October 2014 Newsletter

PASTOR'S PEN Jon OpgenorthWhy I love the Fall season and the harvest I see:

In ministry, in parenting, in many callings and careers, people work hard day-in and day-out.  There are long seasons where nothing happens.  But Fall’s harvest and turning of colors only take place because someone, and especially the Great Someone - our Father God, was hard at work doing something when no one else noticed, even when things looked far from coming around.

We plant, we water, God makes things grow.  And when there is fruit, we get to thank God and be energized for the next planting of his seed.

Here are some signs of God's fruit among us that I want to celebrate...

  • At our first Wednesday meal, I saw a new person come who didn't exactly know what to do, or anybody there.  I celebrate that a person there with her own busy family, paused to include this new family with her own.  They ate, they fellowshipped, they made a connection that was deeper than just "Who are you?" and moved to "How can we connect more deeply?"
  • Our Senior Fellowship committed this month to regularly pray for our 100 plus teens!
  • The new children's curriculum, "The Gospel Project." It’s an incredible joy to see kids and parents interacting about how Jesus is in every piece of the Old Testament.
  • Strange as it may seem, our Coffee ministry is becoming more than just a social hour at church.  I was asked by a person from a different church, "What makes your coffee experience so special?"  We may take it for granted, but have you noticed how long people linger in the space?  Or, how early some come to enjoy fellowship before worship?  This is a beautiful fruit from facility foresight.
  • Speaking of the space we worship in... God has brought our largest attended services ever this fall.  Numbers are meaningless if they are not transformed into disciples, but the stage is set for something beautiful.
  • Finally, my crocodile tears at the Omaha airport on September 18 remind me of how precious our mission partnerships are.  Titus and Mary wept with me as we parted company.  The fruit of this 7-year partnership is sweet to savor.  Our healing prayer service was intensely special, and his teaching on healing was incredibly helpful.

Thank you for being a church, that on my first Sunday in 1999 covenanted, "We will be open to the change that growth requires."  Indeed, you have been and you are.

Thanks be to God, Pastor Jon


In September, our leadership meetings focused on building the 2015 budget.  Our Leadership Team and Mission Team brought recommendations to the full Deacon board for their September 15 gathering.  The Consistory will approve the budget in the October 6 meeting, and then gives it to the congregation for review and voting.  Overall, the Deacons are grateful to God for your strong giving through this year and the fulfilling of your Open Door pledges.  In our November newsletter, we'll include a more detailed picture of our current budget, final facility project costs, and the finalization of our debt retirement planning.  We are grateful to God for his provision of this space and the beautiful fruit that is being born.

In addition to budget planning, our Leadership Team worked on a few other items as well:

  • Worked to finalize transition to a more proactive property team as the Facility Oversight Team finishes their work.
  • Approved the RCA request that Trinity engage in the fifteen year national focus on "Transformed and Transforming."  Our partnership will be participating in a holistic discipleship learning community with three other congregations, led by The Leadership Network of Dallas, Texas.  A team of 4-5 people, including Pastors Bob and Jon, will be leading this discipleship charge.
  • Our leadership elders approved the transfer of membership of Joan Ver Steeg to 1st Reformed Church.  They also approved the  membership of Rev. Dr. James Mead.  Dr. Mead is in the process of transferring his ordination from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the Reformed Church in America.  When that process is completed, we will recognize him as an official member of our congregation.


How does Trinity Connect to the World?

Over and over I am struck by, and blessed by, the myriads of ways Trinity is reaching out beyond the doors and people of the church to this local community and region, to our nation, and to the world.  As we get ready to set the budget for 2015 let us look back at how God has invited us to join him in his work this past year.


  • Rooms were painted and a food drive was collected for the Bridge ministry.
  • Food was collected for the Food Pantry, and baskets were delivered to over 20 families.
  • We collected water and other drinks for the Atlas ministry in Orange City.
  • Over 300 people were served a meal in Sioux Falls at The Banquet.
  • We helped plan and provided leadership for the Latino Festival this summer.
  • We served 50+ workers at the Tulip Festival.
  • We collected and delivered clothing for 9 families with Love Inc.
  • We provided more than $1000 worth of gas cards for families in need of assistance.
  • We provided more than $500 worth of food cards for families in need of assistance.
  • We provided a new water heater and roof for a family in Orange City.
  • We spent $2500+ for financial assistance to families at Trinity.
  • We spent $2500+ for utility bills, repairs and financial Assistance to families outside of Trinity.


  • We spent over $27,000 on national missionaries throughout the country.
  • We sent and supported a team that delivered clothes and ministered in Cary, MS.
  • We sent 20+ college students to spring and summer mission sites in the United States.


  • We sent 12+ students for international experiences through NWC and Dordt.
  • We spent over $127,000 on global missionaries all over the World.
  • We packaged and sent nearly $5,000 worth of meals to Ecuador.
  • We sent Bible teachers to Haiti to train local pastors.

These areas listed above are not to pat ourselves on the back, but rather, to praise God.  He has included us in his redemptive work, and will continue to use us in this coming year!!


215What is your dwelling like?

 Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity!”

Over the course of the past year I have wrestled with questions regarding spiritual formation.  What are things God’s people need to do to have Christ formed in them more and more?  Bible studies, small groups, discipleship groups, VP3, and Sunday morning classes have all been a part of what Trinity has offered.  All of these have been really good and are part of this process, but in each of these the challenge from the Psalmist to “dwell” is easily forfeited.  To dwell, or abide, as John says in chapter 15 of his gospel, denotes a deeper relationship that an hour or two a week cannot provide.

Early this summer the opportunity to take some men to the Boundary Waters presented itself to me.  Being a person who loves the outdoors it was immediately enticing to me.  I made a public invite to Trinity in our bulletins and on a couple Sunday mornings and invited some folks directly to consider this opportunity.  The result was seven guys who took this challenge to go.

From the group forming, to departing on the trip, clothes and supplies needed to be collected and some additional exercise pursued (I did the stair-step machine at the RSC which is more difficult than it looks!)  We met together to go over what to pack and talk about the trip.  And then, on a Wednesday morning we loaded into two vehicles to drive to Grand Marais (almost the farthest part of Minnesota from Trinity) to embark on this journey.

After leaving the parking lot of Trinity Church until the time we returned home late Sunday night, this is where the dwelling began to happen.  As you drive along the road in a car or van with other folks, as you sleep on the ground or tent, as you canoe with different pairs each day, and as you work alongside others to gather wood, set up camp, cook food, and then clean it all up and take it down again the next day, you begin to truly dwell with others.  An experience such as this teaches you to value the strengths of others as some could carry heavier loads, some enjoyed cooking more, and others had greater wilderness skills or experience.  These things also teach you patience and perseverance as people do not do things the same as you and have different quirks and weaknesses.

This is the body of Christ.  God is doing a work in us that will only happen if we learn to dwell with one another in ways that are truly real and life-giving.  One of my greatest memories of this trip will always be of laughing around a campfire and praying alongside two of my brothers late at night huddled in a small tent.182

What is your dwelling like?  It may not be actually canoeing but it will not happen without responding to a call to leave what is normal and comfortable and enter more deeply in to relationships where you truly learn to dwell with others and experience the unity and peace God has for you.



You can also click HERE to view our calendar online.




Trinity Youth logoOctober is full of great opportunities for students to engage in fellowship and grow in their faith. We will wrap up the "TEN" teaching series, hear from our three youth ministry interns as they give messages on Wednesday nights, and start our next teaching series called "New Friend Request". The "TEN" series will conclude with a look at the last 3 commandments: do not steal, do not lie, and do not covet. The interns will then cover the next two Wednesdays, helping the teens understand what it means to own their faith. The final Wednesday of October will begin the "New Friend Request" series - a message on acquiring and keeping friends.

The fun activity this month will be a harvest party on a farm just west of Orange City on October 22. We'll partner with Maurice youth group and have a great time of fellowship, food, and fun. This event will be from 6:30-9:00pm. We'll meet at TRC at 6:15pm, carpool over to the farm with parents, and return by 9:00pm. More info on this event will be in the October 411 - the parent newsletter. You can find it on our website at trinityoc.com.

Prayer requests...

  • Pray for lasting friendships to form in our group and with those outside our group.
  • Pray for our youth leaders and their influence over our teens.


God’s Covenant with People…

Creation is the beginning of God’s gospel story, the story that reveals how a great God redeemed a fallen people by sending His Son, Jesus, to be the perfect sacrifice. Every story in the Bible is a snapshot of a bigger story, a story that begins at creation. This month we focus on Jesus as the true Son of Promise whom God provided as the ultimate sacrifice for sin.

  • October Gospel Proj2October 5/8- Job.  Job never stopped trusting God. (Job 40:4) Job didn’t understand his suffering, but he understood who God is. The Bible says Christians will suffer. Job reminds us God can use suffering to draw us to Himself.
  • October 12/15- God’s Covenant with Abraham. When sin entered the world, God already had a plan to provide a Savior. His plan for a redeemer began with Abraham. We all sin. Through the family of Abraham, God sent Jesus, who never sinned, to bring salvation to God’s people.
  • October 19/22 – The Sons of Abraham. Abraham and Sarah tried to help God bring their son into the world. God did not need their help, only their faithfulness. The ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the hope of the world.
  • October 26/29 – God tested Abraham. God tested Abraham. Abraham obeyed God, trusting Him with his only son even if he did not understand God’s plans. God provided a substitute for Isaac. We need a perfect substitute for our sin; that substitute is Jesus.

Key Verse: “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”  ~Genesis 17:7


facebook-welcomes-back-gifts-3be80181aaJoin the UCI ministry with the chance to bless the life of a child through the giving of a Christmas gift.  Children in Haiti rarely receive gifts for any occasion.  When you give a child a Christmas gift, you provide UCI an opportunity for sharing the good news of Jesus’s incarnation.

If you would like a paper copy of this months newsletter, there is a copy in every members church mailbox, and additional copies at the Welcome Center.

You can also access the newsletter on our website.  Click HERE.