FORT WAYNE, IND. (WPTA21)-For more than a century Fort Wayne’s Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church has inspired the faithful, it’s majestic spire towering above the North Highlands neighborhood it serves. And while the outside of the church has remained unchanged since it was built the sanctuary inside has not been so lucky.
“It’s dark, it’s very dark,” says Pastor Steve Voelker. “We have had a hard time with being able to see in here.”
Where once parishioners sat in rapt silence a honeycomb of scaffolding now stands, the church pews veiled in plastic as artisans dab color and fine detail on walls and ceiling. Trinity Evangelical’s sanctuary is being reborn.
“It’s been a hope and the dream for many of our members for quite a few years,” says Voelker. “And this has just been a dream fulfilled to see this come to fruition.”
The story begins with an unfortunate remodeling in the 1980’s when the sanctuary was repainted in various shades of hideous pepto bismol pink. But the worst insult was the disappearance of what now exists only in old photographs, a pair of magnificent hand painted angels that once hovered over the congregation. They disappeared with all the sanctuary’s other hand crafted detail under a thick layer of pink. But when the remodeling is complete and services resume in this sanctuary these messengers from Heaven will return. In the church basement Bulgarian artist Stoykoff Stoykoff is resurrecting the figures using those old photos as guides. And this, a remnant of an original angel with the pink paint removed. The final step in the church’s restoration will be to return these angels to their rightful place in the sanctuary and in the business of worship at Trinity Evangelical.
“And I think having these things visually just will help us to be able to connect to God a little bit more,” says Voelker, “and will also be an inspiring place to be because it will be beautiful.”
The remodeling should be complete by September and will serve as a reminder that as the City of Churches continues to demolish its own heritage, at least one sacred spot is bucking the trend.