A Brief History of Trinity Lutheran Church

 

Trinity is a strong, vibrant, energetic congregation of God's people that has been abundantly blessed through its history. In 2007 we celebrate our 125th Anniversary. During this milestone period we reflect on our heritage and look forward to our future. We give God thanks for all of the blessings he has bestowed on our congregation and we ask for his guidance as we work to strengthen our Discipleship. We look to the future with great anticipation and a strong desire to continue to serve the Lord. We invite you to join us as we work to further our mission for our members, our community, and all of God's people.

 

 

Trinity is one of the oldest Lutheran Churches inMassachusetts.Our history traces its origins directly back to the settlement of Swedes who migrated to this region, in the 1870's.

 

In the late 1870's the few Swedish emigrants who had settled in the greater Lowell area began to meet as a congregation to worship God as Lutherans. Previous to this time, they had attended some of the other Protestant churches in the area such as the First Presbyterian Church on Appleton Street, the Primitive Methodist Church on Gorham Street, and St. Johns Episcopal Church on Gorham Street. 

Gradually, lay leaders such as Martin E. Pihl, Anton W. Soderberg, and Martin Ahlberg emerged to organize this congregation into a viable Church of God. The first organization, called the Swedish Lutheran Society of Lowell, Mass., met on December 6, 1879 with 28 members present and elected Anton W. Soderberg as president.

On May 22, 1882 this Swedish Lutheran Society was re-organized as the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran of Lowell, Massachusetts. On August 1, 1882 the church was incorporated under the statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with Anton W. Sondberg elected as secretary-clerk. Martin Ahlberg, Charles Beausang, and Martin Pihl were elected deacons with Peter Ohlson, August Person, and Anders Thomasson elected as trustees. After two years, a lot on Meadowcroft street, near the Boston and Lowell Railroad, and Salem and Lowell Railroad, was purchased.

In the summer of 1885, the contract for the building of the church was given to Mr. E. G. Baker with a bid of $3,573.00. The church was officially dedicated on Sunday, February 10, 1886 by the Rev. E. E. Lindberg of Brooklyn, who was president of the New York Conference. At the time of the dedication, there were 130 adult members. C. A. Bloomgren, a student, was the first pastor.

In July of 1887 the first ordained minister, the Rev. Lars H. Beck, came after his ordination and led the congregation for two years. He contributed much to the physical and spiritual growth of the church. In December of 1888 there were 192 adult members with an average attendance of 142 at the morning services and 105 at the evening services.

The Rev. J. V. Soderman became pastor in September of 1889. He was a strong preacher of sin and forgiveness through grace and many young people were received into the church during his ministry. In 1891 a parsonage costing $2,500.00 was built on Meadowcroft Street.

In October of 1897, the Rev. J. W. Eckman came and remained as pastor for five years. After a period of division among some of the members, the Rev. P. E. Aslev, from Vermont, was called. His kind and humane personality was instrumental in healing many of the divisive wounds which had been inflicted in the past. During his stay, Frank E. Lindquest of Concord, N. H. was hired as organist and choir director and did much to bring an appreciation of fine religious music to the church. He was a good leader for young people as well as a good lay preacher and Bible teacher.

In November of 1909, the Rev. S. F. Hammerlof was called to serve as pastor of the church. Previous to this time, all services in the church, including the Sunday School, were in Swedish. Pastor Hammerlof dared to recommend having some English in the Sunday Church School, a separate English confirmation class, and some English worship services. These ideas were thought too radical and nothing was done about changing the language.

In the year 1914, after Rev. Hammerlof's departure, the Rev. Peter E. Nordgren came to begin his long ministry of almost twenty eight years. At the annual meeting of January, 1916, women were first given the right to vote but only 14 of them availed themselves of this great privilege.

For many years, a large portion of the annual church expenses was supplied by the church societies by cake sales, suppers, etc. The church members were assessed monthly dues of 50 cents. In 1917 the dues system was dropped and a free will contribution system, for the church and mission, was adopted. The church membership, however, did not contribute nearly enough to meet expenses and the church societies had to fill in.

In 1920 the first English class in the Sunday Church School was held and the first English worship service was held amidst wild opposition of the more conservative members. One service a month was held in English thereafter.

In 1923, the New England Conference held its annual convention in Lowell. By now the choir, under the leadership of Miss Mildred Anderson, became the first vested choir in the Boston District. This choir was always in demand to sing at District functions as well as at various churches in the greater Lowell area.

In 1942, Rev. Nordgren was forced to resign in order to comply with the new constitution as he was 71 years of age. The church, however, called him for another year while they issued a call for a new pastor. A bright young theological student, named Carl F. Danielson, became pastor after his ordination in 1943. By this time, the church had grown to 219 members. At this time the Swedish language was dropped entirely as a vehicle in the worship services. One of Pastor Danielson's first acts of business was to organize the system of free will pledges to replace the older system of contributions from the church societies.

The Rev. Danielson left in October of 1945 and the Rev. Edwin S. Carlon arrived in January of 1946 to serve for three years. After he left, there was a vacancy of two years during which time lay leaders of the church held the congregation together. 

In June of 1951 the Rev. Gordon S. Nelson served as pastor after his ordination. He brought a sense of unity with Christ to the membership of the church. After five years of steady growth, during which time the possibility of relocating the church was studied, Pastor Nelson left to answer a call in Newington Connecticut. 

On August 1, 1957, the Rev. Richard L Thulin arrived soon after his ordination. He brought a sense of return to theology as a means of re-discovering the true Christ to the church. He was instrumental in bringing adult education into Trinity, Lowell. It was during his service to our church that the new hymnal was introduced in 1958 and that the Lutheran Church in America was organized in 1962.

In 1959 the congregation finally agreed that a new location was necessary if the church was to be effective in the greater Lowell area and in 1960 some sixteen acres of land was purchased in Chelmsford off Old Westford Road and Grandview Road. A building committee, chaired by Arthur Frank, commenced this arduous undertaking together with the entire congregation. The cornerstone was laid in 1962 and the edifice was completed in the spring of 1964 with the first service held on Easter Sunday. The Building was properly dedicated on Sunday, April 12, 1964.

Previous to this event however, Pastor Thulin had accepted a call to the inner city area of New Haven, Connecticut in early 1964. A call went out to the Rev. Luther Lindberg who came in the spring of 1964 just prior to the completion of the new church building. The Rev. Lindberg brought a sense of Christian education for all ages to Trinity Lutheran Church in Chelmsford and under his stimulation our Sunday Church School grew in both quantity and quality. He left in the Spring of 1968 to serve in an administrative post at the LCA in Philadelphia as a Christian educator. 

In the fall of 1968 a young pastor with a young family was called from Connecticut and he came to guide the destinies of the church for  three decades. Both Pastor Orville Lind and his wife, Donna, brought to Trinity Lutheran Church in Chelmsford an awareness of social needs as exemplified by our Lord Jesus Christ. He viewed the Church as the outstretched arm and hand of God ready to help all peoples who have need of both earthly and heavenly sustenance. "Come into me you who are in need of help, and I will give you rest", became the watch word of Trinity Lutheran in Chelmsford under Pastor Lind. Pastor Lind retired after 32 years of faithful service at Trinity in June, 2000. 

During the interim period of two years, our ministry continued with the care and guidance of Pastor Patricia Criste. The congregation spent time adjusting to life without the Lind's, and looking ahead to call a new minister. Pastor Criste was instrumental in the Revisioning process, the formation of active committees and the ongoing mission at Trinity. We began the call process in January of 2002.

On Reformation Sunday, October 2002, Trinity welcomed a new pastor to our flock. Pastor David Rinas brought 25 years of experience to Trinity from a diverse background of congregational and community service. During his time at Trinity, Pastor Rinas enjoyed being a pastor and worked with the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, the Refugee Immigration Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, and the Greater Lowell Interfaith Leadership Alliance.  He made several mission trips to Honduras. Pastor Rinas retired in June 2016 after serving Trinity for 13 years.

Page revised 16 Nov 2011 - Reformatted 18 Nov 2014
Revised 24 Mar 2017 (BC/KM)