God’s generous response was stunning. By his grace, congregants gave generously and boldly. We surpassed our monetary needs. God used a time of financial weakness to put his generosity on display, bringing us from a place of uncertainty to a new level of financial maturity.
While our 5pm service was launched in the fall of 2015, in the fall of 2016 we relaunched this service with a specific group of committed individuals. As a result, we entered the fall with a sense of excitement and opportunity for the 5pm service, and have seen it continue to grow into a lively community. Our highest attendance this past year was 98 adults, which is double what we saw last year. While we are encouraged by this number, we are more so encouraged by the fellowship of believers in the 5pm services.
The decision was also made last year to move from two morning services to one at 10:30am. Through this, the Lord has graciously grown us in relationships by having all people together in one service, and even to see numerical growth in morning attendance.
Outside of our Sunday services, our 19 community groups studied the books of Acts and Hosea. We thank God for the leadership, community and honesty found in these groups. Congregants come from Rogers Park to northern Indiana to worship on Sundays at Holy Trinity DT, but throughout the week are able to live more closely in community with other Holy Trinity attendees. More people are moving closer to each other to live in Intentional Christian Communities.
We anticipate a full year ahead and cannot wait to see how God continues to reveal himself in our church and in our city.
Our first Sunday, we met and exchanged numbers with countless members of the community offering help and support. It was such a blessing to meet so many kind, generous, welcoming people our first week.
Only days after we first visited Holy Trinity, life got real, fast. We were burglarized and needed help. We reached out to our very new friends at Holy Trinity. Within an hour, Dan Fabrycky was at our door.
Since then, the blessings have not stopped coming. We have attended a community group at the Niehs’, enjoyed many a cup of coffee and Christ centered conversation at Amanda’s Thursday morning coffee hour/Bible study, met with Pastor Helm, shared in a women’s prayer group, read the Bible one-to-one with other believers, and generally lived life with our new “family.”
Our transition has been so seamless that many of our friends keep asking what made it so easy. Our immediate answer has been our community at Holy Trinity and the Lord in his divine plan for our family in Hyde Park.
Our previous space wasn't conducive to our needs and the rent was beyond what we could afford in the years ahead. So, a team of five people spent months praying and searching for where God was leading us. We figured out the geographical center of where our congregants lived and searched in the immediate vicinity. Lakeview Seventh Day Adventist Church in Roscoe Village came into our sights, and January 16th was our first Sunday to meet there. The building offers better space at a better value. Our prayer is that we would be a gospel outpost in Roscoe Village and the rest of the North Side of Chicago.
One day in May, member Megan Pros called 911 because her husband, Chris, was unresponsive. Pastor Oscar Leiva soon arrived. When the paramedics arrived, Chris went into convulsions. For days, Chris lay in the hospital, intubated and unresponsive.
Those days were scary for all of us. We almost lost a father, husband, and brother. Eventually Chris regained consciousness and was discharged. And once the crisis had passed, we could see how God had moved in the situation. The Pilsen congregation acted like a family. Other families cared for the Pros daughter and twin boys. Rides were given. Food was provided. There were visitors around the clock. The nurses in our congregation translated all the doctor speak to the rest of the congregation through email updates. Most importantly, people prayed. All of these things just happened. No one was told what to do. People just reacted like family. And in it, the beauty of the body of Christ was on display.
We are grateful to be a part of a maturing faith family that eagerly serves one another. We expectantly long to see hearts, homes and the Lower West Side built and sustained through the power of the gospel. We are hopeful to see city renewal through a multivariate gospel centered faith family.
*Chicago Plan Intern stipends are supported by the Charles Simeon Trust ($797,997 since 2001), an organization that trains the next generation of biblical expositors. Pastor Dave Helm gives 30 percent of his time as Chairman of the Board and both Pastor Jon Dennis and original HTC member Jane Hensel are founding board members.
Our window-washer comes in every other week to make our windows sparkle. He is a former addict and has been clean ever since his mother passed away. He is always cheery, doing his work with joy. A few months ago, he suddenly ended up in the hospital after having a seizure. He was diagnosed with brain cancer and needed to start treatments immediately. He came into Encore to ask us for prayer and to let us know he needed to take a few months off. We pray for him regularly as a staff and were able to bless him with a few things to make his treatments more comfortable. Join us as we continue to pray for him and his journey.
This year Neopolis was incorporated as a ministry separate from Holy Trinity Church. A board was assembled, articles of incorporation have been drafted, a bank account has been established—and we continue to help planters and pastors in their efforts to preach, pastor and plant for the glory of God.
Holy Trinity Church/Mathare in Nairobi continues to gain traction. Leaders have been trained, attendance has grown, building improvements have been made. In spite of a family setback where their home was invaded and goods stolen, Paul Ogalo, his family and HTC Mathare have moved forward in faith. We praise God for the work that was started in summer 2015 and by the grace of God prospers today!
Holy Trinity Church/Havana in Cuba ministers under the church name “Nueva Vida” (New Life). There is much to say about this gospel work in Cuba.
Through the prayers and the giving of God’s people, the gospel is growing in Havana through the ministry of Nueva Vida and in Nairobi, Kenya through HTC/Mathare. We are grateful and the Lord is glorified. Thank you. And, thanks be to God!
Our country is more divided than it’s been in some time. Christians that are Republicans can't understand how someone can love Jesus and be committed to a political party that seems to not value life in the womb. Christians that are Democrats can't understand how someone can love Jesus and be committed to a political party that seems to not value life of the poor outside the womb.
As pastors, how do we help our church members navigate today's political climate? How do we spark healthy conversations that grow us rather than divide us? In order to address this pressing issue, The Chicago Partnership for Church Planting brought together over 60 Chicago pastors for “Confronting Politics” with special guest Skye Jethani (author) and Sho Baraka (AND Campaign).
Skye Jethani challenged us to follow a more excellent way. “In Jesus’ incarnation, we discover an entirely different vision of how to relate to our culture—one driven by love not fear and self-sacrifice not self-interest.” Sho Baraka, challenged us to open up our eyes and seek to understand those fellow Christians who come from a different perspective and life experience. Reminding us that we are united under Christ, not our political parties.
This gathering lead to great discussion that not only challenged us, but it also helped serve as a catalyst for new relationships that bridge racial, economic and political divides.
An integral piece of musicianship is vulnerability. To a musician, music written, performed, or played is an extension of the self.
Music has been a passion of mine for a very long time. This last year I began asking the Lord specifically for opportunities to collaborate with other musicians. This prayer was answered through an out-of-the-blue invitation to be part of a songwriting team at Holy Trinity.
We began with a couple meetings followed by two weekend long retreats of intensive song-writing. I attended the first weekend with trepidation. It became my goal to not anticipate a specific outcome, or to make myself perform in a certain way, but to offer myself to the Lord. Over the weekend I was able to actively work with other musicians in a creative atmosphere. We partnered off two by two to work for an afternoon and my partner and I bonded over the same unknown band. Our creative methods complemented each other and we each were able to write a song.
During the second retreat we recorded demos of the songs we had written over the last months. Within a matter of minutes, we learned each other’s songs and recorded, adding harmonies on the spot. It was exhilarating.
Over the course of these weekends I heard musicians be vulnerable with their own creations. We all offered kind critique and encouragement; everyone wanted the other to succeed. The creative process is much like life – the first try generally isn’t perfection. The end result is often through the help or input of others. Even if a song is written alone, it is played in community. Music is for the joy of others and to the glory of the Ultimate Creator.
“Seeing the kids' excitement when they hear a story for the first time is one of the best parts about teaching Kid City. Our most recent unit was about Jesus' death and resurrection. You could see the kids wrestling with the darker and more violent truths of the gospel as we talked about how Jesus' friends betrayed him and how he was nailed to a cross for us. In the last week, we had a party to celebrate the fact that Jesus conquered death and is alive. It was cool to see the kids get a taste of the celebration that is ours in Christ.”
- Ellie Van de Steeg, Pilsen
He has also used one-to-one Bible reading to show me an entirely new way to read Scripture by seeing what the author is intending to communicate through structure and highlighted themes. I’m reading the Bible and learning about God with entirely new eyes! Overall, I’ve experienced how being rooted in a healthy, God-fearing church is God’s design for cultivating a flourishing life for the follower of Jesus. Holy Trinity has been a solid foundation that my Father has used to let me know, love and trust Him more than I ever have and to experience Him as one who is fully good, immense, praiseworthy, sovereign, trustworthy and mine.
Discussing, reading, hearing teaching, and listening to panelists from different fields describe how they see their professions as advancing God’s kingdom was invigorating to me, I felt equipped to return to my place of work confident that I could serve God through working hard and with excellence in my profession, not only through potential evangelism opportunities. I plan to participate again and would encourage anyone to do the same!” - Sarah Ladino, Community College Professor, participant in Summer Institute of Faith & Work 2016
To help people answer questions like Sarah’s, Holy Trinity launched three faith and work ministries last year:
For example, the Re-Engage chapter on conflict, which talks about conflict as an “opportunity,” showed us that we were “conflict avoiders.” This led to a lot of blockage in our relationship over the years. Now that we have broken down those walls we have a richer, more emotionally satisfying marriage than ever before.
The purpose of Holy Trinity’s marriage ministry is to help couples understand and then apply how God would have them live their married lives. It is designed to help answer the question: What does living out your faith in your day to day married life look like?
With the responsibilities of life, it isn’t often that our men are able to get away to fellowship with other men through worship, play and preaching. That’s why Holy Trinity’s biannual Men’s Retreat is so refreshing and important!
This year’s theme was “The Whole Man: Healing the Fracture Between Faith, Work and Rest.” We were honored to have H.B. Charles, Pastor at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Florida, as our guest speaker. Pastor Charles led us through God’s word, exposing us to the beauty of knowing that God isn’t just a part of our lives, but rather he is king and Lord over all areas of our lives. Will Ahrenholtz said, “I was challenged by H.B. when he discussed what grown up faith looks like: childlike not childish, denouncing pride, embracing contentment and practicing hope.” When we live with that understanding we no longer live fractured lives, but rather whole lives under God, seeking his wisdom and guidance on all things.
Technical Director & Music Assistant, Downtown
North Side and Downtown Ministry Director
Assistant to the Senior Pastor, Neopolis Special Projects
Hyde Park Music Coordinator
Creative Projects Manager, Downtown PM Music Coordinator
Downtown PM Music Coordinator
North Side Music Coordinator
Director of Finance, Senior Director of City and Global Ministries
Pilsen Music Coordinator
Alyssa Walker, Project Manager
Jon Lauriat, Design, Video, Coding
Laura Curtin, Content
Breezy Mellijor, Content
Nate Cho, Audio
Silas Helm, silashelm.com
Christy Nieh, christynieh.com
Jasmine Pulley, jasminenicolephoto.com
Joe deSousa, via Flickr
vonderauvisuals, via Flickr
Ian Freimuth, via Flickr
Terence Faircloth, via Flickr
Justin Kern, via Flickr
Nitram242, via Flickr