Ministry Moment: Ute Vilfroy

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Ute VilfroyUte Vilfroy

Ute Vilfroy, a long-time Trinity member, recounts how she came to Trinity as a Cleveland State University student and has stayed “through four bishops, three deans, two interim deans and one acting dean!” Not surprisingly, she was called to serve on the Dean Search Committee and shares the challenges and ultimate reward — Dean-Elect BJ Owens! Ute views Trinity as a “one-stop shop” in that it offers and does so much for so many. She encourages each of us to consider this when making our stewardship pledge commitments for 2019.

Good morning!

I came to Trinity many years ago when I was a student at Cleveland State University. The music director at Trinity was Heywood Alexander, and he was also a professor and choir director at CSU. He invited several of us to come and audition for Trinity’s choir. I used to tease him that the only reason he hired me was that I was the only alto that showed up. He graciously denied that, of course.

I am not “a cradle Episcopalian.” I know that a lot of us here at Trinity have come from other faith traditions. I like to call myself a lapsed Lutheran. And not just any Lutheran, a Missouri Synod Lutheran. Which if you don’t know, is the most conservative iteration of that denomination.

But, sitting in the pews, week after week, while singing in the choir, I gradually began to feel drawn in. Not just by the beautiful liturgy and music, but also through the faithful mission and ministry, which was demonstrated regularly. Trinity Cathedral has never been stagnant. It has grown and changed. It has worked hard to continue to live up to its mission as a community of faith, a beacon to the city around us, and a spiritual home where indeed all are welcome and God loves you, no exceptions. I’ve worshiped here through four bishops, three deans, two interim deans, one acting dean, four music directors, plus a plethora of wonderful cannons, curates and assisting clergy. All of whom have left their mark here. That’s why I’m so excited to welcome our soon-to-arrive 12th Dean, BJ Owens, and his lovely wife Jo and their two children.

BJ is a very spiritual and gifted priest, with a wonderful sense of humor and a surprising amount of humility. It’s both an exciting and challenging time for Trinity Cathedral. As many of you know, I was on the Search Committee for the new dean. I took many hits from people who came up to me to say, “when are we getting our new dean?” It was a daunting task, given Dean Tracy’s unexpected retirement. When our Committee met for the very first time, we all looked around the table and I’m sure everyone had the same thought. Mine was, “Holy cow, how is this ever going to work?!” We were such a disparate group of individuals. And we did initially stumble.

But ultimately, we became very open with each other. We trusted enough to be willing to share our hopes, our fears and our dreams for Trinity Cathedral with an honesty that brought us closer together. For me, the two best things that came out of the long Search Committee work were the wonderful congregational meetings that we had with so many of you to talk about what you wanted Trinity Cathedral to continue to be and to become. Our ultimate call to BJ to become our next dean is, of course, my favorite result of being on the search committee. So, while no one place or cathedral church or person can be all things to all people, Trinity Cathedral sure does come close. It’s what BJ told us in his Advent letter to the congregation when he talked about the things that drew him into discerning a call to be a dean candidate here.

Now I’m sure that just like mine, your mailboxes and email inboxes are full to bursting with solicitations and calls to action from a tremendous number of worthy causes and charities. And much as we’d like to, we really can’t respond to them all. But when you’re trying to narrow down where your charitable contributions are going to be allocated, I’d like you to consider this. Trinity Cathedral is a bit of a one-stop shop. We have so much to offer where your pledge dollars can really make a difference. Arts and culture, art in the gallery, music of the choir and the organ and the Gateway Band, just to name a few. We make beautiful music in a beautiful space. And the community is welcomed in to share that with us


“Answering God’s Call” Stewardship campaign is now underway through early 2019. If you haven’t already pledged, you can do so easily by using the secure link below.


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