HTLChronicles

 
Rose Fife, HTLC Communication Specialist. 
 
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Dignity for Children

HTLC Hosts 3rd Annual

School Supplies Giveaway

No child wants to stand apart from their peers for what they do not have. Every child deserves to feel the support of their community.

Holy Trinity will hold our third annual School Supplies Giveaway on Monday, August, 9, 6-8 p.m. Hosted by the Missions/Outreach Team and supported by a grant from the Endowment Fund, $5,000 is allocated to buy K-5 school supplies. The items will be distributed in pre-packed bags and delivered drive-through-style in the parking lot in front of the new wing. 

Linnea Hautman, Missions Team School Liaison, is leading the giveaway this year. As a retired teacher, I really do not want to see any student in need or any student who stands apart because they do not have school supplies,” she told me over the phone. 

Hautman recalls going through the garbage at the end of the school year when she was teaching to collect the unused pens, pencils, and notebooks. She then provided these items for her students in summer school so no one would be embarrassed to not have them. “I always tried to be sure there wasn’t a need. I wanted to make it so no one would have an issue.”
 
 

Where It Began

Our first Giveaway was in August 2019 BC (Before COVID). We filled a large room with volunteers and guests, all in close proximity and not a mask in sight. Seems so foreign now, doesn’t it? We had guests who were struggling with a job loss, the expense of healthcare, or the general upheaval of trying to make a life in a new country. 
 
 
In order to keep guests and volunteers safe, we opted for a drive-through last year.  (Watch that fun video here.)We were not able to interact as much, but this format had its benefits: it allowed the guests some privacy as they could stay in their cars. 
 

 

Open to All

Aligned with Holy Trinity’s motto “All are welcome,” the Giveaway is again open to any family, not just those registered in the New Prague Area School District. While there are some experiencing a need in this area, there is greater need elsewhere. 

The percentage of children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, a benchmark often used to determine need in school, averages 11.87% among the three NPAS elementary schools. In surrounding communities, the number is as high as 40.4%, according to the Minnesota Department of Education pdf “Public School List with Percentage of Free and Reduced-Price Eligible Students.”
 
 
This open invitation is also important as consumer prices are rising in many sectors. One study by KPMG found many parents expect to pay more for school supplies this year, estimating close to $270 per child. For families who are already feeling the hardship of COVID, it is especially important that we are welcoming. 
 

 

New Prague Tradition

This is not a new idea in New Prague. Many local businesses collect donations from the public and deliver them to the schools before the first day of school. Then, when kids arrive without enough pencils or folders, they are sent to the office to pick them up. In front of the other kids.

The current format was an idea by Amy Hennen, social worker at Falcon Ridge Elementary in New Prague. When I asked her several years ago how Holy Trinity could help the schools, she shared the process of getting school supplies to everyone. After watching how difficult it is for the kids to be singled out in this way, she knew it would be easier for them to walk into school with a full backpack. Just like the other children.

Missions Team member and retired elementary teacher, Sande Schoenecker, also appreciates this format. “I personally have seen the humble faces of students who have started the school year without their own supplies. I’ve listened to parents who shyly told me they hoped to be able to get supplies over the weekend or by the next week. Most often they couldn’t afford them.  I was very grateful for donations given by our church directly to the school social workers, so I could have the supplies for those students. When we first discussed a school supply drive where families could receive supplies before school started, I was eager to help. This provides dignity for kids and parents!”

Fellow Missions Team member Liz Nelson is also excited to volunteer. “This event reaches out to the community and provides students with a positive beginning to the school year. It says Holy Trinity cares about students and their success!”
 
 

School Supply Donations Welcome

The congregation is welcome to contribute school supplies. A collection cart will be outside the sanctuary on Sunday mornings and in the office during the week. All donations need to be in by Wednesday, August 4. Please stick to the items requested commonly by the schools. 
 
Written by Rose Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist

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Game For Change

HTLC Awarded Grant for Thriving Initiatives

What does it look like to share God’s love?

As Christians we throw out terms like this regularly. But thanks to a newly-awarded grant, we have the opportunity to think, pray, and plan together for what this really looks like. 

Holy Trinity was recently awarded the reKindle Congregational Development Program grant of $15,000 from Columbia Theological Seminary. With over 60 applications, HTLC was one of only eight congregations chosen. 

Awarded by the Lilly Endowment, a private philanthropic group funded by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, the grant is part of the Thriving Congregations Initiatives. Along with the grant, the program also includes a three-day workshop in Georgia and will focus on helping congregations to grow in the modern world. 

“Across seminaries, across synods, across various denominational bodies, Lilly is investing money into experimentation and how to have thriving congregations,” says co-Pastor Ben Hilding. “They’ve changed the landscape of the church in North America. Most of the things that invest in vision, imagination, and creativity in ministry are somehow funded by Lilly.” 

Approved by the Church Council, Strategic Plan 2.0 may experience a name change when the time comes, but the goal is to continue the work of the first Strategic Plan. This version will adopt five initiatives: Welcome; Worship; Respond; Children, Youth, and Family; and Facilities. It will also include two congregation-wide meetings and dinners, termed “Huddles.”

Lay Leader Pat Remfert is looking forward to meeting in person again. “After the pandemic, and what we’ve gone through in this church, we need a project to be the glue that brings us focused and back together on growing this church.” 
 
 

Huddled in 2020

Holy Trinity first held a series of four Huddles in 2019 and early 2020. Titled “Looking Inward,” “Looking Backward,” “Looking Outward,” and “Looking Forward,” they were held to determine our priorities, remember our history, decide how best we can help our community, and envision the future. The last meeting was perfectly-timed on Sunday, March 1, 2020, a week before COVID came to Minnesota and the church was forced to close. 

Undeterred by the stall of the pandemic, the Vision Team utilized online platforms to finish the process and create a Final 2020 Vision Report. “We had so much momentum [before COVID] that it took us over the finish line,” says Remfert. “This was moving! Because of all the work and involvement of the congregation, that helped us to get it over the finish line.” To continue that momentum after the pandemic, the pastors found the grant and applied. 

 

Where It All Began

The initial Strategic Plan was started in 2014 when the congregation commissioned Kairos and Associates to help determine our core values and mission. We held focus groups, participated in individual interviews, and answered surveys. At the end of that process, the church voted on eight core initiative areas: Worship, Operations, Shared Ministry, Mission, Hospitality, Stewardship, Spiritually Alive, and Youth Ministry.

This time, the premise will be  based on a formula from “Leading Change,” a book by Harvard professor John Kotter. 

  1. Create a vision
  2. Determine the strategies to the vision
  3. Decide plans to enact strategies
  4. Determine budget
What’s Next?
 

The first Strategic Plan 2.0 Huddle will be Fall 2021. At this meeting, the team members will be introduced to the congregation along with more information about the five initiatives. The second Huddle will be Spring 2022 and the final reports will be presented.

“This is our window to implement the vision into actionable items,” says Hilding. “If we don’t do the necessary thinking of reflecting and praying, I think we’ll miss out on a great opportunity to listen to God’s calling for us now. This is a strategic window to do that, to both reflect and pray, but also to take the next necessary steps as a result of the Vision process.”

Each team will be responsible for determining the benchmarks to meet their goals. “For example,” says Remfert, “the Welcome Team will be responsible for deciding how we become a more welcoming church.” But each team will be intentional in listening to the congregation. “This will be the work of the congregation, not a select few,” says Hilding. “The Visions Team’s role was to foster congregational discernment in the same way this will foster congregational discernment.” 
 
 
What Would it Look Like?

The teams are encouraged to dream big. “You can only create so much energy for small initiatives,” says Hilding. “We want to be thinking big enough that people can be inspired. What can the church do? What would it look like if we actually did share God’s love for all people? What do we have to do differently?” 

Hilding is looking forward to the next round of Huddles.
 
“During COVID, caution has been the primary word. Care and love have been our primary concerns. For me, it’s time to open the doors to serve and to make a difference and that’s exciting. Game on!”
 
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communication Specialist

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In Her Element

HTLC staff member transfers to working remotely permanently

Karen Taylor radiates joy as she tells me about ripping up walls and tearing apart wooden structures. Through the Zoom video, behind her I can see a stripped ceiling and evidence of other house projects on their new home on Lake Zumbro.

“It was time to downsize,” says Taylor of the New Prague home she shared with her husband, Dr. Rob Taylor, and their two sons, Joe and John. The Taylors recently sold their home when their sons graduated this spring (Joe from UND and John from NPAS), and found they did not have time to mow their 10 acres or plow a long driveway full of snow, formerly the boys’ responsibility.

But she’s not leaving HTLC! This Sunday, June 27, will be Ministry Coordinator Karen Taylor’s last service before she transfers to remote work and her new official title as Web Manager.

There was another reason for the move. “We really miss living on water,” says Taylor of their shared dream to live on a lake. “Even in our early marriage, before we had kids,we lived in towns near the water and we really love it. It’s always been our dream to live on water.”

Taylor feels it is important to stress that Dr. Taylor is not leaving his practice at Mayo Clinic in Montgomery/New Prague. “That is [Dr. Taylor’s] big worry, because that relationship between doctor and patient is sacred. He does not want people to worry he is leaving.” Dr. Taylor will be commuting from both his father-in-law’s home in Faribault and the Taylor’s new home on Lake Zumbro.

 

Dream Realized

 

Taylor’s passion for building and home design became evident early in her life. “Maybe it was an innate thing. I like to fix

Karen builds a treehouse for her kids with the help of her dad, John

houses and do projects. Whenever I have control of the remote, I am watching HGTV!” she says, laughing. “For the last 20+ years I have been waiting for this house that I can literally get my hands on,” she says, flexing her fingers. “And this is the house!” 

Likely it will not just be her home that Taylor fixes. ”I totally missed my calling. My degree is in occupational therapy. Then we had kids and I changed my focus to them. But if I could go back in time and pick another college degree, it would be construction management!” she says, looking gleeful. “We’ll see.. It might be a side hustle.”

To facilitate the construction process on the Lake Zumbro house while in New Prague, Taylor had cameras and a wi-fi lock installed. From her phone she is able to manage the work and then lock the door when people leave. (How cool is that?!?)

 

COVID Changes Everything

 

As in many organizations, COVID left some lasting changes. “My job, prior to COVID, was 80% hands-on at church… organizing volunteers, making sure things ran smoothly during worship services, and learning the soundboard. It was virtually eliminated with COVID.”

When COVID hit last March, the staff shuffled duties to accommodate the new remote working style. Taylor now creates the weekly e-newsletter “HTLConnections,” and manages the website, a job she has particularly enjoyed. “I’m so glad pastors let me dive into that! The website is the first place many people go when looking at HTLC.”

 

HTLC Online Staff

 

Taylor joins Angela Schoenbauer, Video Production Coordinator, and Michael Lunder, Digital Children’s Choir Director, in working remotely from outside the New Prague area. “I won’t be the only staff person doing this. It’s kinda cool that we have this technology that allows us to do this.”

Despite the new projects and joy they bring her, Taylor knows it will be difficult to leave. “I will miss Holy Trinity. It was good to see everyone’s faces when we opened up.”

 

Benefits of Online Service

 

Like many, Taylor appreciates many aspects of the online service, but the best part for her is the ability to actually participate in worship. As the “boots-on-the-ground-person,” Taylor is usually adjusting the soundboard, checking the microphones, and making sure the volunteers know where to go. With this new opportunity, she will continue to watch and be with us virtually.

“I didn’t want to quit Holy Trinity, so I was so happy the pastors offered me this option. I love my co-workers. The team is amazing! I love being a part of that. The people, the talent, the pastors… as long as you will have me, I will stay a part of the team.”

Karen and the Taylor family, you will be missed! And we are so happy you are following your calling!

Written by Rose Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist


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Welcome, Michael Lunder!

This month, New Prague alum Michael Lunder will join the Holy Trinity staff as the new Digital Children’s Choir Director. 

“I’m super excited!” says Lunder. “I know I’m going to be learning a lot and having fun along the way. I can’t wait!”

While the pandemic initially forced us to close our doors and move to an online format in March 2020, it was apparent there were many benefits to the services. And adorable children singing worship songs was certainly one of them! Lunder will help to choose music appropriate for the kids, teach them virtually, and then edit the music and videos shown in both the online and in-person services. 

An avid performer, Lunder has spent his adult life teaching music to kids. He toured for five and a half years with the Young Americans, a nonprofit that seeks to “inspire the world through music.” Traveling to over 14 counties, he taught kids about music, dance, gymnastics, choreography, and musical theatre. 

Lunder first appeared on our online service last December, singing with Choir Director Toby Thietje, NPHS Choir Director Nicole Thietje, and Minneapolis vocalist Jordan Leggett after telling the Thietjes he would like to help in any way needed. When Pastor Ben Hilding created this position, Lunder was thrilled. “When I was presented with an opportunity to [teach] virtually, I jumped on it!”

After touring professionally on national tours, Lunder became accustomed to living out of a suitcase. “Moving is second nature for me, I’m quite nomadic. But with this virtual option, we can schedule things with the kids that work for everybody. It’s more accessible for them and for me.”

Faith Journey

Lunder was baptized and confirmed at Holy Trinity, but did not attend regularly. Growing up, his family went to church on Christmas and Easter, but faith was not a focus in their household. “I didn’t grow up in the church, I grew up church-adjacent.”

While on a performance tour a few years ago, Lunder’s roommate asked him to go to church with her. “I went to this non-denominal church in Southern California. We walked in during worship and I was just flooded. I felt the Holy Spirit, felt the Holy Ghost, I completely fell in love with Christ at that point!” Lunder then made it a point to attend churches while on tour.  

Mentored by the Thietjes

Lunder credits one person in particular for guiding him. “Toby’s mother [Addy Thietje] is the reason I perform. She took my hand and led me down the right path many times.” After forgetting to sign up for show choir or the musical, Ms. Thietje would find him and encourage him to do so. “Thank God she did because I would not be here without her…or the whole Thietje family, honestly.” 

Nicole Thietje, Lunder’s choir director in high school, was also a mentor and helped to steer his path. “I had a secret internal calling to become a performer. It was something I loved, but back then it was not big for guys to be doing choir or musicals. I didn’t really believe in myself, but the Thietjes saw something.”
 

Family Tragedy

As the fifth of six children, Lunder was seven years old when his younger brother, Kyle was diagnosed with cancer. After fighting bravely for two years, Kyle passed away at the age of five. The emotional toil on the family was devastating. “Financially and emotionally… everything and everyone was just drained,” says Lunder. “I grew up quickly after that.”

Not wanting to burden his parents further, Lunder made a point to bury his emotions. “I was really good at hiding my feelings. I never cried; everything was smooth sailing. And then I found music and that all went out the door!” he laughs. 

Lunder believes his life’s calling stems from his family’s tragedy. “[My brother] is the reason I still do music, and that I’m so passionate about music and teaching music to children. It’s so important because it was the first time I realized I could use it as an outlet to express the things I had gone through, the traumas of my childhood. I remember in the moment when I discovered it, it was because I was dancing for him and singing for him and I made the decision then: this is what I want to be doing. I want to be helping other people find that release and the euphoria you find when you get lost in the music.”
 
 

Tell Me 5 Things that Describe You

1. “Mischief is always in there. I like to be silly. I always say bugging people is the sixth Love Language and that’s what I LOVE to do! It shakes people out of whatever they’re going through, brightens their day.”

 

2. Snacks: I love Takis! I also love celery a lot… I know that’s bizarre. But I also really love Ice Cream. Favorite kind: Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream.

 

3. Puppies: I’ve never not had a dog in my home. I just adore them. They’re so sweet, and so smart and so talented and so fun… They’re just little balls of love!

 

4. Water: When I’m near water, I feel the energy. I have the geometrical symbol for water  (an inverted triangle) tattooed on my elbow. I’ve never been able to explain it until I was an adult. 
 
5. Music: I grew up very musically. I was always passionate about good music, but the first time I had a revelation about my connection with music was when I was 13, at a workshop for Young American Workshop, which was one of the reasons I joined them. I found out I could express myself through music. For me, before that, it was not something I could do easily. I didn’t talk about feelings; I wasn’t comfortable. To this day, music is the easiest way for me to express what I’m feeling.”

Written by Rose Fife, HTLC Communication Specialist


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The Cobbled Path Forward

HTLC’s Racial Justice Team Has Big Plans for Fall
 
Your life experience in the United States, even in Minnesota, is dependent upon the color of your skin.  

“Minnesota has one of the biggest gaps between white kids and people of color [in the school system]. The darker the skin, the worse it gets. Why are we not talking about this?” asks Melissa Horejsi, Racial Justice Team (RJT) Facilitator and Holy Trinity member. 

A teacher of the visually-impaired in the Apple Valley school district, Horejsi felt called to join the group from the beginning. “I joined because I’m white. I don’t know what I don’t know. As a teacher and someone who loves kids, and I love all kids, I have found it has been so incredibly difficult to see the level of hatred and not being comfortable with people because of how they look.”
 
Truth in Minnesota

The percentage of people of color who live below the poverty level in Minneapolis is four times higher than the rate for white people, according to the Census Bureau. And, despite our ‘Minnesota Nice,’ we have one of the worst achievement gaps in the country. 

 
After the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA asked all churches to form a Racial Justice Team if they did not already have one. To support those churches, they published a guide for helping congregations to become more racially-aware. Team members Jen Sayler, Linnea Hautman, Liz Nelson, Sande Schoenecker, Meg Schoenbauer, Casey Fremstad, Wendy Mathiowetz, and Jon Bergquist now meet once a month.
 
 
Called to Serve
 
The team spent the year intentionally learning and determining their plan. “The goal of this team is to educate ourselves and our church community about racial justice,” says member Meg Schoenbauer. An upcoming sophomore in college, Shoenbauer joined the team because she felt she could no longer be silent. “I spent much of high school biting my tongue to hold back sharing my opinion, but I have found a community at Holy Trinity where I feel like I can share my beliefs and be respected and listened to.” Other members of the RJT shared their motivation for joining in the January 17 online service. (Their segment begins at 22:30.)
 
 
Defining ‘Systemic Racism’
 
The term ‘systemic racism’ can be a lot to grasp and Horejsi knows some people may not understand. “It means the system, whatever system it is, has done things historically that we do not pay attention to because we don’t have to. When you learn those things, you realize there’s a lot of work to do to figure out why people are feeling this way.” She says the way forward will be difficult. “It’s uncomfortable. I hate uncomfortable conversations, but sometimes it has to be uncomfortable.”
 
 
Plans for the Fall

Like everyone, the team’s goals were delayed by COVID, but they have a full agenda for the fall. “Oh, we are just getting started!” says Horejsi, laughing. “This past year we have been working on the team, to see how we can best grow for the church. But we are planning on activities, book studies, podcasts, teaching sessions… lots of things!.”

One book study, done last summer, was Lenny Duncan’s Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the United States. A thoughtful and honest book, the author details how difficult it is to be a person of color in the ELCA. The staff and members of council read the book and participated in a series of online discussions, facilitated by Horejsi.

Team member Shoenbauer also looks forward to the fall and hopes to include more outreach. “I would like us as a community to be able to have difficult conversations and to listen to stories that have too often gone unheard. I know that there are great people in this community who want to be a part of the solution, so I’m hoping to do more with the congregation as a whole.”

Shoenbauer has also been instrumental in creating and maintaining the Little Free Library of Anti-Racist Books, located by the Little Free Pantries near Door 2. This library functions more as a traditional library with a lending system and a faith that people will return the books. A list of these books is available on our website, along with a synopsis of every book. 
 
So, What Have You Been Doing?

The group has been deliberate about taking the year to educate themselves in order to be ready for HTLC’s reopening. “This isn’t an outside-the-church group, this is a church group. We want to make sure that what we’re doing isn’t our personal agenda, it’s what works best for HTLC at this time,” says Horejsi. 

The Racial Justice Team meets on the second Monday of every month, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Email Melissa Horejsi with questions or to join the Racial Justice Team. 
 
Written by Rose Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist

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The Father’s Calling


Tim Price feels he is finally heeding God’s plan for his life.

“God got real tired of me ghosting his phone calls,” he told me during a recent interview. “I think we all have callings and I think we all have opportunities to do things God wants us to do. I’m very fortunate that this has become a no-brainer for me.”

Guitarist Tim Price announced his resignation from the Holy Trinity staff to work full-time with his nonprofit ministry, Faith, Recovery & Music. “The idea is to be a presentation ministry where we go to different churches, teen centers, treatment facilities, prisons…wherever we can bring our testimony. It’s all based on the faith and forgiveness of Christ. We share our personal stories and we do that through words and a whole lotta music.”

A recovering addict with 27 years of sobriety, Tim first envisioned the ministry in January 2019. The first presentation, “Duct Tape and Grace,” was held at HTLC the following August and on June 9, 2020, Faith, Recovery & Music (FRM) became an official nonprofit.
 

Turning Fear Into a Challenge

 

Tim, wife Alyce, and their sons Jeffrey and Daniel moved from Atlanta, GA to New Prague in June 2015 and joined HTLC in August. Tim credits co-Pastor Ben’s encouragement with helping him to overcome his fears of singing, telling his story, and leading Wednesday Night Summer Worship. 

“In order for this ministry to work, I had to get over a lot of fear,” Tim said. “But the thing that’s made it less fearful is I truly feel it’s a calling. That has turned every fear into a challenge and an obstacle not to be stopped, but to endure and overcome through the grace and strength of Christ.”

Tim admits he did not feel comfortable at first. “I feel God has really blessed me by asking me to do this…which wasn’t really the feeling at first.” Formerly a partner in a music ministry in Atlanta, GA, Tim didn’t feel ready. “I didn’t feel I was the person to do it because of how broken I was. I realized that’s why God calls on us: because we’re broken. Because we can share our flaws. In recovery, there are a lot of things we keep in our head and it becomes a tremendous weight. You gotta get it out!”

 

Sometimes You Just Gotta Play…

Faith, Recovery & Music also includes a lot of music in their presentations. “For me personally, and I know for a lot of people, music can touch the soul when words fail,” Tim said.

FRM was just getting started when COVID hit and, like most churches and organizations, they had to adjust. “God showed us how to create an online presence. Now we have a website and a private Facebook group with a big group of supporters. The biggest response we’ve had online is our podcast.” 

His Father’s Legacy

 

Tim’s father plays a large role in his story. Also a recovering addict, he had 32 years of sobriety when he passed away. He frequently attended Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings and handed out cards he’d had printed that read: “I’m not yet the person I want to be, but I’m not the person I used to be.” Tim inherited a large box of those cards and now does the same, handing them out at meetings and recovery presentations. 

 

Leap of Faith
 
 
Leaving Holy Trinity’s staff was a Leap of Faith, Tim will always have memories of favorite services. “Hands down, Christmas Eve every year was my favorite service to play! I love the services when we could all be there. You have that warm, Christmas-y feeling. Late night Christmas Eve services have always been a favorite, but even more so at Holy Trinity. I get a little va-klempt.” he says, laughing.

Tim has also enjoyed getting to know the people of HTLC through their musical preferences.

“My favorite thing about HTLC is hands-down the people. What I’ve loved about being in the band is getting to hear what all the people really love in terms of the music. I’ve learned a lot about people by the music they like. I gravitate to that. But the greatest thing about that was the band was always able to accommodate those requests! Holy Trinity changed my life. I’ve learned so much.”

 
Time is a Valuable Asset
 

More than ever, Tim feels now is the right time to move forward with his plan. “I’m 55 years old and time for this ministry to flourish has become my most valuable asset. I look at my life… I look at the years I toured, my faith, my recovery and what I’ve done my entire life and it just becomes a no-brainer: Faith, Recovery, and Music.”

Tim’s last service will be Wednesday, May 26, 6 pm, in the HTLC parking lot where he will be joined with the rest of the HTLC Band for the first time since our last in-person service on March 15, 2020. 
 
 
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist

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Your Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper

Vaccination Volunteer Shares His Story

Pastor Alicia and Pastor Ben receive the COVID-19
vaccine from Dr. Tim Miller under supervision of their daughters.

Dr. Timothy Miller is making people cry.

After administering the COVID-19 vaccine, he turns to every person receiving the dose and says, “I’d like to say something very personal to you. I’d like to thank you for what you have done for yourself, for your family, and for somebody you haven’t even met yet.” Inevitably, people tear up.


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402 Days

People gather for first in-person worship service at Holy Trinity in 402 days.

 
It has been 402 days since the congregation of Holy Trinity has worshiped together in person. That’s 57 weeks of online worship. Not that we’re counting. (Actually I’m not. It’s an app.)

Last Wednesday, April 14, we began our Wednesday Night Outdoor Worship Services. From our estimates, 143 people joined us from inside their cars, seated on folding chairs outside their cars, or within one of the 50 circles chalked into the parking lot. The weather was a balmy 42 degrees and the rain managed to wait until the electrical equipment was put away.


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New Faces Join Online Easter Service

Several missed and beloved faces will be joining our online Easter service this year!

In an effort to include those we haven’t seen for a while, Visitation Pastor Diane Goulson recorded a few of our members who live in senior living facilities. Elaine Blomquist, Arlene Hilding, Jane Hines, and Mary Lou Most are able to participate this year, another benefit of online worship. (Lorraine Clemmer and another member attempted, but were not up to it on the day of visitation.)


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Luther Learning Initiative

HTLC Invited to Luther Seminary Learning Initiative

This winter, Holy Trinity was one of 12 Christian churches chosen to participate in a three-year learning process led by Luther Seminary. The program, titled “Congregations in a Secular Age,” is funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment and seeks to “discover how congregations can accompany people in narrating, interpreting, and integrating their direct encounters with the living Christ.”


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52.5 Years of Music…and Laughing

Rita Sapp was twelve years old when she first accompanied a worship service. 

“It was so scary! Those first years were tough because I had to practice so much to be ready,” Rita tells me over a Zoom call. “My piano teacher assigned two hymns each week along with the usual music (like Bach) to learn, so there was a lot of practicing.” 

A few years ago, I asked Holy Trinity’s Worship Leader how long she had been accompanying worship services. Rita paused briefly to think about it, guessed it must be approaching 50 years, and we moved on. I made a mental note to somehow commemorate this milestone, but life proceeded to get in the way.

Then, during a recent staff meeting, Rita discussed her process for arranging, recording, and editing a song for the online worship service. I marveled at how different this process is from when she began (now 52.5 years later).


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Experiencing Isolation Together

How an online class changes lives
 
 
Mikki Hubert knew she would learn, but she did not expect the class to bring such calm to her life. 
 
At the end of each session, I felt this all-enveloping, calming, inner peace inside of me. This has been missing for the last few months. It really helped in these times.” 

This fall, several members of Holy Trinity participated in an online adult education class moderated by Dr. Chris Johnson. The class, titled “Sustenance for the Weary Soul,” offered seven sessions through Zoom on either Wednesday evenings or Thursday mornings.


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Quarantine Holiday Fun

Fun Ideas during a Quarantine HOliday
 
 
We canceled the big family Christmas celebration this year and for a few moments I reveled in thoughts of a quiet Christmas. Good books I’ve wanted to read all year. Dinners in front of a roaring fire. Time to spend as a family…

And then I realized this is the same family who’s been stuck with me since March. They’re sick of my jokes, know I burn most dinners, and I’m still losing at Bananagrams. (Never have I missed our family and friends more.)

Aware I needed a new plan, I texted a few people and put a request on our HTLC page.

Here are Fun Ideas during a Quarantine Holiday. 

Indoor Fun

Bailey Hinricher and her family like to play Minute-to-Win-It-Games

Angela Schoenbauer recommends baking Christmas cookies, playing board games, and watching Christmas movies with her family (and new puppy). 

Connecting Online with Socially-Distanced Family/ Friends

For family members who are new to Zoom, Amber Kahnke recommends playing board games over Zoom. (Each family will need their own board.)

Sande and Larry Schoenecker play games with family over Zoom using Jackbox 

Linnea Hautman recommends the article 11 Fun Games to Play on Zoom for lots of options and  details.

Outdoor Fun

Amber and Nate Kahnke’s family like to go downhill skiing and tubing. Read ahead before you visit Buck Hill in Burnsville.

Julie and Dan Popple’s family recommend ice skating. These outdoor rinks will open in December

Sharon Steinhoff Smith and her family enjoy the Ney Nature Center. Just 15 minutes away from Henderson, they have “446 acres of  forests, prairie, meadows, bluffs, creeks, and a variety of wildlife.” And cross-country skiing as soon as that snowstorm arrives…

Liz and Bob Nelson recommend getting outside at least once a day to combat the winter doldrums. She suggests walking under the night sky, playing various Winter Snow Games, (here are directions for Fox and Goose), and always ending the night with hot chocolate. 

Creativity Involved

To keep her family entertained, Leanne and Brian Gieseke improvised a scavenger hunt around town for her kids and their friends.

The Podratz Family likes to “ding-dong-ditch” with Christmas cookies. She writes “Take some of your homemade cookies and write a note: You’ve been ding-dong-ditched! Leave for a neighbor, friend from school or church. Put on the doorstep, ring the bell, and run like the wind!” 

Melissa Horejsi suggests going through the church directory and writing a card or letter to someone you’d like to get to know better. “Kinda like ding-dong-ditch, but through the mail.”

She also suggests trying a new type of food and doing a craft project as a family.

The Missions Team recommends knitting/crotcheting a scarf, hat, or mittens and leaving them in the Little Free Pantry. Buying self-care products and snacks also appreciated!

Jeff and Wendy Jacobson recommend supporting a local restaurant or coffee shop with take-out orders. Perhaps followed by a tour of lights!

Christmas Light Shows

Christmas is the perfect time for holiday light shows. Mary and Mike Busch recommend the Sever’s Light Show and the Minnesota Zoo light show. 

Janet Morris agrees with the Buschs and adds the light shows at Christmas in Color at Valley Fair, The Glow Holiday Festival at the state fairgrounds, and the Winter Lights 2020 at the Arboretum are worth the drive.

Becky Valek recommends the Lights at Cove  in Prior Lake.
 
Whatever your plans, the staff at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
 
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist
December 23, 2020

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Death is always difficult, but losing a loved one during a global pandemic adds layers of complications. This fall several members of Holy Trinity passed away, leading families and the staff to pioneer new formats for memorial services.

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Hidden Blessing of Online Worship

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A few days before Sunday, March 15, Pastors Alicia and Ben made the announcement: We were switching to virtual worship for a few weeks until the coronavirus settled down and we could return to normal. That Sunday, Pastor Ben spoke to an oddly still sanctuary, the musicians played for a congregation on the other side of the screen, and Ministry Coordinator Karen Taylor streamed it on her phone, using a music stand to keep it steady. The global pandemic that was about to upend all of our lives had arrived in Minnesota. 

At the time, most of us thought we would be back to “normal” soon. But we have a new normal now: an online worship that began with a small, humbled team has grown to many more. And that new normal has revealed many hidden blessings.


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