Our Church History
Although Trinity's membership today is composed of people of many nationalities, the earliest roots of the congregation lie among the people of the Norwegian immigration to America. That they were of immigrant stock is evident in the early minutes, all in the Norwegian language, and by the names of the congregations, first registered in Norwegian.
Today's reader will wonder why pioneers of the same background and faith formed three churches in a small community in the northern woods of Minnesota. The answer is that they were an outgrowth of three different emphases coming out of Norway and carried to America by the immigrants.
Our current church organization was a result of a union in 1890 of three other Norwegian Lutheran bodies which had sprung up on American soil. Its purpose was the union of all church bodies of Norwegian Lutheran background, which was accomplished in 1917. Our Trinity Lutheran Church, formed in 1919.
The First Church
Formation of the "Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Thief River Falls, Polk County, Minnesota" took place on February 27, 1893. At a meeting in 1895 a decision was made to build a parsonage if finances permitted. This parsonage was located south of the church and still stands in its original location at 214 Horace Avenue North.
The Second Church
The second of the three congregations was formed on December 28, 1902 and officially called the "United Lutheran Congregation of Thief River Falls." In 1908 a meeting was held to formally organize the congregation as "Our Saviour's Congregation." In 1909 it was decided to confer with a contractor named Nelson to plan for a church with seating capacity of 300-400 to be built in the shape of a cross according to a Lutheran plan. The basement of this church was used for many years as a place of worship. Located at Fourth Street and Horace Avenue, it later became the foundation and basement of our present Trinity Church building. Benches placed on the dirt floor were used as seating.
The Third Church
Little information is available on the third congregation involved in the formation of Trinity Lutheran Church. The records available seem to indicate the congregation was organized in the year 1906. It was known as Trinity Lutheran Church. The church was located on the southeast corner of First Street and LaBree Avenue.
The Merger Completed - Trinity Organized
In 1919, the three congregations completed the merger process. The organizational meeting was held October 2 with completion of the consolidation taking place October 21, 1919. The name "Trinity Lutheran Church" was adopted as the name of the merged congregation.
The Church Moves Ahead
With the merge complete, Trinity congregation moved forward at an accelerated pace. Services were equally divided between English and Norwegian. At the annual meeting in 1925, the congregation voted to build a new church on the old Our Saviour's Lutheran Church basement at an approximate cost of $30,000. The church was dedicated November 28, 1926, completed at a final cost of about $35,000. In 1945 the congregation voted in favor of a three-year campaign to raise funds for the construction of a parish education building and for a new pipe organ. The new pipe organ was dedicated in 1947; the parish education building was completed in 1952.
On February 2, 1947, broadcasting of the morning church service began over radio station KTRF and has continued regularly. The first televised church service at Trinity was broadcast on February 11, 1970.
Two sessions of Sunday school were begun in 1960, furnishing opportunity for families to worship together and answer the continuing space problem for Sunday school that included between 550 and 600 pupils.
In 1968 Trinity celebrated its 75th anniversary. The new narthex was dedicated. The previous year noted the completion of the new entrance.
In 1992 the congregation voted to install a stained glass centennial window in the narthex and to place stained glass inserts in the seven nave windows. The new windows coordinate with the Good Friday theme of the stained glass window above the alter, which was installed in 1952. The centennial window contains the centennial logo, the rock and the cross, and the present church. The seven nave windows, depict scenes from the life of Christ: birth, temple scene at age 12; baptism; sermon on the mount; good shepherd; the Lord's Supper; and an Easter scene in the large window in the nave. Two smaller windows bordering the Centennial Window depict the Ascension of Jesus and the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian Church.