Elgin's Holy Trinity Lutheran Church celebrates 120 years with special service
On Saturday, Sept. 23, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin celebrated its 120th anniversary. Just think, we've been strong enough to last all those 120 years! Current and former members and their guests filled the sanctuary. The interim pastor is the Rev. Dave Daubert.
Vicar Andrea Delaney led the anniversary service, with music by Director of Music Matt Wahl, Hannah Kolakowski on Fanfare Trumpet and a choir of singers from Holy Trinity and Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. View the service on the church's YouTube channel.
The anniversary celebration featured dinner and dancing. Multiple selections were available in the catered menu, which was served by members of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church members in Elgin.
New stained glass displays were constructed for the celebration in Lind Hall.
Lively music came from The New Odyssey Guy, a 17-piece one man band with Gary Todd.
The piano was covered with complete historical photos and documents since 1905 prepared by archivist Mary Homeier Cook.
Here are some fun facts about the church's past 120 years:
• Nearly 121 years ago, a new group of Lutherans gathered to worship in English.
• Ada Beck came to Elgin as a young woman to work in the Elgin Watch Factory. Discovering there was no Lutheran church offering worship in English, she wrote to her pastor in Goshen, Indiana, to come to Elgin and start a new church in English.
• In October of 1902, a group began to meet in Unity Hall, which still stands at 55 Villa St.
• By early 1903, they were officially a congregation of 41 people with Vicar Paul Roth, then a student at the Chicago Seminary, to lead them. They continued to meet at Unity Hall while they added members and saved money to buy the land at 357 Division St., where they built the sanctuary for $25,000.
• In January 1907, by God's grace, they dedicated the sanctuary to the worship of the triune God. Almost immediately after completion they ran out of room, so the congregation decided to dig a basement underneath the superstructure. Men donned overalls and armed themselves with picks and shovels and went to work digging. The men worked until their hands were blistered and backs were lame. They worked three nights a week. St. Jacob's Oil and mustard plasters were in heavy demand. The men described the digging as "oodles of fun."
• In 1908, the start time of our church services was changed to match the streetcar schedule. That way people could be on time.
• By 1909, Andrew Carnegie, America's richest man, donated a fine organ. We understand that was the last ever church organ he donated. The next year we purchased a parsonage for Rev. Hoefer for $5,000. The parsonage was wired for electricity in 1923.
• The church escaped damage from the terrible Palm Sunday Tornado of 1920. That tornado struck First Congregational, another downtown Elgin church, killing three.
• During the Depression years, in 1929, the church enjoyed an increase in membership.
• In 1940, the church was able to move ahead from the shared two-party telephone line. (Now the church has internet!)
• Membership in church and Sunday school led to the addition of an education wing at a cost of $150,000. The cornerstone was laid in 1951 and Sunday school wing added in 1952.
• In 1997, the church merged with Lutheran Church of Our Savior, and they brought in its pastor, Mark Lund. Pastor Olin Sletto next served from 2002 to 2015.
• Currently, the interim pastor is the Rev. Dave Daubert and Vicar Andrea Delaney is studying for the ministry.
For information, visit holytrinityelgin.com.
The church at 357 Division St. offers worship at 5 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Sunday church is broadcast on WRMN 1410 AM and livestreamed at YouTube channel, holytrinityelgin.
All are welcome. Learn more about the livestreamed services at holytrinityelgin.com/livestream.