In years past, the Southeast Missourian routinely published a large, year-end edition. It reviewed the accomplishments of the year ending and predicted what would happen in the coming 12 months.
1923 was one of the years the newspaper published such an edition. It makes an interesting read, 100 years after the fact. I find the reviews of the products manufactured in Cape Girardeau particularly interesting, since many of those industries are no longer in existence here. I also like reading the predictions for 1924 and knowing which eventually came to fruition.
This particular edition also noted that Trinity Lutheran Church would celebrate its 70th anniversary of founding in May 1924. The congregation will observe its 170th anniversary this spring. The 1923 year-end edition provided an interesting history of the church and its school.
This drawing of the first church of the Trinity Lutheran congregation is from the booklet "Diamond Anniversary: Trinity Lutheran Church", published in 1929. (Southeast Missourian archive)
Published Dec. 31, 1923, in the Southeast Missourian:
GIRARDEAU LUTHERANS LOOK BACK OVER HISTORY COVERING 70 YEARS
BY F.H. MELZER, Pastor.
Trinity Lutheran congregation will next spring be in a position to look back upon an existence of 70 years. The beginning dates back to May 28, 1854, on which day Pastor A. Lehmann here in Cape Girardeau had gathered about him five Lutherans for the purpose of considering the organization of a Lutheran congregation. These five men were Kaspar Roth, Karl Segelke, Anton Schrader, Ernst Mantz and Ludwig Roth. An organization was effected and a constitution signed by those present. Thus the Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church, U.A.C. (Unaltered Augsburg Confession) of Cape Girardeau became an historical event. Since no church building was at hand, divine services were first held in different private homes, and then a house was rented for this purpose from Mr. A. Paar. But the little flock was active and soon had its own house of worship. Already during December of the year of its organization, 1854, a beautiful site was purchased on William Street, which at present belongs to Mr. Martin Roth.
The following year, 1855, a church was built on this site. For quite a number of years this church, not very large, served its purpose. But the congregation slowly grew, and in the 23rd year of its existence, in 1877, this body resolved to build a new church, which resolution was put into effect the following year, in 1878. This is the spacious brick church with a comfortable seating capacity of 750, on the corner of Frederick and Themis streets, which has serve the congregation as a house of worship 45 years. It is yet today the congregation's church. But, although the building has aged, yet its grandest beauty has remained new and fresh and undergone no change, viz., the preaching of the unadulterated Word of God and the unadulterated administration of the holy Sacraments.
The congregation has purchased a new site, the well-known Trinity Hall site on Pacific and Themis streets. This site was purchased nine years ago as a school site, but as the congregation has since purchased the adjoining lot on the south for school purposes, the Trinity Hall site is being reserved for a new church.
Trinity congregation has experienced a wonderful growth. Hundreds have been received into its midst by baptism and confirmation. It has grown to such an extent that it now occupies a place among the larger congregations of the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other states, with which it is affiliated. At present it numbers about 1,300 baptized members, about 925 communicant members, such as have made confession of their faith by confirmation and are permitted to partake of Holy Communion, and about 210 voting members, men over 21 years of age who have signed the constitution and who constitute the managing body.
An undated drawing of Trinity Lutheran Church and school, northeast corner of Frederick and Themis streets in Cape Girardeau. (Southeast Missourian archive)
The Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other states, with which Trinity congregation is affiliated, maintains 15 institutions, seminaries and colleges for the purpose of rearing pastors and teachers. Synod recently appropriated $3,850,000 for these institutions. For this purpose, as also for Synod's missionary endeavors at home and abroad, and also for various charitable institutions, Trinity congregation is doing its part.
From the announcement of our services it has been observed that the pastor always states whether the service is to be conducted in the German or the English language. There is a reason for this. The congregation for a number of years had conducted its services solely in the German language, only now and then a service in the English language being added. But gradually regular services in the English language were added, so that at the present time these services predominate. Trinity is a bilingual congregation.
Christian week-day school
The Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod has from its very beginning to the present day, now 70 years, had maintained and fostered a Christian week-day school, an institution for our children, in which above all the fourth and greatest R, the chief subject of the soul's salvation, Religion, is daily taught, but in which also the other three Rs, commonly known as reading, writing and arithmetic, or the secular branches, are taught in a Christian spirit. And knowing that it is the best means found to date for complying with the injunction of the Most High to bring our children to the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it is readily seen why the Lutheran church, as in the past, thus yet today strives and even battles for the maintenance of this blessed institution in its midst. The Christian week-day school makes this confession to the world: No education without religion; Christian rearing necessary for mankind; citizenship in God's kingdom makes for good citizenship in this world. And we notice that representative men of practically all churches are beginning to recognize that America's greatest peril lies in its unchurched youth and that the surety for the future lies in Christian education.
The foregoing explains why Trinity congregation from its very beginning had and yet today ... fosters the Christian week-day school in its midst. The house rented from A. Paar soon after its organization served as church and school. At first the pastors taught the school. But already in 1859, only the fifth year following its organization, the congregation called a special teacher and this, in spite of the fact that the members were as yet few and poor. In 1865 the congregation erected a special school building. This is the building near the church on Frederick and Themis streets used yet today after 58 years for the same purpose. The growth of the school already during '60s induced the congregation to call a second teacher. Later only one teacher was again employed, then again two, then three, thence once more two, now again three.
Trinity Hall in the 1920s. (Southeast Missourian archive)
The school has been elevated to the extent that it is now an eight-grade accredited school. Last January the first eighth grade was graduated. Our teachers are working in harmony with the public schools which not only receive but also acknowledge our teachers' reports as our teachers do theirs. Our school building is by far not sufficiently large to harbor our children. The congregation was, therefore, already last year with an enrollment of 140, forced to arrange a room for grades one and two in Trinity Hall, which grades this year number 39, and are taught by Miss Helene Bruening. The school building in its lower room harbors grades three, four and five, with an enrollment of 63, taught by F.W. Niermann, who is also principal of the school. In the upper room G.G. Arkebauer teaches grades six, seven and eight, which have an enrollment of 67. Every room is crowded and more room is a crying need.
The erection of a new school on the site recently purchased and joining Trinity Hall on the south offering sufficient room has been resolved. This important resolution is now being carried out as far as the finances are concerned. A canvass has been made for subscriptions, the gleanings of which are now being gathered. Prospects are bright, and, the Lord willing, Cape Girardeau will next year look upon a new Lutheran Christian week-day school.
This school, the upkeep of which is borne by the congregation, and everybody knows that this says a great deal, has been and is yet today an asset to Cape Girardeau. The members of Trinity congregation are paying their taxes for the public school and are also bearing the expense for the upkeep of this, their Christian week-day school. Does this not speak volumes? But this school is an asset to Cape Girardeau above all because of the daily teaching of the fourth and greatest R, Religion, because of the rearing of the children in a Christian spirit and a Scriptural atmosphere.
While Trinity's Christian week-day school is as old as Trinity herself, her Sunday school is in existence only about 13 or 14 years. Nevertheless during these years hundreds of children have attended and have been taught the Word of God. The enrollment has varied and is at present between the two and three hundred mark. The school itself consists of three departments, viz., a primary department, a second department, consisting of the junior intermediate, and senior classes, and a Bible class. The primary department consists of the little ones up to 5 or 6 years. This department meets in one of the rooms of our day school, has its own opening and closing exercises, and is at present under the supervision of Mr. Arkebauer. The junior, intermediate and senior classes, consisting of children from the sixth or seventh year to confirmation, meet in the church. The pastor presents the lessons to the assembled classes and then (questions them and has) them recite their memory work. The Bible class, consisting of the confirmed children, assembles in the upper classroom and is led by Mr. Niermann. The latter two departments assemble together for their opening and closing exercises.
Realizing that the Sunday school has come to stay, we are striving for the greatest possible efficiency. Once a month the teachers assemble with their pastor. In these meetings the pastor presents the lessons of the month and calls attention to special important points. The pastor also briefly addresses the teachers on some point making for efficiency. It is our intention to have our teachers fully realize their important position and give the best that is in them. Some of our teachers have worked faithfully a number of years.
The following are at present serving in an official capacity for the Sunday-School Association:
Superintendent, Albert Rueseler; assistant superintendent and treasurer, Theo Kuehnert; statistician, Theo Gerlach Jr.; secretary, Miss Helen Frenzel; helpers, Clarence Bertling and Edwin Nebel.
A new feature for 1923 was the introduction of a Mission Sunday. Every second Sunday of the month is Mission Sunday, the offering being devoted to the cause of the missions. This innovation has been a wonderful success. It offers an opportunity to rear our children as givers for the cause of our Lord, and, we are glad to be able to say, that the children have responded liberally.
We also have connected with our Sunday school a cradle roll. Miss Ella Werner is the present secretary. She receives from the pastor a list of the baptized children, keeping a record of the same, and sends every one a birthday greeting up to the fourth birthday, after which we expect to enroll them in the primary department. The children of the cradle roll, as well as all other children, give a birthday offering.
Trinity congregation also has a number of societies in its midst. The congregation in its voting membership as the managing body is and must remain supreme, the deciding factor. The societies, acknowledging the supremacy of the congregation, are working in the interest of the congregation and in the interest of the church at large.
Trinity has a Senior Ladies' Aid which has passed the half-century mark of existence; a Junior Ladies' Aid which last year celebrated its 25th anniversary; two sections of the Walter League (young people's societies); a senior and a junior section, a men's club, and a sewing circle. The meeting place for most of these societies is in the well-known Trinity Hall, where also the congregation in its voting membership assembles for its monthly meetings.
These societies have done a great deal of good, performed many works of love, have proven themselves charitable, assisted in many an endeavor. A great deal could be mentioned. And, we doubt not, that if each society was to write an article on the question, "What have we done?", the editors of The Missourian would refuse to print them because of their length. Therefore, we shall refrain from enumerating, and shall only express the heartfelt wish, that in future they may be guided aright and always prove themselves a force for good.
The Trinity Lutheran congregation may have purchased the former Alt house intending to build a new church there, but it never happened. Trinity Hall, as it was called, was torn down in 1967 to make way for the expansion of Trinity Lutheran School.