Fr. Dave Gutmann
Fr. Dave Gutmann
BEAVERTON — Know, grow, go. Knowing Jesus personally, growing in that relationship, going forth and making a difference. That’s the mission at Holy Trinity here, a vibrant parish that previous to COVID-19 typically had 3,000 people at Masses each weekend. We committed early on that we wouldn’t let COVID-19 compromise our mission and have been in a constant state of adjusting, exploring options, trying stuff, and evaluating how we can best maintain and grow the spirit of the community.

Thanksgiving is a good example. Our usual Thanksgiving Mass is packed with more than 900 people. For many, including me, it is the most engaged and dynamic Mass of the year. One of our traditions at that Mass is to invite participants to bring food along for our outreach and process forward to the altar with the supplies at the offertory. The resultant piles of food always filled the sanctuary.

We considered all kinds of options for how we could honor Thanksgiving as a community this year, with a limit of 50 persons in the church and an additional 50 in our satellite location. Plan C or D, or maybe it was E, is what we locked in on. Instead of only allowing a select group of folks to participate in Mass, we chose to not have Mass and instead invited everyone to do a drive-by at our food closet for an hour that morning to bring in food, be greeted by staff (eight of us were there), and to pick up a prayer card with a custom Thanksgiving meal blessing on it.

In addition, we had a brief video professionally made and released that morning on our website, with the encouragement that parishioners listen to it just prior eating Thanksgiving dinner. The video included a brief message from me, footage of activity around the parish, our school and outreach, accompanied by our usual Thanksgiving Mass music. The video concluded with Father Hans Mueller, our parochial vicar, reading the Thanksgiving prayer we had distributed.

About 250 cars came through the parking lot that morning, totaling about 800 people, not to mention dogs. Not only did we gather an immense amount of food, but more importantly the community spirit of Holy Trinity gushed forth. We saw some families that had not been back to church since all this began. The sense of joy and gratitude and connection was a total delight.

For Christmas, we committed to create a meaningful, joyful and memorable celebration with no one being turned away. Overflow families were invited to stay in their vehicles and livestream Mass in our parking lot. Those outside could connect with those inside with various prompts to beep their horns, sing the Christmas carols with windows down and decorate their cars. Knights of Columbus wandered the parking lot dressed as masked shepherds and Santa even dropped by. Due to the slight delays in livestreaming we expected the wonderful chaos since everyone was not fully in sync with everyone else — all part of making a joyful noise to the Lord.

In all of this our mission is continuing — to know Jesus, grow in that relationship and go forth and make a difference.

Fr. Gutmann, ordained in 1983, is pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Beaverton.