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New Wine to return to Louisiana

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Morris' 2006 New Wine performance group helped with Hurricane Katrina clean-up efforts in the New Orleans area. Submitted photo.2 / 2

Four years ago, the New Wine performance group spent much of their summer tour in the New Orleans area, helping "muck" houses devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The group donated more than $3,000 -- its total offering in 2006 -- to help Peace Lutheran Church in Slidell, La., build a retreat center for future volunteer groups coming to help.

This year, New Wine will return to stay in the retreat center the group helped build, and to again perform and aid in hurricane recovery.

"It will be really fun to go back and see the changes and do more work there," said Todd Mattson, Pastor of First Lutheran Church in Morris and New Wine leader.

To raise money for the trip, the 45 members of New Wine will once again perform a series of dessert-theatre format shows of "Steeples," one of the first musicals Mattson wrote during his seminary days in the 1980s.

The performances are May 9, May 12, May 15-16, beginning at 7 p.m. each night. All tickets will be sold in advance at First Lutheran -- there will be no ticket sales at the door.

Four desserts, soda and coffee will be served before the performances of "Steeples," and New Wine members will perform songs while the dessert is served.

The funds will help pay for New Wine's June 20-30 tour, which also includes performances of "Steeples" and service work, in San Antonio, Texas, Oklahoma City, Fremont, Neb., Fayetteville, Ark., and Kansas City.

A group of adults, on a trip organized by First Lutheran Church Pastor Ali Boomershine, also will be in Louisiana at about the same time as New Wine. The groups intend to meet up over the weekend, Mattson said.

"Steeples" was chosen for this year's tour based on current events in all churches in the country, Mattson said.

"Steeples" tells a story of a church community, a family and an individual encountering challenges of faith and the surprise of God's grace using drama, humor and music, Mattson said.

"There's turmoil in a lot of different churches, not just the Lutheran church," Mattson said. "We often focus on that so much that we lose sight of why we're a church and what we should be doing."