A century of worship
For 100 years Steele County residents have flocked to Trinity Lutheran Church to worship and come together.
To celebrate the 100-year anniversary Trinity Lutheran Church held a special service at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna on April 28. More than a thousand people showed up for the service, which featured a choral piece by Greg Scheer and a reunion of former pastors.
“We had really good energy,” Trinity Pastor Todd Buegler said. “It was wonderful, and it surpassed our expectations.” Buegler explained that there were 1,150 people in the room with another 360 tuning in to the live stream.
Buegler also recounted some of the parish’s history. “It’s a wonderful history,” he said. “It started when a group of women wanted their children to get to worship in English.” All of the other churches during this time were doing services in languages such as German, Danish, or Swedish.
The group held a meeting on Feb. 6, 1919, which was attended by 60 people and together they decided to form their own church. “Shortly after they bought an old Universalist church at the corner of Main Street and Elm,” Buegler said.
“It’s really a unique and forward-looking story,” he continued. Buegler explained that all of the women did the initial fundraising for the parish. Since that time, Trinity has become a seminal part of Owatonna, not just for worshipers but for the community by hosting many events.
“When we built our new building six years ago, we really wanted to make it a priority to open up that space for the community,” Buegler said. “Churches are not called to be islands onto themselves, they should always look to the community.”
Buegler explained that their goals as a church are to give ministry to those who live on the margins, heal people broken by life’s circumstance, and continue to grow as a center of worship within the community.
“It has to do with engagement and making people feel connected and that this is their place,” Buegler said of Trinity’s longstanding tradition within the community. “One hundred years is an important milestone.”
In the years since its founding, Trinity has continued to follow these principles. “The goal of a church is to look outside of itself,” Buegler added. “If we can do that then the community is served and the church grows.”
Buegler first relocated to Trinity five years ago and recalls that he was excited by the opportunity. “Trinity had the reputation of being a good church, an innovative church and had a reputation of reaching out to the community.”
To continue to celebrate its anniversary, Trinity will be holding various events throughout the year. “We really try to make this about both looking back and looking forward,” Buegler said. “We want to look back and honor our history, and we want to look ahead and dream about our future.”
During their anniversary celebration, the church and congregational members did just that as Buegler read a letter he composed to a pastor 100 years from now. “It was about our hopes and dreams,” he said.