Trinity is a traditional Lutheran church. We stand out from many other Lutheran churches in that we still follow the historic Lutheran liturgy with reverence and joy in God’s presence. We recognize that the Church is in the world, but not of the world, yet while each of us serves God faithfully in our various daily callings (stations) in life (not only in “church work”). We seek to address the modern, cutting-edge, issues of the day, with the unchanging truth of God’s Word and the historic creeds and confessions of the Church.
We also hold to the Scriptures as the inspired, errorless written Word of God, and the Lutheran Confessions of 1580 as a faithful summary of Scriptural teaching and practice. These are authoritative for us. Therefore we avoid mimicking generic American protestant trends, movements, and fads, which preach the Christian instead of Christ Himself. We avoid the errors of Pietism and the charismatic movement. And we also avoid the liberal moral tendencies of mainline churches and culture which seek to erode traditional marriage and morality as God designed His creation, as well as the denial of objective truth.
We hold that we are justified before God by grace alone (a pure gift) through faith alone (trust) for the sake of Jesus’ death and resurrection to redeem all people in the world. We believe this salvation is delivered to us through the Word and the Holy Sacraments, and that the Holy Spirit and God’s Word are inseparable. In short, we resolve to teach the apostolic faith (Acts 2:42) which was once for all delivered the saints (Jude 3).
Our life together centers around that eternal Gospel (Revelation 14) in Jesus Christ who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Rather than being built around programs and personalities, our life together revolves around the worship of the Lamb who was slain and yet lives (Revelation 4,5). We take up our cross and follow Christ the Lord faithfully, rejoicing together in times of joy as well as sadness, knowing the Lord Jesus is with us and conquered sin, death, and the devil.
To put labels to us, Trinity Lutheran Church is:
biblical– We teach the Scriptures as the inspired, inerrant, powerful, and authoritative written Word of God (2 Peter 1:16-21; 2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 119). We teach that God made the creation in six days by His powerful Word. We hold to the Scriptural moral and ethical teachings as they have been biblically and historically known among traditional Christians. We acknowledge in the order of creation a natural law revealed to the human conscience and in the design of the universe.
evangelical– We teach justification by grace alone through faith alone for the sake of Christ, the crucified and risen Lord. We teach that Christ, true God and true man, the sinless and holy one, died for all people of all time(Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:10-14; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 1:16; see Augsburg Confession, Article IV). We are an assembly of baptized believers in Christ who trust in the forgiveness of their sins in Christ alone. Holiness and forgiveness is given to us in God’s mercy, and is not something we earn or conjure up from within ourselves. Our faith is in Christ and His Word, and not in ourselves.
apostolic – We understand that we, as the Body of Christ, are sent to faithfully teach the faith as it was received and passed on by the holy apostles of Christ (Acts 2:42; Matthew 28:16-20). We teach that the Church is to make disciples of all nations, skin colors, languages, ages, male and female, by means of baptizing and teaching all things Christ has given. We do not accept racism or racial (ethnic) segregation, but teach the Church is unified in Christ as a new people and nation (I Peter 2:9-10). The Church is a culture all her own as she is gathered out of the world. To be apostolic is to be in mission according to our vocations in life, and together as the church is gathered as the Body of Christ. We proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again openly in glory.
catholic– We teach and confess what has been taught by the faithful church through the ages without addition or subtraction. We do not understand the Lutheran Church to be a new church (Jude 3; 2 Peter 1:21; Matthew 16:12-25). We affirm the continuity of the church through the ages from biblical times, through the early church fathers and the Lutheran Reformation to this day. We seek to teach the biblical faith “according to the whole.” The faith we confess is universal and unchanging. It may not be broken up piecemeal as if biblical teaching is a buffet of choices according to taste or culture.
creedal and confessional – We hold to the Lutheran Confessions, as contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, without reservation, because they are a faithful summary and exposition of Scriptural teaching and practice (quia subscription, as it is called). Besides the Reformation era confessions we also confess the three “ecumenical” or ancient Creeds – the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian (Matthew 16).
trinitarian – We confess that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit eternally as is stated in Scripture and in the three historic Creeds and in the early councils of the Church.
orthodox and liturgical – We teach and practice the historically-received sacramental and liturgical practice that the church has known and handed on. We do not presume to worship in a way in which it has never been done before by apostolic Christians (Acts 2:42; I Corinthians 11:17-32; Hebrews 12:18-29). We understand that the Word of God, Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper are means of God’s grace and are truly the works of God and not of man. We therefore understand them to be the instruments of the Holy Spirit. We do not understand “right doctrine” to be merely something written paper or on a shelf nor merely the purity of an ideology. Where the Gospel is purely preached and the sacraments are rightly administered, there one can find the truly “Spirit-filled” church regardless of mood.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A. That depends on where you are coming from. Trinity is a congregation of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The LCMS differs from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA – whose predecessors bodies include the ALC, LCA and AELC), as we, on Scriptural grounds, do not have women as pastors, engage in altar and pulpit fellowship with non-Lutherans, and we also hold the the complete inspiration and errorlessness of the original texts of the Holy Bible, unlike the ELCA. There are many other differences with the ELCA that are too numerous to detail here. We only accept the marriage may be between one man and one woman in a life-long public commitment observing whatever governmental regulations necessary to be observed. The ELCA denies the inspiration of Scripture, has publicly endorsed homosexuality and abortion, and has declared altar and pulpit fellowship with several non-Lutheran denominations. Sadly, this means the ELCA has little to do with historic Lutheran teachings or beliefs.
Within the LCMS our congregation is orthodox (confessional) or as some might say, “conservative” or “traditional.” This means that we do not necessarily agree with everything going on in every other LCMS congregation, especially in the drift some have made toward being more like the ELCA or toward being general protestants or charismatic (like non-denominational churches). We hold the Lutheran Confessions, as found in the Book of Concord, to be the correct exposition of the Word of God and use them as our guiding documents. All Lutheran congregations say this. We strive to be very serious about this in teaching and practice. Not all congregations would seem to be so serious about this matter.
This may sound like we honor the confessions more than the Bible. We do not. We understand and confess that the Bible is the sole source and norm for all of our doctrine and life. But we also understand that the Lutheran confessions are the true exposition of the Bible and contain the wisdom of our forefathers. They have been normed by the Scriptures and are therefore useful for study and contemplation.
Our congregation is also highly sacramental. The center of our life together is the Divine Service of the Word and the Holy Supper of Christ’s body and blood. The Lord’s Supper is offered every Sunday. Because we are so fervently dependent upon, and thankful for, Our Lord’s bodily presence and gift in the Holy Communion, we strive to be reverent and appropriately traditional in our ceremonies, which have continuity into better times in Lutheran history before the movements of Pietism and Rationalism afflicted the Lutheran Church.
It is also because we believe in the Bodily Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Communion that we practice what is called “closed communion.” We understand our communion with Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar to be not only a personal act of worship and piety but also a public confession of fellowship and unity. We recognize the danger not only of an unworthy communion but also of making a hypocritical confession. We do not commune at Christian altars whose public teachings are different from ours. We do not make light of differences in doctrine.
At Trinity, we are not followers of the latest fads or trends in Christian bookstores or radio. Despite our preference for the old, we use, mostly, modern English. We do use some recently composed hymns, though they are of a more traditional, liturgical style. The blessed Reformer Martin Luther is our main teacher after Our Lord through the apostles and prophets, but we do not embrace or agree with everything he said nor think that he was all-wise or without error. We do also honor and respect many other Lutheran church fathers as well as church fathers before the Lutheran Reformation, especially in the early church.
Words you generally don’t hear applied to Trinity are liberal, modern, charismatic, faddish, pietistic, Reformed, or casual. We are centered in Christ our crucified and risen Lord and the Gospel of forgiveness and justification by grace alone through faith alone.
WHO SHOULD COME TO CHURCH AT TRINITY?
A. Everyone is invited attend worship with us at Trinity. We want the whole world to hear the Gospel of Jesus and know that they are forgiven and saved in Him. The apostolic message of the church in mission has always been, “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” “This promise is for you and your children.” (see Acts 2). While not all might be able to commune immediately we welcome you to hear the Word of God. Regarding fellowship there is a path to joining us fully.
DO YOU USE A SCREEN AT TRINITY?
A. No. At Trinity, for most services we use mainly the hymnal, Lutheran Service Book, along with a bulletin insert with the Scripture readings, Introit, and Gradual. We desire that the cross and altar are the focal point of the sanctuary, so that our eyes are fixed on Christ. We also desire that the sanctuary, which means “holy place,” be different from our living room at home or other places where we look toward a screen. The church is then seen as a reverent place of “comfort” rather than merely making us “comfortable.” The sanctuary is a house of prayer and receiving the Lord’s means of grace. As those who worship the Son of God who has become a man, who is the Word who became flesh (John 1:14),and uses tangible earthly elements to deliver His grace (water, bread, wine, book), we desire to reflect that through continuing to use a good Lutheran hymnal and solid printed pages, rather than something which can be switched off and on. Our current hymnal, Lutheran Service Book, given a little basic orientation, is very simple to use.
WHY IS MOST OF THE LITURGY CHANTED OR SUNG?
A. Because we are in the presence of Christ, every action is elevated to a higher and more beautiful level. Poetry, especially when it is sung or chanted is the way in which we elevate speech above the common or mundane. (This is why people sing love songs, for instance.) What is sung is not ordinary or simply for amusement. We also see ourselves in continuity with the ancient church which also inherited a kind of chant from the synagogue and the Temple.
Chant, as a kind of combination between singing and speaking, serves to de-emphasize the idiosyncrasies of the person conducting the liturgy or assisting and helps to emphasize the mystical and sacramental unity and communion between Christ and His Bride, the Church. In this way also, chant serves as a kind of vocal “uniform” like the basic liturgical vestments or even the clerical shirt and collar. Theologically speaking, personality doesn’t then matter much from one pastor to another so long as the Gospel is preached purely and the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution (Acts 2:42; Augsburg Confession VII). Chant helps convey this uniformity in office and the transparochial nature of the church’s ministerium.
When both pastor and congregation chant their respective parts of the liturgical dialogue the simple fact of the liturgy as a dialogue is made abundantly more clear. The dialogue or conversation takes place in the same mode or genre, if you will. It is rather odd when the pastor speaks his parts and the congregation sings theirs. Imagine an opera or a musical conducted in such format. Or imagine a conversation in daily life like this!
Likewise, chant helps to emphasize that the Divine Service is heaven coming down to earth in the means of Christ’s grace (Revelation 4,5; Isaiah 6:1-7; Acts 2:42; I Corinthians 11; Luke 22:27). It communicates the divine mystery of this transaction of the means of grace and faith. Chant clothes and elevates the words that are spoken so that the message is the main thing, rather than the personality quirks of the messenger (see I Corinthians 1,2). For we do not preach ourselves but Christ and Him crucified. This vestment for the voice adorns the liturgy with the joy of song in a way that also accommodates the characteristics of regular speech. The Lord’s presence is a cause for rejoicing in song, even in this gift’s delivery. And yet this is to be in such a way that it is not entertainment, but a high and holy encounter with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who condescends to be with His redeemed people. In short, chant carries benefits from both song and speech in one form.
WHY DOES THE PASTOR WEAR THOSE CATHOLIC-LOOKING ROBES?
A. Vestments help cover the man and proclaim Christ. Vestments are a sort of uniform, indicating that the person wearing them is not acting as a private citizen, but as one who has been given a certain role and authority to act in it, almost like a police officer’s uniform or a military uniform. Here the office is that of speaking and giving the Gospel in the stead and by the command of Jesus. The white alb covers his person, the stole indicates the pastor’s ordination into the office of the holy ministry, and the chasuble is a special vestment for Holy Communion services. We also recognize that our way of worship is received and shaped down through ages. We gladly receive continuity from church down through the centuries. The Lutheran Church did not desire to be a “new church,” but only reform what needed to be reformed, while keeping the rest.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE MAKE THE SIGN OF THE CROSS AT VARIOUS TIMES?
A. Because they are free to do so or not and find it helpful. Although Roman Catholics make the sign of the cross, they do not have a monopoly on the practice. The sign of the cross is not a uniquely Roman Catholic practice. It is shared by Christians who maintain something of historic Christian piety and liturgical practice. As pointed out above, the sign of the cross is a practice continued by Luther, and prescribed by him in the Small Catechism and other writings.
The basic meaning of the sign of the cross is derived from Holy Baptism (hence Luther’s connection with the Triune invocation of God’s name). In the Baptism Liturgy the pastor makes the sign of the cross “both upon the forehead and upon the heart” to mark the candidate for Baptism as “one redeemed by Christ the crucified.” Hence the sign of the cross is a way of remembering one’s Baptism into Christ the crucified and the blessings that come through Him (Romans 6). That is its most basic meaning and that is how Lutherans interpret it in an evangelical (Gospel) way. Since it is neither commanded nor forbidden, Christians may or may not use it in freedom. However, it is not something to be condemned. St. Paul the Apostle exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” The sign of the cross assists our prayer in a physical way so that we may remember that Christ is our help in every time of need and that we are baptized into Him. Sometimes a physical gesture or postures help us to focus our mind for what is at hand and upon God’s Word. Bowing, kneeling, folding one’s hands, not to mention the sign of the cross, help us to focus our body and soul for prayer and worship, especially in the context of the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament, but also in our personal and family prayers.
WHAT IS TRINITY’S CONFESSION OF FAITH ON VARIOUS MORAL ISSUES OF THE DAY?
A. Very briefly: Trinity Lutheran Church is unreservedly and strongly pro-life because that is the teaching of God’s Word and it is in accord with sound reason. We believe in protecting the life of the unborn and of the elderly, and ill (we are against euthanasia and assisted suicide). We are also against EMBRYONIC stem-cell experimentation as this destroys human life. We also believe sexual relations belong only between a man and a woman who are married to each other in a life-long commitment. On the basis of Scripture we believe that homosexuality (behavior and desire) is sinful. Related to this Trinity also holds to a six day creation of the world by God’s powerful Word. And because we confess the resurrection of the body, we believe the body is important and to be treated with respect. Human beings are both body and soul together as either male or female as the only two genders according to God’s design as our Creator.