The Early Years
In 1865 Latrobe was in its second decade of existence, a small but thriving community of 800 people. The town had sprung up after 1847, when the Pennsylvania Railroad had announced its intention to extend the right-of-way into this section of the state. The junction of two county roads formed a crossroads around which the town grew.
What had been a narrow, dusty toll road became Ligonier Street, with the toll house at the present site of the Latrobe Bulletin building. A stream wound down what is now Walnut Street, with a bridge crossing it near the toll house. An equally narrow and dusty road followed the route that is now Lloyd Avenue and Main Street.
As the railroad grew and prospered, so also did the town. Car shops were established. A sawmill, flour mills and a distillery were opened. Farms in Derry and Unity Townships flourished. A one-room school was built, and several churches were holding services in their own buildings.
With the growth of the town came an increase in the number of Lutheran residents. In 1862 Michael Weis, Jacob Fahr and Frederick Keiser made an appeal to the Rev. G. W. Mechling, then pastor of the Ligonier parish, to organize and minister to the Lutheran Christians of Latrobe. After investigating the community as to the conditions and prospects, he agreed to undertake the work.
The first services were located at the comer of Spring and Alexandria Streets, using the Presbyterian Church building. Because of the large number of German immigrants, Pastor Mechling conducted the services in German and English on alternate Sundays.
A temporary organization was established in 1864, being made permanent in 1865, when a constitution was adopted. Mr. and Mrs. Michael Weis donated a lot on Weldon Street for the construction of a church, and early in 1865 a building committee was appointed with Michael Weis as chairman. Gifts were solicited, and the contract was given to D. D. Shirey for the construction of a plain brick building 35 by 50 feet in size.
At this time Pastor Mechling resigned to accept a call to St. Peter’s Church in Lancaster, Ohio. In the summer of 1865, The Rev. Daniel Worley became pastor of the Ligonier Parish, which included Latrobe, laying the cornerstone of the Trinity building on June 6, 186S. Because of the distances involved, Pr. Worley was unable to serve long at Trinity, so he resigned before the end of the summer.
At a congregational meeting on August 5, 1865, Trinity extended a call to the Rev. J. H. Smith. He accepted, becoming Trinity’s first full pastor. Construction of the new building progressed rapidly, dedicated January 1, 1886, the same day as Pr. Smith’s installation. Finally, this young congregation had fulfilled a dream–a beautiful new church and a full-time pastor! Two Bibles were presented to the church to be used at the services: a German Bible, presented by Mrs. Rose Weis, and an English Bible, presented by Mrs. Kate Bossart.
Pastor Smith served Trinity for the next nine years, conducting services every two weeks and presiding at communion twice a year. During his pastorate, the church grew gradually to a membership of 70. In 1873, he accepted a call to Wadsworth, Ohio.
After a period of several months, the Rev. A. D. Potts was called, beginning in March of 1875, but resigning on February 1, 1876, because of a serious illness. Along vacancy followed.
Finally, in March of 1877, the Rev. H. L. McMurray assumed the duties of the pastorate, remaining at Trinity for five years. During his ministry at Trinity, the membership nearly doubled. Pr. McMurray was remembered for his energy, serving parishes as well in Ligonier, Youngstown and New Derry, and for his devotion to his far-flung flock in spite of difficult transportation. When he resigned to accept a call to Lewisburg, Ohio, on April 1, 1882, there were 138 members on the church roll.
The Rev. J. L. Smith became pastor of the church on July 1, 1882, and served for nearly ten years. He continued bi-weekly services and semiannual communion, with catechetical instruction held every two years.
Finding the charter of the church defective, the church petitioned the court to establish a new one, properly establishing the title and rights of the congregation and setting forth its doctrinal position clearly. Also during Pr. Smith’s tenure, Trinity was received into the Pittsburgh Synod. Two additional lots were purchased on Weldon Street, intended as the site of a new church and parsonage, with the $2,500 for the lots provided by the Ladies Aid Society.
Pr. Smith conceived, planned and directed the Lutheran reunions at Idlewild Park, popular gatherings for hundreds of Lutherans from throughout Western Pennsylvania. Lutherans from all around Pittsburgh boarded the excursion trains to Idlewild each summer, with the largest reunion occurring when Pr. Smith secured Pennsylvania’s Governor Beaver to speak at the gathering.
At the close of Pr. Smith’s pastorate, Trinity and St. James, Youngstown, formed the parish, with Trinity boasting 224 members. Pr. Smith resigned on April 1, 1892, to serve Christ Church, East End, Pittsburgh. Trinity was no longer in its infancy, but was a vibrant, growing congregation, eager to carry on the work of God in this community.
On June 1, 1892, the Rev. 1. K. Wismer became pastor of the Latrobe and Youngstown churches. He tripled the number of services by holding them alternate Sunday mornings and every Sunday evening. The congregation grew so rapidly that a petition was sent to the synod to have Trinity made a separate parish.
The expanding congregation had long felt the need of a new church building, but a journal of Pr. Wismer’s indicates that there must have been some opposition. A judge’s counsel was sought, and permission was granted to proceed with the new building. Work began in 1897, with members donating their labor to excavate the cellar and to quarry stones for the foundation. Architects and builders were H. W. and Ludwig Baker.
The cornerstone was laid on August 1, 1897, and the new “twin tower” church was dedicated March 13, 1898. The Rev. Dr. Yount, president of the Pittsburgh Synod, preached the dedication sermon, and the Rev. Dr. Peschau delivered a sermon in German. Rev. McMurray made an appeal to the congregation, receiving subscription for the entire $12,000 cost of the building. Responding to a request from Pr. Wismer, Andrew Camegie donated the church’s pipe organ.
In the summer of 1899, a parsonage was built on the lot east of the new church at a cost of $3,000. The construction was made possible because of Pr. Wismer’s offer to pay the interest on the debt until it could be paid in full. This marked the last building project until 1926-27, when a garage was erected behind the parsonage at a cost of $1,171.
Trinity made great strides during Pr. Wismer’s time, becoming a separate parish in 1902. He resigned in 1906 to accept a call to St. Paul’s in Uniontown. His fourteen years at Trinity brought 381 new members into the parish.
Years of Growth
The Rev. Charles H. Hemsath began serving Trinity on January 1, 1907, continuing growth in membership and finances. The parsonage was papered, the church was frescoed and carpeted, and a piano was purchased for the Sunday School. In 1909, the Puerto Rico Mission Board extended a call for Pr. Hemsath to become its Financial Secretary, and he resigned from Trinity March 14, 1909. During his short pastorate, 106 new members were received.
On July 1, 1909, the Rev. L. J. Baker of Zelienople began his call of service to Trinity. During his first eight months here, he received 92 members. Pr. Baker initiated and edited a parish newspaper, the 20-page “Latrobe Lutheran”, distributed monthly to inform and unite the congregation.
The church continued to grow, until by 1915 it numbered 630 persons. With 30 members of Slavic origin, Pr. Baker arranged to have the Rev. H. Havel of Manor to preach in their language the fourth Sunday of each month.
By the time Trinity celebrated its golden anniversary in 1915, many improvements had been made to the church property. Heating systems were installed in both the church and parsonage, as were electric lights. Considerable painting and fresco work were done in the church building.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary, the need for increased facilities was felt, as Pr. Baker wrote, “The large and ever increasing membership and changed conditions make improvement imperative. The first need is a modem Sunday School room, and rooms adequate for the social life of the congregation.”
Members rose to the challenge, giving their money, their time and their ingenuity to meet the goal. Bake sales, bazaars, country stores, and chicken-and-noodle dinners resulted in a nest egg of $15,000 collected for the new parish building. In 1924, the congregation purchased the lot on which the Parish House stands at a cost of $5,357.
Pr. Baker also led Trinity in the growth of its spiritual life, and during his pastorate four young men made the decision to prepare for the church’s ministry: the Rev. Paul C. Weber, the Rev. E. K. Rogers, the Rev. Herbert N. Brant and the Rev. Samuel H. Gross.
In 1910, a small group of women formed the Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society to foster greater missionary interest and to provide funds to carry out mission work. In 1913, the Brotherhood was organized, assuming the responsibility of financing and publishing the parish paper, the “Latrobe Lutheran.” They also sought to increase the Bible class membership and purchased a home communion set for the church.
During Pr. Baker’s ministry, the Senior Luther League was re-organized with a membership of 84 in 1915. They conducted mid-week devotional services for the congregation and contributed to church property needs, benevolence and mission work. The Junior Luther League was re-organized in 1914.
Pr. Baker’s pastorate spanned 17 years of great progress. On July 1, 1926, he left the congregation with a forward look toward the work still to be accomplished.
With the coming of the Rev. John B. Gardner to Latrobe on February 1, 1927, Trinity moved into a new phase of strength and ministry. Pr. Gardner served here for 19 years, the longest pastorate to date.
Perhaps the greatest advances of these years were made in the education ministry of the church. While catechism classes and Sunday School had always been held, Pr. Gardner felt a need to expand and strengthen the programs.
The immediate need was adequate space, since Sunday School attendance had grown to an average of nearly 300 by 1928, with every available space being utilized for teaching.
Trinity had been preparing for this need! With lots purchased and money saved, at its annual meeting on January 8, 1928, the congregation authorized a Building Committee to prepare plans and estimate costs for a school building. After more than a year of careful study, approval was voted, and excavation began on July 8, 1929. The cornerstone was laid at a huge celebration in October, and the building was dedicated on June 1, 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression.
The splendid new building encouraged rapid growth, and by 1934 attendance average 462. Vacation Bible School was held each surmner, and Weekday Church School was held in some years. Notable among Pr. Gardner’s achievements in education was the writing and publishing of a catechism study for use at Trinity.
The use of a volunteer choir was established by this time, with vestments provided for the Senior Choir in 1927. In 1929 the chance] was renovated to provide more choir room. The Brotherhood organized a Junior Choir and provided vestments for them. They also provided a Men’s Choir to lead worship during the early service on Sundays in the summer months.
During Pr. Gardner’s years, Trinity established “satellite Sunday Schools” in the communities of Superior, Baggaley and Kingston. Trinity received quite a bit of publicity because of the unique outreach these schools provided.
Pr. Gardner’s pastorate coincided with frightening world events. The depression years of the 1930’s affected all members of the congregation, but Trinity strove to meet the Parish House debt. During the second World War, young members of Trinity were stationed in all corners of the globe. Pr. Gardner and others in the church wrote regularly to those in the service, assuring them of Trinity’s prayers and concern. By 1946, 238 men and women had served in the armed forces; ten of these were listed as killed or missing in action.
The growth of the church demanded additional staffing, and in May, 1942, the Rev. Robert M. Lamparter arrived to assist Pr. Gardner. He had primary responsibility for the use of the Parish House as a community and recreational center. Many nonmembers fondly remember Trinity as “the place to be” during their teen years. Pr. Lamparter remained until April 30, 1944, when he left to serve a congregation in Pottstown. The Rev. Victor Murtland became associate pastor in July, 1945, serving until June of 1946, when he left to serve St. Stephen’s in Pittsburgh.
Pr. Gardner concluded 19 years of fruitful service at Trinity in that same year, when he accepted a call of the congregation in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
Preparing for the Second Century
In January, 1947, the Rev. Karl E. Kniseley was installed as the eighth pastor of Trinity. He led the church in a vigorous program aimed at increasing the membership and spiritual life of Trinity, preparing Trinity for its ministry in the post-war years.
During his tenure, many improvements were made to the church property. Painting, repair work and redecorating were accomplished. In 1947, the last of the wooden towers was removed from the church after being struck by lightning. The tower was capped, and the bell was lowered into the brick base.
Evangelism efforts were begun to increase the number of communing members. An “Ambassador” program divided the congregation into 13 districts, with members serving as nurturing leaders in each. In 1948, Trinity had 1901 baptized members.
That same year, the congregation began to prepare for the 100th anniversary of the church. A committee was appointed to begin preparation for the event. Members voted to begin the gathering of funds for “Trinity Beautiful,” a new building to be the objective of the 100th anniversary.
The mid-century mark found Trinity, like most American churches, filled with hope and afire with evangelical zeal. Ambassador teams visited the unchurched of Latrobe, and the results were evident when, during Holy Week of 1950, 120 men and women were added to the congregation. The teams also contacted less-active members, resulting in the spectacular attendance of 723 at the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service that year.
Activity had increased so greatly that the need of an assistant pastor was felt. In June, 195 1, the Rev. Paul F. Luebbe was installed as associate pastor. He served for one year, when he was called to the Board of American Missions of the United Lutheran Church.
In May, 1954, the Rev. Richard L. Sowers, a son of the congregation, was ordained and installed as associate pastor. He continued to serve in that capacity after the resignation of Pr. Kniseley until the end of the year.
In July, 1954, Pr. Kniseley concluded his pastorate in Latrobe, accepting a call to First Lutheran Church, Glendale, California. Great strides had been made during his years here. Trinity had adopted the slogan, “The Friendly Church,” the buildings were repaired, and 85% of the confirmed membership were communing. Over $60,000 had been received for “Trinity Beautiful.” In his farewell sermon, Pr. Kniseley reminded his parishioners, “This congregation is but entering a greater challenge to grow greater in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Trinity members heeded his word!
In February, 1955, the Rev. John L. Reiner came to Trinity, assuming leadership in making “Trinity Beautiful” a reality. The centennial year approaching, the congregation looked forward to the completion of the long-planned project.
A building committee had been named in 1953, with four members of that group continuing to serve. A. W. Freeman, Edwin Fritz, Paul Hugus and August L. Pohland lead the church in accepting an over-all plan for the new facilities.
The most pressing need was again for education facilities, so an educational wing was built, connected to the Parish House and running behind the church building. It was dedicated on February 1, 1959, greatly increasing the space available for classes.
The Rev. Lee Mull was installed as associate pastor on June 28, 1958, remaining until October, 1959, to start a mission congregation in the Greater Pittsburgh Airport area.
Trinity had been growing steadily, with more members taking an active part in the life of the church. In 1949, Trinity had 2,019 baptized members; in 1958 this increased to 2,557, with average attendance growing from 409 to 552.
On July 22, 1962, the Rev. R. Russell Riethmiller was installed as associate pastor. He assumed special responsibilities in the areas of Parish Education, Worship and Music and Christian Service. In January of 1963 a 4 p.m. spoken communion service was added on the first Sunday of each month. With communion distributed to those seated in the pews, it was especially appreciated by the elderly and infirmed members.
In 1963, William Martin and Adolph Sanzi were added to the “Trinity Beautiful” committee. In the Fall of that year, a Christian Advancement Program was launched, with more and more members devoting time and energy to the Stewardship Building Campaign. Ned Nakles served as General Chairman of the program, and with the theme, “Rise Up and Build,” the congregation assured the amount necessary to begin construction.
In a shared pastoral message, Pr. Reiner and Riethmiller stated, “Now we are about to enter the second century in the history of Trinity Church. It is the opportunity of our generation to bring to reality the dream of a new “Trinity Beautiful,” keeping faith with those who had the vision to
anticipate Trinity’s second century beginning with a dramatic testimony of faith and with new facilities for continued advancement in the service of Jesus Christ. We look with eyes of faith to the future. Only God knows what the next century will bring. But this one thing we know: that those who build a house of worship to the glory of the Triune God will not build in vain.”
Two new parsonages were acquired in 1964 to replace the ones to be tom down to make room for the new church. The new home of Pr. Reiner was located in Edgewater Terrace, and that of Pr. Riethmiller on West First Avenue.
On October 4, 1964, ground was broken for the new church. A service for the blessing of the church site and the groundbreaking was conducted, with construction progressing throughout the winter.
The date stone of the new church building was laid on June 6, 1965, with cornerstones from the two previous church buildings set into the same wall. The date marked one hundred years to the day the laying of the first building cornerstone.
Construction of the church continued through the summer, and the dedication took place on September 19, 1965. Trinity experienced a glorious century of growth, from a small group of less than 30 in 1865 to 2625 members in its centennial year. The new church facilities provided beautiful, modern space which would serve Trinity and the community well into the next century.
With the new church, Trinity became a synodical leader in liturgical worship, with worship that enthusiastically involved many members and their various talents. A Saturday evening service was introduced September 25, 1976, particularly to meet the needs of those who had to work on Sunday mornings.
The weekly celebration of Word and Sacrament at all services was adopted by the congregation in 1977, and in 1990 a 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening spoken communion was added for those who missed weekend worship. In 1993, daily 8 a.m. communion was begun during the seasons of Lent and Advent.
A Service of the Word for Healing was introduced in November, 1984 and is now offered quarterly. It provides focus for those with physical, emotional or relational needs, offering preaching, prayers and anointing with oil.
Since 1980 the Sacrament of Holy Baptism had been given high visibility and emphasis, with nearly all baptisms taking place during the worship services, and with parents involved in pre-baptismal sessions.
The role of laity in worship has increased significantly in these last twenty-five years, with men and women serving as lectors since 1981, as well as liturgical deacons and acolytes. Task Forces, particularly at Lent and Advent, have been involved in planning worship for these important seasons, with laity participating in decorating, writing prayers and leading midweek Lenten services.
The music of Trinity, under the direction of Debbie Barra Morley since 1981, has also grown to incorporate liturgical dancing, youth and handbell choirs, and the use of instruments. In the 1980’s a Youth Choir was begun (grades 3 through 8), along with a Cherub Choir of first and second graders, a Funeral Choir and a Men’s Choir.
With the liturgy of Word and Sacrament as the Lutheran definition of “church”, worship is the heart of our life and the source of our strength. All of these changes have been intended to involve more people more fully in worshipping and serving God.
Christian Education serves as the foundation for growth in Christian life and witness. Weekly Sunday Church School classes for all ages have continued, and many additional opportunities have been made available, including such programs as “Training of the Twelve,”, “Heart to Heart,” “Word and Witness,” SEARCH Bible Study, and an “Over 55” afternoon Bible study. Home Bible Study groups were initiated in 1990, with small groups gathering monthly in members’ homes. Short-term parenting classes and other special needs sessions are offered on a regular basis.
Children are presented with a “Good News” Bible in the fourth grade, and a Children’s Library has been begun to encourage a love of Scriptures and learning. The Tosh Memorial Library has expanded to full capacity, necessitating plans for new library space in the Parish House renovation. During the 1980’s a School of Adult Religion (S.O.A.R.) was offered in various formats during Lent, bringing in teachers with expertise in a wide variety of areas, from Bible study to psychology and family concerns.
Trinity also encourages education outside the parish, with the John L. Reiner and Trinity Memorial Scholarships to Thiel, and with the Mary Martha Himler Scholarship Fund for students at Thiel or preparing for Lutheran ministry.
So that future members may learn of Trinity’s history and activity, formal archives were developed by Patricia Deglau and Tricia Deglau Ford, organizing and cataloguing a wide variety of printed materials and artifacts from Trinity’s history. With cabinet and supplies purchased from the Paul Hugus Fund, the archives were dedicated in Patricia Deglau’s memory in 1989. They are updated regularly to provide a repository for future generations at Trinity. In 1990, as a gift for Trinity’s 125th anniversary, the Rev. John L. Reiner compiled a comprehensive listing of all pastoral acts performed at Trinity, printed and bound in two handsome volumes. They will be cherished in coming years as reference books for the years 1865-1990.
The Congregational Council
The Congregation Council (formerly the Church Council), the leadership and governing body of Trinity, has undergone several changes in the past quarter century. The number of council members was increased from 15 to 18 in 1962 to allow for representation by three youth members. The number of women serving on council has increased greatly. The election of council members now takes place following worship the first Sunday weekend in June, rather than at the January congregational meeting, with the council and committees reorganizing during the summer months.
These dedicated people offer long hours of time as leaders, chairing various committees and assisting and advising our pastors. They are to be recognized for their tireless contributions in ministry, hallmarks of our congregation.
One of God’s blessings upon Trinity has always been the pastoral ministries we have begun and called.
Three more Trinity members were ordained into the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. George Mendis, son of George and Mary Mendis, was ordained by Bishop Kenneth May at Trinity on November 4, 1977, and Susan Luttner, daughter of Kenneth and Joan Luttner, was ordained by Bishop Donald McCoid at Trinity on July 15, 1988. Alfred Pertrill was ordained on September 3, 1989 at the place of his first call, First Lutheran Church, Vandergrift.
Pastors serving in our parish have accomplished much through the years in increasing our faith and guiding us in ministry. The Rev. Martin Peterhaensel served as Assistant Pastor from 1970-1971, and the Rev. Thomas Stennett served with Pr. Reiner from 1972-1976.
Completing 25 years of service to Trinity, The Rev. John L. Reiner retired from Trinity in January of 1980, having guided us through the Trinity Beautiful completion and the retirement of its debt in just ten years. Other accomplishments during his ministry included the Bethel Bible Series and Word and Witness, deepening the faith and commitment of hundreds of our members. He was designated “pastor emeritus” on January 18, 1981, and has continued as a faithful witness and support in our congregation. June of 1990 commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination with a celebration at the church and unveiling of plans for the “Reinergarten” on our east lot. The garden, planted by our members, was dedicated on Ascension Day, May 12, 1994, serving as a lasting place of beauty and a testimony to Pr. Reiner’s devoted and tireless ministry.
The present bishop of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Rev. Donald J. McCoid, began as an associate pastor at Trinity on June 1, 1977, becoming our senior pastor in February 1, 1980. In June of 1987 he was elected bishop of the synod, leaving Trinity at the end of October in that year. His pastorate evidenced a significant increase in the scope of lay ministries, with the establishment of new committees and intentional goal-setting and evaluation by committees and council.
The Rev. Fred S. Opalinski was called as associate pastor at Trinity in January of 1980. He was called to succeed Pr. McCoid as senior pastor in the Fall of 1987 and continues to serve in that position.
Because of the growth and needs of Trinity, particularly in the areas of youth and education, an assistant pastor’s position was established with the calling of the Rev. Ann E. Schmid in June, 1985. She served until August, 1987, succeeded by the Rev. Linda J. Jaffke, who served from March, 1988, until June, 1990. Following Pr. Jaffke’s move to hospital Chaplaincy in June of 1990, the third position was redefined to encompass a broader range of ministerial concerns, and the title was changed to “associate pastor.” The Rev. Dennis Ferguson served in that position from January of 1991 until September of 1993.
In June, 1988, the Rev. Jeffrey L. Schock was called as associate pastor, filling the position vacated by Pr. Opalinski’s move to senior pastor. He continues to serve in that capacity.
As Trinity is often seen in a leadership role in our synod, our pastors have frequently filled leadership positions in the community, conference and synod, serving as ministering officers, dean and as chairs of various synodical committees. Their work is an extension of our congregation beyond the confines of our building and helps to involve us in the work of the greater church. Trinity’s high commitment to synodical, national and world-wide ministries, including the partial support of two missionaries and year-long world hunger emphasis, is a sign of God’s living presence among us.
Outreach ministries have grown tremendously in recent years, particularly in response to the many changes and needs in our society.
Stephen Ministry was begun in 1985 to provide trained Christian caregivers in our parish. Following 50 hours of training and on-going supervision, Stephen Ministers visit and care for shut-in members, hospitalized, and those in other areas of personal need or crisis.
From 1987 to 1990 Trinity was a center for the Westmoreland County Food Bank, serving between 200 and 300 families each month. Food and gift baskets are given to over 120 families each Christmas, and food vouchers are offered to members in need at Easter. Another holiday outreach is a free, served Thanksgiving dinner, provided for people who would otherwise be alone that day.
The Shepherd Shop, begun in the early 1980’s, involved many of our senior members who provide free clothing, household items and food to needy people in the Latrobe area. Open each Tuesday, the shop cares for over 300 individuals each month. Clothes not distributed locally, amounting to several tons each year, are sent to distribution centers locally and through Church World Services and the Lutheran World Federation.
Senior members are also active in a Senior Citizens Group which meets monthly for meetings, programs and short trips. The group publishes a monthly newsletter, “The Golden Nugget,” and members work in a number of volunteer and service capacities for the church.
Other ministries offered in recent years have been “Extra Step,” a cancer support group, bereavement support, television broadcasts of worship at the Latrobe Area Hospital, tutors for school children, weekly radio broadcast, literacy teachers for adults, support of Parents Anonymous and Foster Care groups, and providing a home for “Step-up” mental health support.
Our family counseling center, provided by Lutheran Service Society of Pittsburgh, provides two part-time counselors who address a wide range of personal and family needs. A Project Day group meets Wednesdays to make quilts and lap robes for use locally and around the world. Primary medical care needs are met for children through active participation in the “Caring Program” sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Since the Vietnamese conflict, Trinity has sponsored two refugee families locally and has been an institutional sponsor for a family of young Vietnamese in Pittsburgh.
Members of Trinity formed “Trinity Senior Caring” in 1992, a non-profit corporation which, in concert with Lutheran Affiliated Services, hopes to provide housing and assisted care facilities for older members.
We anticipate the development of more support groups and ministries for singles and families in the coming years as the pressures of modem life bring increased anxiety and need for the healing power of Christian community.
Trinity’s financial needs for Christ’s ministry have grown from a few hundred dollars per year in the beginning to a budget of well over $400,000 in 1994, challenging our members to grow in their commitment to their Lord and his church.
The generosity of Trinity’s family resulted in the establishment of five major endowment funds in the last 15 years, enabled by bequests from the estates of departed members. Present funds include: the Thelma Dodds Memorial Fund, specified by Ms. Dodds to support our radio broadcasts, library, benevolence and missionaries; the Paul Hugus Fund, designated for the upkeep and maintenance of our buildings and grounds; the Mary Martha Himier Fund, providing support to our educational program, retreats, outdoor ministries and the arts; the Yost Family Fund, especially for outreach and senior ministries; and the Alma Cole Smith Fund in Memory of Theron Smith, designated for the reduction of the Renovation debt.
In each of these endowments, the principal funds may not be used. The interest from investments is awarded to enable ministries far beyond what we could otherwise afford. We give thanks to God for the opportunities and serve they provide now and for all that they will mean to future generations.
Trinity’s buildings have always been well used, and by 1982 Fellowship Hall was well-worn! A complete renovation was accomplished, including the addition of an outdoor ramp, with the design prepared by architect and member August L. Pohland. Responding to the needs of our third pastor and secretarial additions, offices were moved and renovated in 1987, designed by architect and member Larry Smitley, with much of the work accomplished by our members.
The year 1990 marked the 125th anniversary of the congregation, and a full year of events was celebrated with the theme, “125 Years of Sharing the Spirit.” Former pastors, along with “sons” and “daughter” of the congregation, returned to preach. A hymn and several anthems were commissioned and published, and commemorative souvenirs were made available. News articles, archive displays, and special programs all gave witness to the faithfulness of previous generations at Trinity.
Certainly among the most notable accomplishments in recent years has been the renovation of the Parish House, the culmination of many years of dreaming, work, planning, and sacrifice.
Built as a splendid facility in the 1920’s, by the 1980’s much of the first and second floors of the Parish House had been relegated to storage areas. Faulty heating and a leaking roof added to the need “to do something.”
The dream began with the work of the Long Range Planning Committee, chaired by Fred Marcy. Following a very comprehensive survey of building use and needs, a proposal was made to renovate the building to provide needed space for ministry. A “Renovation Committee” was formed, and at the January, 1990, congregational meeting, Trinity voted unanimously to develop proposals and determine costs, using Barry Morris of Greensburg as architect.
Because there had been no building fund since the retirement of the “Trinity Beautiful” debt, one was established in April, 1990. In February of 1991, the congregation approved a line of credit to develop full architectural drawings and engage a capital fund raiser. With Fay Herrod as chairperson of “Trinity–United in Renewal”, a video-tape was produced for use at cottage meetings throughout the parish. A Renovation Newsletter and frequent articles and presentations kept our membership abreast of the plans and the needs. At a banquet in June, 1991, $313,000 was pledged, and within a year the figure grew to $377,000.
In August of 1992 a new committee, “Trinity 2000”, was formed to see the renovation to completion. Chaired by Barbara Nakles, the committee reviewed bids, recommended a contractor, and secured financing. Work commenced in the Fall with the replacement of the roofs of the newly renamed “All Saints Parish House” and the educational building. The remainder of the work was accomplished between June, 1993, and April, 1994, with a grand dinner and re-dedication program held on April 10. Included in this event was the preparation of a “time capsule” to be opened on April 10, 2050.
To serve us into the next century, the renovation includes a multi-purpose Weis Room, class and meeting space, handicap toilet facilities, a limited access lift to all floors, chair lifts, new boilers and heating systems, new windows in the educational wing, and new library facilities for adults and children. The All Saints Parish House and nave have also been air-conditioned. The million-dollar project, greater in cost than all the previous buildings combined, is a sign of Trinity’s continuing desire to serve the Lord in self-sacrifice and faith.
With the renovation, we continue the bold venture of those early Latrobe pioneers who dared to begin a congregation in this place. We walk in the same light as those who built the Parish House at the beginning of the Great Depression and who prayed and supported their members through two World Wars. Together, we follow in the footsteps of Luther and Paul and of our Lord Himself, seeking always to be obedient to the will of the Father, who is both our source and our goal. God bless us always with such faithfulness, that all we do may bring Him glory!
This history was compiled from:
- 1865-1965 history by Barbara Nakles
- 1965-1990 history by Robert Werner
- Edited and updated by Pr. Fred Opalinski