Trinity Lutheran celebrates 125 years

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 19, 2002

Today is a special time for the members of Albert Lea’s Trinity Lutheran Church as they observe the congregation’s 125th anniversary.

During those 125 years, the congregation has worshiped in five local buildings. And today three of those former places of worship are still part of the local scene as two residences and part of a church building used by another Lutheran church.

On Feb. 24, 1877, a group of Danish immigrants in Albert Lea decided to organize a church. For a part time pastor they were able to obtain the services of the Rev. Danielsen who was then serving the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Carlston Township north of Alden.

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(The Carlston church, organized in 1873, was the first Danish Lutheran congregation in Minnesota. This church existed until 1927 and was one of three congregations to form what’s now Redeemer Lutheran Church in Alden.)

Members of the new Trinity Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church met in the first Freeborn County Courthouse for a few months. Then space was rented in the public school on West Clark Street for use on Sunday mornings. (Part of that school building is now a private residence on South Madison Avenue.)

In 1881 the first actual church building, 16 feet by 24 feet in size, was constructed on a donated lot located on what was then Winter Street (now an avenue). However, because of the location on what was then the very edge of the city, this place and a building too small for a growing congregation resulted in a move to a new site on College Street in 1885. (The first Trinity church building was moved to a nearby lot on Dunham Street and is now part of a private residence.)

In 1909 the members of this Danish-American Lutheran congregation were considering a move to an even larger church closer to the city’s center. However, adverse economic conditions and World War I delayed action on a new church. Also, during this era a gradual change was being made from the use of the Danish language to English in the worship services and in the Sunday School classes.

By 1923 a lot had been acquired at the corner of Washington Avenue and Pearl Street and construction was started on the present brick edifice. The dedication ceremony was held on May 18, 1924.

Trinity’s second place of worship was sold to the then new Our Savior’s Lutheran Church congregation in 1923. A portion of Trinity’s second building is now incorporated into Our Savior’s present structure.

In February 1954, Trinity dedicated a new parish education unit which provided classrooms, offices, and a youth room on the lower level.

Another addition was dedicated in 1973. This newer portion improved entrances to the sanctuary, several classrooms, a pastor’s study, offices and the present Jacobsen Fellowship Hall with kitchenette.

At the present time there are 1,700 baptized and confirmed members of Trinity Lutheran Church. The Rev. Curtis Zieske is the pastor. Associate pastor is the Rev. Lissa Kahl, who works with parish youths and families.