A History of Trinity Lutheran Chuch in El Paso, IL
In the year 1946 several Lutheran Families in El Paso became interested in forming a Lutheran congregation. These families were members of Lutheran congregations in surrounding communities. Seven young men from Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Springfield conducted a house-to-house church affiliation survey in El Paso to determine whether there were enough prospective members to warrant establishment of a Missouri Synod Lutheran Congregation. The outcome of the survey was favorable.
Organizing this congregation was no easy feat. Many hours and hundreds of miles were spent making sure that the proper steps were followed. On December 3, 1946 a meeting was held at City Hall between a Circuit Visitor, District Officials, and those interested in establishing a congregation. After much discussion it was clear that there was a need for a Lutheran congregation in El Paso and the officials gave their consent to proceed.
St. Andrew’s Episcopalian Church in El Paso had set vacant for over seven years. Therefore, this was a likely building to start holding Lutheran services. Opening services were held July 6, 1947, with one hundred and ten people attending. At this same time the Episcopalians also began to revive their mission, which meant that from time to time schedules had to be rearranged for services. Both congregations were responsible for upkeep at the church property. The Lutherans purchased a large velvet curtain which was hung in front of the Episcopalian alter before services. Members of the Lutheran church made an altar, which at the close of the services was moved into the vestry. At the time of official organization in December 1947, the congregation numbered 42 communicant members and 65 souls.
On March 11, 1948 the congregation held a special meeting and extended a call to Pastor Carl W. Brueggemann, of Gresham, Nebraska. After due consideration Pastor Brueggemann accepted the call and plans were made for the Installation Services. The congregation also needed to find a place for the Pastor and his family to live. Mr. Henry Wessel, a member of the Lutheran congregation, purchased a home at 154 N. Sycamore, which would become the parsonage. The congregation spent many hours preparing the home for the Pastor. The congregation agreed to pay rent of $40 per month.
Pastor Carl W. Brueggemann of Gresham, Nebraska, was installed on Trinity Sunday, May 23, 1948, as the first Pastor of Trinity Lutheran, El Paso, Il. The service and reception were held in the High school auditorium with nearly 400 people in attendance. Pastor Brueggeman’s inaugural sermon was delivered Sunday, May 30th, at 10:30 am in the Episcopal church building.
As the congregation grew many organizations were formed including a Lutheran Laymen’s League, Ladies Aid Society, a Church Choir, and a Walther league. Meetings were held in the Pastors home or the West Side Park. It became necessary for the congregation to rent a building to be used as a Parish Hall. The Hall above the Woodford County Bank was rented and people of Trinity gave freely of their time for cleaning and repairs. Soon the Sunday school classes were also moved to this facility. By 1950, the congregation numbered 107 communicant members and 148 souls.
At a quarterly meeting in April 1950 the voters discussed the plans of acquiring their own church property. A building committee was elected and soon after the congregation purchased the south half block on which the church parish hall now stands. After this purchase the building fund only had a few hundred dollars left. With much determined effort, fervent prayers, and generous contributions the Parish Hall was begun. A bond issue of $30,000 was floated to continue the work on the Parish Hall and Church building. All bonds were in $50.00 denominations and were issued for ten years with interest at 3.5% payable annually. Plans called for a church building 32×80 and a parish hall 45×72. The parish hall was to be constructed first with the sanctuary then joining it to form the letter “L”.
Ground breaking ceremonies were held in November 1950. The ceremony was held at 3:00 p.m. at the corner of East Third and North Michigan Streets. The Parish Hall was completed for use by September 1951. One carpenter was hired part-time while all other construction work, except for the wiring masonry and heat installation, were donated. Work continued until the church and a forty foot tower were completed. On July 6, 1952 the Cornerstone for the new church building was put into place, just five years after the first church service was held.
Five dedication services were held marking the completion of Trinity Lutheran Church and Parish Hall. Two services were held on Dec. 7th, and one each on Dec. 9th, 11th, and 14th. In just five short years after organization, Trinity was able to dedicate the beautiful facilities which it still used today for its worship and fellowship. This building stands, dedicated to the Glory of God, as a living tribute of the faith, loyalty and love of a humble group of Christians.
On January 19, 1954, fire was discovered in the Parish Hall about 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. A short circuit in the refrigerator caused the damage which was mostly smoke to walls, furniture and curtains in the Parish Hall.
A new parsonage was started in May 1955 and was dedicated June 10, 1956.
On January 15, 1960 a fire was discovered about 9:30 a.m. causing several thousands of dollars of damage. It was thought that the fire had smoldered several hours before it was noticed. El Paso and Secor fire departments fought the fire for more than two hours. The paneled ceiling, insulation, and rafters were either burned or badly damaged by smoke and water. Moments after the fire was declared “extinguished,” scores of church members both men and women were salvaging what they could. Words were inadequate to express the gratitude and appreciation to all the neighbors and community groups that stood by Trinity in facing the inconveniences of a churchless congregation and the task of rebuilding the facilities over many months. The Rededication of Trinity Lutheran was conducted April 24, 1960. “All things work out for good to them that love the Lord”.
In 1977, a new Sunday school addition was added to the North side of the Parish Hall. The addition consisted of six Sunday school rooms, a pastor’s office, two restrooms, and a “mini kitchen”.
The Lord continues to bless Trinity Lutheran Church, now over 60 years in existence and numbering over 300 souls.
“Remember always, the Church is people, His people, the Body of Christ. It is what happens to people, in peoples hearts, that is of great importance. Faith and love of our Lord Jesus is in itself invisible. But the “fruits of faith and love,” can be seen, recorded, pictured and described.” (Taken from a “Pastors Message” written by Pastor Marvin L. Matzke)
Pastors who served Trinity Lutheran:
Rev. Carl W. Brueggeman 1948-1953
Rev. Edward W. Schade 1953-1954
Rev. L. M. Hieber 1955-1958
Rev. Harry Fricke 1958-1961
Rev. William H. Lubkeman 1961-1969
Rev. Darrel Hoerle 1970-1973
Rev. Marvin L. Matzke 1973-1989
Rev. Bruce A. Lakamp 1990-2000
Rev. Bobby G. Niemtschk 2002-2009
Rev. Jonathan P. Boehne 2010-Present