June 21, 2020

LOUISA BYNUM
Good morning, I’m Louisa Bynum.  I’m gonna be honest, when I was approached by Steve and Rebecca about doing a senior homily, my initial thought was no. My entire family including grandparents, aunts, and uncles have been members here forever; however, because of my club soccer schedule, I wasn’t able to do some of the traditional things like acolyting or participating in youth group that I had heard so many seniors talk about in previous homilies. I was worried I wasn’t as connected to Trinity…

But two things during quarantine changed my mind. One day, I was driving through a neighborhood by my house and saw our minister, Steve, on a walk. I rolled down the window with excitement to wave, but instead of simply waving and moving on with his day, Steve stopped his walk, came over to my car, and asked how my family and I were doing.

Then starting around the weekend that I was supposed to be celebrating graduation, I began receiving cards and letters almost daily from members of the church, some of whom I knew and others who I did not. It was those two simple gestures that made me realize how important connections to this church are and that I needed an opportunity to say thank you.

Though this spring has been far from what I pictured for my senior year, I’ve learned how meaningful even the smallest interactions can be. For example, before quarantine, the grocery checkout line used to be a chance to look at my phone and check social media; however, now I am so excited to talk to someone outside of my household, the phone stays in my pocket. Those chats with the checkout person became highlights of my day. Before quarantine, my main form of communication were texts and snapchat, but suddenly, having daily zoom calls with friends and family replaced that because I was so excited to see their faces and have personal interactions. Before quarantine, my main workouts were on the soccer field, but without team sports, those were soon replaced with bike rides and runs, while out, the simple connection of a wave or passing someone on a trail became moments I cherished.

Before quarantine, I had taken all of these little moments for granted.

Similarly, though the big services of Easter and Christmas Eve at Trinity are definitely something I look forward to, I’ve realized that it’s actually the small things about this church that I will miss the most.

For example: Arriving at Room in the Inn early, to make the beds that our guests would stay in that night. Hearing my name spoken quietly as I received communion at the front of the church.

Walking up to receive a Christmas star at the Childrens Christmas Eve Service, even when I was eighteen.

Climbing the magnolia tree after church when I was younger, until all the cars had left the parking lot.
And, always sitting in the same pew behind Molly and Mason as well as seeing my cousins giggle and interact with Hank and Elaine beside us.

It’s weird that it took being apart from Trinity to make me realize how connected I really am to this place.

So Steve, thank you for asking me to participate in this service and thank you to all of you for making this place somewhere I will be excited to come back to.

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BLAKELY DURHAM
Good Morning. I’m Blakely and I will be attending UNC in the fall.

I’ve thought about this day for a while. For as long as I can remember, people have told me that one day I’d be up in the pulpit giving my homily. These people meant well, thinking it would give me something to look forward to, an important milestone in my life. But, honestly, it always stressed me out. I had no idea what to talk about. Somewhere around tenth grade, I decided I would look for inspiration around my room. I like to collect memories, holding onto small things that represent important parts of my life. I figured that if I was looking for an event of significance from my time with Trinity, I would find it amongst these momentos. So finally, as a graduate of high school with my homily approaching, I went through every corner of my room, noting everything connected to
Trinity. I found over 60 different items, but three stuck out to me as best representing what this church means to me.

The first item, representing my elementary school years, is a homework assignment from Sunday School. Our task was to ask different people in the church “What are your goals and dreams and how did God help you achieve them?” Though the specifics varied, at their core, each answer contained the goal of loving others. This goal I associate with Sunday School because it was a time centered around teaching me what it meant to love your neighbor as yourself. My earliest memories are of singing with Dr. Phifer and playing Bible games with Mr. Tappy, Mr. O’Keefe, and Ms. Lambert. And slowly but surely, I felt a family forming around me, one that understood how to love others, after whom I could model my own behavior. They built the foundation that showed me how to love my neighbor as myself.

 The second item is a copy of the benediction I read last year on Youth Sunday. It talked of the gifts of kindness, generosity, patience, tolerance, grace, and forgiveness that we received from God, and charged us with using these gifts “to create Christ-like relationships wherever we go.” I am blessed to have leaders, both past and present, who embody these gifts of God. Leaders who take the time every Sunday night to teach us how to use God’s gifts to build Christ-like relationships, not only with each other, but with our greater community. And on Mission trips, they showed us how to put this love into action, from Vacation Bible School to farming, lots and lots of farming, to simply sitting down and having a conversation. The lessons they taught me I will remember forever. And to my fellow youth, I am also blessed to have found such a loving family with y’all. The mission trips especially solidified these family bonds, filled with treasured memories, like catching chickens, trasketball, and Earthopoly. It is hard for me to imagine being without the family that has been created by my fellow youth.

Both of these items represent an important part of my growth within this church, as I learn how to love my neighbor as myself, but the item that holds the most significance to me seems, on the surface, the most insignificant. It is an orange paper star with “courage” simply printed on it. It’s from a New Years activity in Youth some number of years ago. In the activity, we each drew a star and had to come up with a resolution based on the word we drew. Though I can’t remember the resolution I made, I do remember we were told to keep the star as a reminder. It has been on my bulletin board all these years. Occasionally it would fall down, and I’d have to resecure it in its place. Over the years the meaning transformed, no longer reminding me of the resolution I made, but instead representing one of the most significant impacts this church has had on me. It’s given me courage.

Which brings me back to that homework assignment years ago, and the question “what are your goals and dreams and how did God help you achieve them?” And though I haven’t achieved all my goals and dreams yet, God has already begun to help me attain them by giving me this wonderful church family. Full of love and support, Trinity taught me to have courage to go and pursue my dreams because my church family, and God, will always have my back. To quote Proverbs 31, verse 25 “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” And I have this church to thank for that.

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DEAN GUTKNECHT
Good morning everyone!  This may not have been how I wished to see all of you, but we will carry on like we always have!  Thank you all for being here, I see faces I have known for 18 years and faces that I have known for only a few years. There are also faces I can’t see that have made my Trinity experience so special and fantastic, but I know that they are all in a better place.

I would like to tell you about some of the people that have really helped me on my journey to stand in front of you today. I would like to thank Ms. Phifer for playing the piano for us and for putting music on my mind a long time ago in Sunday school and to the Trinity Music Team for helping me to grow musically, even letting me play with them.

Someone special to me after church services was Mr. Brawley who I used to call Mr. Penny Man because he always gave the kids a penny to throw into the fountain out in the courtyard, it was always a highlight of my week.

Another person I wish I could have met was my Grandfather, who I called Dad-dad, and you knew him as Dick. All of the stories I have heard from you about him have made me wish I could talk to him one last time all the more. How he taught a Sunday School class to the more personal stories about how he helped people when they needed him. I also heard that he was a musician and I wish I could show him what I’ve done in school and playing in church.

Now, on to a more positive note, I would like to talk about my Sunday School again. Mr. Tappy’s Sunday school where it felt more like we were playing around, even though we were learning about the Bible. From the Fishmobile to Bible Basketball, we had a great time. I hope I’m still up there for Bible Basketball! Then, I got too old and moved on, we had the mornings with Mr. O’Keefe and there was always something fun and interesting to do. Then we started to have breakfast there, which was a very fun and new experience for me as a fifth grader with no idea of what’s next.

Now for one of the most painful things to lose. I’m losing what has always been a space to enjoy and see my friends once a week for the last 6 years. Youth fellowship has built me up and made me stronger to the ways of the world. The leadership may not be the exact same as when I started, but I will never forget those who helped me in my times of trouble to find the way forwards and to the grace of God. I even got to bring one of my friends when we were going out on an activity, which was great. I have spent a long, long time with them and I wish I could do it all over again.

Here’s to the next chapter of life and to everyone who came to see this, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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DAVID HOOD
Good Morning. Happy Father’s Day. I think most of you know who I am, but if we haven’t had the chance to meet, my name is David Hood. I have spent much of the first 18 years of my life here at Trinity, a place where I have had the privilege to call home. This morning, I have the opportunity to reflect on my faith journey thus far, and I want to be clear when I say that Trinity has had an integral part of it.

I want to begin by giving thanks to everyone that has played such a huge role in helping me find my relationship with God. This includes Sunday school teachers, who taught me about the stories of God and Jesus Christ. This includes youth group advisors, who have guided Sunday fellowship and led the trips to Wapato, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. But most importantly, this includes you, the Trinity congregation. You have given me a place to find home every Sunday, despite what my highs and my lows were for the week. I want you to know that I am grateful for that.

However, I don’t want to spend all of my time just saying ”thank you.” Hopefully, you already know how grateful I am for all of you and your efforts in guiding me in the past 18 years.

Instead, I want to spend time informing you of how my faith journey will guide me in the future.

Recently, our nation has fallen victim to several crises including the COVID-19 pandemic and rising tensions among race relations. These crises have proven to divide us as a nation, with little direction on how we move forward together. How do we move forward? What can my faith here at Trinity tell me on how we move forward through these crises? Well, of course I’m not an expert on that, but I do know this: Jesus Christ died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins; Trinity has shown me that His sacrifice allows our faith in God to guide humanity to safety and justice. Trinity taught me that Jesus did not die in the name of division. He died in the name of unity. Trinity taught me that Jesus did not die in the name of fear. He died in the name hope. Trinity taught me that Jesus did not die in the name of hatred. He died in the name of love. My time learning about my faith here at Trinity has taught me exactly what God wants for me: unity, hope, and love.

I will be attending Wesleyan University this fall. Although my choice of major is undecided, I know how my faith will move me forward in life. I know that everything that my home here at Trinity has taught me will be an integral part in my path forward to seek unity, hope, and love within my community and abroad.

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HENRY PICKETT
Hello, I’m Henry Pickett and there is a very low chance I make it through this without crying. I’ve gone to Trinity my entire life and have shared many of the same experiences as my peers who spoke before me today, those who spoke years prior and those who will give future homilies. As a toddler I went to preschool here and spent time in the nursery during worship service. Then eventually I started going to Sunday school where a lot of great people taught me about the bible guiding me along my faith journey before I even knew what a faith journey was. Along the way I also had plenty of fun making crafts, playing games, I’m even thankful for the punishments of chicken suits and pushups. Along with the weekly Sunday school classes I was participating in the children’s choir, which I was very against joining at first but ended up loving it. Mrs. Arant lead the children’s choir managing to both amuse us and teach us how to sing which all of my fellow youth will agree were lost on me somewhere along the way due to voice cracks and in the words of my brother, being completely tone deaf. Along with the children’s choir she taught liturgical arts camp over the summer, containing that same mixture unique to Trinity of fun education and love I have come appreciate so much. This was also prevalent to me in earlier years being both a camper and an advisor in vacation bible school. More recently though I have experienced this mix in youth group, on mission trips, and at Montreat. Mission trips were easily some of the favorite experiences of my life. On mission trips I learned about my strengths and weaknesses. I learned how to work together with others, how to stay positive and not let being tired make me cranky. I learned about what Christian mission was all about, and had a whole lot of fun while doing it, from catching chickens to making up songs while we worked, making up and playing games with our group, meeting new people, creating terrible business ideas, and most of all sharing a laugh, especially those over our extremely childish bathroom humor. My first mission trip was in Wapato Washington 4 years ago. I have grown quite a lot since then both physically, which I am repeatedly reminded of by my youth peers and advisors as they endlessly make fun of how small I was, but also mentally. With every interaction on these mission trips and in youth group I was taught something. Brent taught me how to be a leader by setting a great example balancing business with enjoyment and working together with both the youth and other advisors to solve any problem that was thrown at us. Sarah has the amazing ability to be able to talk to anybody in any situation and make them feel at ease. She taught me how to be kind and spread joy and confidence to others. And although I do not have the time to express my gratitude to all the advisors and Sunday school teachers I have had I would like thank all of you for teaching me and guiding me through my faith and life, except for you Ned, you’re still the worst.

But seriously, I will be forever grateful for everything this church and every individual in it has done for me. This church was instrumental in creating the person I am today and the foundation for the person I will become. So, to Trinity, the people I am proud to call my church family, who somehow made learning and manual labor fun, loved me unconditionally, and gave me a group and a place I know I can always call home, thank you.