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.
 HTLChronicles

A Door in the Wall of Grief

Stories of Hope during COVID
 
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.
Dennis Jasperson felt he was losing his wife Dorothy to Parkinson’s disease for many years. He was still surprised when she passed away in October 2020. “It was a shock when she died. I went [to see her] on the last day that Praha Village allowed visitors,” he said over the phone. After quarantining for 10 days before, he was finally able to be with her for an hour and a half.
 
“That was the first time since March that we’d been in the same room.” For seven months, Jasperson was only able to visit his wife through a window at Praha Village or send her daily notes through the mail. “I knew I was taking a chance visiting her, but…. it was a highly valued time.”
 
The next day, Praha Village tested everyone for COVID. Dennis received a call a few hours later that Dorothy had tested positive for the disease and within a few days, her condition worsened. She was sent to a hospital in Minneapolis.
 
Not able to be with her in person, Dennis called as often as he was allowed. “It was very hard on her. She was crying all the time. After a few days we were finally able to go and see her, but by then she wasn’t conscious.” Dennis takes a moment to breathe. “She passed away the next morning,” he says quietly and the heartbreaking reality of his story hits me. “We talk about our faith… This has been the greatest test I can ever have.”
 
Humanity is trying to reconfigure life within the restrictions of COVID-19. But funerals have brought very specific challenges: How do we say ‘Good-bye’ to a loved one if we are not allowed to be with them? How do we celebrate their lives when attendance at funerals are limited? And how do we physically comfort friends and family when six feet apart is required?
 
“Preparing for the funeral was so different because we couldn’t have our relatives present,” Dennis tells me after a pause. “I was so appreciative of the [members of the] church. The drive-by was so meaningful and supportive.”
 
Sometime during the planning for his wife’s funeral, Dennis realized he wasn’t just adjusting to the loss of his wife, he was ill. After the funeral, he was tested and diagnosed with COVID-19. “I couldn’t grieve for a while. I was so sick that I couldn’t think about anything but getting well.”
 
Dennis suffered a high fever and chills for two and a half weeks, but he credits his friends with keeping him going. “The Amazing Grays group has been so good. When I got sick, they made sure I had plenty to eat. They’ve been so supportive with cards and food.” He admits he still doesn’t feel “back to normal,” a month later.
 
In the end, Dennis was relieved the in-person funeral was small. “Preparing for the funeral was so different because we couldn’t have our relatives present. I regret we couldn’t have a church service for Dorothy. She has a large extended family and I know there are many people who couldn’t come. But I wouldn’t have had the strength for a large funeral. I was starting to feel very sick, and I don’t think I could have done it.”
 
Dennis continues to have hope for the future. “I’m having a tough time, but there’s always a door in the wall of grief. That door is the future; we have to look forward to that!” he tells me. “Life really is short. I’ve learned over the past years how important relationships are. I’m going to continue building those relationships.
 
When Sharon Gillingham passed away this fall, it was left to her son, Todd Gillingham, and his siblings to plan the memorial service. Thankfully, a previous connection with the Hilding family made it easier.
 
“It was a blessing to have people like Pastors Ben and Alicia [Hilding] to fall back on. We thought, ‘A death has occurred, now what? Especially in this environment where we cannot mourn or grieve or celebrate life as we could before. Mom died in MN. We live in WI. How is this going to work?”’
 
Together Pastor Ben, Visitation Pastor Diane Goulson, and Todd and his siblings planned the virtual service. A family effort, one of Sharron’s sons played the clarinet, the other read Scripture, one granddaughter sang, another granddaughter read a poem, a few grandsons played jazz guitar, and Todd played the piano. Later, Pastor Diane led the family in a private interment. “It was nice to have that connection with the pastors. Both Diane and Ben knew [our mother].”
 
Watching the memorial service online with his wife and sons, Gillingham was surprised at how much he appreciated the new format. “My siblings and I thought this might be hard, but we knew it was worth it. Mom was worth it,” Gillingham says. The family now has a 33-minute video commemorating the life of their mother they can see anytime. “It’s not about us. It’s a keepsake we’ll always have.”
 
Joanne Reemts was astonished at the outpouring of love for her husband Jim at his passing in October.
 
“I always thought I was biased because he was my husband, but I was surprised. All the cards I got about his smile, his attitude, and his laugh,” she tells me over the phone. “He was German, he had his faults,” she deadpans, “but he was a great guy!”
 
Jim had heart issues and in May 2020, suffered a minor stroke. “That was my first experience with COVID,” Joanne says. “I had to leave him at the door of the Emergency Room and pick him up later.” Due to the pandemic, only patients were allowed into the emergency room.
 
Jim and Joanne had a difficult summer with Jim’s health declining quickly, but they relied on their faith for strength. Five times this spring, she drove him to the Emergency Room in Minneapolis, left him at the door, and drove home alone. “I just came home and prayed. I always knew he was in good hands. I never knew how many COVID cases the hospital had or where they were in relation to him, but I never felt unsafe having him in the hospital. It was just the idea that I couldn’t be with him when he was in the ER.” By the afternoon, usually several hours later, a bed in the hospital was found and Joanne could drive back to be with him.
 
After several hospital visits, the doctors decided the heart medication was causing his kidneys to fail and the next step was dialysis. “That was really hard on him. It wasn’t doing what it was supposed to for him,” Joanne says. “He told me, ‘This is not living,’ so we took him off dialysis.” Jim was able to spend his remaining time at home on hospice, surrounded by his wife and kids. He lived eight more days.
 
Joanne appreciated the small, quiet memorial service for Jim in October. “We both agreed we couldn’t have handled [planning] a large funeral. We thought our COVID funeral was actually nice.”
 
Like Dennis, Joanne also credits the Amazing Grays group for helping her during this process. “I miss them. I look forward to a time we can get together again.”
 
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist
December 19, 2020

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Hidden Blessing of Online Worship

Barb Warner knows her favorite service (so far). “I loved the confirmation videos! We got to see each kid and got to know them more than if we’d been in church,” she said. “And the kids can keep those videos forever.”
 
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.
 
Watching the online services on our Facebook page on Sunday mornings, Barb says, “I love to see the comments as the service happens. It’s really nice to know someone else is watching with you,” she says. “I live alone; it’s just my dog and me and this online service connects me.”
 
A retired special education teacher, Barb wanted to get more involved, despite the pandemic. She now teaches the 1st-4th graders Children’s Ministry on Zoom Wednesday nights. “Doing things like this really helps.”
 
The true benefit of online services, according to Barb, is the inclusivity. “I like that you can still be included even if you’re sick or traveling. When I was sick before, I just missed the service. Now, I’m still connected. I’m grateful for this church.” 
 
New parents Allie and Frank Wergin find watching online an easier option with their 6 month old baby, Jack.
 
“There are a lot of positives about watching the service online, but especially with having a little baby,” Allie says. “He can be fussy at 9 a.m., so it would be a challenge to be there in person. Sometimes we are still in our jammies if the baby had a bad night. The flexibility is helpful.”
 
The Wergins joined Holy Trinity in August. As many people join churches to be a part of a larger community of faith, I asked Allie if they were feeling connected. “We are a new family, so not having that face-to-face interaction makes it a challenge. But we’re getting to know some of the members by watching the online worship,” she said.
 
Barb and Bob Gullickson tune in on Sunday mornings. “We watch every week. I still think, ‘It’s Sunday, we have worship.’ Now, of course, I can cuddle with my dog, but I like keeping this part the same,” says Barb. 
 
“Of course we miss everyone, but we like watching the commentary [on Facebook] and the creativity the staff has come up with to pique our interest,” says Barb. “The music is fabulous! Having a blended style is great because something speaks to everyone that way. ”
 
Bob appreciates the Pastors’ sermons. “Without the services on the screen, we wouldn’t be able to hear the sermons. Especially during these tough times, it’s important,” he said. “They are so relevant, the positive aspects of diversity in the church… you hear these messages and they make you think.” 
 
Barb also appreciates how new leaders of the church are coming forward to share their gifts. “I love that Pastor Diane is more a part of our church and we love to see everyone’s faces! Especially the new, talented people who have been hiding.” 
 
Holy Trinity is grateful for all our members and friends. We pray you have a reflective and healthy Advent. 
 
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist
November 29, 2020

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Worth the Wait for Our Kids

For twenty-one kids and their families, First Communion was supposed to happen in the spring. And then COVID hit. It was rescheduled for a lakeside service this summer, but Cedar Lake canceled all group activities. Holy Trinity polled the families and decided on a Drive-In First Communion in the parking lot on Sunday, October 11.

 

“These families were determined to have First Communion,” Pastor Ben tells me. “In a collective Zoom meeting, we asked them, ‘If it rains, do we still do it?’ They all said, ‘You bet!’ I was prepared to be standing outside under an umbrella by myself, with Rita playing music from inside if we needed to!”

Sunday, October 11 was the second outdoor Drive-in Communion service for Holy Trinity, this time combined with First Communion. There was considerably less sneezing for Pastor Ben (Click HERE to see that video), and more bread and wine involved.

 

“I’m excited!” Kate Kienow told me before the service. “I was skeptical about the meaningfulness of the first one, but some friends really recommended them! It made me feel so excited about this.” Her son Aydan was one of the communicants.

“This was beautiful! A really nice Plan B,” says mother Christie Will who celebrated daughter Parker’s day by baking the communion bread using Hospitality Coordinator Donna Galvin’s recipe. (Click HERE for the recipe and Donna’s tutorial.) “I loved making the bread,” says Parker, smiling.

 

“We did what we could to make it special,” says mom Jamie Sticha. “We dressed up. We made bread.”

“Our bread turned out kinda gross.” Nolan Sticha mutters quietly, probably hoping I didn’t hear him. (Sorry, Nolan. It was funny.)

 

“I know this is certainly not what anyone expected when they thought about what their Child’s First Communion would be like,” Children, Youth and Family Director Casey Fremstad says, “but I know the Lord is present today and will continue to be present in the lives of these families. It is a great day to witness so much beauty at work in all of the chaos.”

“It’s weird,” admits first communicant Levin Wong. His father, Jamie Wong, smiles at him. “We’re glad to be back, even if it is weird,” he admits.

“It’s nice to be able to run around!” says another first communicant, Garrett Balk. His mother, Carrie Balk, agrees. “This is memorable. We won’t forget it, that’s for sure!” She says laughing as she runs after him.

 

For many HTLC members and guests, this was the first time they had been at the church in over 6 months. Pastor Ben’s sermon spoke of potentially having a range of feelings by being “in church” for the first time in a while. Some admitted that was exactly how they felt.

“I’m really emotional,” says Council President Karla Klingfus as she gestures to her husband, Tom. “He was hoping for another Communion service for a while, but I didn’t know how much I missed Communion until now. This is even better than I expected.” Her voice catches as Worship Leader Rita Sapp begins to play.

 

“What our church has done [with the online services] is amazing, but we miss this,” Tonya Jacobson says tearfully, gesturing to the twenty cars full of Holy Trinity members and guests. “It’s great that we can watch online, but it’s nice to come here. It’s not just a place. It’s everybody. And we miss it.”

 
 

On behalf of the entire Holy Trinity team, WE MISS YOU ALL, TOO!

 

 

Go in Peace.

 

Serve the Lord.

 

Thanks be to God.

 

For all First Communion Family photos, please CLICK HERE.

 
 
Written by Rose M. Fife, HTLC Communications Specialist
October 15, 2020

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