Trinity United Methodist Church: Frequently Asked Questions

On Sunday, November 11, at 4:00pm, the LAUMC congregation will vote on an important step in our ministry in the Los Altos/Mountain View community. 

The decision before us is whether to enter into an agreement with Trinity United Methodist Church in Mountain View. The agreement will name our two churches a cooperative parish for the remainder of this year, through June 30, 2019.

The only decision before us right now is whether to create the cooperative parish structure that will allow us to begin this conversation. No decision has been made yet about the outcome of these deliberations, and no decision will be made until there has been full discussion—by both congregations—over the next months.

The following is a set of FAQ’s that we hope will answer some of your questions. If you have more questions, you are welcome to talk with Pastor Kathi or any of the church’s lay leaders.

As you are thinking about this decision, please pray for the church’s wisdom and guidance. We will take this step only if we are convinced that this is God’s call to this church. Your thoughtful discernment is an important piece of our listening and hearing that call.

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Shall LAUMC enter into a Cooperative Parish Agreement with Trinity United Methodist Church?

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is a “cooperative parish”?

A cooperative parish is authorized by Paragraph 206 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline to allow a larger membership church to share ministry with a smaller membership church for the enhancement of their mutual ministry. Typically, the pastor of the larger church is appointed as pastor of the cooperative parish.

What is the purpose of the Cooperative Parish Agreement?

Since July 1, 2018, Trinity UMC has not had an appointed pastor. A cooperative parish arrangement will allow Trinity to continue ministry for the year with LAUMC’s assistance with administration, staffing, and leadership of Sunday worship. At the same time, both churches together will discern and discuss the long-term future of Trinity and consider the possibility of unified ministry in Mountain View.

How long will this agreement be in place?

The agreement will end on June 30, 2019. We anticipate that by then, the two congregations will have made a decision, in consultation with the bishop and district superintendent, about the longer-term future of United Methodist ministry in Mountain View.

What will the obligations of LAUMC be under this agreement?

Since July 1, Pastor Kathi has been responsible for making sure that Trinity UMC has a preacher every Sunday and an ordained elder to preside over communion in worship once a month. This will continue.

LAUMC’s staff has already begun to administer the finances of Trinity UMC (banking and bookkeeping). This will continue.

LAUMC staff will provide supervision to a part-time facilities coordinator at Trinity (who will be paid by Trinity).

Three members of LAUMC will be appointed by Pastor Kathi to be part of a Cooperative Parish Leadership Team, which will also include three members of Trinity. This team will begin and carry out a process to consider the long-term viability of the Trinity congregation. This team will make recommendations, which will be presented to both congregations for their approval.

What are the financial responsibilities that LAUMC would be taking on with this agreement?

The financial accounts of the two churches will remain separate under this agreement. Trinity is responsible for all costs related to its property. LAUMC has already incurred a small amount of expenses connected with its support of Trinity, but we are keeping track of those with the expectation that they will be reimbursed.

However, one of the things the Leadership Team will consider is whether the Trinity congregation can sustain its financial responsibility for its properties (both the parsonage and the church property at 748 Mercy Street) and, if not, what are the options for continuing ministry in that location.

A Trinity Task Force, chaired by LAUMC Church Council Vice Chair Ken Greathouse, has already engaged in a complete review of the legal obligations and financial liabilities of Trinity.

Will Rev. Sam become the pastor of Trinity UMC?

Sam is not the pastor of Trinity. Sam’s assignment as an associate pastor at LAUMC includes work on developing a new faith community in downtown Mountain View. In the long term, we expect this ministry to use and be visible at the Trinity property, but the exact arrangement will depend on the outcome of the discussions to take place under the Cooperative Parish Agreement. Sam will continue to be employed full-time at LAUMC.

In exchange for LAUMC’s collaboration and support, Trinity has made its parsonage available to Sam and Kristi Blewis, and they are living there now.

What about Hope’s Corner?

Hope’s Corner is a separate nonprofit organization that serves the homeless and hungry community in downtown Mountain View by offering a breakfast program and showers located at Trinity UMC. Hope’s Corner has a long-term facilities use agreement with Trinity UMC, which will continue. Construction has begun on the kitchen improvement project at Trinity that will allow Hope’s Corner to continue and expand its ministry there. You may have already heard that the cost of that kitchen project has been underwritten largely by a forgivable loan from the County of Santa Clara and a $1 million grant from Google. We applaud and give thanks for this good work!

In addition to Hope’s Corner, Trinity currently leases space for a family resource center operated by CHAC (an independent nonprofit organization) and a cold-weather shelter for women and children that is fully operated by an organization called Home First. The County pays all costs related to this shelter.

Haven’t we talked before about collaborative ministry with Trinity?

LAUMC did enter into a process with Trinity several years ago about the possibility of a closer collaboration between the two congregations. While that process ultimately did not lead to a merger, much of the good work done at that time has helped inform and guide us as we’ve begun this chapter of our relationship.

How can I see the Cooperative Parish Agreement we’ll be voting on?

There will be copies of the agreement in the church office and at the Connection Point on Sunday mornings. Feel free to pick one up.