Our History

Trinity has a rich histroy stretching back over 118 years. Below is a brief summary of our story. Click here to read “Our First 100 Years”, from our 1991 centennial celebration. 

July 29, 1891: A group of 22 Norwegians and Danes came together to start Trinity Norwegian-Danish Lutheran Church. Rev. Johan Nathan Kildahl conducted four services per month in Norwegian at Mr. and Mrs. Carl Magnusson’s home on Sherman Ave. and was paid $2 per service. Pastor Kildahl later went on to become President of St. Olaf College and serve as Professor of Theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN.

1892: Pastor Torleif Aarestad. That winter the congregation started holding services at Union Hall on Davis St.

1894 – 1900: Rev. John Hetland. During this time the congregation grew to 48 members and in October 1889 it purchased the Swedish Immanuel Lutheran Church on Lake St. for $400. Trinity remained there until it moved to it’s present home on Golf Rd. in 1951.

1901: Rev. Ditman Larsen.

1902 – 1906: Rev. T.S. Kolste.

1906 – 1910: Pastor J.A. Westberg. During the early years Trinity’s membership was made up of very few families; the members were mostly working girls and housemaids that worked for Evanston’s wealthy families. Pastor Westberg’s wife organized a group of these hardworking women called The Gleaners in 1909 that worked tirelessly for the church until 1938.

1910 – 1916: Pastor J.H. Meyer. Membership grew to over 100. The Gleaners presented a new pipe organ to the congregation at a cost of $850 plus a donation from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation.

1916 – 1919: Pastor H.O. Bach. Trinity celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 29-30, 1916. The anniversary booklet was printed nearly entirely in Norwegian.

1919 – 1921: Pastor J.H. Meyer returned to Trinity.

1921 – 1938: Pastor Alfred Forness. Luther League was formed in 1921 for the church youth and the first English choir was started. In 1922 Pastor Forness preached 50 sermons in English and 48 in Norwegian. Membership at Trinity dropped during the Great Depression from 118 in 1929 to just 55 in 1933.

1938 – 1952: Rev. L.O. Anderson. Following the depression Trinity grew again and by the time it celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1941 membership had reached 298. The Norwegian designation was dropped (Danish had been dropped earlier) and the official name became Trinity Lutheran Church. In 1951, the congregation purchased the Curtin-Siefert mansion on Golf Rd., which served as the sanctuary, parish house, and parsonage until the current sanctuary was built and dedicated on October 19, 1952.

1952 – 1963: Pastor David M. Boxrud. Over the next 10 years Trinity’s membership almost tripled and the Sunday School grew to 359 students and 51 teachers in 1959. Trinity’s concern for social problems in the world led the congregation to bring 250 refugees from Hungary and other Balkan countries to Evanston where Trinity and the First Presbyterian Church provided housing, employment, and courses in English.

1963 – 1975: Pastor Karl H. Brevik. Trinity continued to grow and hired its first full-time assistant pastor. Trinity members supported many outreach efforts including tutoring at Holy Family Church in Chicago, working at bazaars for Lutheran Welfare Services of Illinois, and providing Red Cross bags for Vietnam. Trinity’s Roderer pipe organ was installed in 1971 to much acclaim.

1976 – 1979: Pastor John Mittermaier.

1979 – 1986: Pastor Waldo S. Johnson. Trinity focused its energy on reaching the unchurched in the area and re-establishing a focus on adult education. In 1981 Trinity began sharing its facilities with the Evanston Korean Congregation. The church was expanded and with the addition of an elevator, made more accessible to those with physical challenges. 1983 saw the first congregational retreat – a tradition that continues today.

1987 – 1995: Pastor Paul H. Christenson. Trinity increased its involvement in ecumenical affairs within the community and liturgical arts. In 1988 Trinity became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) through the merger of three formerly separate synods. Trinity and four other area churches began their annual participation in The Ulster Project in 1990 to bring Protestant and Catholic youth together from war-ravaged Northern Ireland.

1997 – 2000: Pastor Judith Mattison. The congregation reaffirmed its commitment to ministry by adopting a new mission statement, creating a long range plan, and raising its visibility within the surrounding community.

2001 – 2009: Pastor Joel Benbow. Trinity modernized its facilities by replacing the aging Curtin-Siefert mansion with a new, fully accessible addition housing a gathering space, chapel, church offices, nursery, library, and classrooms.