I was only 13 when my family became members of Trinity in 1966. While some might be impressed by my 49 years of membership, it is shorter than that of several current members of our congregation, and represents only a small piece in the 150 year history of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Trinity has gone through several evolutions during its 150 history. Founded as a small neighborhood church by local German immigrants in 1865, it grew into a thriving congregation in the 1940’s and 50’s with a local membership. In the 60’s and 70’s the church’s membership changed as many members moved out of New Haven to the local suburbs. In the 70’s and 80’s Trinity’s membership waned as many members and their families moved further away from New Haven and transferred their membership to local “neighborhood” churches. Recently the membership at Trinity has stabilized and is composed of a mixture of urban (New Haven) dwellers and sub-urban members like myself.
Trinity has always had a strong sense of mission. From its founding up through the 1950’s the mission was almost exclusively an inward looking mission focusing its energies and resources on programs to benefit the members. In the late 50’s the mission began looking outward through an evangelical outreach program called “Fishermen” which made home visits to visiting parishioners. In the 1960’s Rev. Frederick Auman who served Trinity from 1968-74 was a driving force in the initial formation of Hospice and the Downtown Cooperative Ministry. Trinity also hosted monthly “Downtowner’s Luncheons”, which attracted local businessmen (sorry – but in the 60’s it was businessmen) for what we would today call a “Lunch & Learn” program.
Today, nearly all of Trinity’s mission is outward looking. Trinity is beginning its 13th year as the host for “Agape Homeless Ministry” and serves as the meeting place for multiple Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotic Anonymous and other self-help groups. Trinity has served as a classroom for ACES – Educational Center for the Arts, and the Yale School of Music. Trinity has also served as a performance location for several local music groups including the New Haven Chorale and the Yale Baroque Opera Project. We have also served as a host location for the Connecticut District of the National Council Auditions Program, sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera.
Going forward Trinity faces challenges that are not uncommon in most urban churches.
It is a struggle for most “downtown” churches to maintain an active membership. Many parishioners find it much more convenient to worship at local churches closer to home. Downtown churches like Trinity, while working to retain suburban members, also need to provide a place of worship that welcomes our “neighbors” including students from local colleges who make Trinity their “home” congregation for their time in New Haven.
The other struggle for Trinity is money/finances. It is difficult for Trinity to keep the books balanced relying only on member contributions and we depend on endowment funds which were bequeathed to Trinity by generous members.
This year, 2015, will mark the 150th anniversary of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in New Haven. As we begin to celebrate our sesquicentennial we look forward to a continuation and, where possible, expansion of our mission to our local New Haven community.
Pastor, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Dallas, TX 2006-2010
Vicar, Calvary Lutheran Church, Fort Worth, TX 2004-2005
Lutheran Campus Ministry at Princeton University 2002-2004
Master of Sacred Theology, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 2004
Master of Divinity, Princeton Theological Seminary, 2003
Academic Residence, University of Chicago Divinity School, 2000-2001
Bachelor of Arts, Augsburg College, 2000
Subscribed Vows to the Societas Trinitatis Sanctae (STS), 2007
May Collects in Bread for the Day (Augsburg Fortress, 2010).
January Collects in Bread for the Day (Augsburg Fortress, 2009).
Ordinary for the Eucharist, Summer, Sundays and Seasons (Augsburg Fortress, 2009).
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