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    Over 90 Years Serving Christ:
    A Short History

    The Evangelical Trinity Lutheran Congregation

    Clinton, Massachusetts

This "Short History" was written in 1990 largely by Paul L. Martin, then president of the congregation, as one of the several projects of our congregation's 75th anniversary year.

Late in the 1890's, a number of Lutheran families in the Clinton area gathered to worship together. That was the beginning of the congregation we now call Trinity.

1899 Pastor Kaestner of Worcester was invited to Clinton to hold services in the home of one of the sponsoring families. The date of the first of these worship services was September 17, and there were fourteen people present.

Pastor Kaestner conducted these services each Sunday afternoon at 3:30. The attendance grew quickly and before long, an individual home was no longer able to support the increasing numbers and it was decided to rent space downtown. A large room in the Pierce Block on High Street in Clinton was rented as the meeting hall until August 18, 1901, when Pastor Kaestner accepted a call to Little Rock, New York.

For the next ten years, services were held only intermittently in the homes of various members.

1903 Pastor Graepp of Worcester came to Clinton to conduct a meeting in February, during which Mr. Karl Precht was elected Secretary and Mr. Julius Stark, Treasurer. Meetings ceased in November of 1903 and services did not resume until October of 1904.

1904 Starting in October, Pastor Halfmann of Manchester, New Hampshire began to hold services for the Clinton faithful on alternate Sundays. Mr. Edward Lemke was elected Chairman and Mr. John Rauscher was elected Treasurer.

1906 In January Pastor Halfmann accepted a call to Brooklyn, New York, and again services lapsed. For the next several years, many of those wishing to hear the pure Word and to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus traveled to Concordia Lutheran on Chandler Street in Worcester.

It was quite common at this time for Lutherans to receive Holy Communion only once or twice a year. Often this was associated with a church holiday Such as Reformation, Christmas, or Easter. Although during the period between 1900 and 1917, the offering of communion increased from twice a year to four times a year, few received this gift more than twice a year.

1911 Pastor Rademacher was invited to Clinton and met with a group of Lutherans in the home of Mr. Alex Schutz. Services resumed after this and were held on alternate Sundays in the homes of various members.

1912 Services began to be held in the school house at the corner of Chace Street and Berlin Road.

1913 The congregation reorganized and adopted a new constitution. The name of those signing the constitution were:

o Mr. John Schutz, Chairman
o Mr. Richard Lemke, Secretary
o Mr. Johann Rauscher, Treasurer
o Mr. Alex Schutz
o Mr. Henry Rockel
o Mr. Julius Schartner
o Mr. Laurence Rauscher
o Mr. Ad. Radetski
o Mr. Ed Steinbrich

This time the faithful appeared determined, through the grace of God, to make this congregation work. As one of the first items of business Laurence Rauscher, Henry Rockel and Alex Schutz were elected as a committee to select a location for a new church building. They were able to purchase the property where the church now stands for the sum of $250.00.

In September, Pastor Rademacher offered his services to the new congregation on a full time basis, which the congregation accepted with thanks. They then authorized the three trustees to seek a contractor and develop plans for a new church building.

1914 On May 3, John Shutz, Johann Rauscher and Laurence Rauscher presented the plans for what we now consider the older part of the present structure, the portion of the building in front of the East and West wings. During the latter part of that summer, the members of the congregation, using hand tools, horse drawn plows and strong backs, dug the cellar hole for the building foundation.

In September, the cornerstone was set into place with Pastor Baum, of Worcester, officiating at the cornerstone ceremony.

The following items were placed into the cornerstone during the ceremony:

o A short history and confession of the church;
o Names of the members of the congregation;
o Names of the members of the Ladies Aid Society;
o Name of the President of the United States;
o Name of the Governor of Massachusetts;
o Names of the officials of the town of Clinton;
o A German-English Catechism;

Copies of:

o Lutheran Witness
o Lutheraner
o Zeuge und Anzeiger
o Lutheran Pioneer
o Missionstaube

o Lutheran Kinderblatt
o Fuer die Kleinen
o Young Lutheran
o Lutheran Guide
o Missourier
o Bote aus Bethesda
o Lutheran Hospice
o Lutheran Education Society
o Weg zum Anfang einer Lutheran Universitaet Brosamen Rundshau
o Hausund-Bauemfreund
o Gesangbuch
o Item
o Erster Lesebuch
o Namen der Beamten der Gemeinde.

1915 Completion of the building took another six months. The dedication ceremony was held on April 18, with morning, afternoon and evening services. The morning service was conducted in the German language, the afternoon service in both German and English and the evening service was in German and Polish. Officiating at the services were Pastors Baum, Kaestner, Zimmermann, Martin, Brunn and Lin.

The Pastor Martin mentioned above was the Rev. Louis Martin of Manchester, N.H. who was to be the father of one of the future pastors of Trinity, the Rev. Theo. A. Martin. Several years later, Pastor L.H. Martin was called to the congregation in Worcester where he stayed for seven

years. During those years he and his family, including young son Ted, traveled by trolley from Worcester to take part in Mission and Reformation festivals with the Clinton congregation.

The first attempt to incorporate occurred in April, but this attempt was unsuccessful. At that time Mr. Laurence Rauscher was elected as president, Mr. Richard Lemke as secretary, Mr. H. Rein as treasurer and Messrs. Julius Schartner, John Schutz, and John Rauscher as trustees.

1916 Pastor Rademacher resigned in May but agreed to stay on until a new pastor was called and arrived. At this same meeting, a committee was chosen to determine the feasibility of acquiring a bell for the church tower. No further mention of a bell was made for several years.

In July, the congregation extended a call to Pastor H. M. Mohr. There were, at that time, ninety members in the congregation-, forty communicants and seventeen in Sunday School. Prior to the arrival of Pastor Mohr, there had been no English language services at Trinity.

1917 Pastor Mohr encouraged the start of the English worship and on April 15, the voting body agreed to hold English services once a month on a Sunday evening.

The first Mission Festival for the young congregation also occurred during this year. It was held on August 5th with the other area Lutheran congregations being invited to attend.

1919 The congregation decided to hold English services every Sunday morning. This was also the year that the congregation joined the Missouri Synod.

1920 During a January meeting, a second committee was chosen to pursue the purchase of a bell for the church tower. The committee consisted of Pastor Mohr, Laurence Rauscher and H. Rein. It was the hope of the voters to have the bell in place for the fifth anniversary celebration which was to be held on May 9 of that year. Unfortunately, the bell was not ready for the anniversary and so the dedication of the bell was postponed until that year's mission festival celebration, which was held on August 8th.

1923 With an eye for expansion and the opportunity available to them, the congregation considered the purchase of the tracts of land adjacent to the church lot. On July 29, the voters approved the purchase of those lots, including the one upon which the parsonage now stands.

1924 Pastor Mohr resigned in May. During those eight years, the congregation had grown to 210 members; 75 communicants, 25 voters and 58 children in Sunday School.

With the assistance of Pastor H. Ebelke of Worcester, on July 3 a call was sent out to Pastor H. A. Beyer of the Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church in Dover, New Jersey. On July 15, Pastor Beyer turned down this call via a letter to the Clinton congregation which had been sent through Pastor Ebelke.

On July 30, Pastor Carl Zorn was called to lead the congregation.

1925 In August, the congregation decided to build a parsonage on the lot adjacent to the church building. The building committee consisted of Laurence Rauscher, C. Ryll, John Rockel and Pastor Zorn. However, before they could proceed with the project, they found it necessary to incorporate. The new constitution was adopted on the 26th of October.

The congregation celebrated its tenth anniversary. The celebration marked the elimination of the debt which the congregation had incurred during its early growth period. The guest preachers for the Tenth Anniversary Celebration were Pastors Luther Steup and J. Pfeiffer.

1926 The Commonwealth of Massachusetts ratified the new constitution on April 26.

1930 The congregation declared itself to be self-supporting for the first time on January 1. Unfortunately, it was near the beginning of the Great Depression and it soon became necessary to return to subsidized support for a short time. The Fifteenth Anniversary celebration was held on May 19 with guest preachers Pastors Birkner and Ebelke.

In December, Pastor Zorn resigned. The congregation now numbered two hundred baptized members; 95 communicants, 25 voters and 63 children in the Sunday School.

1931 The congregation sent Out a call to Pastor S.J. Frey in January. Pastor Frey accepted the call and was installed as the pastor of Trinity on March 15.

1935 The congregation celebrated its 20th anniversary on June 2.

1937 On July I 1, Pastor Frey resigned. Pastor Henry Heck was called in August and installed as our shepherd in October. The congregation numbered 250 members with 160 communicants, 42 voters and 56 children in Sunday School.

During this period Trinity received the old organ from Concordia Lutheran Congregation of Worcester. Trinity's old organ was, in turn, given to the Belmont Mission.

In order to reduce the debt which had accumulated through the depression years, attention was redirected to the ongoing Penny-a-meal program. A 25th anniversary debt reduction fund was started with all church clubs and societies contributing along with the members of the congregation.

1940 Pastor Heck's stay with us was brief. He accepted a call to another congregation and was succeeded by Adolphe Steinke who also remained at Trinity for only three years.

1941 Under Pastor Steinke's guidance, Vacation Bible school was started and, except for a few years in the early 1980's has since been an annual event at Trinity. In the same year the voters approved the building of a garage on the site of what was the old tennis court (This singles court was located in the area that now includes the garage and the small garden area behind the parsonage).

1942 The Walther League (young people group) gave a service roll with the names of the members of Trinity serving in the Armed Services during World War 11. Two of these servicemen later (in 1944) donated a Christian and an American flag to the congregation. These flags have remained in the Church since that time.

1943 Pastor Steinke accepted a call to Schenectady, New York and left Trinity in June.

1944 Thanks to a six month debt liquidation drive which had begun some time earlier, the congregation was able to, pay off its debt by the beginning of this year. The remaining funds were placed in a Reserve fund.

Pastor Cyril Wismar received a call and became our next pastor and remained with us for the next five years. While with us, he initiated the "Each One, Reach One" program.

1945 The lot next to the church was purchased from the Suburban Electric Company.

During the period of World War II, Pastor Wismar encouraged participation of the youth in the local USO programs. During this time, three of our members lost their lives while serving their country; they were Arnold Lemke, Robert Schimke and Gerhard Hildebrandt.

1946 A Boy Scout troop was started and managed by a committee of voters of the congregation.

1947 A Synodical centennial service was held on April 27.

A donation of communion silvers was sent to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sonoma, California.

1948 Pastor Wismar accepted a call to Ohio and Pastor Theodore Martin was installed as his successor in October. Pastor Martin would shepherd the people of Trinity for the next 37 years.

A special Harvest festival Service was held on Thanksgiving Eve and food was brought to benefit the Association for the Works of Mercy.

Pastor Martin was given permission to serve Lutherans stationed at Fort Devens.

1949 The Organ Fund was established in January and later that year, a Couples Club was started.

1950 In March, the congregation voted to enlarge the church building by adding a new section to the rear of the original building. During that year, the basement was enlarged and the new building shell was added. This part of the project included installing a new heating system, a new kitchen and refinishing the remainder of the basement. The upper portion of the structure was left unfinished for several more years.

During the 1950's three members of Trinity completed deaconess training at Valparaiso University and were later installed as deaconesses at Trinity. Eunice Weidner went on to teach and later become principal of Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf. Edith Casson became a Registered Nurse and went on to do missionary work in New Guinea. Eleanor Weidner also served as deaconess.

1959 The renovation of the entire upper floors occurred. Between July and December of that year all services were conducted in the church basement while the work was progressing upstairs. Included in the renovation was a new pulpit and altar and new pews. The old hymn boards were cut down in size and they, along with the existing altar chairs, lectern, baptismal font and window frames, were bleached and refinished to better match the natural oak finish of the new church motif. The altar desk alone remained unchanged.

Much of the fine new oak millwork installed during the renovation was supplied by the Gothic Craft Corp. of Northboro. The actual construction and renovation work was done by Howard Pendelton, Contractor.

Many of the furnishings were paid for by members of the congregation as memorial gifts for family members and friends.

Thanks to the Organ fund and other recent memorial gifts a new Baldwin electronic organ was purchased with surplus funds set aside to cover maintenance costs.

At this time, electronic chimes were also installed. These chimes would automatically strike the hours and would ring for the start of regular services. The old bell was to remain in the tower but would only be rung during the recitation of the Lord's Prayer.

On the afternoon of December 13, our renovated place of worship was dedicated to the glory of God. Pastor Rantala of Maynard was the guest preacher for the dedication service.

1964 Whereas in the early history of the congregation, the congregation found it necessary to introduce English services, the congregation now found it appropriate to limit the German language services. Starting in 1964, German services were conducted only once a month. These services were to include Holy Communion and would we held on the second Sunday of

the month. Special services and festivals would still include a separate German language service.

1965 On May 16, Trinity celebrated its 50th year in service to the Lord from Chace Street address. A special service was held during the afternoon with Pastor Adolph Steinke of Syracuse, N.Y., formerly pastor at Trinity, as the guest preacher.

1968 Due to a dwindling attendance, the German language services were discontinued altogether.

1973 The illuminated cross in the belfry was donated and installed in memory of Mr. Fred Schubert. Although installed in 1973, the memorial had actually been given 54 years earlier.

During the late 1960's and early 1970's, a controversy occurred in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod over the nature, authority, and integrity of the Bible as the inerrant and inspired Word of God. The controversy involved an attack of the Lutheran Confessions and the use of the Historical Critical Method of Bible interpretation which denied the historicity of certain portions of the Bible-it proved extremely divisive. By the end of the 1970's approximately 200,000 members of the LCMS had left our synod, and joined a splinter church called The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (AELC). Our congregation's district (then the Atlantic District) was especially hard hit, losing about 30 percent of its congregations to the AELC.

During this time, our congregation, through its pastor, officers, and voting body, took an uncompromising position, siding with Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and synodical conservatives. As a representative of the district, Pastor Martin instructed many congregations about the dangers of joining the AELC and urged them to stay with the Missouri Synod. This congregation's unyielding position required the defense of Biblical doctrine in meetings and conferences in the presence of liberal opposition.

During the 1970's Trinity reached out to the community through a program aimed at combating the growing belief in Evolution. The congregation invited three guest lecturers to present the scientific foundations of Creation in opposition to the theories of Evolution. These guests included Pastor Walter Lang, then of the Bible Science Association, Dr. Anderson, and Dr. Tinkle.

Also during this period, the youth of our congregation were introduced to the Ongoing Ambassadors' for Christ program. This program was sponsored by the synod as an outreach to the local communities by the youth of the congregations. Pastor Douglas May of Christ Lutheran in Troy N.H. spearheaded this program in our district circuit.

1985 Pastor Martin announced his intention to retire following his 70th birthday in June. He agreed, however, to help in the search of a new pastor and also agreed to stay on until a new pastor had been found. In May of that year, Philip Stuart, president of the congregation, received a letter from Pastor Richard Bucher announcing his acceptance of his call to Trinity and his intention to start on July 21.

In the fall of this year the Voters agreed to offer Holy Communion twice monthly, on the first and third Sundays of each month. It had previously been offered only once.

Also in the fall, in an effort to reach the community with the Gospel, Survey Saturdays were begun. Each month Pastor Bucher and members of the congregation would go door to door throughout the town of Clinton, asking a series of evangelistic questions. The first Witness Workshop was held at this time also.

The Voters agreed to begin special Children sermonettes once a month. These sermons, given by Pastor Bucher, consisted of an object lesson of some kind and were designed especially for the children. The Voters later agreed to offer them twice a month, on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

1986 To give our members opportunity for Bible Study and fellowship, In Home Bible Studies were begun. These studies were written by Pastor Bucher, were led by leaders within the congregation, and met in member's homes.

An Evangelism Ministry, was formed early in the year. This ministry consisted of several teams of evangelists who were trained by the pastor and then made evangelism calls in homes throughout the community once a week.

In light of a renewed interest in evangelism, individual and group Bible study, and to allow for better use of the facilities, it was decided to covert the upstairs room in the east wing of the church into a library. This room has since been used regularly for small meetings, confirmation classes, and prayer groups, as well as to house a growing collection of Christian reading materials available for use by our members. Mr. Eugene Bock was selected to be our librarian.

A monthly newsletter was introduced to the congregation. Proclaim! was intended to contain not only the news of the congregation but Scriptural and Confessional content as well.

A Friendship Sunday was held in February of this year. Several were to be held in the years following. These special services were opportunities for our members to invite non-Christian friends and relatives to church to hear the Gospel.

To get the Word of God primarily to our shut-ins, a tape ministry was launched in memory of Edgar and Irene Wallat. Each Sunday the sermon is recorded and duplicated by our tape minister. The tapes are then distributed later in the week by the pastor.

In the summer vinyl siding and new windows were installed on the parsonage in an effort to reduce maintenance and lower the heating costs. The work was done by Carlton.

1987 Bibles were purchased by our congregation and placed in every pew. These were intended to be used by members during the reading of the lessons as well as during sermons. The Bibles were given in memory of Edgar and Irene Wallat.

As we became more aware of our need to evangelize, the congregation decided in December to begin a weekly radio program. The name Proclaim! was chosen for the new program, as it had been for our newsletter, because through it we would attempt to "proclaim" the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to our community. The first host of the program was Thomas Becker. The initial format consisted of hymns by our own church choir and a sermon from Pastor Bucher. The program began in January of 1988 and was aired Sunday afternoon over WCMX AM radio in Leominster.

1988 Mr. Richard Steinau took over as the host of Proclaim! radio program in June. A change in format was introduced with pre-recorded Christian music being added to supplement the Trinity hymns. Later in the year the program was moved to a Sunday morning time slot.

In July, the congregation decided to install vinyl siding on the church building. This project was completed in November by Carlton.

In September, a Saturday afternoon worship service was begun. This service was intended to be another way of reaching out to the community and the inactive members with the Gospel.

A Planning Council was formed. The Council was made up of representatives of the many committees and ministries of the congregation. Its purpose was to do long term planning for the congregation's future ministry and make recommendations to the Church Council and Voters Assembly. A Statement of Purpose for our congregation was drafted by this group and approved by the Voters.

A Helping Hand fund was initiated to assist those in financial need in the congregation and outside it.

1989 A fund drive was started to help to pay for the purchase of a new organ. The Baldwin organ was now 30 years old and was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. An organ search committee was also formed to find a suitable replacement before the 75th Anniversary Year celebration. On the committee were Mr. Phil Stuart, Mrs. Gladys Stuart (our Choir Director), and Mr. David Purinton. The new Allen 1140 electronic organ was installed in May and was dedicated in a special evening service on June 18 with Mr. Charles King as our guest organist. The old organ was given to Miss Arlene Beebe, our organist at that time.

Trinity Lutheran Press was begun in May. This "Press" consisted of various desktop publishing equipment in the church. Its purpose was to produce books, booklets and tracts which would communicate the truths of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions with our members and community.

1990 In an effort to reach a greater number of people with the Word, it was voted to move Proclaim! to a new station: WORC AM radio in Worcester. This was begun in January.

Consistent with the 75th Anniversary theme of "presenting Lutheranism to the community," Pastor Bucher also revised the program format by replacing the sermon with "I Was Wondering." In this segment the pastor would answer questions of contemporary religious interest sent in by members or other listeners. This was to be another means of explaining our Biblical and Confessional Lutheran position.

2004 September 12 - Installation of Pastor Gramit.