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Turning Around a Trumbull Church

A few years ago, Grace Episcopal Church membership was down to a handful of families. Now it has a new life as a source of help for those with substance abuse problems, and has a modern face with a Webpage, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Rev. Elsa Worth hopes first GLOW Festival will be one of many down the road as the church turns the corner from almost closed a few years ago.

The June 2 event, short for "Growing a Life of Wholeness," will feature balloon rides and a host of therapeutic activities and speakers.

"We're going to have a whole schedule of speakers all day long," Worth said.

Worth said the festival is "a great way to be visible." But just a few years ago, the more more than-a-century-old congregation, founded in the 1800s, was almost dissolved. The current church building was built in 1965.

It was thriving, with a large youth group, until internal conflicts and changes to church policy drove some worshippers away. Then Worth came in 2009 and told them how to turn the situation around.

The members are "stalwart, game and risk-taking people," Worth said.

"They've done amazing things. Sometimes it takes a crucifixion to get a resurrection," Worth said.

"They love their church. They love God. They love each other. It worked out great," Worth added.

New members have come in, in part thanks to the church's web presence. A hall has been dedicated and renovated for the Al-Anon and AA programs that use the church. There is also a new minister of music.

"Grace Church has become more mission-focused. It's not about growing our club. It's about spreading God's love," said Worth, who recently became the church's permanent rector.

The festival will also offer health screenings, massage therapy and prayer and meditation.

"This is out of the box," she said. "This festival is simply a kickoff of a whole new project."

Other new programs include Godly Play, a children's service she plans to implement in November for members from kindergarten to fifth grade.

For what she considers still a small congregation, the festival is big. She sees its coming together as something divine.

"It must be a God thing because things keep falling into place," Worth said.

She added that church is the people, not the building. It's doing "what God is calling us to do in the community."

"We are a community resource. We connect people and professionals and community organizations in work that lets people make healthier choices," the rector said. "We have to be willing to let God lead us. We feel drawn to continue in this project, sharing health and wellness at every level."

For the festival, Grace has partnered with Griffin Hospital, the Center for Women and Families, the Caron Foundation, , Trumbull Fire Department, Trumbull Service and the Trumbull Selectman’s Office to bring supportive organizations together.

Also participating at the event will be exhibitors from local environmental groups in support of healing the earth, including having a mobile solar generator on site and a plant and flower sale. The Griffin health van will be present and offering free health screenings. There will be chiropractic, massage, reiki, Qi Gong, tai chi, yoga and other practitioners on hand doing mini sessions and classes.

Concerts and events will be scheduled throughout the day, including a performance by the Trumbull High School Chamber Singers.  The day will include special programming for children and teens. For a complete schedule of the day's events click here.

GLOW runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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