Dear friends in Christ,
Trinity has entered her 150th year of ministry here in Fergus Falls. The congregation was founded on August 10, 1873. Throughout the next year we will be marking this anniversary, leading toward our chief celebration, scheduled for next summer on August 13, 2023. Through this anniversary year, I will tell a few stories of the congregation’s history, as I discover them.
You may have noticed in the narthex that recently we hung a congregational photo from 1948. This photo was taken in conjunction with the congregation’s 75th anniversary. I’d encourage you to go take a look at it. There are a few things that struck me about it – the young people sitting in the front of the crowd. Many of the ladies wearing fancy hats. Some of the elder members of the church who likely had, to that point, been part of the majority of the church’s history. There were no surviving founding members of the congregation by 1948, but I imagine there were some in the number gathered that day who had been around for many years. Some of them may be your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or other family members. Some of them may even be you (Don Fick and Gary Froehlich are seated in the front row)!
This was a group that had persevered through the years following the 1919 tornado. This was a group that had lasted through two world wars. This was a group that survived health scares, droughts, the Great Depression, and much more. This is a group that had carried on after the death of Pastor Friedrich, who had died the year before after serving 31 years at Trinity.
When I viewed the picture, I had two thoughts. My first thought was, “where are these people in the picture?” While I was not here when Trinity worshipped in the old sanctuary, I drive past it every day. I’ve seen pictures of the old west side of the building. I couldn’t figure out where they found this flat ground around the church to take this picture. There was no exterior part of the building that I could figure looked like the building that the group was gathered in front of. This mystery was solved for me by Donna Schoening, who mentioned in conversation one day that there was formerly a school across the street from the old church, and that it was outside of this school that the group gathered.
My second thought was – we need to do this! We need to do this again to mark our 150th congregational anniversary. We are planning to do so this month. September 18. We put into motion plans to make that our 150th Anniversary Celebration Kickoff, as well as a congregational mission festival. The day also is our Rally Day for Sunday School. There will be all sorts of festivities – special mission speakers (Delano and Linda Meyer), a bounce house for the kids, a potluck meal (Global Outreach Board is supplying the meats, bring your favorite side or dessert to share). In the midst of it all, we’ll gather around God’s Word and Sacrament as we have for 149+ years, and then following the service, we will assemble the congregation’s members in the front of the church to take our own congregational photo. And, Lord willing, in 75 more years, the people of Trinity in 2098 can look at it and wonder about the lives we’ve lived, but also, they can marvel and rejoice at their own place in a long line of God’s people, “Built on the Rock” and gathered around Jesus here in Fergus Falls.
When we put into place our plans to take this photo on the day of our Mission festival, I did not know one last fact about the 1948 photo: they too had taken it on Mission Sunday! For them that was June 27, 1948. But it is another neat way that we are linked, God’s people receiving His gifts and sharing life together, “Built on the Rock” and gathered around Jesus.
So please, do everything in your power to be present with us on September 18. Join us for the divine service. Be present in the photo. Bring your kids to Sunday School. Hear our mission speakers tell us about their agricultural work in Africa. Join us for the meal. And rejoice that God has made you part of this people, gathered together here in Fergus Falls for the last 150 years.
Peace in Christ,