History of Trinity Lutheran Church

In 1866 the civil war had just ended, and Deer Park Road was a dirt road that ran through the farm lands outside Westminster. The area was populated by German immigrants, who had brought to this country their love of God and the Lutheran Church.

On February 9th of that year, a group of 19 men met at the home of Edward Felber, drawn by a need to establish a church. Because German was their common language, the language of their homes as well as their homeland, they longed for the comfort of worshipping as they had all their lives, in German. English worship and local Lutheran churches was not the sort of Lutheran worship they had known in Germany. With the help of a seminarian from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, they organized a congregation.

The first gift to the congregation was land, given by George Bitzel, who donated part of his farm for the purpose. These God-loving families worked together; and before the year was out, a small frame church had been erected and still stands across from the present church building. Surrounding it now is a cemetery where the founders and their families rest, close to the church they brought into being.

One of the biggest desires of the families, who were now able to worship in the building, was the Christian education of their children. The original 19 families had 75 children among them. Finally they had a church, a place where their children could learn in their chosen language, be confirmed, married, and bring up their children in the faith of their fathers.

In 1866, Trinity Lutheran Church was called into being to help newcomers to Carroll County to worship God in a language they could understand and to help share the Good News of Jesus with the next generation . . . some things never change!

This was not always easy because pastors were few. Through the years, Trinity was forced to rely on supply pastors who served other German-speaking congregations, dividing their time among those needs and the needs of Trinity Lutheran Church. Despite the lack of full-time pastoral care, with faithful laity, the small church on Deer Park grew. While many of the members were farmers, others were involved in trades and different occupations. However, they all shared one faith and one desire to have the Word of God part of their daily lives. They made it part of their fun as well, and 11 years after the building of the church, George Bitzel cleared a portion of his land so that the congregation could have a picnic on the first Saturday in August establishing the Dutch Picnic.

So the years passed and Trinity served the needs of its members. With the years came changes. As the children of the founders grew and married, they more and more used English as their first language. By 1901, there were as many members who wanted English worship as those who wanted worship to remain in German. Nature had taken its course and not only did more in the congregation speak English, but also fewer and fewer pastors spoke German.

The small frame church had sheltered its people well. In 1954, the building showed its age; it began settling, and inspection showed that major repairs were necessary. With the same courage the founders had shown back in 1866, in faith, the congregation took a daring step into the future and voted to build a new brick church across the road. Each member present turned over a spade full of earth at the groundbreaking on April 17, 1955. Then on Sunday November 13, 1955, the cornerstone was laid, containing books, publications and two silver coins from the cornerstone of the original church.

The project was blessed with the work of congregational members, who gave of their time and skills: and many of the furnishings as memorials. It was a joyous day when the church was ready to be dedicated by the President of the Maryland Synod, the Rev. Dr. Frank Fife, on September 8, 1956. Six years later, there was a mortgage burning ceremony. Building projects became ongoing. In 1967, a new brick parsonage was dedicated. The last step in building added church school rooms and the new Social Hall to the new brick structure, opening the way for church and social events and for Scouts and other community organizations to use the spacious facilities.

Thus, Trinity Lutheran Church has grown from its 28 by 36 foot beginning to its present size. Yet the members of the first congregation and the members of the present congregation share common goals. They welcome all who want to worship in the language of the day, all who enjoy the living liturgy that has connected God and God’s people throughout two millennia, all who wish the fellowship of friendly Christians, and all who desire for their children and for themselves, instruction in Christian faith and life.

Blog at WordPress.com.