Civic engagement is another important aspect of who we are. Santa Barbara former mayor Helene Schneider calls our parish the “go-to place for a progressive faith group.” According to Schneider, the community views us as welcoming, inclusive, and assertive. She says that there is an expectation that we will be involved, that we will focus outward.
Trinity has a long history of community leadership, engagement, and activism. The church was one of the first to offer its facilities as a warming shelter for people without homes during inclement weather. Social justice groups such as CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice), the pro-youth movement, and the Coalition against Gun Violence have used our facilities for many years. The buildings are also used by community groups for concerts, choir rehearsals, and piano lessons. Additionally, community organizers, 12-Step groups, and others avail themselves of our meeting spaces on a regular basis. And the church is open and often used as a sanctuary for prayer and reflection by many Santa Barbarans.
In addition to sharing our facilities, the parish also plays an important volunteer role in helping area nonprofits address community needs. There has been a long history of Trinity rectors and parishioners engaging in myriad volunteer activities, ranging from participation on governing or advisory boards, leading rallies, writing guest op-ed columns, to tutoring students, cooking meals, building buildings, or designing websites. More information on our various community outreach activities are described in the “Justice and Outreach” portion of this Portfolio.
Trinity clergy have been involved in and played leadership roles for over 40 years with the Santa Barbara Clergy Association. The association comprises more than 100 local faith communities including Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Universalist, Catholic, and Protestant traditions. While not an action-oriented group, the leaders come together around critical situations where it is important to bring all religious communities together. Additionally, the Association holds an interfaith Thanksgiving service and ecumenical Good Friday service each year.
In addition to these many and varied community outreach activities, at Trinity we also have an outward and visible sign of mutual engagement in the form of our labyrinth. We like to think of the labyrinth as a symbol of life’s journey—of the mysterious twists and turns that it takes. We like the idea of sharing the journey, both figuratively and literally, with our fellow Santa Barbara brothers and sisters.