Kicking off the celebration

Saturday, June 7, 2003

Trinity Lutheran Church began with just a handful of members almost 150 years ago. This weekend, 800 people are expected to gather for an anniversary celebration and worship service.

The celebration service Sunday afternoon is the kickoff event in honor of the church's 150th anniversary. It begins at 1:30 p.m. at the A.C. Brase Arena Building and will replace the other worship services that are usually held during the weekend at the church.

The service is one of many special events planned throughout the year by the church. It is a tradition among Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations to mark the celebrations in the year leading up to the anniversary, said Jeanine Hager, who along with Shirley Beggs has helped chair the anniversary planning committee.

"We want to celebrate and glorify God and be a witness in the community so the community will see our joy," Hager said. "It's not to point out the name of Trinity but as a witness to our faith."

The sesquicentennial theme is "On our way rejoicing" and will be the sermon topic for the Rev. Dr. Oscar Gerken who will be the guest preacher for the service.

Gerken, of Eustis, Fla., was pastor of Trinity from 1964 to 1977. He retired from ministry in 1991 after leaving Missouri for a church in Eustis. While in Missouri, he served as first vice-president of the Missouri district of the synod, which is the church's governing body.

Trinity Lutheran Church began in 1854 as the "city church" counterpart to Hanover Lutheran Church, which served the rural population around Cape Girardeau.

Over the years the church has seen many changes. There have been three buildings, the first in the 500 block of William Street, and the second and third at the present location on Frederick and Themis streets. The second building had to be rebuilt because of crumbling bricks and sagging walls. But during the reconstruction, the church met in the school's gymnasium. The Trinity Lutheran School also is marking its sesquicentennial in 2004.

A mural depicting the three buildings is on a wall inside the church. Another wall near the pastor's study and offices carries the name of every church member since 1854 -- 2,239 names in all. Both murals were painted by A.W. Birk, a church member.

During the course of the coming year, the church has events planned each month to celebrate, including a community open house, special recognition of Sunday school teachers and preschool workers, Ladies Aid and Guild officers, Men's Club officers and Boy Scout leaders, Girl Scout leaders and school staff; an 1854 Christmas; a women's banquet with historic wedding photos and gowns from the past on display; an 1854 play day for children, construction of a time capsule and a seminary chorus.

335-6611, extension 126

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