Holy Trinity is the Episcopal Church in International Falls, Minnesota and has been so for over a hundred years. For most of that time we followed the usual model of main-line Protestant churches in that we had a hired, seminary trained priest to lead and serve the congregation. In the early part of this century, we made the decision to become a Total Ministry Church, which means that we raised up a team of leaders from among us and trained them to carry out the work formerly done by the hired priest.
These team members are unpaid volunteers, who give no more than ten hours a week to their work at the church. Part of their responsibility is to include all members of the congregation in the work of the church.
The fundamental understanding of Total Ministry is that we are each and every one a minister, that we all carry out many ministries in our lives and that the ministry of the church is the combined ministry of ALL its members.
Forty years ago Holy Trinity had 360 members, a thriving Sunday School, a choir, and an active women’s group. Like many churches we have lost numbers of people in the intervening years. This has been exacerbated by the declining population of the community and surrounding areas.
Today our congregation is older and smaller than before with a usual Sunday attendance between twenty and forty people. We are finding our worship to be more joyful and flexible than in years past with the use of some contemporary music and by using more of the optional service elements available to us.
We have found new life in working with other churches to do mission and ministry that none of us could do alone. Holy Trinity joins with other churches in the community to serve the food shelf with the collections from our ecumenical Lenten soup suppers and prayer services. We also serve the food shelf and the wider community in supporting the Christmas dinner, which is free to anyone who comes and provides free take out meals to those who ask for them. We put on a dinner once a year to support a project that serves the Millenium Development goals to reduce world-wide poverty.