Sharing God’s love with all people from one generation to the next. In gratitude to God’s grace, we cannot help but courageously and generously respond to the evolving needs of our greater community. 
Annual Summit Celebration
Help us celebrate THIS SUNDAY!
Sunday, Jan. 23, 10 am
Sanctuary & Online (Zoom)
2021 Review with recap video and Annual Meeting.
If you’re joining the meeting online, please use the “Join Zoom Meeting” button.
Congregational Survey
To aid us in our Strategic Plan 2.0 process, we are utilizing same the survey that was a part of our 2015 Strategic Plan. All answers are anonymous so tell us the good, the bad and the ugly – we want to hear it! Deadline is January 23.
Radio Sponsors
Thank you for considering this important gift of ministry to our radio listeners! We have openings for Radio Ministry sponsors at a cost of $60 per week.

If you’d like to help support this ministry, please contact Jamie in the church office or call 952-758-3513.

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).
In the Beginning
From the age of twelve, Rita played three services at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Le Center, Minnesota every week. “I played for the 8 am, 10 am, and 11:30 am service every week for $4 a service. I had to open a bank account!”
Her teacher, Audrey Palmquist, sat next to her on the organ bench while Rita played the prelude and a hymn. “She was my idol,” Rita said. “I took off on my piano playing when I started lessons with her.” In addition to teaching private music lessons, Ms. Palmquist was the school choir director and the church organist. She is also credited with teaching Rita how to sing and play the piano simultaneously. “She made me sing along with the hymns so I would get the breaths in the right place.” 
Growing up in a musical family, Rita always knew she wanted to be a musician. “Music was big on both sides of my family so we all took lessons, we all learned the organ. My grandmother was an organist, both of my sisters played it.” Rita began piano lessons in the second grade, but her music skills really improved a few years later when she learned to read music for the school band.
“I just played piano by ear. My older sister would play my songs for me. I’d listen to her and then just imitate the sound. Once I joined Band, I learned my notes, and I took off.”
Learning a musical instrument takes years of discipline, dedication, even sacrifice. This can be difficult on a young person whose friends are on sports teams or active in drama. “I used to sit [at the piano] and cry. I didn’t want to be practicing piano!” But her parents encouraged her to keep going, telling her she would appreciate it some day. “You’ve got to get over those humps. I’m thankful now!” she says laughing. 
Half a Century of Changes
Fifty-two and a half years later, Rita has been a front row witness to the evolution of the modern worship service. “We’re getting away from the hymnals and going toward contemporary [worship songs]. The music we use has more to do with reading chord symbols and less reading music. Thankfully, there are [internet] sites out there with the melody and chord symbols written out.”
In addition, there are now fewer requests for the organ and a decline in church weddings. “I used to play a wedding almost every weekend. Now.. not as many. And even if an organ is at the church, [the couple] request a piano.”
An accomplished organist in high demand, Rita has played the challenging instrument all over the Cities, throughout Minnesota universities and has even played for a funeral at Fort Snelling. “Every organ is different,” she says. “So every situation is a nightmare. You don’t know what you’re getting into.” 
The organ is a complicated instrument that requires not only the use of both hands, but both feet to play the notes. In addition, the organist is required to pull different “stops” to create different sounds with their hands while pushing pedals with their feet… when they’re not otherwise playing notes. 
But the Greatest of These Is COVID-19
Leading worship during COVID-19 has led to the greatest changes so far.
“If I had known we were going to be in online worship this long, I would have purchased a decent program,” Rita laments. She uses Audacity to edit her recordings (and often mine). This doesn’t include Autotune (a feature on some programs that brings the recording to the correct pitch), so she will often record multiple times if a note is out of tune or a word is incorrect. 
“At some point, you have to just let it go,” she says with her characteristic laugh. 
From beginning to end, a typical song can take seven to eight hours to prepare. “I always research what’s out there on YouTube. Then I print music, arrange an accompaniment, record piano, record vocals, record harmony.. And then redo the vocals!” she laughs again. (Sometimes there’s a cat involved.)
Other pieces, much larger in scope, require more time to complete. “Be Thou My Vision” took about 20 hours,” she says. This project involved a virtual choir and required members of the HTLC choir to record and send in audio and video recordings to be included. This piece, along with many others, are available on the HTLC YouTube page.  
Rita says the biggest challenge is finding music requested that does not have a written score as writing a part by ear can take many additional hours. “I usually just want to sit down and play the piece. That is the most frustrating part.” 
The pandemic has brought out some positive aspects: involvement from new faces. “A lot of people in the church have contributed that we never would have heard from. That’s been great!” Several members not previously known to sing, play instruments, or read publicly have contributed videos of hymns and Bible readings. 
Still Loves What She Does
So how long will our Worship Leader continue to accompany services, online or in person? “I’ll do this as long as I can in my life,” Rita says. “I still love what I’m doing. It’s fun for me yet. So I’ll keep doing it.”
Holy Trinity has been producing online worship services for almost a full year. Rita looks forward to the transition back to in-person services. “It’s going to be weird to have people in the room, singing with us! But I love what we have going at Holy Trinity!” 
We are lucky to have you, Rita Sapp! Thank you for your 52.5 years of music, singing and, of course, the Rita Laugh!
Written by Rose M. Fife,  HTLC Communications Specialist
February 11, 2021


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.


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