COLUMN: Trinity Lutheran Church: Celebrating 150 Years | Local News


Birthdays are fun to celebrate. However, they mean more than just partying.

These anniversaries are an opportunity to reflect on what has been done and what remains to be done. It is a chance to “show yourself” to others and invite them to celebrate with those who have birthdays.

In the Valley of the Holy Cross there are many organizations and businesses – not to mention families celebrating birthdays and in 2021 the Trinity Lutheran Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Trinity was organized on July 18, 1871, chaired by Rev. PA Cederstam, of Center City. The formal meeting took place the next day, and at that meeting the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church – Trinity Lutheran – was formed and a committee formed to build a church.

The committee purchased the old German Catholic building on Third Street in Stillwater and an addition was built in 1879. By 1881 the membership had grown to 228, and the congregation decided to purchase two lots on North Third Street. for $ 2,500. In 1883, the church building was constructed with Andrew Allanson as a contractor.

After Reverend Cederstam, Reverend Jonas Ausland served the congregation from 1872 to 1877; then Reverend AF Tornell from 1877 to 1887. Other pastors who would serve the congregation over the years included Reverend Philip Thelander, Reverend CE Benson for forty years, Reverend Norman Wold, Pastor Dan Johns and Reverend Betsy Dolmar .

In 1924 the church was renovated with a new addition built to the west to contain the sacristy, organ and choir room. A new pipe organ was also purchased for the church.

By 1933, the membership had grown to 964. In 1948, the congregation purchased land on Fourth Street for a parking lot.

In 1953, the educational building was completed.

The growing church needed to expand. The idea of ​​buying land on Route 36 to give the church enough space to expand was dropped and designs were made to change their current structure, i.e. to the same location near the center of the community.

Pastor Dan Johns wanted to expand the church with the growing community. Forward-thinking members of the congregation provided a long-term plan for land acquisition and construction of buildings, as well as plans for larger staff and community ministry.

The cost of this “forward thinking” was going to be around $ 3 million and give them a new 800-seat sanctuary. The congregation was also linked to its historical past and the “Heritage Chapel” was created from the old shrine. On October 3, 1982, the groundbreaking for the construction project took place and on May 1, 1983, the last worship took place in the old shrine.

About ten years after Pastor Johns took over the reins of the church, the “big dreams” of the congregation were enshrined with the first worship service held at the new shrine on March 25, 1984.

The congregation continued to grow. By the time the Church celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1996, there were 5,300 baptized members, making Trinity Lutheran the 12th largest Lutheran church in the United States. At the time, the church had an annual budget of $ 1.2 million, 80 paid staff, and was completing a $ 700,000 renovation.

That same year, as the congregation celebrated its 125th birthday, at Christmas they served over 1,000 pounds of lutefisk and over 55,000 Swedish meatballs!

Today, Trinity Lutheran Church is still where it was in the 1880s – at the heart of the community. Pastor Chris Bellefeuille and Pastor Peter Weston Miller lead the congregation in their 150th anniversary.

Trinity believes that “all people were created in the image of God and therefore have precious stories and value.” The congregation strives to accomplish its mission through programs and other clubs and committees across the church, including Sunday services at the old road from the theater across the river to Houlton, Wisconsin.

Brent Peterson is the executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.


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