Trinity Downtown is honored to be a founding sponsor of, and participant in, Orlando’s Christmas Tree Lighting event at Lake Eola. With ongoing activities throughout the evening by various Trinity ministry groups and church staff and volunteers all dressed in bold red shirts with the Trinity logo (plus Christmas lights) and our Christmas theme “It’s Still All About Jesus,” Trinity Downtown was a dominant, visible presence in the park Friday night. All activities were designed specifically to connect with our neighbors in downtown Orlando, share the true story of Christmas, and extend an invitation to visit Trinty!
Our TLS music students, from VPK through grade eight, performed beautifully on the amphitheater stage! Mrs. Julia Malenke directed VPK through second grade classes and Mr. T.J. Howard directed the third through eighth grades. The students, and teachers, have been tirelessly rehearsing for weeks in preparation for this momentous performance, recognizing that this opportunity to perform on stage for all downtown Orlando to hear is a real honor and privilege.
Mr. Howard shared that the students enjoyed learning all the songs, but their favorite was undoubtedly the finale, Carol of the Bells. “They loved the lyrics, melody, the crescendo and build, and all the different intermingling parts that together personify the sounds of bells on Christmas. In my two years directing the choir here at Trinity, I have not seen such spark in their eyes as I did while teaching them this song.” Their very best run-through of all the songs was during their actual performance that night – inspired and energized by the sense community and fellowship and the chance to minister the Word of God through music.
Mrs. Malenke was delighted by all the hard work and enthusiasm in rehearsals and the amazing final performance of Trinity’s youngest choir members. “As director, you get a front row seat to those little faces and their excitement during performances, and the children really sang their little hearts out!” One student even jumped up to the microphone between songs to let her parents know, loud and clear, “I’m right here!”
During the on-stage performances and throughout the entire evening, Trinity also hosted four tents of activities on the west lawn of Lake Eola. Volunteer teams and ministry leaders worked together to create a series of activities for downtown Orlando guests to enjoy. One tent offered free hot cocoa, coffee and water to friends and neighbors alongside a spread of delicious homemade baked goods for whatever donation amount our guests deemed appropriate, others were set up with stations for guests to create their own Christmas ornaments, and another was an interactive dress-up photo booth.
The free cocoa and coffee were a bit hit again this year, along with free water with Trinity koozies, a full bake sale, and a special showing by Trinity’s Comfort Dog Ministry with homemade dog treats made by one of Trinity’s VPK classes. Trinity’s volunteer outreach team leader Terry Boggs shared, “One never knows just how much a free cup of coffee or hot cocoa means to someone, not to mention how a variety of homemade baked goods going for just a nickel or dime can brighten up someone’s eyes – and let the love show through from one to another.”
Pastor Doug was amazed looking down the row of four tents, at the steady stream of guests for over four hours, as the Trinity family engaged in building relationships with the community. We saw people (young and old, families and singles, groups of coworkers and friends, and even a girl scout troop) so excited to be dressing up as shepherds, Mary, Joseph, or wise men for photos in a makeshift manger. The looks on people’s faces when they took photos with baby Jesus were fantastic and the photos clearly show how much everyone enjoyed participating.
Volunteer teams were thrilled by the number of people who stood in line to have a chance to create their own free Christmas ornament. They worked 1:1 with children and their parents to assemble a multi-component ornament portraying Jesus in a manger, which proclaimed “The Best Gift of All,” all the while visiting with the family, sharing information about Trinity and sending them off with a flyer, gift and invitation card to Advent and Christmas worship! The joy on the children’s faces, even young teens, as they created a “Jesus in the Manger” ornament was fantastic!
Hundreds of people visited Trinity’s tents and we were so excited to meet so many Orlando neighbors. Nearly 100 handmade ornaments were created, 47 families/groups photographed, and about 100 bottles of water and 100 cups of hot cocoa and coffee were shared along with a huge number of flyers, invitation cards and about 200 koozies with Trinity’s logo and worship times! All to share a message about the true meaning of Christmas along with information about Trinity ministries and an open invitation to come visit! Our students, staff, parents, volunteers and ministry team enjoyed the evening immensely, and we pray we cross paths again with some of the new friends we made that evening. (If you’re reading this now, send us a message and let us know how you’re doing!)