Pictures From Our Past

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Dedicated in 1955 Parsonage Added An Aerial View Current building with addition (2007)

A SHORT HISTORY OF TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH

Auburn, Illinois

The history of Trinity Lutheran Church began in 1911 when Pastor Brandt and Teacher Robert Schoknick began to hold services in the Thayer, Illinois area, just south of Auburn. The first members came from the surrounding areas including Auburn. In the first years, services were held in the Will Ladage home. Later they were held in the public school in Thayer and were held there regularly until the summer of 1953. The group there was always small, numbering about 25 or 30 members. The Thayer group became affiliated with St. John's Lutheran Church in Chatham, Illinois during Pastor Wegehaupt's pastorate there in the 1920's. Pastor George Klein continued to hold services in Thayer and to instruct the children during his entire ministry of over 20 years.

In 1952 candidate R. A. Haak was called to the Chatham-Thayer parish and served in Chatham as well as continuing the services at Thayer. In the summer of 1953, the Thayer group conducted a Vacation Bible School in Auburn, renting the facilities of the Advent Christian Church. With the success of this endeavor, the congregation began to hold church services and Sunday School in Auburn, where its first service was held on July 19, 1953. After this move was made, the congregation grew steadily, numbering about 80 communicants and 125 souls early in 1956.

The Trinity Lutheran congregation was formally organized on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1953 and was received into membership in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in August, 1954.

In late 1954 a tract of land containing 2.9 acres located in the southwest corner of Auburn, the current site of the church, was purchased with the intent of using it as a site for a church building .The congregation began building plans in early 1955. Eberhard and Murphy, Urbana, Illinois, were engaged as architects and in August, 1955, a contract was signed with M. Russell Young of Girard as General Contractor. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held on September 4, 1955. Cornerstone-laying ceremonies were held on February 19, 1956. The cost of the church building with furnishings was about $70,000. This project was financed in part by a loan from the Church Extension Fund of the Central Illinois District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

The dedication services for the church were held on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 1956.The Rev. R. A. Haak was the preacher at the morning dedication service. The speaker for the afternoon service was the Rev. Remus E. Rein, Executive Secretary of the Central Illinois District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The speaker at the evening choral service was the Rev. Prof. Martin Naumann and the music was provided by the Lutheran Hour Chorus of Concordia Seminary, Springfield, Illinois, under the direction of Dr. Fred L. Precht.

The church officers during this endeavor were:

  • Rudolph A. Haak, Pastor
  • Kenneth Sanders, Chairman
  • Leroy Seiz, Secretary
  • Leonard Renken, Treasurer
  • Harold Jaeger, Financial Secretary
  • George Sokol, Financial Secretary
  • Ernest Miller, Elder
  • Rudy Ackerman, Elder
  • Paul Tobeck, Elder

The members of the Building Committee were:

  • Paul Tobeck, Chairman
  • Roy Seifert, Co-chairman
  • H.J.Helmerichs
  • Carl Renken
  • Rudy Ackerman
  • Ernest Miller.

Pastor Haak continued as the pastor at Trinity Lutheran until June,1958. By then Trinity was able to support a full-time minister and called Rev. James Meichsner, who began his service at Trinity in June, 1958. Because the congregation had no parsonage, the home on the Studebaker farm north of Auburn was rented for the pastor until the James Stockdale home in Auburn was available.

On November 28, 1960, the decision was made to build a parsonage at the approximate cost of $10,000. to $12,000. The parsonage which is still used today is just west of the church. Funds were borrowed from Farmers & Merchants State Bank of Virden for this building project. Kenneth Sexton served-as General Contractor from the congregation along with John Harms, Leroy Seiz and Herman Renken who served on the Building Committee. After much donated labor and time from the members of Trinity, the parsonage was dedicated on May 21, 1961, and Pastor Meichsner and family moved into the parsonage. Pastor Meichsner served us until the fall of 1961.

Rev. R. Dean Mues was installed as our Pastor in June, 1962, and served until April, 1966. As our congregation and Sunday school attendance grew the need for an educational facility was realized. The additional space, seven Sunday school rooms, two offices and a utility room, became a reality under the guidance of Pastor Mues and was dedicated on January 19, 1964.

The building committee included:

  • Herman Neumann, Chairman
  • Kenneth Sanders
  • Walter Seifert
  • Jack Smith
  • Wayne Waganer

The architect was M. D. Turley & Associates, Springfield, Illinois. The general contractor was Paul Farris, Auburn, Illinois.

A loan of $20,000.00 was secured from the Church Extension Fund of the Central Illinois District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to undertake this project.

Rev. William Adam was installed as our Pastor in August, 1966. Pastor Adam served the congregation until June, 1970. On April 10, 1967, the loan on the parsonage was paid in full.

In September, 1970, Rev. Richard R. Harre became our Pastor and still serves our congregation today. Since 1971 choir music has been a regular part of our worship services.: This was under the direction of Barbara Stamer until December 2006.

On September 23, 1972, a decision was made to purchase for $5000 the railroad right-of-way, located just east of the church property, for additional parking.

In 1973 the folding partition was taken out of the back of the church and eight pews were added. On February 10, 1974, in a special service, the mortgages for the original church building and the education wing were burned, and the following evening plans were set in motion at a special Voter's Meeting to expand and remodel our facilities.

On September 14, 1975, the dedication services for the remodeled facilities and multi-purpose addition was held. The remodeling, at the cost of $115,000, included new carpeting, air-conditioning, and eight additional pews in the church, and improvement of the pastor's office. The Building Committee included:

  • Richard Meidel, Chairman
  • Rev. Richard Harre
  • Loren Boesdorfer
  • H. J. Helmerichs
  • Al Schumacher
  • Dr. Milton Sernett
  • Richard Stamer
  • Harold Bergman
  • Keith Ladage

The architectual firm was Maslauski, Litvan, Bernstein, Architects & Planners, Springfield, Illinois

The General Contractor was Harold O'Shea Builders, Springfield, Illinois,.

On September 21, 1980, Trinity Congregation celebrated Pastor Harre's 10th Anniversary as Pastor of Trinity with a dinner, fellowship and games.

In the early 1990's the Sunday school wing of our facilities was improved with a new gable roof to replace the flat roof.

In May 1998 Holly Wietfeldt was hired to the staff of Trinity as the Director of Christian Ministries and Services. She served in this capacity until retiring in July of 2004.

Donna Moldenhauer has served as a part time Coordinator of Christian Education since January of 2007.

In May, 2000 a Space Need’s Committee was formed to access the needs of the congregation in regards to church facilities. The recommendations of the committee for additional Christian Education Space, additional office space, renovation of the existing Sunday School rooms and multi-purpose room and the addition of an entrance canopy and improved foyer space was sent to the Voters’ Assembly in January, 2001.

With Voters’ Assembly approval, a Building Committee was formed in January, 2001. The committee studied the Space Needs Committee recommendations and worked with the architectural firm of Fitch and Fitzgerald from Springfield Illinois, with John Renken as the lead architect from the firm. The building project commenced in May of 2003 with Trinity being the general contractor. The church was assisted by the able hands and guidance of member of Laborers for Christ, led by project leader, Gene Eytchison. The new facilities were essentially completed by the end of 2003 and were dedicated to the Glory of God on March 21, 2004.

By June 2004, the construction bills were all in and the members of Trinity had contributed over $300.000 to the project, so the construction loan was converted to a mortgage of $600.000. The cost of the project was nearly $900,000.

On November 18, 2002 an agreement was signed with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Capital Funding Service to initiate a Sustained Giving Stewardship Emphasis to raise funds for the project. This emphasis was completed in three years in April 2006 after over $600,000 was committed and raised.

Building committee members included :

  • Peggy Atteberry, Chairperson
  • Rev. Richard R Harre,
  • Holly Wietfeldt
  • John Richmond
  • Dave Hallerberg
  • Randy Helms
  • Steve Johnson
  • Gary Gharst
  • Hugh Shown
  • Jim Bandy

In July 2004 Pastor Joel Dieterichs was installed as an Associate Pastor for Trinity. He had completed his training for the ministry in May 2004 at Concordia Seminary, St Louis. He served the congregation through January of 2008. In February of 2008, the Rev. Harold G Woodworth of Springfield was installed as a part-time Assistant Pastor. Pastor Woodworth served at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, Illinois before his retirement.

On September 11, 2005 Pastor Richard R. Harre’s thirty-five years of service to Trinity was celebrated with an open house in the church’s new facilities.

In August 2005, after months of planning and preparation, a before and after-school program, G.R.O.W. in the SON, was opened for school age children up to twelve years of age. Teresa Todt was hired in June 2005 as Director of the program. In January, 2006 a three-day per week Pre-school program was added. It started with 4 children. By August of 2006 the G.R.O.W in the SON program had grown to 33 children and the Pre-School to 14 children. An assistant Director, Gina Rutkowski, was hired in August 2006.

In March 2011 Mrs. Todt stepped down as Director of the G.R.O.W. program to concentrate on the pre-school program. Under her direction this program expanded to two classes: a preschool class for 3-year-old children on Tuesday and Thursday, and a Pre-Kindergarten class for 4-year-old children on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Mrs. June Callarman assumed responsibility for the G.R.O.W. program starting in May 2011 until February 2013. At that time Miss Marissa Stoddard became Director of the program. The G.R.O.W. program has operated at or near capacity during the last few years.

In early 2009 a church organ replacement committee was formed. From July 2009 to October 2010 the Trinity organ committee studied various organ building companies and listening to many organs in churches from St. Louis to Chicago. In September 2011 a rebuilt, refurbished 10 rank Casavant Freres, Opus 2490, pipe organ was installed in the church sanctuary by Berghaus Pipe Organ Builders of Bellwood, IL. The organ was dedicated to the Glory of God and played for worship the first time on Sunday, October 2, 2011. An organ dedication concert, featuring guest organist Jonathan Oblander, was presented on December 4, 2011.

After more than 42 years of faithful service as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pastor Richard R. Harre asked for his release from the congregation to retire as of April 30, 2013. A farewell dinner was held in his honor on April 28, 2013.

Rev. Harold G. Woodworth also retired from his ministry at Trinity on April 30, 2013, after more than five years of service as Assistant Pastor at Trinity.

Rev. Wayne Hoffman, formerly pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Springfield. Illinois, served as Vacancy Pastor from May 1 to July 28, 2013.

The Reverend Martin Kaufmann of Houston, TX, accepted the divine call from Trinity in May of 2013 to serve as our pastor and he was installed on July 28, 2013.

Trinity Congregation has pledged its faithfulness to the Triune God and His Word as revealed in the Bible and that Word alone is the source and norm of Christian faith and life. May that God continue to bless Trinity Congregation and enable the members of this congregation to be a blessing to others. The Gospel of God's grace, love, and forgiveness in Jesus Christ as it comes to people through Word and Sacrament is what has blessed the members of Trinity, and it is also what will continue to bless us in the years ahead.

November, 2013

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