This has been an incredible fall semester so far at Trinity. We are having a blast—at least I am. The Puget Sound weather has been fantastic, and in fact only just today are we getting our first real rain since July. As I move around the five floors of the campus center I see smiles, hear conversations, feel the energy and watch teams working together. Guests who visit me constantly remark about the energy and beautiful sense of community at Trinity. We are grateful.
We are very lucky to work and serve at this incredible place. It is a joy to know that while we have our challenges, we labor with God to serve students. It is a joy when we realize students are truly being served, mentored and challenged by their experiences with us, and they are growing and changing before our eyes.
The challenge that most excites me was described in our first chapel of the year. And as an aside, Pastor Erik and his chapel planning team are doing a fantastic job “curating” our chapel services—we had over 120 folks in the first chapel service of the term. A moment in this first service moved me to tears, as I felt incredible gratitude at being part of this place and called to this challenge. A student read this: “Our community consists of dedicated believers, of wandering pilgrims, of curious seekers and of questioning wonderers. We bring different experiences, different traditions, different gifts. We notice one another and we welcome each other into this community.”
When I heard those words, I thought what a blessing it is to be part of this place, where all are included and welcomed. I was also challenged by the idea that if we can truly serve, motivate, educate, mentor and minister to our diverse and interesting mix of students, we will be serving the church and bringing glory to God.
At Trinity, we are truly a community filled with dedicated believers, wandering pilgrims, curious seekers and questioning wonderers. Here are some examples:
Dedicated Believers: There is a young man at the college who serves us as our Spiritual Life Commissioner. Hailing from Anacortes, he is one of our amazing, dedicated believers. His heart is full of God and God’s love, and the Holy Spirit directs him. This young man is bright and a solid academic, he’s a member of our Dean’s Circle, he leads our community in prayer at the conclusion of nearly every chapel service, he leads an Everett Young Life group, and he brings his enthusiasm for learning and faith to each class and interaction. He is making the most of his time here by digging into learning and being open to God’s call toward his vocation.
Wandering Pilgrims: A wandering pilgrim who has inspired us this year is the Reverend Dr. Dave Ellingson, professor of Children, Youth & Family Studies. During his sabbatical last spring, Dave paddled his kayak down the Mississippi River. He used the months, which he called a spiritual pilgrimage, to learn from the people he met and to listen to God’s voice. He entitled his journey “Creation Care: Environmental Ethics.” During his journey, Dave kept a blog in which he recorded on an almost daily basis the things he was learning on his pilgrimage. He writes, “God used the river to teach me both how powerful and regenerative the natural environment is and also how fragile and in need of wise care and stewardship. My kinship with all creation now resonates more deeply with St. Francis’ ‘brother Sun and sister Moon.’ Each morning just before dawn a symphony of birds began their musical wake-up call and invited me to launch my boat in the dark and paddle toward the light. They called me to a new day, to a new beginning, a new life and to pray.” Returning to Trinity as professor again this fall, after an amazing spring sabbatical, Dave brings to our community all that he learned on his journey, enriching our faith and inspiring our daily living because of his pilgrimage.
Curious Seekers: We count it a blessing at Trinity these days that we have many in our student body that are seekers. They bring their curiosity and their interest to our life of faith together, seeking to know more about God and God’s Word, and wanting to understand more about living lives of faith and belief. We are grateful to be a place where students can explore the Christian story and the person of Jesus—and where they can be on the path “seeking” to know more about faith.
Questioning Wonderers: One thing I know for sure is that while it is impossible to please God without faith, God also invites us to question and wonder about Him and His story. We would not be honest seekers of faith if we did not wonder from time to time, and we are grateful that Trinity is a place where questions and doubts can be voiced, and students can explore their wonderings alongside wise and faithful faculty and staff. Each person’s experience of coming to faith is different, but we are grateful to provide a place where students who “wonder about God” can ask their questions and grow in their understanding.
I am thankful that at Trinity we continue to be a place for believers, wonderers, seekers and pilgrims. We continue to teach and trust in the central truths of God’s Word, and each student here will encounter scripture and Christ’s redemptive story. Combine this with a unique and wonderful spirit that defines this place, and special things happen. I am just grateful to be part of it. I hope you will join us for a visit soon. Our full chapel service is every Wednesday at 11:00 am, followed by lunch and community gathering time. You are welcomed!