I was baptized by Rev. Dave Hillard on May 11, 1986 (Mother’s Day) at Trinity. Can’t say I remember the experience being less than a year old at the time, but having witnessed many baptisms in The United Methodist Church since then I know that among other things the congregation affirmed the following pledge:
Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and include this person now before you in your care?
I also know from my subsequent 18 years attending Trinity as a child and youth that the members of the church took that pledge pretty darn seriously. I know from the frequent messages and correspondence I receive from old members every year and the welcome I get whenever I come home to attend church with my parents and Eleanor that they still hold themselves to that pledge. I can’t imagine growing up without Trinity. I can’t imagine my childhood without friends like Wayne Raybuck, Katy Branston, and Suzanna and Tim Endsley who were with me when I started Sunday School all the way through UMYF. They were friends for life. I can’t imagine going through life without the many mentors and voices of wisdom at Trinity like Wendel Stoltz, Frances Brown, and Mabel Majors. These sages of faith and compassion taught me so much and impacted my life in ways I can’t even fathom. And there’s so much more.
- Running downstairs after children’s time every Sunday to make cards for the homebound members with Mabel Majors
- That time Frances Brown used my name in one of her many tellings of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” (I got a race car out of a cereal box in the story)
- My one and only “scar story” about when I ran into door of the Wesleyan Room as it was opening
- Our family never missing a Christmas Eve service, unless you count the one year they cancelled it due to the weather
- Going with Eddy Walton’s group to visit Opryland and the Upper Room Chapel (never imagining someday I’d be working at the latter one)
- When I got my first leather-bound Bible from Trinity with my name on it (which I still have)
- Water balloons on the last day of every VBS week (courtesy of the one and only Mr. Nobody)
- Being confirmed by Rev. Jim Cooper and becoming an official member of Trinity
- Spending an entire Saturday afternoon painting the Youth Room blue
- The first time the UMYF hosted 30 Hour Famine
- My first official job working on Sunday mornings as the church sexton
- “Singing” a solo in the last ever Trinity Dinner Theater (though it was really more of a monologue with piano accompaniment)
- Attending Youth Annual Conference at Lakeshore
- That time I was in a canoe with Terry Endsley and he deliberately guided us into a rapid because he said I looked too dry
But most of all, I remember the Sunday of my high school graduation when I got up to thank Trinity for everything it had done for me. At that moment I realized how much sadder I was about leaving it than I was about leaving high school. High school was four years of my life. Trinity had been my whole life so far. But I also knew it had prepared me for the uncertain road ahead and grounded me in my faith. My experiences of church as a child and youth had been overwhelmingly positive. I know that many of the millennial generation have experienced church at its worst, full of judgment, condemnation, and apathy. As a result many of them never return to church as adults. But Trinity was and still is the kind of church you want to return to. When I finally joined a church in my new home of Nashville, I made sure I found one that like Trinity lives out its pledge to “nurture one another in the Christian faith and life”.
When I left Trinity for college I didn’t know what I would spend the next four years (which turned into six because of seminary) studying or what I would do when I finished. I do know now, however, that without Trinity I would never have even considered working for the Church as a career, much less as a layman. Church is where I spent the most of my childhood, where I made friendships that last forever, and where I knew there was always work that needed to be done. I guess I just never wanted to leave. Thanks for the memories Trinity.