Upcoming Worship Schedule
 
November & December bring some schedule changes in our worship services and
faith formation classes. Please mark your calendar!
 
Wednesday, Nov. 24 – No Worship or Faith Formation
 
Early Family Christmas Wednesday, Dec. 15
Meal @ 5 pm
Worship @ 6 pm (in-person & livestreamed on HTLC YouTube channel)
 
Blue Christmas – Wednesday, Dec. 22, 6 pm (No Faith Formation)
 
Christmas Eve Services
2 pm, 4 pm, 10 pm (in-person only)
6 pm – Online only
 
Sunday, Dec. 26 & Wednesday, Dec. 29 – Online worship only (No Faith Formation)
 
 
 
Advent Magazine
 
Download the HTLC Advent Magazine for inspirational hymns, daily devotionals and weekly prayers.
 
Advent Logs
 
We’re gearing up for the biggest birthday party of the year! Advent logs and tea lights are available:
  • Welcome Center before/after worship
  • HTLC Office during the office hours
  • Outside Door 5 during non-office hours.
 
Sharing Tree
 
Thank you, Holy Trinity, for your support of the Le Sueur County Santa Anonymous program through the HTLC Sharing Tree. All of the tags  have been claimed!
 
If you took a tag from the tree, please return your gifts by December 5th.
We’re Hiring!
Individuals with experience in leading children, youth or family ministries are invited to apply. Please email cover letter and resume to Jamie
 
Calling all Amazon shoppers! Here’s a great way to give back to HTLC.

Click “Start Here” button below, click “Get Started,” and type “Holy Trinity Lutheran Church New Prague” in the search bar.

Follow the directions and voila! Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to HTLC!
 

HTLChronicles

 

It’s a Sign

Dennis Jasperson wanted to find a way for his late wife Dorothy to remain a part of Holy Trinity. A way she can continue to welcome people to the church she loved.

“When we did the church visits [in February 2020], I came to the realization all these churches that were doing well had electronic signs. I knew there was talk in the past about this and I thought it would be a good time to bring it up,” says Jasperson, holding his steaming cup of coffee on a warm August morning. “I wanted to contribute, get it started, and hope that people would support it.”

So, in spring 2021, he and his family made a sizable donation in her name toward the construction of a new digital sign. It is important to them, however, that the sign reflects the vision of the congregation. “I didn’t want it to be a sign that I was saying what size or shape. I want it to be whatever the people want.”
 
 

The Sign Team

Holy Trinity responded by inviting the congregation to a series of open meetings led by council member Mark Walser. From there, a committee formed to make Dennis’ hope a reality. Together, members Jed Becher, Dirk Berger, Allen and Donna Gulbransen, Dennis Jasperson, Pat Remfert, Tim Thorp, and George Winn along with council member Mark Walser, Office Manager Jamie Bisek, Facility Manager Jon Bergquist, and Pastor Ben Hilding met four times and voted to recommend to the church council a sign of 5 ft. by 10 ft. with 8 mm pixels.

Signs are important to this committee. Says team member George Winn, “I always judge restaurants by their bathrooms and I judge churches by their signs.” The sign will be constructed by Think Digital, a sign company in Edina, and will cost $85,000.

The recommendation was approved by the council and will require a vote by the congregation to purchase the sign and raise the remaining funds. From the Jasperson memorial gift and some long-term investments, nearly half the money has been raised.
 

Half A Sign

“In short, we have paid for one side of the sign and are looking to raise funds for the other,” says Pastor Alicia. “This is a project everyone can get involved with. You can purchase a pixel for 66 cents, or go as far as a panel. We’d love to have 100% participation.” (See breakdown below.)

This is an important project for council member Mark Walser whose kids enjoyed playing with Dorothy. Walser researched several companies who make electronic signs and invited two of them to give a presentation to the committee. But he’s clear about wanting the input of the congregation. “I don’t want to spend people’s money without the support of the congregation.” The source of the sign is also important to Walser. “This is a quality sign, manufactured in the U.S, with design controlled in the U.S.”

Digital signs are an effective way to welcome and inform people. Sign company Think Digital estimates 9000-9700 cars pass by Holy Trinity daily. If the average car contains 1.5 people, that is at least 13,5000 views each day.
 

You Are Welcome Here

For Jasperson, the sign is more than a communication tool. “It’s not about being boastful. It’s about letting people know what we’re about. There’s a place for them here. They are welcome and maybe we can provide what they’re looking for.”
 
With this sign, Jasperson knows a part of Dorothy is still present. “I feel like Dorothy is inviting people to church. That’s why I did it.”
 
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist
August 26, 2021
 
Options for Sponsorship (Goal to raise one side = 50 panels):
1 panel: $858
1/2 panel: $429
1/4 panel: $214.50
1 pixel (1,296 pixels in a panel): $0.66
Please mail your sponsorship to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1300 Main St. E., New Prague, MN 56071 and indicate “Digital Sign” in the memo line. Thank you!

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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
July 22, 2021

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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
July 8, 2021

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