Trinity is known for many things, and music is toward the top of the list. Several people to thank for continuing this tradition of excellence include Deb Nielsen (organist and bell choirs), Kim Reisinger (organist, choir director and bell choirs), Teresa Jacobson (organist), Jodi Korth (organist), Choir Directors: Jayson Ryner, Melissa Shallberg and Dennis Lee, and Worship Coordinator: Allison Day.

As Worship Coordinator, Allison Day finds organists, cantors, and special music for weekly services. She also creates the script and slides for the 10:30 service on Sundays. Day shared a bit of her background: “I am from Mason City and now get to teach Music where I went to elementary school. I attended Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville for my BA in Music and then got my Iowa teaching license from Buena Vista in Mason City. I got my Master’s [degree] from Morningside. I love spending time with my three nieces, crafting, and cheering on the St Louis Cardinals!”

Day says some of the joys of being involved in Trinity’s music groups include “the fellowship, the people, the music and the feeling of praising the Lord while using your God-given talents.” She said, “We are looking for new ways to get our members of all ages involved and sharing their spiritual gifts with others.”
Her hope is that people simply appreciate the music. She explained, “St. Augustine said, ‘He who sings prays twice.’ My hope is that through music at Trinity, either as the one listening to the music or being a participant in the worship service, that it would allow all to praise God in a meaningful way.”
A couple of Trinity’s choir directors also chimed in. Jayson Ryner said, “Trinity is really a congregation that promotes service.  I have 29 years of experience directing choirs and was available to help. It was a very simple decision once I learned that there was a need.”

Mention Ryner’s name and music immediately pops into your mind. He explained: “Many are aware that I have been the Director of Choral Activities at NIACC for the past 22 years.  However, some may not know that I came out of music retirement to help the choir.  After 29 years of teaching music, I have retired from that profession. I am now teaching Entrepreneurship at the college and developing my own ag technology company, ReEnvision Ag. It’s a new passion for this season of life.”

Ryner said that he and the choir had a wonderful time with “lots of laughing and good music making” during the weeks he served as director. Memorable melodies, effective lyrics and more “tuney” songs are among Ryner’s favorite songs to direct. Overall, he said, “Building relationships within the church family and sharing fellowship through song were great highlights!”

Another choir director, Dennis Lee, is also the Artistic Director of the Una Vocis Choral Ensemble. Why volunteer at Trinity? He explained, “I enjoy leading choirs and church choirs have a special place in my heart. Also, Trinity has been so welcoming to Una Vocis and helping with choir was one way I felt I could express my appreciation for the hospitality Trinity has shown.”

For a director who prefers to direct “lush, complex harmonies and music with character and purpose,” Lee thinks the best part of any choir is the people. He said, “There’s just nothing like the connections one can make while making music together!”

Lee has a passion for nonprofit organizations which led him to his day job helping nonprofits all over the country in using software to enhance their missions. He said, “When I’m not working with nonprofits, I enjoy outdoor activities such as waterskiing and bicycling. Of course, I can’t waterski all year, but I ride my bike a few times per week all year long! This is the time of the year that requires wide, studded tires!”

From choir directors to organists, Trinity is blessed with the best. Jodi Korth is one of the talented people who has stepped up to produce beautiful music. She has played the organ for over 25 years, beginning organ studies with Roger Mollenbeck here in town when she was in 7th grade. Korth said, “I have a heart for music ministry. I believe that music is one of the most beautiful ways we can worship our incredible God.”

Korth’s background includes being a wife to Nick and mom to son Cooper (age 7) and daughter Ava (age 4). “I work full-time as a freelance grant writer and nonprofit consultant, so my days are filled with meetings and writing. Organ is something I get to do in my spare time, and I feel blessed with every opportunity to play,” she said.

As a Trinity organist, Korth shared, “People often say, ‘Thanks so much for your playing!’ I hope you know that as an organist I always think, ‘Thanks so much for your singing!’ It is a gift beyond measure to play a hymn as soaring voices of praise fill the sanctuary. So on that note (no pun intended) don’t ever be afraid to sing with gusto. We organists love it!”

Both bell choirs at Trinity are also fortunate to be in the capable hands of two more directors. Kim Reisinger, Trinity’s former full-time musician extraordinaire, stepped up to be back in the swing of things musically. She shared her unique perspective as organist, choir director and bell choir director: “With each choir comes many steps in the process. The beginning process is to search for music. I love this process! It’s time-consuming but rewarding when you see and hear that ‘perfect’ piece of music that you know will enhance worship. Because that’s what the purpose of music in worship is–to enhance the spoken word and add to the worship experience. We are not performers; we are worship leaders.”

If you are trying to decide between singing in choir or playing the bells, Reisinger said, “It is more difficult to find ringers than singers. Beginning choristers can more easily blend into their section, whereas the ringer is the only person responsible for her/his notes. Sometimes that can be intimidating.”

What’s in store for the future musically? Reisinger shared, “No matter the staff changes or the way we ‘do worship’, the music will go on. It may look different 5 years from now but will still be relevant and important to the worship experience.”

Clappers Bell Choir

Deb Nielsen has another unique perspective as organist and bell choir director. A former worship and music director at two Lutheran churches in Mason City for 25 years (when her music therapy practice continued to grow), Nielsen shared that she just began playing bells when she joined Trinity.

Her favorite part of participating in bell choir is “the sense of community creating beautiful music together to praise God.” Nielsen said Trinity is always looking for more ringers. “We have all kinds of musical skill levels in our bell choirs and it’s fun to learn a new skill and make beautiful music. Our bell choir groups are always welcoming, and you make a whole new group of friends you might not have by making music together.”

Bronze Bell Choir

Switching gears as one of Trinity’s organists, Nielsen shared, “Trinity Lutheran is fortunate to have many talented organists that are covering the ‘bench’ in this transition period.  Trinity has one of the best pipe organs in the North Iowa area and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to play it.  I started piano lessons at the age of 9, organ lessons at the age of 11 and played for my first church service at the age of 14.  This year was my 50th year of being a church organist!  How lucky am I that I get to play that beautiful instrument to the glory of God!”

Thank you to all of Trinity’s musicians who are using their talents to lead others in this ministry. If you are interested in participating in the music ministry at Trinity, call the church office at 641-423-0536…or as most of the music directors advise, “Just show up!!” You’ll be glad you did. †