The Dean’s Annual Address

Download the PDF transcript of the Dean’s Address.

The Dean’s Annual Address to the Congregation 2016Sunday, May 1, 2016
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind
Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland

Welcome to the 199th annual meeting.  Over the past 200 years, the work of Trinity Cathedral has been to inspire, imagine and ignite the love of God and neighbor.  With that spirit, in 1816, our forebears established our church in a log cabin, and a century later built this gothic cathedral.   


Worship has always been at the heart of all that we do to inspire, imagine and ignite the love of God.   In 2015, nearly 400 people worshiped here every week, and we welcomed 54 new members.

Trinity Cathedral offers many seatings at one table of worship:

  • The intimacy of early morning communion in the chapel
  • The energy of children gathered around the altar at the 9:00 service
  • The transcendence of Choral Eucharist
  • The solemnity of Solemn Sung
  • The tranquility of Evensong music, stained glass and evening light
  • The assurance of healing at Thursday noon
  • The silence of Labyrinth walks
  • The hospitality of Interfaith and diocesan worship

Last year, we introduced the Cosmic Mass where over 300 individuals gathered for an interactive celebration focused on Healing Waters.  We’re now exploring how, when and where we might offer experimental worship throughout the year. 


Trinity is “a house of prayer for all people.”  From contemplation to praise and intercession; in private, public and small groups; in the nave, the chapel, and our conference rooms; in offices, hospitals and homes, prayer is at the center of it all. 

Whenever I walk through the cathedral during the day, someone is praying. 

Following the Paris terrorist attacks and a moving Sunday forum with representatives from the Council on Islamic Affairs, the Vestry decided to invite the Muslim community of CSU to use the Cathedral for prayer; and the Bishop and Diocesan Council endorsed our decision.  We now are engaged in a conversation with our neighbors on how this might be accommodated.


Beethoven once said: “Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.”  Our musical offerings are “church” for a lot of people who don’t otherwise frequent this sacred space. 

With Beethoven, Bach, Byrd, Bluegrass, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and everything in-between, Trinity is an amazing music venue.  There is nothing like hearing:

  • Vaughn Williams sung by the Trinity Choir
  • The Messiah performed by the Trinity Chamber Orchestra with hundreds of professional and amateur singers
  • The TOPS (Tough Old Pros) Swing Band
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter
  • The Blind Boys of Alabama

Brownbag Concerts, now in their 39th season, welcomed 5,000 attendees – primarily seniors, students, and the developmentally disabled who otherwise wouldn’t hear great music.

In partnership with the Elevation Group,  Cathedral Concerts introduced new audiences (many of them spiritual but not religious) to Trinity with the some of most celebrated popular music acts of our time. 

Music has always been and will always be at the center of Trinity’s mission and ministry.


At Trinity, we believe that education and formation is a lifelong journey.

  • In our Family Life Center, 100 children and youth are having fun while getting a religious education with cutting edge and developmentally appropriate programming. 
  • Our adult bible studies, discussion groups, retreats and classes dig deep into scripture, tradition, theology and spirituality. 
  • The Sunday Dean’s forum explores the emergent questions of faith and spirituality in the 21st century and the issues of our day with distinguished local and national guests. 
  • And more and more, we’re reaching people with our on-line presence.  In 2015, the Cathedral podcasts were accessed 28,000 times by nearly 10,000 unique visitors.


Scripture teaches us that we can’t love God whom we can’t see if we can’t love our neighbor whom we do see. 

Located on the edge of downtown, Trinity has two neighborhoods:  The Central Ward to the south and Cleveland State University to the north. 

We are building deeper relationships in both communities.

  • In 2015, volunteers at A Place at the Table, our Sunday Lunch Ministry, served 8,397 meals to 5,460 hungry men, women and children. 
  • The Trinity Urban Farm, with 500 hours of volunteer labor, planted and harvested 1,256 pounds of fresh produce for APATT on 3.5 acres of vacant land on the corner of Cedar Avenue and East 36th Street.
  • Through the Angel Tree Project, Trinity members collected and distributed Christmas gifts for more than 100 neighborhood children whose parents are incarcerated.
  • At Marion Sterling, our local elementary school, volunteers from Trinity, St. Hubert’s and Fairmount Temple organized and gave out 200,000 pounds of food (60,000 meals) for 130 families, as well Thanksgiving baskets; school supplies; and lots of hats, gloves and scarves.
  • Tutors, program volunteers, and advocates worked with students and parents; and now, we’ve begun listening sessions to learn more about the needs and concerns of our neighbors.
  • In partnership with UPCaM and Northeastern Ohio Lutheran Synod, our campus ministry continues to grow.  Over the past year, we’ve hosted block parties, BBQ’s, weekly lunch discussions, bible studies and service projects; and last fall, I had individual meeting with university deans and administrators to better understand the spiritual needs of and deepen our relationship the CSU community.


The prophet Isaiah writes: “Is not this the fast that I choose: To loose the bonds of injustice…to let the oppressed go free.” 

As best as I can determine, for nearly all of our 200 years, Trinity has claimed this fast and worked for justice

  • We have marched, rallied, made phone calls, and written letters on behalf of the oppressed.
  • Through Greater Cleveland Congregations, we continue to call for the reduction of gun violence, fairness in our criminal justice system, affordable healthcare, equity in our public schools and good paying jobs for all. 
  • We have advocated for marriage equality, and on Pride Sunday 2015, we celebrated that victory by recognizing and affirming our gay and lesbian couples and their families.
  • Trinity also continues to a spiritual home for many individual activists and civic leaders in Greater Cleveland, and Trinity Commons continues to be an affordable civic gathering place. 


At Trinity, we take seriously the understanding that stewardship is “all that we do with all that we have all of the time.”   

As you will hear in the Vestry reports, in 2015, we took significant steps to ensure environmental sustainability in our operations, re-purpose Mather Hall, wisely care for our architectural landmark, offer a healthy workplace, responsibly invest our endowment, and be a good steward of your pledge dollars.


Trinity bucks the trend of the decline of mainline Protestant church and Sunday mornings being one of the most segregated times of the week.

While primarily a white congregation, there is more diversity at Trinity than in most faith communities.  Such diversity demands honest and hard work.  To this end, we’ve had and will continue to have powerful and difficult conversations about racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. 

I believe that, here at Trinity Cathedral, we are still committed to demonstrating that our divisions came be overcome and our differences be celebrated in the oneness of God.


It’s a big deal turning 200.  We’re the oldest church in Cleveland. 

During our Bicentennial, which will begin in September 2016, we will inspire, imagine and ignite the love of God and neighbor with a Year of Celebration and Commitment. 

Highlights will include:

  • Kickoff Sunday with The Rev. Ed Bacon, Rector Emeritus, All Saints Church, Pasadena, California;
  • Throughout the year, clergy and musician alumnae will return to preach, teach and perform;
  • In conjunction with CSU, we are planning a major speakers series entitled, A Tomorrow That Belongs to Us All;
  • During the Christmas Holiday, we will host a Youth Group Reunion, welcoming home those who grew up at Trinity;
  • There will be a wide array of Brownbags, Concerts and Feasts;
  • We will offer “A very special” Cathedral Pilgrimage for our children and youth;
  • Thanks to the efforts of our History Committee, there will be a variety of exhibits and lectures about the 200 years of Trinity;
  • On Sunday, November 6, All Saints Day, we will celebrate our Bicentennial with a Grand Worship Service of Confirmation and Communion, followed by an historic congregational photograph and festive coffee hour;
  • On Wednesday, November 9, we will host a Bicentennial Evensong that features a musical setting by David Conte commissioned by the Cathedral;
  • Hopefully, we will launch a campaign to raise much needed capital and endowment funds for our Third Century

If you would like to help with any of these projects, please complete the volunteer interest form on your table, and return it to the front desk or send it to Ginger Bitikofer so that we can follow up.


As you can see from the Annual Report on the table and on our website, Trinity continues to inspire, imagine and ignite faith – as much in the 21st century as it did in the 19th and 20th centuries.

One thing for sure – Trinity Cathedral is not going anywhere.  We have  a sacred obligation to be here, in the heart of city, loving God and our neighbors. Trinity’s past has been Cleveland’s history; Trinity’s present is Cleveland now; and Trinity’s future will be Cleveland tomorrow.

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