COVID – 19 Updates

July 10, 2020

To the Holy Trinity Community,

Greetings and thank you for your faithfulness to God, your church, and your community. This is not an easy time to remain patient and faithful but you have maintained a commitment to welcome all, continued to make worship a priority, and listened to community needs so we can respond as we are able.

The most frequently asked question during this unique time is, “when will life get back to normal at home, school, work, and at church?” The only way we can honestly respond to this is, “we don’t know.” One thing we do know is that God is with us and the church remains alive during this time regardless of our external circumstances. Paul’s famous words that encourage the church in Corinth come to mind, “Love is patient” and “Love is kind.” It is our hope that when we look back at this time, we remember how we showed love and kindness to each other and to our neighbors.

Worship is central to who we are as a community of faith. You have probably heard that churches have been given permission to open their building to 50% capacity. So, you may be wondering: what does that mean for us and our worship this summer? We continue to approach this question informed by and in communication with the counties we serve, MDOH, CDC, WHO, neighboring congregations, the ELCA, and our Risk Management Team. Here are our current plans:

    • Worship online/radio: We will continue to offer worship online and on the radio at 9 am on Sundays (also available any time after). At this point, we are not resuming in-person worship.
    • Live-streaming equipment: Church Council approved the purchase of live-streaming equipment. This will allow us to begin preparing for when we can provide both a meaningful in-person worship experience and simultaneously a high quality online worship experience.
    • Life celebrations: We are currently prepared to offer private outdoor baptisms, weddings, and burials with a broader online community participating.
    • Vacation Bible School Online: We exceeded the number of students that participated last year and had a faith-filled and fun week online!

While we know worshiping online is not the same as worshiping in person, we want to thank all who have been involved in worship leadership for their flexibility and commitment to provide meaningful worship. We are doing all that we can to stay connected in creative ways including our new weekly emailed/mailed newsletter (HTLConnections), our newly formed Connections Team (reaching out to the whole congregation), our New Prague HTLC Community Facebook Group, and our online/radio worship engagement. Thank you for your care for one another.

We also give thanks to God for your continued care shown through your generosity as we respond to the needs in our community. Many of you have switched to automatic giving and we thank you. You have kept the Little Free Food Pantry stocked with in-kind gifts of food, personal care items, and homemade masks while it has continuously been used. In fact, it has become such a needed resource, Jon Bergquist has built two more pantries making it a “Trinity” of Little Free Pantries. This is to be able to provide personal care items without impacting the food provided (we didn’t want our soup tasting like soap). Your monetary gifts have also made a big difference.

    • You heard the need for food and supplies in Minneapolis after the recent rioting and we were able to respond by sending $1,500 to Holy Trinity and $1,500 to Calvary in Minneapolis to support their pop-up food shelves.
    • You heard the need for mental health awareness and support and we were able to respond by sending $3,000 to Duck-cup Memorial to support the mental health needs in our community.
    • You heard the need for housing for those experiencing homelessness in our county and we are preparing to respond by sending $10,000 + whatever VBS students contribute to Beacon Interfaith Housing.
    • You heard the need for mental health support for young people in our area and in response, we were able to provide The Well $2,500.

We commend your commitment to remain strong in faith and we praise a God who has been faithful to us in these challenging times. We care about you, we are thankful for you, and we are praying for you.

In God’s love,

Co-Pastors Alicia & Ben

 
May 20, 2020
 
Dear Holy Trinity Community,

We want to begin by saying thank you for your sincere faith and flexibility amid this evolving COVID-19 reality. We commend your commitment to remain strong in faith while worshiping in new ways. We also want you to know that we care about you and are praying for you. 

As areas around the country begin to reopen, some have asked how this will influence our church practices. We approach this question informed by and in communication with the counties we serve, MDOH, CDC, WHO, neighboring congregations, and the ELCA. Our Risk Management Team, Staff, and Church Council continue to stay up to date with the latest recommendations. While we see an increase in people out and about, we are reminded by our greater church body and partnering health professionals that there remains a real risk for our community and world. 

The ELCA shared with congregational leaders a document titled, “Considerations for Returning to In-Person Worship.” We are working through this document to consider when we begin to roll out a phased re-entry back into our building. Religious gatherings have unfortunately proven to be highly contagious events, and even congregations taking appropriate precautions have been hot-beds for virus transmission. The care for and safety of our community is a priority for us in this pandemic. As much as we would like to be together in person as soon as possible, we don’t want to make any quick decisions that could pose a risk for you and your loved ones. At this time, our building will remain closed.

We are proud of all the ways that our team has adapted and shifted worship onto a meaningful digital format. While nothing replaces a gathered community, we will continue to live into this chapter of our congregation’s life with faith and hope. Worship will remain online and on the radio at 9am on Sundays. We have plans for Vacation Bible School online (July 6-10), and are considering leaning into other new online opportunities as well. God continues to unite us even when we are not in the same physical space.

Let us continue to share God’s love with a community and world that needs to hear it! This is going to take perseverance, but as the writer of Hebrews encourages, “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).” With discipline, patience, and hope, we can be responsible and faithful at the same time. May God’s peace be with you.

In God’s love,

Co-Pastors Alicia & Ben

March 18, 2020

Dear Holy Trinity community,

Thank you! Thank you for your flexibility and your courage as we seek to navigate these uncharted waters of COVID-19. This is a difficult time and we want you to know that we care. God is with you!

Our church will continue to “be the church,” just in a new way. We believe the Holy Spirit is capable of finding new ways to form community and faith, even when we have obstacles in front of us. The Holy Spirit broke the language barrier at the Pentecost so that people could be reached through new languages and tongues. Today, I marvel at how the Holy Spirit is speaking through new languages such as Facebook Live, Moodle, Zoom, etc.

We want you to know your church is here for you, but our presence is going to look different for a while.

We have moved all church activities to an online or virtual format. Our building is closed to anyone other than staff.

In addition, starting Friday, March 20th, until the CDC recommends otherwise, we will be postponing all weddings, funerals, and baptisms.

We have made this decision not out of fear, but out of love; love for the most vulnerable populations, love for our healthcare providers, and love for the community as we face this challenge together.

We will share updates with you via Facebook and our website, and will look to do so through email as well. If you are not receiving updates, please do not hesitate to call the church office (952-758-3513). Jamie Bisek will be happy to get you connected.

As we seek to be creative with ministry opportunities, here is what you can expect:

Worship – Sundays at 9am and Wednesdays at 6pm
We will worship together through Facebook Live on Sundays at 9am, and Wednesdays at 6pm. Please get in the rhythm of setting aside that time for worship. Make it a holy space– light a candle and open your Bible. Invite your facebook friends to join you. A video of that service will subsequently be posted on our webpage: www.holytrinityonline.org, and an audio recording can be heard the following Sunday on KCHK radio (9am).
 
Small Groups
We have asked our small group leaders to shift their small groups online to Moodle groups. We will look to update those discussion guides weekly so that these conversations can be ongoing.
 
Daily Devotional
Holy Trinity has a daily devotional posted on our church Facebook page. You are invited to set aside time in the morning to begin the day with prayer, with God.
 
Confirmation Groups
Our confirmation students are asked to tune in to worship on Wednesdays at 6pm, and then respond to their small groups afterwards, which have moved to Moodle.
 
Children’s Ministry
Pastor Alicia and the children’s ministry team have been working on making a weekly children’s ministry experience activity to do at home. If you would like to be added to this email list, email alicia@holytrinityonline.org.
 
Little Free Food Pantry
Holy Trinity has a Little Free Food Pantry. Stocked 24/7, there is food for those who need it. Want to help others? You can put donations directly in the Pantry. Need help? It’s available to anyone. No questions asked.
 
Support Groups
We are working with the leaders of AA to make sure that critical support can continue in some fashion. If you are part of an AA, Al-Anon, or CODA group at Holy Trinity, please contact your leader for more information.
 
Caring Ministry 
We know there will be some tough moments for all of us. Don’t hesitate to contact the pastors or the church office with prayer concerns. Or if you simply need to talk. We are here for you.
 
Giving
For those of you who normally give your offerings when you come to worship, Thank You in advance for continuing your faithful giving. On our website, you can find these ways to give: 1) Donate online, 2) GivePlus Church App, or 3) enroll in Simply Giving. You may also continue to send in a check through the mail as well.
 
Pray
As we navigate these days and weeks, one thing is not taken away from us: the gift of prayer. Please pray for those on the front lines of this challenge. Pray for those who are making decisions regarding how we navigate this pandemic. Pray for those who don’t have a safe home or who find themselves in dire positions. Pray for those who are sick and for their families. God is there to listen.

God is with you. We care. We are going to get through this. God’s peace and presence to each of you.

In Christ,
Pastors Alicia and Ben Hilding