Today Tom and I attended worship at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland, Minnesota. Hovland is a tiny little town with one business and one church about 20 minutes down MN 61 (MN 61 runs along the north shore of Lake Superior – ne is up and sw is down). Trinity Lutheran is the closest mainline Protestant church to Grand Portage. Trinity is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Just as Presbyterians settled the western part of South Carolina, Lutherans settled much of Minnesota so they are the most common denomination here. The closest United Methodist church is in Duluth, which is about 150 miles away – too far away to travel for worship every week.
Trinity Lutheran is a small church building with the sanctuary upstairs and the fellowship hall downstairs. The restroom is an outhouse (there may be restrooms downstairs – I just missed them). The sanctuary, however, was almost full with about 50 people in worship. The people were very friendly and welcoming. We were greeted at the door by several people who quickly got our story and started introducing us to others. We had been introduced to most of the people already in the sanctuary by the time we met the pastor.
Rev. Kris Garey is the pastor at Trinity. We thought she probably had two churches because the worship service at Hovland is at 8:30. But she only has the one church – they just like to worship early! They also have an evening vesper service on Wednesdays, so we can go to that if we have to work on Sunday morning.
The service was very liturgical and challenged us to keep up with the readings and singing in the hymnal. But what we were doing was clearly explained in the bulletin and Rev. Garey gave us instructions. We had our choice of red wine or white grape juice during communion which was a nice option and easy to distinguish. The church organist / cantor is very good and I wondered how the church could attract someone of his caliber. One of the members told me the organist liked being out in “the small” instead of in the city.
The sermon talked about Jesus walking with us in times of suffering. Rev. Garey tied Jesus raising the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17) with the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Trinity has sent several members to Haiti to work with ongoing recovery from that disaster. They blessed another member who was leaving today to go. Rev. Garey said, “Jesus approaches the funeral processions of our lives to touch us and change us. Belonging does not end with death.” This is a good thing to remember in the midst of suffering. Rev. Garey has a very poetic way of expressing herself that was interesting to listen to.
Tom and I enjoyed the service at Trinity Lutheran very much. We are looking forward to returning either Wednesday or next Sunday.