Trinity Lutheran Congregation began as a Sunday School on November 2, 1952, at 9:30 am in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church at Freeland, Washington, under the direction of Pastor A.L.S. Mathre, from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church at Clinton, Washington. Pastor Mathre served both congregations.
Those present were Mrs. Donald Cameron, Mrs. Rodney Goldthorpe, Mrs. Ed Johnson, Mrs. Harry Josephson, and Mrs. Ingvald Vik, and 21 children. After the first Sunday it was decided to have Sunday School for 45 minutes and worship service for 45 minutes — meetings to last from 9:00 am to 10:30 am.
The first Sunday School teachers were: Mary Lou Lenzie, preschool and 1st grade; Mrs. Donald Cameron, 2nd and 3rd grades; Mrs. Ingvald Vik, 4th and 5th grades; and Mr. C.T. Peterson, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Pastor Mathre served as Sunday School Superintendent. We rented the Seventh-Day Adventist Church for $5.00 per month furnishing our own wood. Mr. Donald Cameron supplied the first load of wood, which lasted all winter. Later the rent was increased to $2.00 for each meeting.
The community response was good, and the work continued regularly, growing steadily. In the fall of 1953, a large adult class was started, and on November 1, 1953, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized with 37 charter members.
- Mr. & Mrs. Ingvald (Arlene) Vik
- Mr. & Mrs. Donald (Bonnie) Cameron and children, Donna, Betty, Donald and Bonita
- Mr. & Mrs. C.T. (Alice) Peterson and children, Sharon, Sandra and Susan
- Mr. & Mrs. Russell (Irene) Wachob
- Mr. & Mrs. Angelo (Dorothy) Lenzie and children, Mary Lou and Karen
- Mr. H.N. Thompson
- Mrs. Paul Raden
- Mr. & Mrs. Harry (Nora) Josephson and children, Norman, Noreen, Dale, Roxanne, & Joan
- Mrs. Emily (Millie) Lehman
- Mrs. Betty Lehman and children, Joseph and James
- Mr. William Johnson
- Mrs. Eda Olson
- Mr. & Mrs. Fred Grimm
- Miss Linnea Westin
Dr. H.L. Foss, president of the District, officiated at the organization. The first officers were: President, C. T. Peterson; Secretary, Irene Wachob; Treasurer, Arlene Vik; Deacons, Angelo Lenzie, Ingvald Vik, Sylvia Grimm; Trustees, Harry Josephson, Russell Wachob, Mrs. Betty Lehman; Synodical Chairman, Donald Cameron; Auditor, Dorothy Lenzie.
The need for a building was pressing and every effort was put forth to obtain a site. In the winter of 1954, Mr. Austin Marshall donated the present site, with the clause that the property was to be used for church purposes only. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on February 28, 1954.
Contributions from people in the community and elsewhere in the form of money, materials, and labor were received, which made it possible to start the work of building the church in the spring of 1955. Although not finished, the congregation began using the building in the spring of 1956. The church bell was donated by Mr. Russell Fournier who obtained it from the Mutiny Bay School as it was dismantled.
On February 19, 1954, Trinity Lutheran Ladies Guild was organized at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ingvald (Arlene) Vik. There were 23 ladies present. The aim of this group was to raise money to help the church and many suppers, bake sales and bazaars were held. During the years the Guild has given $13,277 to the church for special projects and current expenses. The first officers were: President, Mrs. Eda Olson, Vice President, Nora Josephson, Secretary, Nell Petersen, and Treasurer, Carrier Spencer.
On May 25, 1958, the church building was dedicated with Dr. H.L. Foss officiating. Pastors Floyd Larsen, A.L.S. Mathre, A.K. Vinje, L.J. Floren, and Arne Aakre assisting.
In 1960, when the three Lutheran Synods in America merged to form the American Lutheran Church, we dropped the “Evangelical” from our name and became Trinity Lutheran Church, a member of the American Lutheran Church.
Many projects and improvements were made to the building in the first twenty-five years. The first important one was when the well was finished and water piped into the building in January 1958. The purchase of our Conn Electric Organ in May 1960, costing $1,400, was another event. Also our gas furnace heating system installed in May 1963, took the place of the old oil stove. In February 1968, something had to be done to protect the front door from the weather, so the new door and entrance porch was built. In July 1971, the bell tower was added. In January 1976, the congregation voted to buy 18 upholstered pews from Bethany Home at a cost of $3,044.
On May 7th, 1968, the congregation voted to purchase five acres on Bush Point Road for $10,000. We were really stepping out in faith as we had but $500 in the Building and Property Fund. However, the Ladies Guild donated $1,000 to the fund starting us on our way, and a few members loaned us the balance so that we could pay cash for the property.
On November 18, 1969, the congregation adopted the constitutional change enabling us to go to a council form of government for the church. The council would consist of 12 members meeting monthly with a congregational meeting held annually in January. The church year was to go from January to January instead of November to November.
From 1952, when Trinity was organized, until 1977, five pastors served both St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Clinton and Trinity in Freeland:
- Rev. A.L.S. Mathre 1952-1955
- Rev. Floyd Larsen 1956-1958
- Rev. Richard Knutzen 1959-1962
- Rev. Kenneth Olson 1962-1972
- Rev. Wayne Bohling 1972-1977
On Dec. 19, 1976, Trinity Lutheran Church voted to separate from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and to call a full-time pastor of our own. On Sept. 18, 1977, Pastor William Beck (below) was installed as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church.
The path has been dark and stormy at times, but we give thanks and praise for the Lord God Almighty’s watchful care and guidance over us.
In His Service, Arlene Vik and Nora Josephson (Arlene Vik and Nora Josephson prepared the preceding history of Trinity for the 25th Anniversary Celebration held in 1978.)
The following recollections by Gloria Koll will bring us from the late 1970’s up until 1998.
Think back to 1977. For the people of Trinity, it was a year of change. A tiny baby, Alyssa, was welcomed into the Graham family. Pat Stelling and her sons Bryan and Craig, lost their home to fire. After serving Trinity faithfully from 1972, Pastor Wayne and Carol Bohling moved to Aberdeen, on the Washington coast where Wayne was pastor in the Seamen’s Center and Carol taught music. Trinity Lutheran Church called a young man just completing seminary to serve as pastor. Bill and Mary Ann Beck arrived in August of 1977 to be part of the congregation for eleven years.
There were soon changes under the leadership of pastor, council, and the nationwide Lutheran Church. Rather than waiting until after the Rite of Confirmation, young people could now receive Holy Communion after some instruction about the meaning of communion. The Red Book was out! We sang from a new green hymn book, the Lutheran Book of Worship, or the LBW. We sang with a new organist, a U of W graduate, piano teacher, and accomplished accompanist, Margaret Spradlin. Some folks formed an “In Betweeners” group for those stuck between youth and retirement.
Some things stayed the same. “Snowbirds” went south every winter, and came back to us each spring. We gathered food each year at Thanksgiving for the hungry. Volunteers played with children in the nursery on Sunday, and typed the bulletin during the week. Carol Dyer headed up the Passover Supper team. Pastor and a few members gathered once a month for services at Island Care Center in Freeland. Jan and Don Allen worked on the church grounds.
One tradition of those days was the monthly potluck, a happy, friendly social event. In the late 1970’s, we decided to hold the potlucks at Bayview Social Services Center, because we lacked a social hall, and the new green pews were too heavy to push aside. Entertainment for the evening might be the Five Friends singing group, Vern Olsen with his accordion, or an edifying film.
Perhaps among our most meaningful and loving endeavors involved families fleeing from the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Together with the Methodist, Catholic and Episcopal churches of South Whidbey, Trinity folks sponsored a Vietnamese refugee family, Sai and To Hoa Nguyen and their children. The Nguyen family now live in their own home in Lynnwood.
Later Trinity brought Boundo and Chanthay Vannaxay and their children to Whidbey Island. This young family had escaped on foot from Laos to Thailand before arriving here. A remarkable woman, Margaret Anderson, headed Trinity’s active refugee committee of drivers, tutors, health advocates, and just plain friends, who helped this family grow, against all odds, into a self-sufficient unit.
To build or not to build — ’twas ever the question! After deciding not to build at the Bush Point site, Trinity asked Dick Johnson to head up an effort to build a social hall next to the existing church. In February of 1981, the building was dedicated. It was later named Grigware Hall in memory of Phyllis Grigware, whose generous bequest made possible many improvements to the church.
Trinity continued to reach out in love: Lutheran World Relief, Wheatridge, Luther Child Center, Josephine Sunset Home, Camp Lutherwood, Helping Hand. The women’s group, known as ALCW, adopted the motto, “If life hands you scraps, make quilts!” They made quilts, layettes, and educational kits to send around the world. The Christmas Bazaar and Activity Day raised money, most of it for benevolences.
We reached out to other churches, and they to us. Joint potlucks, and services were held with St. Augustine’s and St. Peter’s. Bible School was often a joint effort of the three churches, and many of our youth activities were planned with these and other churches.
In 1986 — more building. We literally “raised the roof.” A gabled roof, covered walkway, and landscaping improved both function and attractiveness of our church. At the same time, an additional acre of land was donated to the church by Matt Nichols; and in 1988 that land was dedicated to the memory of long-time member Howard Egerton. Meanwhile, Trinity was determined to balance building with benevolence, and several thousand extra benevolence dollars were raised to help a member with medical expenses.
Trinity moved with Pastor Bill and Mary Ann through some times of sickness and difficulty and of sadness in losing friends who died or moved away. But we also had times of celebration, especially the joy of seeing first Sara, then Paul, and later Elizabeth, become part of the Beck family.
Late in the ‘80’s we felt a great loss in the death of Bishop Cliff Lunde, who personally guided Trinity in times of need. On the national level, several Lutheran church bodies merged into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, (ELCA). American Lutheran Church Women, (ALCW), became Women of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, (WELCA). It was all pretty confusing, but exciting too. Trinity did a pastoral and congregational study which resulted in an important mission statement for our church. In the fall of 1988, Pastor Beck was called to Brush Prairie where he moved with Mary Ann, Sara, Paul, and brand-new Elizabeth.
Pastor Claire Grube, who served us as interim pastor, brought special gifts of listening, caring, and healing to Trinity. While the call committee worked diligently, Pastor Grube led Sunday services, taught confirmation classes, and visited the sick. On Sundays, Marilyn Grube joined us in congregational worship.
On Sunday, October 22, 1989, Pastor Jim Lindus was installed as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. With him were his wife Felicia, and daughters Jenna and Kelsie, later to be joined by Emily. Pastor Jim had previously served as associate pastor on Bainbridge Island.
With Pastor Jim’s energetic leadership, Trinity renewed its outreach to the community by preaching, teaching, and loving people into our Christian family. In Sunday School, Bible School and Youth Groups, we continued to teach our children and young people and we made all events “kid-friendly.”
The “Worship in the Park” service reached many who might have felt uncomfortable coming through a church door for their first worship experience. By 1992, two services on Sunday, at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. as well as a new, informal 5 p.m. Saturday service made worship available for our 410 members, plus friends and visitors, each weekend. The sounds of Trinity’s 20-voice choir, soloists and recently donated baby grand piano filled these services with music. Trinity workers lent a hand through Smoother Movers, wood cutting crews, Connections mothers’ group, Sunday School heifer project, and advocacy letter writing.
In 1992 a major building project, headed by Kim Ford, and carried out by a host of professional builders and volunteers, resulted in an enlarged and remodeled sanctuary, new Sunday School classrooms, a new kitchen, and a renovated social hall. The surfaced parking lot was built in cooperation with the state to be used weekdays as a park and ride lot. As our numbers increased, we began planning to buy additional land for building classroom, meeting, and worship space. Thank God for such wonderful problems!
The early 1990’s found Trinity blessed with more paid staff. In addition to Pastor Jim and our organist Margaret Spradlin, we added the position of church secretary, first held by Brenda Ferries, and then Robin Edgeman. Karl Olsen became our minister of music, directing the adult choir, and providing other music for our worship services. Kathleen Stanley was our youth director, working with Craig and Kathryn Stelling, volunteer leaders. Finally, our janitorial staff, which changed through those years, but was usually a high school congregational member, kept our church sparkling clean week after week.
During these middle years of Trinity’s life, pastors, church leaders, staff, and congregational members worked, laughed, and cried together to bring us to a joyful place. Though we marveled at the growth and energy of the early 1990s at Trinity, Pastor Jim assured us that the best was yet to come.
Trinity Church: 1993 – 1998
Some minds can best wrap themselves around facts and figures; here are some remarkable items about Trinity during the years 1993 – 1998:
- Trinity has given $200,000 to local, national, and international benevolences.
- Membership has grown from 410 to 720.
- 22 new members joined in October 1998 on Reformation Sunday.
- Trinity’s choir has grown from 20 to 37 members.
Numbers like these point to the fun and excitement we’ve had during these five years. The numbers also tell why one of our biggest projects during this period was building a new sanctuary and social hall. Built through generous giving, internal loans, and much volunteer labor, our beautiful sanctuary was dedicated at a worship service on October 20, 1996.
Architect and Trinity member Bob Theriault designed our building, working with committees representing the many needs of the church family. As we look around our worship space, we see the work of designers, planners, artists, and builders. A serene memorial pool and attractive landscaping enhanced the church entrance and grounds. The church library found a convenient place in the social hall, and a variety of books, placed on the new shelves and oak table, began to circulate among our people. In shaping our new building, loving work of clergy and laity, professionals and volunteers, created a space for grace in Trinity life.
The Spirit moved among us to answer our needs. In 1995, as church growth and added pastoral duties filled Pastor Jim Lindus’ days to overflowing, Pastor Dan Erlander came to us from his previous parish at Pacific Lutheran University. Through his gifts of teaching, preaching, writing, and personal conversation, all done with love and humor, Pastor Dan enriched our congregation. His focus on “manna and mercy” taught us that all is grace, that we are part of God’s loving vision, and that our needs are entwined with those of our neighbors and of all creation.
Pastor Jim continued to lead us in ways of hospitality, welcoming all to the table of Jesus Christ. Preaching the good news of Christ’s love with creative sermons and drama, Pastor Jim challenged us to search out our deepest prejudices, grudges, and other crusty obstructions to freely loving our families, our neighbors, and our God. Following his example, Trinity folks extended a welcoming hand or hug to those who worship with us. We continued the conversation over coffee and cookies and we carried the sense of service and community into the rest of the week.
Enthusiastic and able Youth Directors led gatherings and activities: Kathy Stanley, Kevin Bushnell, and Carolyn Stelling in turn worked together with parents and youth to provide fun and inspiration. Youth groups met locally and at major events such as Youth Quake and Holden Village gatherings. The Sunday School teachers brought love and God’s story to the girls and boys of Trinity congregation each week at Sunday School and at Bible School in the summer. Pastor Jim, Kim Ford, Mark Schultz, and Susan Knickerbocker taught, mentored, and energized Confirmation Classes. For these dedicated leaders in the education and nurturing of our children, we are most grateful!
The Adult Education Committee brought heart and mind stimulating programs to us on Sunday mornings and at other special events. Pastor Dan led studies on the Bible and other topics important to our faith at Adult Forum on Sundays and at Wednesday morning Bible study. Other speakers challenged us to act out our faith as they spoke to us on such topics as breaking down racial barriers, preventing spousal abuse, and understanding other faith communities.
In the church office, Robin Edgeman’s job description expanded to include administrative duties, and as Parish Administrator she performs with efficiency and endless warmth and good humor. We added the much needed and appreciated Sexton, Steve Schrecengost, to the church staff, as well as a new, energetic Volunteer Coordinator, Carol Gannaway.
“Lutherans serve!” says one of our members, loudly and firmly. Trinity’s loving endeavors have included the Christmas wreath project to support Habitat for Humanity, Readiness to Learn, and youth activities. For four years in a row, about twenty Trinity workers of all ages have traveled to the Yakima Valley to lift, shovel, pound, and paint on Habitat for Humanity houses. Workers now build Habitat houses right here on Whidbey. Others from Trinity worked on the community-sponsored Hearts and Hammers project. With encouragement from a small, dedicated group within Trinity, we became intentional about raising thousands of dollars and bringing tons of food for Lutheran World Relief and the hungry in our own community.
Wood haulers and splitters piled big stacks of firewood under the shelter built by Paolo Mauro as an Eagle Scout project. Often gathered after monthly Men’s Breakfasts, this wood is used by those in need during the cold winter. Youth and adults traveled to Seattle to the Lutheran Compass center to serve meals and visit with the clients who are rebuilding their lives. Several Trinity members joined the board of Lutherwood, adding our active participation to this excellent youth camp near Bellingham.
WELCA (Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church) provided for friendship, study, and service. Monthly meetings included Bible study, discussions, projects, and getting to know each other better during refreshments. The hands of WELCA members seemed always at work. Some were busy in Altar Guild, preparing for worship services. Others created quilts for Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Compass Center, and for those in need on Whidbey Island. Many served at coffee hours and after memorial services, and provided meals for those in the church who were sick or in a time of need. The annual WELCA Holiday Bazaar raised about $3,000 each year for church and other charitable projects.
Music filled our worship at Trinity during these years. Minister of Music, Karl Olsen, directed our growing choir in music from majestic Bach chorales to hand-clapping spirituals. Linda Spencer and Jean Cook led our Youth Choir, developing the young singers’ musical abilities and their joyful love of God. Vocal soloists and small singing ensembles assisted in worship Sunday mornings, and at our Saturday evening service. Stretching our worship experience, Trinity congregation has learned to sing and pray with equal devotion using our green Lutheran Book of Worship, the white Marty Haugen Now the Feast booklet, or the new blue With One Voice hymnal.
Music from our new church organ, played with power and beauty first by Ann Rafferty, and later by Win Ewing, resonated from rooftop to floor in our new sanctuary. Our new bell choir, directed by Linda Nevermann, called us to worship. Brass instruments, rhythm instruments, stringed instruments, and wind instruments all joined in God’s praise through these years.
Rather than separating our church into two very different services, one contemporary, and one traditional, we decided to blend music and worship styles at both of our Sunday morning services. Worshippers never know what to expect — except that each Trinity service will be filled with love, energy and praise of God. Boys, girls, women and men, representing all age groups and with many gifts, volunteered as readers, worship leaders, acolytes and assisted worship in other ways.
Special services marked our church calendar, especially during the seasons of Advent and Lent. Services of healing, prayer and our regular Saturday evening worship offered a quiet worship setting. Each Year Worship in the Park served the wider Whidbey community, and the St. Francis Day Blessing of the Animals drew numerous multi-footed friends to our grounds.
TLC 1998-2003 Written by Pastor Jim Lindus, excerpted (Current up to 2003)
In the past five years Trinity has experienced tremendous change as we have positioned ourselves to do dynamic ministry for decades to come. It has been a time of growth and investment. There have been seasons of great joy and seasons of great sorrow.
Our campus expanded in every way possible over the past five years. Consider this:
- We purchased a house and ten acres of property. Our campus now consists of 24.5 acres.
- In 2000 – 2001 we more than doubled our facility space. Adding a full court gymnasium, Sunday School wing, commercial kitchen, Adult Education space, offices, a garage and more parking.
- In 2001 we added a beautiful memorial courtyard which includes memorial and living engraved tiles and a series of Columbariums.
Life is never boring!
- We added a third Sunday morning Worship Service in September 1999. The Worship schedule is a busy one: Saturday evening at 5 p.m. and Sunday morning at 8, 9:30, and 11 a.m.
- Our Bell Choirs expanded under the direction of Linda Nevermann.
- A children’s Choir, SPLASH! was started.
- Mission Trips to Mexico happen every June.
- Trinity now has a Worship Band, BREADED FISH.
- The Schrecengost Mission Endowment Fund was started.
- Over $400,000 was given away to Benevolence.
We experienced the great joy of birth, baptisms, and the welcoming of new members: 330 New Members and 68 Baptisms!
We experienced the sorrow of September 11, 2001. We experienced the loss of dear loved ones and friends. More than sixty of our members have died in the past five years. They are better off we know, and yet we go on in the grief of our loss.
In the past five years we have lived, served, worshipped, been born, and died together. We have been blessed with a wonderful family, a wonderful spirit, the gifts of God’s people generously shared.
We have faced it all joyfully, and with the eyes of faith. We are thankful for the past fifty years and we believe that… THE BEST IS YET TO COME!