The Story of trinity evangelical lutheran

During the early 1890s, members of St. Paul's Lutheran Church saw a need for a Christian school in the northwest part of Fort Wayne. In 1893, they erected a two-story brick building on the southwest corner of Oakland and Huffman Streets. The school was organized, and area families began sending their children to Trinity Lutheran School.

In 1895, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized. The first members called the Rev. J.A. Bohn, Assistant Pastor at St. Paul's, to serve as pastor. The original building served as both school and church, with the school on the first floor and the sanctuary on the second floor (a challenge to pall-bearers during funerals).

As the Bloomingdale area grew, membership at Trinity Church and School increased accordingly, and it became necessary to construct a new sanctuary. The present church was completed and dedicated in 1916.

By the 1950s, the old building was becoming obsolete. After several years of planning, Trinity took steps to build a new school facing St. Mary's Avenue. Ground was broken and construction began on the present school building during the summer of 1956. The dedication took place September 8, 1957, under the direction of Rev. C.W. Brueggemann. The old building was razed in 1957 to make room for more parking.

Churches open doors, share stories in annual tour

Article by Garth Snow,, December 11, 2019

(Accessed at Churches open doors, share stories in annual tour | Infortwayne | on February 29, 2024)

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church has served northwest Fort Wayne for more than 125 years. On Friday, dozens of visitors saw the newly renovated sanctuary for the first time.

The church at 1636 St. Marys Ave. was one of 12 stops on the fourth annual City of Churches Tour.

The Rev. Steven Voelker, pastor, greeted and answered questions from many of the guests, even welcoming them to step up for a close look at the gleaming and intricate artwork.

Jacob Schall said he lives nearby but had never seen the church interior, before or after the renovation. “We wanted to see the churches we’ve only seen from the outside,” said Schall, who attends Most Precious Blood Catholic Church less than 4 blocks away.

“This is our first year on the tour,” Voelker said, “and we were excited to be on it. They had asked us last year and we were in the process of getting ready for the renovation. We thought we would wait till we get this finished. And then we started preparing for the renovation in April and we worked all summer long and finished it up in September. So it was nice to be able to show everybody the finished product.”

The sanctuary was christened Oct. 13. “That’s when we brought back Pastor Russ Dewell, the previous pastor,” Voelker said. “He is the one who got the wheels turning on the idea of a renovation. He helped with the restoration of the stained glass windows and they did some work up on the roof and got the structure sound before they started anything on the inside.”

Trinity Evangelical contracted Conrad Schmitt Architects of Milwaukee for the renovation.

Voelker said the congregation was excited about the renovations. “They had wanted to update the sanctuary,” he said. “The colors were quite dated and there were plaster cracks in a building that’s over 100 years old. It needed a little TLC and that was all taken care of when we had the contractors in here.”

Jerry Miller documented the renovation in photos, which he [previously shared on the church's website.]

He said sturdy scaffolding held artists at the crest of the sanctuary, where they installed gold leaf around newly inscribed lettering. Just the artistic details required weeks of attention.

Miller said his wife’s grandparents were among the church founders. Miller said Cheryl Miller “died 4 years ago yesterday.” He still has friends at Trinity Evangelical and attends services there and at Suburban Bethlehem Lutheran Church every Sunday.

Kristine Krummen, Val Ford and Karen Patton, all of Fort Wayne, were among the first visitors Friday. Krummen said she follows the City of Churches Tour every year. “I studied architecture and I’m interested in looking at the different church architectures,” she said. Plus, her father attends Trinity Evangelical. “I needed to see what the renovation looked like,” she said.

Patton said the sanctuary is “beautiful, absolutely beautiful.”

Patton and Ford agreed that a dove painted at the crest of the sanctuary is the most stunning work.

The three friends took the stairs to the choir loft, where organ pipes of every size surround a stained glass window on the west wall.

Organist Tamra Schaaf explained that the Tellers organ has three manuals and 2,000 pipes. “You can see the big pedal pipes on either side and in the middle is the great division,” she said. “In the summer when we were renovating inside here we took every pipe out and had to store it in a different place in the church.”

She said the organ was installed at Trinity Evangelical in 1969 and originally was placed near the front of the church and some years later was moved to the choir loft. The sound is beautiful, she said.

On the night of the tour, music stands also held handbell music in preparation for a special Sunday service later in December.

Schaaf said she is a church member and has been the organist for about 10 years. She welcomed the opportunity to welcome visitors to her church.

“We want them to know it’s an historic place and we try to treat it well,” she said. “We renovated and it’s a beautiful spot for worship and our music program we try to build, so we’re just happy for anybody to come through the door.”

She has been making arrangements for the tour each year since. “We are up to 26 churches that are interested,” she said. “We had 20 churches last year. That is too much to do in one night, so we agreed to 12 a year.”

“So we just take a bus from our church and drive around and I get to see some other ones. Trinity on St. Marys just finished a renovation, so we get to see that,” she said hours before the tour.

That bus filled up quickly, and most visitors drove their own cars to the churches they selected. Helpful volunteers and tables of refreshments awaited at each stop.

“We are getting a lot of interest this year. It seems like the word has really spread. It takes a few years,” Schulz said. “The downtown churches might have 350 or 500 visitors and the outlying churches might have 80 to 100.”

Imposing buildings inscribed with the names of renowned architects open their doors. Buildings that have been a mystery to their neighbors for decades throw open their doors. Houses of worship in neighborhoods too frequently associated with less positive news throw open their doors to the entire City of Churches.

Each year, 12 of the city’s hundreds of churches will share their architecture, hospitality and their story with the wider community.

“That’s exactly the point,” Schulz said.