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Good Neighbor

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Before the stunning sanctuary was built Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church on St. Mary's Avenue was holding services in a school. When the new building was completed in 1915 Trinity Lutheran operated as most churches did then, holding services, baptisms, weddings and funerals. It's all the local neighborhood needed.

“There were working class blue collar workers in this neighborhood,” says Trinity pastor Steve Voelker.

Voelker says the neighborhood began to change when residents fled to the suburbs and a less affluent, more transient population moved in....many houses are now rentals. During tough economic times Trinity Lutheran responded with community outreach...a thrift store to help that transient population furnish their apartments. Also daycare and after school tutoring. Steve Voelker says the mission change helped the church rediscover its purpose.

“It's made people more aware of the needs of our neighborhood,” he says. “We don't always look outside to see who our neighbors are and it's forced us to do that. But that's been a good thing.”

The church hasn't ignored its own needs. In the 1960's remodeling turned the sanctuary into a hideous, Pepto Bismol pink. Adornments like the angels above the altar were painted over and everything of character was removed. Two years ago the church embarked on a massive project to restore the sanctuary to its initial beauty. Even the angels were restored to their rightful places. The sanctuary is empty on Sundays because of the corona virus..pastor Voelker preaches his sermons online and both he and his congregants look forward to returning to this sanctuary to worship. When that happens, though, Trinity Lutheran's rediscovered mission beyond these walls will not change. The outreach to the Bloomingdale, Hamilton and North Highlands neighborhoods will continue as long as it's needed.

“Even though this building is over a hundred years old it's still standing strong,” says Voelker, “and we're hoping to serve the neighborhood for many years to come.”

Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.

Eric Olson

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