Earlier this month, there were services for three individuals who were central to the founding of Trinity Boston Connects (TBC): Bill and Julie Thompson, and the Rev. Sam Lloyd. 

Bill and Julie were effusive about Sam Lloyd when I met them in 2019. I am sorry that I did not have the opportunity to meet him or hear him preach. The day before I attended Bill and Julie’s memorial service at Trinity Church, I watched the livestream of Sam’s funeral in Tennessee and caught a glimpse of the man they so dearly loved and admired. It was clear his teaching and preaching brought the Trinity congregation to a new experience of life and faith in community. TBC was formed as one of the fruits of his labor at Trinity, along with the transformation of the church building that gives many of TBC’s programs their physical home. 

I heard that Sam opened every sermon with the prayer, “Take our souls and set them on fire.” In meeting Bill and Julie I saw just that: two souls still on fire, still full of the life of the Spirit despite their frailty. I was fortunate to make their acquaintance during one of my first weeks at Trinity. Louise Burnham Packard, TBC’s founding executive director, and I walked across Copley Square and up to their book-filled apartment at Trinity Place.  

As Julie led us to their sitting room, I immediately felt warmly welcomed. The content of our hour-long conversation both encouraged and supported me. Bill’s voice was strong as he told me how much he and Julie loved Trinity Church and the important impact Trinity Boston Connects had in making sure the church was not just in the city of Boston, but for the city of Boston. They saw in TBC a central expression of the church’s commitment to be a vibrant Christian community walking in the way of Jesus. 

Bill told me that he and Julie had initially established the William F. and Juliana W. Thompson Charitable Fund to underwrite ministries that would connect the church with people in need. When the idea for Trinity Education for Excellence Program (TEEP) took shape in 1999, the Thompson Fund helped turn vision to reality. The gifts kept coming, supporting the growth of TEEP, the launch of Trinity Boston Counseling Center, and then the creation of Trinity Boston Connects in 2007. In 2016, the Fund gave all its assets to Trinity Boston Connects to form the Thompson Lloyd Endowment.  

When I attended Bill and Julie’s memorial, I was transfixed by the adoration that their son Don expressed in his eulogy of his parents. They both strived for social justice in their own way, from their earliest days as children to a young married couple traveling the world. Bill and Julie journeyed and learned about peoples and cultures they did not know until their last days together. Don’s recounting his parents’ lives was heart-gripping.

Equally moving was Don’s challenge to the attendees that we each commit to three courageous acts to truly honor his parents’ memory: commit a random act of kindness for someone less fortunate than ourselves; read a book about a subject we currently know little about especially ones having to do with a country or a people we have little familiarity with; and lastly, make a contribution for as much as we can afford to Trinity Boston Connects or some similar organization that does effective work to level the playing field. In closing Don said, “For Julie and Bill Thompson did all those things and so much more and if everyone did just those three things, people would start to look and act like them, and this country and this world would be a much better place.”  

As I reflect on the part of Sam and Bill and Julie’s legacy that is Trinity Boston Connects, I feel honored to help steward that legacy as its Executive Director. I know Trinity Church will continue to set souls on fire. And Trinity Boston Connects will continue to light the way, in beloved community, toward an equitable Boston – our collective work for the city. 

Thank you, Sam, Bill and Julie. May you rest in all the love and peace you gave to this world. 

Charmane Higgins

Executive Director, Trinity Boston Connects

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