Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Findlay, Ohio
On November 9, 1890, fifty‒six people gathered in an upstairs room in the Chicago Block Building located at the former site of Washington Elementary School on North Main Street; Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was established and began worship on that date. As a fund raiser for the first building of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ash Avenue, Findlay, Ohio, blocks of fabric were purchased by Trinity members from a quilt (slumber robe) made by women of the church. This quilt was at one time displayed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C.
The first pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church was the Rev. H. C. Stukenberg; he led the parish for three years. It was during his tenure that the building of a church on Ash Avenue began: land was purchased for $600; the building, dedicated on November 9, 1892, was constructed for $4,000. That building was later purchased by the First Assembly of God.
During Rev. Stuckenberg’s pastorate, Bethel Lutheran Church, located about five miles east of Findlay on US 224, just to the north of Shady Grove, was organized; Pastor Stuckenberg served Bethel as well as Trinity. Succeeding Trinity pastors also served the Bethel congregation until it was disbanded in 1919 when many of the Bethel members became members of Trinity.
The second pastor to serve was Rev. F. E. Leamer from 1893‒1901. Rev. David R. Huber served from 1901‒1903, and Rev. O. C. Kramer of First Lutheran Church, Lima, Ohio, accepted the call as pastor from 1904‒1908. Then Rev. Dr. Daniel E. Rupley served between 1908‒1910.
Rev. Dr. A. A. Hundley served Trinity from 1912-1926 and was the first pastor to serve three congregations (Trinity, Bethel, and Bluffton English). Bluffton English Lutheran Church had been added to the Trinity parish at the request of the synod.
During the pastorate of Rev. W. F. Schake, from 1927‒1933, Trinity purchased and moved, on June 23, 1929, to the former Second Presbyterian Church, located one block from the Ash Avenue building at the corner of East Pine Avenue and Clinton Street.
Rev. W. L. Harmony served from 1933‒1947; during that time the debt of the congregation was cleared and a mortgage burning service was held. A two‒manual pipe organ was purchased from St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Lima, Ohio, and a baptismal font was presented by the Sunday school honoring those of the congregational family who had served in the armed forces during World War II.
Dr. John Hummon was an interim pastor until Rev. V. J. Monk was installed in 1947. Under his leadership, the congregation made great strides: repairs were made to the church and parsonage, and a new parish building was added south of the existing building. This new building was dedicated in October 1956.
Rev. James L. Barkenquast was the next pastor from 1957‒1959. From 1960‒1964, the church was under the leadership of Rev. Thomas Wolford and modernization of the facilities continued. With the illness of Pastor Wolford, retired Chaplain L. H. Wyandt served one of several stints as vice-pastor.
During the tenure of Rev. O. S. Goerner, plans were completed to rebuild Trinity on the Pine Avenue/Clinton Street site. With rebuilding in mind, land had been purchased adjoining the church properties. However, those plans changed, and it was decided to go north into what was at the time an undeveloped area. For $45,500, 4.5 acres of land was purchased at the site of the present facility on the corner of West Bigelow and North Ridge Road. This original building at 935 West Bigelow was 8,400 sq. ft. Three church‒owned properties on East Pine Avenue were also part of that transaction.
A farewell service was held at the Pine Avenue location on Palm Sunday, March 28, 1971. The congregation then proceeded to the new building on Bigelow Avenue, with church council members carrying the altar furnishings to the new “home.” Pastor Goerner, who had planned the service, never delivered a sermon in the new building. On that Palm Sunday, he was in Blanchard Valley Hospital and later died at the Cleveland Clinic. The mortgage on the new building on West Bigelow Avenue was ?
Chaplain Wyandt again came to the congregation’s service until November 1971, when Rev. John Hayner was installed. During Pastor Hayner’s tenure, the church and the neighborhood grew; the original building was soon too small for the needs of the congregation; in 1980, the 5,220 sq. ft. education wing was added at a cost of $215,953. The Trinity Lutheran Church (TLC) Preschool and Childcare currently uses that facility Monday–Friday.
Rev. Wesley Runk of Lima served as interim pastor when Pastor Hayner resigned in 1982. The fall of 1983 saw the arrival of Rev. Dana Bjorlin, from Minnesota. Although he was only at Trinity for two years, membership continued to grow. Until 1987, various supply pastors served and Rev. David Bliss from Trinity Lutheran, Arcadia, Ohio, served as vice‒pastor.
In August 1987, Rev. John Dyer arrived in Findlay to begin his service to the congregation until August 1994. During Pastor Dyer’s tenure, Trinity added a Saturday worship service. Rev. Ken Pollitz served Trinity part-time from1991‒1992; during that time, he also became the first pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church, a mission congregation in Ottawa, Ohio.
Rev. Melanie Haack served as Associate Pastor from 1992‒1995, while Pastor Dyer was Senior Pastor. During her final year at Trinity, she was joined by Rev. Robert Gibson, who served as a part‒time interim pastor.
Rev. Thomas Schutt became the next pastor of Trinity September 1995. He moved his family to the Findlay area and led the congregation for the next 12 years. In 1997, the sanctuary was enlarged to accommodate the growing congregation; 966 sq. ft. with the annex was added at a cost of $414,236. Dan Keck was hired as the Family Life Coordinator in 1999, serving until 2003 when he was ordained. For seven years, beginning in 2003, Rev. Linda Rahe became Trinity’s Associate Pastor. The ground breaking for the 12,000 sq. ft. Community Life Center addition occurred on the final Sunday of Pastor Schutt’s tenure in July 2007; the cost of the facility was $1,856,900. With this addition, the facility now occupies 22,433 sq. ft. In 2007, Rev. Robert Gibson again became Interim Senior Pastor serving with Pastor Rahe. The dedication of the Community Life Center was held in August 2008. Rev. Dr. Dennis Maurer, from the Bishop’s Staff of the Northwestern Ohio Synod, officiated.
In September 2008, Rev. Thomas Lyberg was called to Trinity, and he served until November 1, 2015.
In 1996 our current organ was donated to Trinity by the Ted Groman family.
Katlin Croft, from Wisconsin, served as Family Life and Youth Coordinator from 2012–2013.
The Community Life Center is currently being used for various ministries such as the TLC Preschool and Childcare and various community activities including Silver Sneakers, Open Gym for Little Ones, a walking track for members and non-members, basketball and volleyball teams, funeral dinners, receptions, etc.
Rev. Dennis Maurer began his interim ministry in November 2015; a search for a new pastor began in the spring of 2016. A memorial bench, as part of the continuing 125th Anniversary events, was dedicated on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Rev. Dennis Maurer currently serves as Trinity’s visitation pastor.
In 2018, Rev. William Stenke was called to Trinity, and he is currently serving as Senior Pastor.