and the community are helping to ensure they will be around for many years to come.
What's your congregation doing to be a vital part of your community? What are you enthusiastic about? Share your story with the Bishop's office by sending an email to Susan Barton-Nonno, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org.