We reached our goal to fully fund the new digital church sign! Hallelujah!! THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to raise $85,800 over the past month!
 
Now we get to share this message with everyone who drives by our church, Every.Single.Day.
 
Click the button for a special thank you!
 
Spread the word! Our next New Member Class is online.

Sunday, November 7
10:30 am – Noon


Participants will spend time getting to know one another, learn what makes us Lutheran and what it means to be a member of Holy Trinity. Zoom link will be sent once registration is complete.  Sign up below!
 
Join us for the 7th Annual
HTLC Trunk or Treat! 

Sign up below to reserve your spot in the HTLC parking lot. Dress up, decorate your trunk and hand out candy to the kids. Make this a memorable event!

This event is open to kids of all ages in the community. Spread the word!
 
 
Le Sueur Co. Santa Anonymous volunteer and HTLC member LuAnn Leach is collecting donations of toys and clothing for Le Sueur Co. children. Please email LuAnn or call 507-357-4850 for items needed. Deadline for donations is November 10.

If you or anyone you know are in need of assistance this Christmas, please fill out this Adopt-a-Family and Santa Anonymous Wish List. 
 
 
To honor Native American Heritage Month, the HTLC Racial Justice Task Force has arranged a guided group tour of the exhibit, Mdewakanton: Dwellers of the Spirit Lake.

Sat. November 6
1 – 2:30 pm
Hocokata Ti


Transportation is on your own but if you’d like to carpool, please meet in the church parking lot at 12:15 pm. Tickets will be purchased upon arrival.
 
Volunteers are needed to help with meal preparation and delivery of meals to 4 Hope House families the week of October 31 – November 6. All meals will be prepared in the St. Wenceslaus kitchen.  

Sign up below to help or contact Kathy Giesen (952-465-2799) or Mary Higgins (952-240-1604.)
 
Carrying out our Mission, Vision & Values, our doors are open to various support groups in New Prague.
Click the button to learn more.
 
Holy Trinity was blessed to receive a custom painting by Sharon Blomquist. The artist, who happens to be Pastor Alicia’s aunt, drove this piece all the way from California to keep it intact. Read more about this remarkable work.

HTLChronicles

 
Written by Rose Fife, HTLC Communication Specialist.
 

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

Read more...

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


Read more...

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


Read more...