Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the ministerial team at Trinity Presbyterian developed a plan to more deeply connect our church family. It was always part of our ConnectTPC theme for 2020 (watch video).

Then came social distancing. A new normal went into effect.  We believe the effort to connect with our church family is even more important now. We hope sharing stories about how church members are dealing with the pandemic prompts a better understanding of each other. As members of the body of Christ, that’s what ConnectTPC is all about.

Making Connections, Episode 5: The Jamesons

The Jameson family sat down with Steve and talked about everything from homeschooling to haircuts. They also explained how their connection to church family feels even stronger.

Connecting with Brent Mullis

Brent is a familiar face at Trinity! He and Sarah serve on ministry teams and volunteer with our youth. Brent shares how he’s been affected by Covid-19 through his work as a doctor and at home:

  • Over two decades of clinical practice, I’ve seen a lot: epidemics, natural and national disasters, medication and provider shortages, and healthcare crises fueled by politics and inequality of access. I’ve never imagined anything like this – that a single event would be at the center of such global tension, causing fear and isolation, with a prolonged threat to physical and mental health and financial security. Never could I have imagined the ways life would change … with an extra layer of uncertainty for front line workers. Sarah and I are so very grateful for our faith and our loving Trinity family. We can’t begin to express how thankful we have been for the uplifting calls, cards, emails and texts of support. Thank you.
  • There’s still care in healthcare! An amazing and beautiful byproduct of this stressful time has been the opportunity for healthcare providers to minister to patients and their families. To quote a friend, ‘there are days that we’re pastoring as much as we’re doctoring’. Healthcare providers are being called on to be surrogate families for our patients. Many times each week I finish my family-update phone calls entrusted with precious messages; ‘your daughter said to tell you she loves you’. Too many times, we have held patients’ hands as last breaths are taken – with the family only present by phone. How extraordinarily humbling. And how refreshing and inspiring it has been to watch my fellow front-liners in action – not just as competent medical practitioners but as caring and compassionate individuals.   
  • Sarah and I have missed being with friends and family, particularly our Trinity family! I remember feeling a very real sense of relief in seeing everyone’s faces on our first Zoom Youth Fellowship… We are so thankful for Jodi’s mastering of the Zoom technology and her work to get us together each week with the Youth and our fellow advisors. We can’t wait to share space again, as soon as we can do so safely.  

Making Connections, Episode 4: The Smiths

The Smith family sat down with Steve to share how they are coping. Hank and Sally talk about school and how they still connect with friends. The Smiths also found creative ways to enjoy a little competition at home!


Connecting with Lynda Opdyke

Lynda has served on ministry teams and continues to volunteer. Despite social distancing, she’s found ways to actively support missions at Trinity.
  • My pandemic challenge was a minor one compared with others – moving from a full schedule to an empty one. My extensive list of home improvement projects to accomplish during the shutdown is still long!
  • My first detour from the list came when my former health care colleagues, family and friends did not have the protective masks they needed. With quick help from Trinity members who sew as I do, we pooled resources to solve the problem. The second detour arose from concern about the well-being of our homeless neighbors. Trinity members who are active in our homelessness and hunger missions immediately stepped up. How gratifying it is to see our members, from pre-school to octogenarian, working together and involving their neighborhoods in a team effort to feed our hungry neighbors.
  • To see everyone pitch in to care for each other has emphasized the importance of relationships in my life and in the lives of others. I guess that is what church connection means!

Making Connections, Episode 3: Molly Mazeine

Molly sat down with Steve to share how she’s adjusting to the pandemic. Molly had to leave UNC-Chapel Hill and move back home. She also found a way to creatively accomplish a goal which meant a lot to her and others.


Connecting with Ellie Hair, North Carolina State University

  • Graduation is postponed. I am assuming that they will have a summer/fall ceremony or let us walk with the next graduates in December. Not having a conventional graduation is sad, but I have a lot to be grateful for during this strange time, so “losing” graduation is something that does not bother me so much.
  • Not knowing that the last time I was walking on campus, or spending time in my studio, or seeing all of my classmates the last time is the hardest part about missing the end of senior year. To say goodbye to my undergraduate experience I anticipated to be hard, but having it end abruptly makes me feel a loss of closure and a sense of incompleteness. I look forward to when I can return to campus as an alumni.
  • I have learned how important my community is to me and how easy it is to take that for granted. Technology today has allowed me to stay in touch with my friends, professors, and classmates, which is something that I am grateful for.
  • In August, I will be moving to Athens, Georgia, where I will be starting my graduate degree. I am on track to spend three years at UGA to obtain my Master’s in Landscape Architecture. I hope to one day work at a design firm to make urban green spaces more sustainable.

Connecting with Will Reid, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Our plans are unknown/TBA. They have indicated we will have some sort of in person event rather than a virtual graduation, but the administration still has to decide when it is safe for us to do so. I am glad they are choosing to hold the event later. Bringing people together from all over the state and country right now would only spread the virus further.
  • I think the hardest part has been the uncertainty it creates for friends and classmates. I know several individuals who have lost jobs or internships which can be very stressful. Most have had some portion of their plan upended on short notice, and it can be hard to grapple with change when it happens so quickly and frequently.
  • I’ve enjoyed seeing all the ways people are rising to the challenge. Whether it’s Zoom class or Zoom church, I appreciate those who are finding creative ways to adapt and keep life moving as much as possible.
  • I am staying in Charlotte and starting my job full time in August. We don’t yet know exactly what the situation at the office will be, but I am grateful to still have a job.


Making Connections, Episode 2: The Weeks

The Weeks sit down with Steve to share how they’re dealing with the pandemic. Ray also shows us how he keeps the squirrels out of the bird feeder. They have a special message for their Trinity family!


Connecting with Meredith Thompson

Meredith is a member of our Session and chairs Trinity’s Mission & Outreach Ministry Team. Coronavirus forced Meredith and her life partner, Barbara, to change their wedding plans to meet social distancing guidelines. The pandemic has also affected their small business, The Canine Cafe, in Southend.
  • Although we have had to temporarily part ways with half of our tiny staff, including our store manager of 15 years, we do consider ourselves quite fortunate to be open, and to have the support of customers who really do care. Folks have posted and tagged and have made a special effort to buy from us.
  • To provide for the long-term success of every Charlotte business, our community, and our world, the primary goal is, of course, to stop the spread of this virus. One small thing we each can do to help is to wear a mask. It is a small way to show you care (for the employees who work in an essential business and others) and to do your part. We appreciate the leadership of our governor in providing strict guidelines for essential business and taking a measured, tiered approach to reopening. This is a great time to reflect on the importance of small, independent business in shaping the character and color of our community. Now, and when this is all over, we can use our pocketbooks to “vote” for the ones you love and to consider what our community and lives would be like without these businesses and the people who work in them.
  • Believe it or not, my business and life partner and I got married during this pandemic. Thanks to the tremendous support of Trinity’s Session, congregation, and staff, an intimate ceremony and reception had been planned. Trinity members volunteered food, flowers, important emotional support, and more.Of course, a global pandemic had other plans. But, even that couldn’t stop our beloved church from letting a wedding continue! We held a ceremony in front of the sanctuary with five total participants (the minimum required) and could not be more thankful for those who allowed it to happen. Although not what we had planned, it was indeed perfect!

Making Connections, Episode 1: The Bumgardners

The Bumgardner family had just moved back to Charlotte and reconnected with Trinity Presbyterian when social distancing went into effect. They share with Steve what it’s been like adjusting to this new normal.


Connecting with John Nims

John ushers and volunteers with our mission partners. His wife and family are also familiar faces at Trinity. John is CEO of US Cotton, which is helping to manufacture coronavirus test kit swabs. He recently spoke during a White House press briefing and shared some thoughts with us about meeting this new challenge.
  • We are all in such a time of crisis, and it is a helpless feeling for everyone. I am thankful that we at US Cotton have a way to be of service. It is a privilege to be a part of this company at this time, and I am especially proud of our team in Cleveland, OH. They are the real heroes in this endeavor.
  • We were asked by the FDA about our swabs about a month ago. Once the FDA realized our capabilities, we settled on a swab design within two weeks. This is a design that we can ship to labs for use in all kinds of Covid-19 tests, both in labs and in at-home test kits. Initially, we will be able to produce 3 million testing swabs weekly.
  • We have a very clever and talented group of people in our Cleveland facility. Once they understood the challenge, they quickly leaned into the entirely different process. Within the next two weeks, it will be a seamless process. I feel privileged to lead a company that is able to help out during this time! I am proud of US Cotton and the selflessness of so many workers as we step up to this challenge in an effort to help our fellow citizens.