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

 

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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