29 years ago, a group of people came together after being excluded from their various faith communities because they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. People were getting sick and dying horrible deaths and at the time, no one seemed to know why. The most visible spread of the disease was in the gay community. A national panic set in. All around the Memphis-area, houses of worship uninvited or excluded queer people because they were afraid of catching “the gay cancer.” This was an especially controversial issue when it came to the serving of Communion. They were afraid that some people were contagious and that they would contaminate the host. Thus they banned many from sharing in the sacrament of Communion. Making them second class citizens in their church homes at best, and modern day leapers who were ostracized and shunned at worst. Today, we know that this was one of the public reactions to the initial onset of HIV and AIDS in our community.
Our founders came together from many different faith traditions – Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of Christ, among others. They had the shared desire to create a place where they could come together to worship God while being fully respected and accepted as the beautiful children of God that they knew they were. They didn’t want anyone to have the power to tell them that they were not welcome to worship in the house of God.
They came together to start this church so that everyone, without restriction, could experience God’s love and grace and mercy and forgiveness in community without the fear of rejection and ridicule. So that there was a place where people could come to commune with God and each other without having to hide a part of who they were and who they loved.
We are inspired by the experience of our founders being excluded from their various faith communities to always make sure that we are a welcoming people for all people. That our personal relationships with God are informed by our sexual orientation, but not defined by our sexual orientation. Our legacy of the Gospel at this church is for all people, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, and every other location on the gender spectrum. It doesn’t matter who you are or how you identify yourself – you are loved by God. That is a significant part of our witness. We believe that together united in our faith we are called to reach out and proclaim God’s unending love for all people. To embrace the beatitudes and work tirelessly for the new heaven and the new Earth that our holy scripture keeps pointing us towards. The dream of God as revealed through Jesus for the love of all the world.
The God of love is calling us forth to believe and to act, to change the world for the better, to save lives for the sake of all that is holy and that what is holy is each and every one of us living today.
Holy Trinity is represented by a symbol that speaks volumes about our identity as a church community. As we begin our 28th year in ministry, it is worth revisiting the meaning of our symbol. The overall inverted triangle has triple meaning. It is this geometrical shape that represents the Holy Trinity, (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), with the Godhead descending. It is also the insignia used during the 1930’s and 40’s designating one who is an “invert.” Nazi’s used this symbol to identify queers much as the Star of David was used for Jews. This shield shape itself reminds us of Psalm 28:7 and encourages us to take it to the heart: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in God, and God helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise God.” Our inverted triangle in red is reminding us of the sacrifice of those brave souls who now surround us like a cloud of witnesses. The central purple cross etched in gold signifies that we are centered in Jesus Christ. Purple designates a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ. The three gold rings signify the Trinity once again, but for Holy Trinity Community Church it is the “Trinity of Love”: Love God, Love Neighbor, and Love of Self, echoing the teaching of the head of our church, Jesus the Christ. The insignia on the right side of the triangular shield is the sign of the United Church of Christ. This symbol, a comma, speaks to both A Just World for All, and the Great Loves campaign – Love of Children, Love of Neighbor, Love of Creation, all inspired by the belief that God is still speaking. We are engaged in a global ministry of inclusion, ecumenism, justice, and mission as partners with other congregations of the “Still Speaking God.”
Our faith is 2,000 years old – our thinking is not. We believe in God’s continuing testament. This is why we are committed to hearing God’s ancient story anew and afresh in our lives and in the world today. We try to remain attentive to God’s creative movement in the world. Religion and science are not mutually exclusive, and your head and heart are both welcomes into our places of worship. We prepare our members to be engaged in ministry in the present and future church, and we embrace all kinds of communities and new modes of thinking. Why? Because God is still speaking.
No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here. We believe in extraagant welcome. This is why we insist that God’s communion table is open, not closed, and God’s gift and claim in baptism are irrevocable. We advocate justice for all. Our congregation extends hospitality as a sign of God’s inclusive love. We teach that evangelism – offering bread to those in search of it – is God’s mission. Our perspective is global, not provincial. We work with – not against – people of other faiths. Why? Because God is still speaking.
Never place a period where God has placed a comma. We believe the church’s mission is to change lives – individually, systemically, and globally. We work to make transformation possible, but trust in God’s grace. This is why we insist that churches must be places of vitality in worship, learning, and advocacy. We are committed to working for justice, and we believe that lives are changed through global experiences and friendships. Why? Because God is still speaking.
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christt, and the love of God, and thee fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV