To The
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN

Within the little church building that stands at the corner of High and Prairie Streets in Lanark has been written one hundred years of history. No one will ever know of all the love, labor, and devotion that were given for the growth and even the continuance of this little church. For no records could be kept to tell us of those faithful few who labored with such faith and sacrifice to keep the church going and growing. One hundred years were completed on December 30, 1974.

The Lutheran Church of Lanark was the outgrowth of the church at Maple Grove four miles east of Lanark. This little congregation of eight was organized March 16, 1873 and held their church services in the Maple Grove school house. Reverend J. W. Henderson was the minister at Maple Grove, and it was he who first saw the need for a sister congregation in Lanark and so commenced preaching here. On December 30, 1874, he, with the aid of Reverned P. G. Bell of Polo, organized the Lutheran Church in Lanark. They met in the Congregational Church, the site now occupied by the First Brethren. Twenty persons subscribed their names to the Articles of the Constitution. These charter members were David and Susan Lower, Jeremiah Slick, Philip and William Schadt, Sarah Flaut, Mrs. Hailer, Mary Rosenstinger, Anna Speicher, Samuel and Mrs. Hassinger, Conrad and Sabina Diehl, Carl and Christina Schoen, George P. and Margaretta Dorr, Sophia Willis, Jane L. Henderson, and Catherine Lower McCoy. The church was to be known as Evangelical Lutheran Church. After the adoption of the constitution the following were elected to fill the offices of elder, deacon, and trustee: Carl Schoen, elder; Jeremiah Slick and Samuel Hassinger, deacons; Conrad Diehl and William Schadt, trustees. (From the original records)

In the fall of 1876, during Reverend Henderson's pastorate, a new church building was erected. The new church was dedicated January 28, 1877. According to an old Gazette of that week-quote, "We find the day of the dedication the weather was clear and beautiful, most people attending in sleighs. Three hundred persons crowded the church to listen to sermons by Reverend L. L. Lipe, president of Northwest Synod, and Reverend Flickinger of Mount Carroll, along with Reverend Henderson. The former preached an eloquent sermon reviewing the hardships experienced in keeping the band together since its inception. The church and two lots cost about $2,000. Of the above amount David Lowman contributed the first $1,000. and it is needless to say that this amount was quickly raised by the large crowd present. The ceiling was blue, the walls pink, while the woodwork was of black oak and maple. Overhead were two handsome chandeliers containing four burners each giving the Lutherans a very beautiful temple in which to worship." (End quote) The first persons baptized in this church were George H. Weed and John Slick on February 4, 1877. On this day they took their church vows. One of the early marriages recorded December 12, 1878 was that of Mr. George Peters and Miss Mary Deibler. Mrs. Mary Peters, one of Lanark's centenarians, lived to be one hundred-two.

A parsonage was built just south of the church in 1878, during the term of Rev. D.H. Shultz, at a cost of about $1,000. Rev. Shuitz felt the need for preparatory services for communion. These were held on the preceding Friday or Saturday afternoon. Through the efforts of Rev. Shultz the Maple Grove and Lanark congregations were consolidated and Maple Grove members were received April 13, 1879. Those staunch early settlers were: David J. and Sarah Lowman, Scott D. and Lizzie Nichol Lowman, Miss Mary (Molly) Lowman, John V. and Rosalie Cotta, and Jacob Grossman. Jacob Grossman served faithfully as Sunday School superintendent for more than twenty years. Mrs. Shultz, the minister's wife, organized the first woman's aid society called the Mite Society, which later was known as the Ladies Guild. The Ladies Guild remained active until 1957.

Ministers who served the church during its first twenty-five years were: J.W. Henderson, D.H. Shultz, W.T. Bachtell, J.A. Beidler, J.K. Reed, Josiah Kuhn, and J.W. Thomas. Pastors Bachtell and Beidler were paid $360 and $400 respectively, per annum, payable quarterly. The church sexton received $17 per annum for his work. J.K. Reed, a theological student who spent part of the summer of 1890 in Lanark, together with Miss Estella White organized the Young Peoples' Society of Christian Endeavor. During the years that followed there were young peoples' organizations including The Light Brigade and the Luther League. Rev. Josiah Kuhn's wife organized a Missionary Society that prospered for many years.

From 1899 to May 1924 ministers called to serve were: M. Colver, George Bollinger, E. F. Ott, Max Herring, J. F. Sponseller, C. W. Wachter, H. C. Summers, and H. C. Haithcox.

As early as 1898 women served on the church council. Mrs.John H. Lafferty was the first deaconess. The names of Mrs. Anna Sprecher Weed, Mrs. Mary Lowman Courts, and Mrs. Nettie L. Sipe appear on 1900's. Not until 1951 were women again elected to serve on the church council. On April 12, 1903 five young people were confirmed - Minnie Schultz, Ina Schultz, Fannie Muffle Miller, Irma Albertine Lambert, and Pearl Zullinger. This is believed to be the first class of confirmans.

It was during the ministry of Reverend Ott in April 1905, that the work of enlarging the church was begun. This involved digging a basement, turning the church, and adding the belfry, vestibule, and Sunday School room. The dedication for the new auditions was held September 25, 1905 at the start of Reverend Max Herring's ministry. A pulpit, handmade by Reverend Ott and Mr. Scott D. Lowman, is still used in the children's Sunday School service. The hope of having a church bell was not realized until 1921, when the children of Conrad and Sabina Diehi gave the bell in memory of their parents.

The Reverend H. C. Haithcox, D. D. served as supply minister for several months during 1914 and then became our regular pastor November 1, 1915. When his eyesight failed him in 1916 at the age of seventy-three, it was through the untiring efforts and devotion of Mrs. Haithcox and his daughter that this saintly man was able to continue his work so long and so well. Church membership had increased which called for another face lifting of the building. The work began in 1916 when twelve feet were added to the south end of the structure. Pastor Haithcox instructed the secretary of the council to find out why the name "English Lutheran Church" appears in the stained glass window over the entrance. No record could be found. One possible explanation might be that the window was the gift of another church at the time the building was turned in 1905. It was on June 16, 1922 that the congregation honored Pastor Haithcox on the 50th anniversary of his ordination. Following his retirement November 1, 1923, they again honored him by making him Pastor Emeritus. Doctor Haithcox continued to supply until May 25, 1924.

The next twenty-five years (1924-1949) we were served by the Reverends Paul A. J. Buelow, Maurice E. Lesher, W. E. Kaitschuk, Luther C. Mueller, Walter E. Koepf, T. B. Hersch, William West, and David H. Melbye.

In December 1924 the church observed its golden anniversary. Mrs. George H. Weed, who had been a member for forty-eight years, wrote the church history. Hannah Leah Weed was the daughter of David and Susan Lower. The first Daily Vacation Bible School to be organized was in 1925 under the direction of Mrs. Agnes Peebles. On January 10, 1929 a new constitution was adopted and the church incorporated under the name "Trinity Evangelical

From Trinity has come one minister and one missionary's wife. The influence of Reverend Koepf and some Sunday School teachers was a deciding factor when Robert Crofton chose to enter the ministry. He was ordained in 1953. Another member of the Crofton family, Marion Crofton Rasmussen and her husband, Reverend Peter Rasmussen, began their work as missionaries in Japan in 1954. They live in Kyoto.

On April 30, 1947, a Hammond Electric Organ was bought and dedicated to the memory of sixteen of our church members. Trinity celebrated its 75th anniversary on November 27, 1949. It was Reverend David H. Melbye who was instrumental in organizing the Altar Guild in 1951, composed of six members whose duties are to care for flowers and candles, paraments, and sacraments. Reverend Melbye remained here until November 2, 1952.

For almost another year we were without a regular pastor, but we carried on the Lord's work with the help of Maywood Seminary students until Reverend Milton Engelhardt arrived November 1, 1953. Reverend Engelhardt ministered to us for eight years. He was followed by Pastor Dick Hanson, Reverend John C. Heidbreder, Reverend Paul W. Anhalt, and Pastor Paul R. Buettner. The addition of a new church office in 1964 was greatly appreciated. A basic change in the congregation took place in October 1968. After a three months trial period of sharing Pastor Paul Anhalt of Faith Lutheran, Forreston, the congregations were realigned into a two church parish. Since January 14, 1973, Pastor Paul R. Buettner has served Faith Lutheran and Trinity. The year 1974 brought about another change when it was voted and approved to allow baptized members age ten or 5th grade to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion with the consent and cooperation of their parents and following a brief period of instruction. Regular confirmation classes will be continued.

Above all 1974 was the year Trinity observed its 100th birthday. The celebration began April 28 with an old fashioned hymn-sing and refreshments served by kerosene lamp light. May featured a Mother-Daughter banquet and a Centennial style show, and the narration of Trinity's history. Guest Pastors' Day was held on July 21 with a happy reunion with the following former ministers in attendance: Reverends Mueller, West, Hanson, Anhalt, Dr. K. E. Irwin, Rasmussen, and Mr. Gary Swenson. Unable to be present were Reverends Lesher, Melbye, Engelhardt, and Heidbreder. A Centennial Tea was held August 8, honoring Peter and Marion Rasmussen who with their family were home on leave from their mission field in Japan.

Sunday Decmeber 15, 1974 concluded the 100th ---- President of the Illinois Synod was guest speaker at the morning worship service.

There have been many dedicated Sunday School teachers, superintendents, choir directors, organists, and others lay people, both young and old, who have contributed greatly to the work of our church. Without these faithful wrokers thorughout these one hundred years, it is doubtful that the church could hve survived. But the past is gone and can't be recalled, the future is before us, the present only ours. Let us strive to make the future a glorious chapter for future generations.

home