Rachel Rickenbaker

Goodbye from Rachel


Dear People of Trinity Church, 

It has been such a blessing to be with you for the time that I’ve had here at Trinity. It is always difficult to leave something behind, especially when good relationships have been built. I am grateful for you as a church, for loving, supporting, and encouraging me in the faith. 

Many of you have asked where I will be going. I am going to serve as the assistant rector at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill in Alexandria, Virginia. It is a parish that sprung from the seminary, and I served there for two years as a seminarian. If you are ever in the Alexandria area, I would love to see you. 

I will miss Trinity Church immensely, especially the community. I have said before that the church is neither a building nor an individual, but a community of those committed to following Jesus together. The Holy Spirit is certainly at work within this community, and I look forward to hearing of the many ways you all continue to learn and grow together in love of God and of neighbor. God has great things in store. In all things, never lose sight of the hope that is found in Jesus. I ask that you hold me in your prayers during this transition, and I will keep you in mine. 

In Christ, 
Rachel Rickenbaker

Assistant Rector's Pen

Dear People of Trinity Church,

The weather is warming up, and the days are getting longer. While things slow down a bit for the summer here at Trinity, the Church is still active!

The Church is made up of people who take upon themselves a life of discipleship, of following Christ. Even amidst vacations and periods of rest (which we all need!), Christians are meant to exemplify their faith with their lives. It is in fact our very identity!

This summer provides some great opportunities for living into our Christian faith. One is that the relaxed pace of the summer provides opportunities to invite a friend or neighbor to church. Plan a Sunday morning around the worship service, followed by coffee hour, a walk around the grounds, and lunch with a friend. If you have not attended the more contemplative Wednesday noontime Eucharist, come check it out, and join the group for lunch afterward.

Another great opportunity is our summer picnics. We had our first one in June, and our second is on July 26. Bring a friend or neighbor to enjoy an evening of great food, wonderful conversation, and a beautiful setting, followed with a brief Evening Prayer service. It is a casual and relaxed event that provides a great opportunity for fellowship. Even if you don’t bring a friend, come and get to know your fellow parishioners!

I extend the challenge from one of my recent sermons to all of you. Make it a goal to say hello to someone you don’t recognize every Sunday. We have so many people who come to the church and slip out unnoticed, and perhaps some people wish to go unnoticed; however, we will never know if there are those who slip by because no one took the time to speak to them. Even if you are travelling this summer, God provides countless opportunities to share His love with those you meet along the way. Live into those opportunities, and if you wish, share them with me. I love to hear about the ways the Church is living into the work of God in the world.

Finally, you will notice in this issue of the Genesis there are brief biographies of those running for Vestry in the fall. Please read and pray over these candidates this summer, as we look towards electing a new Vestry class made up of those passionate about the life and ministry of Trinity Church. Keep your Vestry members in prayer in their envisioning and decision-making, and ALWAYS feel free to talk with them about ideas and passions that are stirred within your hearts and minds. They are your representative body here at Trinity and are eager to hear your thoughts and ideas around the life of this church.

I hope your summer is restful and enjoyable, and remember that even in the summer, we all continue to be the Church!

God’s peace,
The Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker

The Assistant Rector's Pen

Dear People of Trinity Church,

Summer is nearly here! I remember writing my first Genesis newsletter last summer, and I am now coming up on my one-year anniversary at Trinity. How time flies when you’re having fun in the presence of Christian community!

As most of you know, Father Rob will be on Sabbatical this summer, a time for him of both recharging and continued study and learning. This will be an opportunity for me to step into a different leadership role for a time, though certainly not without the help of other clergy (thank you to Jim in advance!), wonderful staff, and all of you. Yes, while this summer may certainly show things slowing down a bit, the Church will be open and active!

In just a few weeks time, Trinity will welcome 30+ kids onto our church campus for a week of fun, upbeat, and creative activities. From June 12th-16th (9am-12pm each day), volunteers of all ages will help put on Vacation Bible School, an opportunity for kids to experience the love of Christ through words and actions, games, interactive Bible storytelling, crafts, snacks, and music! If you have not yet had a chance to volunteer and can make some time that week, please let me know. We can use many hands and hearts on board, and thank you to those who have already volunteered! The volunteers have been planning and working months in advance. That week, you will see the church transformed into the Maker Fun Factory, a creative workshop where God creates each of us for a purpose and inspires us to be creative. If you are free anytime during the week, please stop by and see the incredible work that God is doing at Trinity during VBS.

I am looking forward to these coming months, and I hope you will not hesitate to reach out to me with questions, concerns, and prayers. Please keep Father Rob in prayer during his Sabbatical, and please keep me in prayer, as well. We always benefit from your prayers. (As a side note, my husband James’ rector will also be on Sabbatical this summer, so it will be a busy summer in the Rickenbaker household). I am anticipating the ways that God will work through each of us at Trinity in these next few months and beyond. How might you be open to the possibilities God has in store?

In Christ,
Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker

From the Assistant Rector

Dear People of Trinity Church,

Alleluia! He is Risen! Let us keep spreading the good news during these 50 days and after!

This month, on May 7, we look forward to Bishop Ted’s visit, at both the 8:00 and 10:30 AM services. We will have Confirmations taking place at the 10:30 AM service that morning and ask you to be there to support your fellow members in the Body of Christ, as they make their public affirmations of faith.

For the past three months, Father Banse and I have been rotating teaching our Confirmation class. “What is Confirmation?” some may ask. Confirmation, according to our prayer book, is “the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop” (p. 860). In other words, because we practice infant baptism in the Episcopal Church, it is expected that when one reaches an age of maturity, he or she should make their own public commitment of faith in the presence of the bishop. When the bishop lays hands on the Confirmand, we believe that the Holy Spirit gives guidance and strength to the individual to continue forth as a disciple of Jesus and a minister in the church (indeed as baptized Christians, we are all ministers).

During the preparation and class time these past months, we spent time focusing on our Christian narrative, reflected in both the Old and New Testaments. We explored Jesus’ earthly ministry and Paul’s letters. On a morning-long retreat during Lent, we began exploring discipleship by discussing what it means to follow Jesus, experiencing a sensory Stations of the Cross, watching portions of the movie Jesus of Nazareth, and beginning a conversation on spiritual gifts. The Confirmands each took a spiritual gifts inventory and explored ways they can put their gifts to practice as members of the Body of Christ.

Each experience I have had with a Confirmation class, this one certainly included, has helped me to further understand where we are as a Church and how we teach the faith to our young people. Father Banse and I will pray about ways to continue improving the process of equipping disciples of Jesus through Confirmation preparation, and I hope that is a discussion that we take on as a congregation.

You are never too old to be baptized or confirmed. If you are interested in the process for either Baptism or Confirmation, please talk with either Father Banse or me.

Let us welcome Bishop Ted on May 7, and be present to support our Confirmands. Most importantly, during this Easter season, we are called to worship our Risen Lord, who seeks us constantly and daily. May we choose to seek and grow in relationship with Him, always and everywhere.

In Christ,
Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker

From the Assistant Rector

This Lenten season has provided some great time for prayer and reflection for me, and I hope has been fruitful and refreshing in many ways for you, too.

Priorities. This word has been on my mind recently.

There are certain times of the year when people generally seem busier than others, and I believe Lent, like Advent, is often one of those seasons. Perhaps it is because Spring Break takes place during this season for many , and often that break includes some sort of vacation or travel time. For others, it’s the start of sports and games for the spring season. If we’re not involved in any of those, we manage to get caught up in the nice weather and somehow always find plenty to keep us busy!

As I talked with a good friend on the phone the other day, she said that it seemed like my schedule was busier than normal this Lenten season. I realized that I had listed off all the things on my plate to her, as if none of them were things I had decided to add to the plate. I made it seem like they were things that were happening to me, not things that I had chosen to prioritize.

For us as human beings, we always find plenty of things to do, though we don’t always want to take credit for accumulating our To-Do list. Certainly, there are times when we cannot help certain circumstances in our lives, and we must rely on God and our loved ones to support us and help us through those times. But for other times, when life is going on as usual, we (myself included!) often make excuses for why we don’t have time to do certain things. As Christians, the most important thing on our daily list is to spend time on our relationship with God; yet, how hard it is for us to make the time!

Priorities. Being a Christian is about prioritizing our relationship with God, placing worship of God and living out the Gospel above all else. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,” telling us to put our relationship with God first and foremost.

When Christians live this way, with God at the front and center of our lives, people will take notice. In our families, kids will observe how faith is being modeled and prayerfully will follow suit. One of the best ways to share the good news of Jesus with others is by modeling, which includes prioritizing. This may mean making small schedule adjustments, and it may mean making life changes (sometimes both!). These are often not comfortable or easy decisions.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ words are clear, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” When we put God first, He will work through and in us in incredible ways we cannot begin to imagine!

As we continue on this Lenten journey, soon entering into Holy Week and into the season of Easter, I ask you to reflect on and pray about your priorities. This season is one of the best to rethink the ways our lives are headed and to redirect our focus and priority on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who did indeed make His way to the cross on our behalf, out of His great love for us all.

In Christ,

Rev Rachel Rickenbaker

From the Assistant Rector

Dear People of Trinity Church,

Grace and peace to you at the start of this Lenten season. This is one of my favorite seasons of the church year because it’s a time set apart specifically for penitence and reflection, and the readings, the music, and the liturgy help with that penitence. I have always found, ever since I was a little girl, that living into this season, specifically through spiritual disciplines, draws me closer to God and to my fellow members of the Body of Christ, the Church. Being reminded of my mortality helps me, in turn, feel more connected to God and all of God’s creation.

This Lenten season, there is an opportunity for you, on Sunday mornings at 9:30am, to learn more about spiritual disciplines, those actions that Jesus practiced in his own earthly life. I’ve titled the Adult study, “Becoming Like Jesus: Practicing the Christian Disciplines,” because my hope is that in learning more about those things Jesus practiced, including fasting, prayer, and solitude, we can in turn practice and be enriched by them in our own lives. I have come to believe that going to church on Sundays and feeling “good to go” for the week is not enough for this life of following Jesus. Our own practices of faith, whether in the solitude of our homes or amongst a community of believers, must be deepened, as well.

We heard in the Gospel of Matthew a few Sundays back that we are to “Be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect.” Spiritual disciplines will not make us perfect Christians. Indeed, I believe none of us will be perfect in this lifetime. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); however, we can and should seek to grow into a deeper understanding of and a closer relationship with our Lord. The hope is that the closer we are to God, the more we will be drawn into His love for us and for all creation. The more we are enveloped in His love, the more we will live it out in our very lives.

As Quaker theologian and author David Elton Trueblood wrote, “The great problems of our time are not technological, for these we handle fairly well. They are not even political or economic because the difficulties in these areas, glaring as they may be, are largely derivative. The greatest problems are moral and spiritual, and unless we can make some progress in these realms, we may not even survive.”

Come join us, during this Lenten season, to learn, to study, to practice, and to grow into the Christian disciplines. I pray that this season for you is one of meaningful worship and strengthening discipline, as we all seek to grow more fully into our relationship with God and with one another.

In Christ,

The Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker


From the Assistant Rector

I’ve noticed as of late many new faces in church on Sundays and even on Wednesdays at the Noon Eucharist. That is a great thing! In any church, it is important to look after one another and care for our own; yet, it is also equally important to be reaching out to new people. 

Evangelism. That word perhaps has a negative sound when it hits our ears, especially if we picture the Bible-waving, criticizing, loud person on the street corner. That is certainly not what I mean by evangelism. What I mean by evangelism is the willingness and openness to listen to other stories and to tell others about Jesus. It is about sharing the good news of how Jesus has impacted your life and how the Church family has played a role in your life, so that others may come to the knowledge and love of Christ (Ephesians 3:19). 

I feel a renewed sense of energy towards evangelism because of last month’s
Annual Convention for both clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Virginia.
Our responsibility at that convention is to yearly discuss, ask questions,
make decisions, and report back to you, on behalf of the wider church,
representing each of the parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
Furthermore, the convention offers opportunities to listen, learn, and grow in small groups and workshops. The theme around convention was “walk in love”, as you hear Rob or me say every Sunday before the Offertory: “Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God” (found in Ephesians 5:2 and in our Prayer Book!). As you can imagine, part of that theme of walking in love gave way to many discussions on evangelism. 

So, why is evangelism pertinent to each of us as members of the Body of Christ? For me, the answer is threefold. First, Jesus calls us as His followers to proclaim the Gospel in word and action. As the Rt. Reverend Robert Wright, Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, says, “Jesus never said, ‘Wait and welcome.’ He said, ‘Go and make!’” As the Church, we can’t sit and wait for people to come to us. We must go to them. Secondly, evangelism helps us practice articulating our faith. We don’t always have the opportunity to talk about our faith, stating out loud what we believe, what things we may struggle with, and how we move forward as Christians. Evangelism gives us the space to share our stories of faith. Finally, because Jesus has touched our lives, we have the responsibility and indeed, the joy, to share that good news with others. This is not about bragging or making others uncomfortable. We have experienced Christ, in Holy Scripture, in the Communion bread and wine, in our neighbors, and perhaps in other ways; why should we keep that experience to ourselves? Evangelism is the way for us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with everybody we meet. 

My challenge to each of you in this month ahead is to approach someone, whether a new face in the congregation or a next-door neighbor who doesn’t go to church. Introduce yourself if you haven’t met, listen to them, talk with them, share your story, and ask them their story. And, perhaps if it reaches that moment, invite them to church with you, to a worship service, a Bible study, or to Sunday School. I find this is where kids often do a better job than we as adults; they are often less afraid of asking a friend to come with them to church. I believe that when you practice talking about your faith with others, as well as living it out in the world, you will discover the living God in new and profound ways. And maybe, just maybe, you will help someone else experience Him, too. 

From the Assistant Rector

Happy 2017, and God’s blessings on this new year ahead! It’s that time of year when many of us consider New Year’s resolutions, even if we don’t plan to take one on for the year ahead. I must admit that I am not a big fan of resolutions because they so often are unattainable. We set goals that are so high that the first time we slip up, we feel there’s no getting back on track. Nevertheless, I find that we, as human beings, do like to challenge ourselves.

The blessing of the Christian faith is that we have the reassurance that our mess-ups and our failures do not determine our identity. We have been called daughters and sons of God (John 1:12-13), and in our Baptisms, our identity is recreated through the Holy Spirit. No matter how often we fall short, we are reminded that forgiveness is freely offered when we turn our sights to God. We are offered a clean slate again and again.

One of the things of which we are reminded in a new year is that there is a clean slate, a new beginning. This past year has been a difficult one in many ways for many people. We are looking for a sign of hope, something or someone to help guide us. No matter what we face, our hope in this year ahead must lie in Jesus.

This does not mean we choose complacency in the new year. Choosing to place our hope in Jesus means we give our attention to the greatest commandment, love the Lord God and love our neighbors. Consider in the year ahead how you might live into this commandment more fully. If you choose to join a Bible study or Adult Sunday School, or choose to increase your worship attendance, you will likely find that you’ll grow in your faith and love of God. I find that every time I read Scripture, it is new and fresh, and there is always something I didn’t catch in my previous reading. I challenge us all to grow in our reading of the Bible. If you choose to add a service component to your week, you could join in the SOME ministry on a Friday morning in Washington, D.C., serving our homeless brothers and sisters. You will likely find they offer more than we could ever offer them. Any of these are good opportunities for growth in faith and love in the new year.

These goals are not mutually exclusive. Often, when we find a way to connect more fully with our neighbors in need or choose to grow in our faith through study, we will find that we grow in love of both God and neighbor. I pray that in this new year, we set our sights on God, knowing that whatever goals we set, as individuals and as a world, our identity is first and foremost in Christ. His love and His mercy are much bigger than the biggest goals we could set for ourselves. May we not forget this in 2017, no matter what comes our way. 

From the Assistant Rector

Dear People of Trinity Church, God’s peace be with you!

We’ve now entered into Advent, a time where we are called to be alert, watch, prepare, and wait for the Lord. While we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth, with worship, songs, decorations, and a Christmas pageant, we know that the world around us continues to be in turmoil. If you leave the news on even for 5 minutes, it can be overwhelming.

Furthermore, with the results of the election in, I have seen and heard awful things coming from people, things I would never expect. I have seen friends turn against friends and family members cut down other family members, especially on social media. When we are separated from others by a computer screen or by our own barriers, it seems so much easier to condemn and criticize and label, without any sort of listening.

How are we as Christians supposed to be alert, watch, prepare, and wait for the Lord, when our very lives feel so frantic? We can each disconnect from social media and talk with people face-to-face. Invite someone with whom you have not spoken in a while to lunch or coffee. Introduce yourself to someone at coffee hour, especially if you’ve never seen or spoken to them before. Take the time for quiet, as I discussed in last month’s Genesis article. Connect with family members over a new tradition, such as a nightly Advent devotional or serving a meal to a family in need. Create space to listen for God.

As the words of Isaiah and the popular Advent hymn say, “Comfort, comfort, ye my people.” Like the context in which these words were first spoken, as the Israelites were returning home after the Babylonian exile, we, too, may find them helpful now. In the midst of such a busy time of year and so much chaos in the nation and world around us, we need the reassurance that God is in control and is with us all. This season is the perfect time to renew our faith and trust in God, not in human hands.

This does not mean we sit passively as we await the Lord’s return. When we feel that the two greatest commandments from our Lord (love God and love your neighbor) are being tested, we must stand up for God and for our brothers and sisters, including those in generations to come. Yet, everything we do, we are to do in love. Not out of fear or anger or a need to retaliate. No, as Christians, we are to be known by our love.

That love is what we await this Advent season, the love that came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, the love that was poured out for us upon the cross. As we watch for Christ’s return, may we all seek to share the love of Christ now wherever we go and with whoever we meet.

God’s peace,

The Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker