Dear friends in Christ,
You are almost certainly familiar with the Fergus Falls Cyclone of 1919. An event like that leaves a long, lasting memory on a place, even after all those who were there are gone. On June 22, 1919, the cyclone struck Fergus Falls and killed 57 people, making it the second deadliest tornado in Minnesota history. The tornado destroyed large parts of Fergus Falls.
At the time, Trinity was located at the corner of Union and Cavour, where the congregation had built in 1902 after determining that the site of the “rooster church” was no longer suitable. After 17 years in the location, the disaster struck. One member of the congregation, Mr. Herman Stein, was killed. The church building and the parsonage were both destroyed as well.
What I find fascinating was how the people of Trinity responded. They could have seen this as a setback, a disappointment, a reason to throw in the towel. But instead, they responded. They bought and built. They purchased another parsonage, though it had been damaged in the cyclone (and presumably they repaired it!). They speedily set out to build a “new church.”
They started with the basement on the location of the destroyed facility. This was used for classrooms and meeting rooms during the week and for a house of worship on Sundays and festivals. In a time when the members must have been struggling financially on account of the cyclone, the debt incurred was speedily paid off by 1925, at which time the congregation moved forward with building atop the basement.
That building was dedicated in 1926. Many of you remember it fondly, perhaps remembering it as “the old church.” That church facility that the members of Trinity so dedicated themselves to erecting served the congregation for over 71 of her 150 years.
You likely already know much of this. But to my mind, the next little bit is the most interesting part. The cornerstone of the “old church” was laid on April 4, which in 1926 was Easter Sunday. What a great image it must have provided to the people of Trinity for the cornerstone to be laid that day. Just 7 years prior, they had experienced a day of darkness, destruction, and death. In the same way, Good Friday was a day of darkness, destruction, and death. But Christ is risen! God’s answer to darkness is light. His answer to destruction is to be built up. His answer to death is life! The building that they would erect upon that cornerstone would be a place where God’s answer was declared, where life and light would be proclaimed.
Life and light continue to be proclaimed at Trinity among us. The “old church” became the old church and the congregation moved down Cavour a way, but whether built on Union or over here near College Way, Trinity really is Built on the Rock, that is, built upon Christ. Christ is our cornerstone.
Next time you enter the church building, take a look in the corner of the entry way. There, encased in a wood frame, you will see the cornerstone Pastor Friedrich laid in 1926. May it be for you a reminder of the Gospel, a reminder that Christ comes to us here, a reminder that God always overcomes darkness with light and death with life, and a reminder there is nowhere better for us to be built than on the Rock.
This month we have the opportunity to give thanks in numerous ways, but one I will particularly commend to you is our Thanksgiving Eve worship service. It will be held November 23rd at 6 pm. What better way to prepare you for Thanksgiving Day than by giving thanks to the one who gives every good gift. The Lord be with you in the coming month.
Peace in Christ,