Trinity Lutheran Church
In the beginning, Trinity Lutheran Church was an immigrant church. The Rev. David Earhart, the grandfather of aviator Amelia Earhart, tended the small flock before it had a permanent shepherd. The founders first met around a table in the kitchen of John G. and Martha Schmucker, whose stone house was on Rhode Island Street. Next they met at Miller’s Hall on Massachusetts Street. To build a house of worship of their own, many early members gave sacrificially.
St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1867, is the day the English Lutheran Church was organized by a missionary who had returned from Africa, the Rev. Morris Officer. More than likely, the founders included the word “English” in the name of their church to distinguish themselves from another local church where German was used. In the early 1900s, they changed the name to First Evangelical Lutheran Church, but in 1910 they settled on Trinity Lutheran Church.
Resourceful, they engaged the services of John G. Haskell, an architect now known for his work on the state capitol in Topeka, for the stone church on New Hampshire Street close to the intersection with 11th Street. Stone was quarried from the grounds of the University of Kansas. One account suggests that Dr. [Levi] Sternberg gave the dedicatory sermon in 1870.
After World War I, the first edifice did not have enough room, especially for the Sunday School, and a larger church was built in 1928 at 1245 New Hampshire St. The congregation made the cherished walk from the stone church to the brick church on Sept. 16, 1928. The Rev. Charles A. Puls was pastor, and Trinity was known as “the churchly church.” By 1930, WREN carried the services over the air; in 2005, KLWN broadcasts the services. By the end of World War II, the congregation, characterized by faith and service, had grown to more than a thousand. The first ordinand from Trinity was the Rev. Dr. Lloyd Eldon Sheneman (1953), and the second was the Rev. Richard I. Preis.
The church has a number of carvings from Oberammergau, Germany. Carvings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are above the original altar. Other carvings include the “Flight Into Egypt,” two depictions of the Lord’s Supper and a Nativity scene. Five windows were made by the Von Gerichten art glass firm, once based in Ohio. These windows include the Good Shepherd, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The organ is a Reuter. New Hampshire Street was closed between 12th and 13th streets in order to allow for an addition completed in 1992. In the main church, the communion rail was altered in 2003-2004. “Past, Present, and Future at Trinity,” a video history of the church from 1867-2003, is available through the church office.
Funding of the 1867 footstone: the children of the Sunday School, a Schaake-Vogel-Heck memorial, the Clifton C. James memorial, with the major gift from the Stan W. Harris family in memory of Shirley Harris. History provided by the Historical Committee.
Step Sponsored By: Trinity Lutheran Church