This is file #12, cycle 3. Today’s date is November 28, 2017. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Rev. Heidi Truax who is the current reverend at Trinity Episcopal Church, Lime Rock, Ct. She is going to talk about her background, her previous career, and her career path to become a minister and anything she wants to tell me about Trinity Church. First we will start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
HT:My name is Heidi Truax.
JM:What is your birthdate?
HT:December 3, 1955.
JM:Where were you born?
HT:In Santa Anna, California
JM:Your parents’ names?
HT:My mom has died Betty Hewett Lorenz. Hans Lorenz was my father.
JM:You do not have siblings, do you?
HT:No I am an only.
JM:How did you come to this area?
HT:My husband and I meet in California, got married. I was 18 and he was 19. We went to UCC
JM:But Poughkeepsie is closer than California.
HT:That may be part of it. Anyway we were an IBM dealership right off the bat. We opened a store in New Milford, and also in Torrington.
JM:How did you staff all of that?
HT:We just did. It was an exciting time and people were interested in being in the forefront of computers phase of life. What was funny about it was most people who first came in the door in the very beginning, they would come in the door and look around at all the computers. They would say, “What would I do with a computer? Should I buy a computer? Do I need one?” We taught a lot of computer classes and we gave a lot of instruction. Computers weren’t as user friendly as they are now. It was a lot of work, knowing how to plug and knowing how to boot them up and put in the commands. It was much more of a big deal to get a computer back in 1982.Most people were not gung-ho computer people. I think a lot of people did not see the value of computers at the beginning, especially before the Internet. In 1989 the writing was on the wall that things were changing very fast. Computers were now being sold in Staples, and Sears and other large stores. The little mom & pop computer stores became pretty rapidly a thing of the past. We started doing the business out of our home at that point. We would go to people’s place of business and work on their computer there.
JM:What happened then?
HT:Our business was at home in a different manner from 1990 to 1994. By 1995 we had 200 phone lines installed into our home actually into the office building right next tour home. We became an internet service provider. At that time the only way to get onto the Internet was to dial into AOL and it was a long distance number and it took forever. Now you could dial a local number a Sharon number and get into the Internet. Se we became Mohawk Internet. Phil did some computer repair and sales but then we started branching more into web site design and maintenance and hosting. You have to keep changing. Technology changes so fast. It has changed so much from then to now. No more dial–up modem.
JM:It has become a very “necessary” part of our society. How wonderful that you have all those skills.
HT:Yes except that those skills are not antiquated because the things that I knew how to do were back in the 1980’s. Things have progressed a lot since then. The theories and software has the same look to it. The boys grew up. They all went to Sharon Center School; they all went to Housy. My four boys were named: Arron, Tobias, Matthew Hans, and Luke. They all graduated between 1995 and 2000.
JM:Then you were free!
HT:Yeah! I was casting about I really didn’t enjoy the computer sales all that much, or bookkeeping for Philip’s business all that much. What would I like to do? I had been very involved with Christ church Sharon; I was in the choir, on the Vestry, Treasurer there for 6 years. I started feeling as though perhaps God was calling me to ordained ministry. I put together a discernment team at Christ Church. One little funny story about that is I was told to not pick cheerleaders, but to pick people for the discernment committee who would honestly help me understand my strengths and weaknesses. No people who would say, “Oh you are just great! Oh you are marvelous!” One person I did not choose was an elderly person who I knew did not approve of female ministers. I thought there is no point in asking her even
though she is a lovely person and I liked her very much. She liked me, but it was a foregone conclusion what she was going to say. The discernment committee went on for two years and half way through, she, who was Gertrude Schley and lived in Sharon all her life and her mother before her, said to me, “Honey, how come you never asked me to be on your discernment committee?” I said, “But Gertrude, I didn’t think you would want to be on my discernment committee.” “Well, yes I do.” “But I knew that you did not believe in women being priests.” “That’s for other people, I would believe in you being a Priest!”
JM:That is so wonderful.
HT: Gertrude came on to the committee. She was a marvelous person, just marvelous. I miss her terribly; she died when I was in seminary. I even missed her funeral which probably was about 2003.
JM:Where did you go to seminary?
HT:Yale Divinity. I should clarify Berkley at Yale. Berkley is the Episcopal Divinity School houses at Yale.
JM:When were you ordained?
JM:You started your divinity journey in January of 2000.
HT:Yes, they let people start half=way through the year at that point. They don’t anymore.
JM:If I remember correctly you are a Deacon first, and then you become the Priest in charge?
HT:Well, a priest because the office which you hold in a church has a different set of names than the ordination titles. I was ordained to the priesthood in January 2006.
JM:You had a wonderful story about getting a church in Roxbury.
HT:Yes, just very quickly to say from 2005 to 2008 I was the curate at Trinity, Stockport because you need to take a position where you are learning under somebody. A lot of these titles are from the old English church like vicar, and curate. That was my title. Then I went to Honduras for one year. I was a missionary in Honduras with the Episcopal Church. I came back here hoping to find a church somewhere near so I could still live at home. I started applying to all the parishes that were around and one of them was Roxbury. This parish was not available someone was here at Trinity, Lime Rock. I went to that interview process. I found out that I was one of two people. Oh great, I was so close! I was getting excited that maybe I would get that church in Roxbury. The Senior Warden from this church called me up one day. I had been doing supply work. Linda asked me if I was available to do some supply work. I said, “Sure, I haven’t gotten a job yet so absolutely.” She said, “Yeah, our priest just left: he got a job in Roxbury so we need somebody to supply.” I said, “OOH. Well I guess I didn’t get the job in Roxbury.” But it turned out to be quite a blessing in disguise. First I was a supply priest here for a little while,
beginning in the summer of 2009. Then I became Priest in Charge appointed by the Bishop from November 1, 2009 for another couple of years. Then I was elected to be the Rector which is like a teacher with tenure. Once you have been elected as a Rector basically you can stay and long as you would like, assuming no malfeasance. You can be moved if you are a Priest in charge, but not a Rector. The bishop has charge of you, but once you are a Rector you can stay.
JM:When specifically did you come to Trinity as Priest in charge?
HT:Nov. 1, 2009
JM:Do you wish to stay?
HT:Yeah In another few days I will be 62 (12/3/2017) I would not relish the idea of trying to find some bigger and better job somewhere. I am very happy here.
JM:Do you have a mission statement for the church?
HT:Yes, it was created before I came, so I do not have any credit for it: Offering companionship along the way. I love the way that is open ended. People can imagine whatever their way is. People are different.
JM:I now know what and ASA is (average Sunday attendance). So I am going to ask you what your ASA is.
HT:I taught you that last time. It is unfortunately has gone down over the years I have been here. Now it stands at about 65.
JM:Do you do 2 services or just one?
HT:I do and 8:00 and 10:30.
JM:What is the difference, please?
HT:Do you mean the differences in the services? The 8:00 is rite #1 meaning we use Elizabethan English and there is no music. It is a short service: it is also intimate. People sit in the choir rather than down in the pews. We are all gathered up there on the chancel area.
JM:Is there always Communion?
HT:Yes. The only time there is not these days is when I am on vacation.
JM:How do you do Communion?
HT:At the altar rail with wine and wafers.
JM:You still use the wafers.5.
HT:Sometimes we have fresh bread when our Sunday school or our teenagers make it when it is a special occasion.
JM:The reason I asked about Communion is that I went to an Anglican church when I was in England. I was there for Easter. Father Rotherby said, “As you know I want you all to come to the altar rail” I am thinking this is a little strange! The four years olds were running up the aisle. I went up to take Communion. The adults got wine and wafers, the children got chocolate Easter Eggs. I was surprised at that, but that was what he did for the children so they could participate in the Easter service.
JM:Tell me about the 10:30 service. Is that more of a formal service with music?
HT:It is not any more or less formal that the earlier service because we are a church that used the Book of Common Prayer. We use that book at both services. The difference would be at the 10:30. It is at 10:30 because we have a Bible Study in between the two services. The difference is more modern language and there is wonderful music and choir so the service takes a bit longer to get through. Then there is a coffee hour.
JM:Then you must have a hospitality committee that does the coffee hour?
HT:We have 6 rotating teams so all the parishioners are assigned to one or another on the teams.
JM:I see so everybody in the church has something to do.
JM:Do you have a Sunday school?
HT:We do know. Sometimes it goes up and sometimes it goes down. We now have about 10 kids.
JM:How about a youth group, teenagers.
HT:It is all one. It is both teenagers and kids because there isn’t enough of any one particular age. I have two teenagers being confirmed this Sunday by the bishop.
JM:Do you teach the confirmation class?
JM:Tell me about the Bible Study. Is it open to anybody in the congregation?
HT:Oh yeah. Sometimes we have guest leaders, theologians or Bible experts, but usually it is just me. The reason I liked the positioning of it between the 8 and 10:30 service is because we have some at the 8:00 who stay late and others who come early to the 10:30. The only thing that we miss out on in that case is that the people in the choir can’t attend because they have their choir rehearsal at that time. I am sorry about that because there are a couple of people I think who would attend.
JM:With your bible study, is there a proscribed series of books, or do you choose the book?
HT:I let the group decide on the next book and we go back and forth between Old and New Testament with books. Sometime somebody has heard something in church that has sparked their interest and makes them feel like they would like to know more about that particular book. We go any way the Holy Spirit blows us.
JM:Because of the church structure you have a Vestry. Is that where your 6 rotating teams come in?
HT:No, the six rotating teams are our parishioner, led and organized by our parishioners.
JM:Do you have a finance committee?
HT:No, we don’t really need a finance committee because of our endowment that we have is with the diocesan investments. The dioses has a big group of financial experts. Our money is invested with a large pool of other parishes’ money.
JM:How many deacons do you have?
HT:We don’t have any deacon because for us a deacon is in an ordained position. There are deacons in the Episcopal Church. They are assigned to various churches. We only have 29 deacons and we have between 150 and 160 parishes. Obviously those deacons spread thinly. The bishop had charge of the deacons and assigned them where he or she will.
JM:But you do have a Vestry?
JM:How many are on your Vestry?
JM:Who is the current bishop?
HT:We have two bishops. There is the Diocesan Bishop, the head bishop. His name is Ian Douglas. Then there is a Suffrigan Bishop or under bishop. Her name is Laura Ahrens. She is the one who is coming on Sunday to confirm the two boys.
JM:Tell me about the juried art show that has been developed. It started not from you, but from the congregation?
HT:Yes specifically Maryanne Carley is the brains and the brawn behind that whole thing. Our parish has had an invitational art show for thirty plus years. That now has been retired. For a couple of years we had both. When Maryanne started this idea of a juried show, we had both running because people did not want to let go of the invitational show. This summer it became clear that the juried arts show
had completely eclipsed the invitational one. Nobody seemed to miss it. Nobody stuck up their hand in church and said, “Hey, wait a minute!” They all knew if they did that, I would say, “Fine! You are in charge.” It has been a wonderful thing because the committee that Maryanne formed is mostly of people not connected to the church but from the community, artists form the community. It draws a huge number of people: the artists seem to love it. The people who come to look or buy seem to love it too. All is well.
I have another funny little story to tell you. Apropos of the season about 6 years ago Christine Gevert, our choir mistress and organist, and I came up with the idea of doing a Christmas tree lighting in Lime Rock like all the other towns. Even if we are just a hamlet, we have a beautiful tree out front. She said that the choir would love to sing carols and we could [pick a day and time when we could light the Christmas tree and sing carols. I thought that was a fine idea. I contacted Mike Root if he would be willing to bring his bucket truck and put up the lights. He said he would. Jeff Silvernail, who does all our outside work like mowing and all that, and is also a parishioner, coordinated the whole thing. So we put up the lights and we sang carols, drank hot chocolate; everybody loved it. The compliments started pouring in. Oh what a beautiful tree that is. I have never seen one that looks so lovely. It is a marvel to come up over that hill on 112 and see the lite up tree. We complimented and promoted Mike Root who is always here to put up the lights. But the first year I did it, I was talking to a couple of my fellow priests in other Episcopal parishes, and I said, “We have a new thing this year: we are doing a Christmas tree lighting in Lime Rock. We’ll put up some lights and sing carols.” One other priest, a woman, she looked at me aghast. “How can you do that?” “Well it is for the community.” “That is just not appropriate!” “Oh, because it is Advent?” “That is right, you are not supposed to light a Christmas tree or sing Christmas carols at Advent. Advent is a time of preparation and quiet and soul searching in preparation for the Nativity.” I spoke to another couple of priests and they said that Advent is just not the time to so this. Finally I called the bishop. I said “You know Bishop we are planning to do this Christmas tree lighting, but I am getting flak from some of my fellow priests about this.” “Well, why are you doing it?” I said, “Because the community really seems to like this idea and want it. It is a great time for our little community which has nothing really to gather it together.” He said, “It sounds perfect.”
JM:What year did you start the Christmas tree lighting?
JM:Lime Rock is what you would say in England is a line village. There is no pub, no post office, no grocery store and there no community center; there is nothing. With the tree lighting it will bring people together.
HT:Yeah, it has. I just love that. We finally got the electrician out here to install a flood light at the base of the tree so we don’t have to run electric lines above ground.
JM:Speaking about lights, tell me about the lights for the church.
HT:Yes, one of the things I noticed when I first arrived here was that if you come to Trinity church at night, you see absolutely nothing, black. Nothing was lit on the street or in the lot or on the building, no sign, NOTHING! It was just complete darkness. The first thing that I had thought about and brought to the Vestry was that we should at least light the sign. We have a nice sign out there. That was the time at which we put in the plug for the tree and lights to shine on the sign and a light to shine of the front of the building. It was so nice in the years now. When you drive by at night, you see something. Still it really was not enough. The church has been lacking light all over the place. The church itself seems dark and very dark in places; the parish hall when we are doing the art shows, every time we did an art show, we had to put up clip aluminum lights, shop lights, the cheap lights that you buy at a lumberyard. There was no light in the parking lot. We would have evening meetings and rehearsals and AA meetings. I was always frightened that the people walking out there could trip over the bollards or whatever. Over the last few years we have done a “Let there be Light” campaign and we have put up new lights inside the church. We have put up new specific lights to light up the art work in Walker Hall. We have new lights in the parking lot.
JM:I used to come to Christine Gevert’s Crescendo concerts (See tape #, 137A, Christine Gevert) if I did not bring my flashlight, I was in deep trouble.
HT:Yes, it was terrible.
JM:You do all sorts of outreach programs. You gave me your Easter bulletin which lists about 20. I am going to ask about a few of them. Camp Washington, what is that?
HT:Campo Washington is our diocesan camp; it is a summer camp for kids, both ones who can afford it and ones that cannot but have scholarship. It is also a retreat center for all of the parishes in the diocese to use. If somebody wanted to have a Vestry retreat or some event with their parish they could go to Camp Washington.
JM:Where is it located?
HT:It is located very near Washington, Ct. It is in a little town called Lakeside which is south of Litchfield.
JM:You have two entries for the New York Cycle Club, the lunch and the lunch stop. Why is that a connection?
HT:You know things have happened because they happen. One year this started maybe a year or two before I arrived. The New York Cycle Club does a big ride on Memorial Day weekend from up in the Berkshires down into Connecticut. They somehow were in contact with Geoff Brown who runs our website (See file # 96, Geoffrey Brown on Trinity Church). He encouraged them to stop and use the bathroom, and charge their phone. Then we decided that since they were stopping, let’s sell them some snacks and Gatorade and water and all that. The event has grown over the years because they have come to expect it. We have come to enjoy doing it. We don’t make a ton of money. So now we
also sell sandwiches. This year we had an art show at the same time. Of course they really can’t go down the road carrying a painting, but certainly we can show it to them.
JM:Tell me about furnishing a home for a Syrian refugee family.
HT:We partnered with St. Mary’s, now St. Martin of Tours: they had a lead on this about bringing a Syrian family in. They have to have a training program with IRIS (Integrated Refugee International Resettlement). IRIS is a semi- governmental organization who actually brings the people over here. They find partners to help get the family settled. When President Obama was still in office, we had a large number of families coming in. IRIS was processing a lot of families. They were training anybody who wanted to be trained either a group of individuals or a church or school to be able to help get a family settled and let them walk through what the requirements were to become a resettled refugee family. We at the same time were investigating this with IRIS but we imagined that they would have to be settled in a city and that we would provide some help to a group that was already doing this in the city. We were so surprised to learn that IRIS was considering settling a family here in the Northwest corner, not thinking that there aren’t many jobs here or public transportation. They are not near guidance for health screenings; they have to go to New Haven. I was thinking that this would not be possible. When we met our people met with the people of St. Mary’s, we found out that yeah, it was going to be possible as they had worked out all the details. We said we would love to partner with you and love to help. Our task became furnishing the house. We were the hub of getting clothing and towels and sheets and blankets and beds. There were many other people to help, but it was a major task to get that house all furnished and ready to go for the family.
JM:Where is the house located?
HT:It is in Salisbury. A kind woman owns it across from the White Hart on 44 back a little bit into the woods. She is renting it to them for a very nominal sum. It all worked out very well. We just had the family here at Trinity for the first time at the Interfaith Thanksgiving service on Tuesday. That service rotates from church to church so we had Jewish people, the Muslin family.
JM:I hope you had a Unitarian representative.
HT:Yep David Clement and Jo Loi and Kiau.
JM:Tell me a little bit about Trinity Glen.
HT:That is where Father Kreta works, the Priest of the All Saints in America Orthodox Church. I am a person in recovery myself. I learned about Trinity Glen because when I was newly sober I was going around to all the different meetings. We were encouraged to do 90 in 90, 90 meetings in 90 days. It was to set the pattern of getting out of your house and getting out of isolation and go to a meeting. One or two of the meetings every week was at Trinity Glen. I started driving their van. I got sober in 1995. I was driving for them both guys and gals to meetings in the area. Now they have become male only. The women’s facility is down in Kent. I got to know the cycle of how guys come and go. They sign up for 6
months to one year. Most often it is guys who have failed out of every other program available. It is a last chance, although some come back to Trinity Glen even if they haven’t succeeded at Trinity Glen; sometimes they are accepted back and we see some faces again. Once I went to seminary I could not drive any more. Once I moved back here I picked it back up again. I drive them to a meeting here once a week Wednesday night AA. At some point I said, “If any of your guys want to come to church on Sunday, I can send a parishioner and you could come to church.” That has now become quite an ingrained pattern too. One or more guys come on Sunday morning to the church service.
JM:Is that just alcoholic rehab?
JM:What is Mountain side?
HT:It is the same thing, but not as long term, and they have a detox. Now you can come to that place if you are accepted if you are still drunk and they will detox you. Then you can stay for a 30 day program and it can be extended for another 30 days. They even have an extended program after that that you can stay across the street in their little apartments or rooms. Those are the people who work at the Mountainside Café.
JM:Northern Exposure Photography Club is different from the Housatonic Camera Club.
HT:This is run by Karen and Brad Smith from Kent. They have had several photography shows here. Brad is sick now: they haven’t done a show in the last couple of years.
JM:Is there anything that you would like to add to this interview before we close?
HT:I don’t know if I mentioned this but I did get divorced a couple of years ago. It is not important for the interview.
JM:But it is important for you and your life’s path.
HT:Yes it is. Now I have purchased a house down the road a piece; I now feel as though my life has gotten into a much more sane, calm pattern between my home, sports as I have a bunch of friend with whom I play paddle tennis, and this parish, it is now a love of life as it is now.
JM:Wonderful. That is a great way to end this interview. Thank you so much for talking with me.
HT:Thank you, Jean.