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Trinity's History

Our History: Welcome

We are a congregation who after 150 years, celebrates and lives for the Lord. We enjoy sharing our history!

Trinity is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2021. The congregation was first organized on November 6, 1871. It was called the "German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Akron - Town of Newstead." Pastor Ernest Heydler was called to serve as the first pastor. He served from 1872-73. Worship services were held every two weeks, with about 44 communing members. The Reverend Robert W. Kelley became Trinity's first full time pastor in 1960.

Our first building was completed in 1876. Prior to this, the members met in various locations. The horse and buggy sheds were added in 1885, and a church tower was added in 1931. In 1949, due to the need for more room - especially Sunday school rooms - the church was remodeled. Before this, the students actually met in the furnace room around a card table. The current church was build and dedicated in 1969. But, and expansion took place in 1989, adding a new entrance and elevator, making the church handicap accessible. New classrooms, a prayer room and a historical room were also added. The copper dome from the old church was reconditioned and raised onto the entrance of Trinity's tower.

In 1986, Trinity celebrated its 115th anniversary with a dinner dance at the Newstead Fire Hall. 300 members and friends attended. Sharon Schmidt presented three sketches of the buildings of Trinity at each different stage. Trinity also held its first Vigil of Pentecost, a time of individuals coming to pray and reflect on God's blessings to them. Trinity held it's first Talent Auction, which was a fun time for people to offer their services and handcrafted items up for bidding.

The first Jaunt For Josh was held in 1990. Named in honor of member Joshua Schmidt who battled Duchene Muscular Dystrophy, it benefited the Muscular Dystrophy Association and raised thousands of dollars. Members and friends biked, jogged and walked for donations from the community.

In 1991, a daycare named Kids of the Kingdom opened at Trinity, offering the community a place of learning for their preschoolers. With the celebration of 120 years, Trinity dedicated its prayer room. The backdrop in it came from the old church, reconstructed and given in honor of Herman Hartwig.

Trinity began a Wednesday evening worship service in 1994, which was a contemporary service of music, prayer and scripture. The Decon program began with Ken Mekeel and Flo Goeseke taking instructions as preaching deacons. Helen Smith was a visitation deacon and Doug Mekeel a liturgical deacon.

Celebration of the 125th Anniversary in 1996 included the dedication of the stained glass window, given in honor of all the pastors that had served Trinity. There were visits from former pastors Robert Kelley, Calvin Sigmon, Wayne Sipe, Bishop Lee Miller, and assistant to the bishop, Marie Jerge. This was also a very difficult time for Trinity, as we mourned the loss of our beloved pastor Richard Schlewitt. He was the longest serving full-time pastor.

The reverend Lauretta Dietrich was called by Trinity in 1997. A heritage celebration was held to share stories and remembrances over lunch. This was a coming together for all those who were long time members and those "new kids" to get to know one another better. It helped those still feeling the loss of Reverend Schlewitt to share their feelings.

The kitchen was remodeled in 1998, giving those who work in the kitchen a beautiful mobile island to help facilitate serving and preparing food.

September 1999 had Trinity welcoming a new pastor, reverend Ruth Hetland, to lead us in worship and ministry. She came to us from Minnesota and felt right at home in this small rural community.

It was decided in 2002 to offer individuals a time to visit with one another, and the Hospitality Room was created. This is a dream come true for the Evangelism Committee! Many conversations have been held over a cup of coffee and a snack following Sunday school or Sunday service. Due to the difficulty of some with kneeling at the altar, kneeling cushions were purchased in 2001. These were a memorial gift by Mel Knerr in living memory of his wife, Betty.

In July 2001, Trinity was invited to share in a special time - the marriage of Pastor Hetland to Chad Peterson.

A service of remembrance was held in Russell Park with prayers, special music and speakers paying tribute to the victims and their families after the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Another room was dedicated in 2005, Trinity's library. It offers books for all readers, including fiction and non-fiction, Bible helps, inspirational and devotional reading, videos, and more. Pastor Ruth Snyder was installed as Interim Pastor for two years, following the acceptance of a pastoral call in Colorado by reverend Hetland.

A 2 day praying and visioning session was introduced at Trinity. This was a time of bible study, small group sharing and individual reflection. Creative ideas were discussed like "What do you believe God is calling us as a church of the ELCA to become?" Trinity also adopted a new mission statement: "Be a beacon, seeking and reflecting the light of the Lord."

135 years after the start of our church, we finally got an email address!

Then in 2004, a music festival was organized. Members were invited to share their musical talents. Special recognition was given to Nancy Bruning, a devoted organist and Trinity for over 20 years and loved by everyone. The same year, a reception was held in June to honor pastor Snyder on receiving her Doctor of Ministry degree.

In 2005, Rev. Dr. Snyder completed her 2 year term an Intentional Interim Pastor and Trinity. Before she left, she led and evening of spiritual journeying, at which time we walked a labyrinth, then proceeded to other rooms in silence for prayer in art, music and scripture.

On June 11, 2005, pastor Terry White was introduced. He was installed as pastor on September 18, 2005. He was pastor at Trinity until February of 2012, when he resigned his call.

In March of 2012, Dr. Rev. John Scarafia was placed by the bishop as a Transitional Pastor. Pastor Scarafia worked with Trinity to conduct a ministry site profile and to call the next pastor for our congregation.

In June of 2013, Pastor Jamie Retallack and his family met our family at Trinity. He was accepted as our new pastor. Pastor Scarafia was honored at a dinner and Pastor Jamie took over shortly afterward.

On April 7th, 2019, pastor Jamie resigned as pastor of Trinity to accept a call at a different church. Pastor Adam Miller-Stubbendick took over as interim pastor to help us through the transition. On July 12, 2020, Trinity met and accepted our new pastor, Rick Mollenkopf-Grill.

Our history is still being written! Come join us, and add to what was, is and will be!

Our History: About

Pastors of Trinity

2020-present - Rick Mollenkopf-Grill
2019-2020 - Adam Miller-Stubbendick (Transitional pastor)
2013-2019 - Jamie Retallack
2012-2013 - Dr. John Scarafia (Transitional Pastor)
2005-2012 - Terry L. White
2002-2005 - Dr. Ruth Snyder (Intentional Intern)
1999-2002 - Ruth Hetland
1996-1998 - Lauretta Dietrich
1981-1996 - Richard H. Schlewitt
1972-1981 - G. Wayne Sipe
1967-1972 - Calvin Sigmon
1960-1967 - Robert W. Kelly
1952-1959 - John J. Richardson
1941-1951 - Robert W. Winters
1924-1941 - Louis E. Heuer
1919-1924 - John H. Stender
1908-1918 - J. H. Bartell
1897-1908 - H. R. Grabau
1894 -1897 - Paul B. Becker
1892-1894 - Theodore Bauck
1889-1892 - L. Breau
1885-1889 - E. Reissig
1873-1885 - Daniel Stahlschmidt
1871-1873 - Ernest Heydler

Our History: Image
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