In 1892, Lutherans from Dreispitz, Russia looked to emigrate to begin a new life in the United States. Eight members of the Mennonite Valley Church of Mountain Lake offered to pay the way for 8 of these young Lutherans to come to the States in return for a year's labor. The labors of those 8 enabled an additional 30 family members and friends to make the journey to Mountain Lake in 1893.
Upon their arrival in Mountain Lake, Word and Sacrament ministry in the Lutheran faith was desired. Rev. H. Nausz of the Lutheran church in Kimball Township (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) was sought out and served these new immigrants as their pastor until 1898. It was at this time a civil issue arose that divided the church members. A missionary of the Joint Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Ohio and other States offered to bring peace to the division with the condition that they support him in establishing a church in Moutnain Lake with the Ohio Synod, and Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (Ohio Synod) was formed.
The other group of Lutherans did not agree and therefore organized St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in a small community east of Mountain Lake known as Dreispitz. Although St. John's affiliated themselves with the LCMS they were not an official member, for the St. John's congregation continued to have ties to the Wisconsin Synod as they worked with a pastor from St. James, MN. In 1900 the St. John's congregation built a church and shared a pastor with a congregation from Butterfield, MN (Wisconsin Synod), but the congregation struggled through 1908.
The members of Trinity began construction of a church building on July 1, 1899 where the current sanctuary now stands. As construction continued, original members began to move out of state and financial problems grew and in 1908 Trinity Lutheran dissolved by the advice of the Ohio Synod. From this, the members of St. John's and Trinity began to work together and on February 2, 1908 voted to merge into one congregation and membership in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Although the vote took place in 1908, this was not realized until August 4, 1914 because St. John continued to function under sponsorship of the Wisconsin Synod until that date, and held dual parish status with the church in Butterfield until 1920.
On August 22, 1920 Trinity became a sole congregation. A parsonage was built in 1921 and in 1935 a vote was passed to add on to the church building. This vote eventually led to the bulding of the current church structure which began April 13, 1948. The old building was sold and moved off the foundation to across town where it still stands today as the First Presbyterian Chruch. The dedication of the current facility took place on April 30, 1950 and the building debt was paid off by May of 1957. An organ was dedicated on June 29, 1958, and in 1961 the congregation purchased the home across from the church to serve as a new parsonage. As the congregation continued to grow, construction of an education wing began in July 1972 and was dedicated on June 3, 1973, and in 1998 a new entry was added on to the sanctuary.
Christian education was important to our early church fathers, and the Sunday School began on August 4, 1912 and for some time a parish school was in operation in the St. John building. Vacation Bible School also began in the summer of 1962.
As the years passed, there were a great deal of firsts that happened for the members of Trinity. Trinity began a vicarage program in 1985. In 1989 the first computer was purchased for the office. Trinity began video tapping her worship services for broadcast on the local public access channel in 1997. As the vicarage program came to a close, a Director of Christian Education was hired in 1998. Outreach to Mountain Lake's Laotian community began in 1999, and in 2006 Trinity called an Associate Pastor to help meet the needs of the congregation.
Trinity's rich history has impacted the lives of so many people. From those early immigrants who desired to be fed by Word and Sacrament ministry as understood from the Scriptures and defined by the Lutheran Confessions, to our Laotian immigrant members, the Lord God has created a great faith within His people in Mountain Lake. As the years move forward, may our Lord continue to keep us steadfast in His Word. Amen.
If you would like to learn more of Trinity's history, please contact our church office for a copy of our booklet "A Heritage In Motion" which was put together for our centennial celebration in 2008.