History of Trinity Lutheran Church and School – Reed City
During the mid-1860’s, the Rev. Friedrich Sievers, Sr., while serving as the pastor to the congregation of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Frankenlust, journeyed into the wilderness of Michigan with the interest of seeking German Lutheran settlers who needed pastoral care. He, along with two sons and a seminary student, came upon the early settlers in our area, then known as Todd’s Slashings, and responded to their spiritual needs. He baptized five infants during a July 24, 1865, service at the home of Johann Schmidt, and two others the following day at the home of Louis Keller. He asked Pastor J. L. Diab of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids to continue to serve the spiritual needs of those he contacted in the area and a short time after that, this work was turned over to Pastor Franz Schmitt of Lisbon, Kent County, Michigan. It was under Pastor Schmitt’s leadership that the congregation formally organized on July 11, 1867, under the name of “The German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church, Unaltered Augsburg Confession, in Richmond Township, Osceola County, Michigan”. Although a list of the charter members was not preserved, the following names appear in the earliest records: Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Kienitz, Mr. and Mrs. Gottlieb Stephan, Mr. and Mrs. Johann Ruppert, Mr. and Mrs. Gottlieb Knuth, Mr. and Mrs. Ludwig Reumenab, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Schave, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Francke, Mr. and Mrs. Karl Robert, and Mr. and Mrs. Friedrich Mund.
The Rev. Johann Karrer was called to be the congregation’s pastor and was installed early in 1868. With his arrival, the congregation built a log church, which could also be used as the pastor’s dwelling, on two acres of land sold to the congregation by Gottlieb Stephan. This site, now known as St. Paul’s Cemetery, is located southwest of Reed City near the U.S. 131 freeway. Toward the end of 1869, a dispute arose among the members over the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper with some of the members maintaining and defending the Reformed teaching. This led to the split of the congregation on January 17, 1870. Gottlieb Stephan was part of the group that separated from Trinity so the members were forced to establish a new place of worship. Two acres of land were purchased from Karl Robert on the west side of Patterson Road at the end of Upton Avenue. Here a cemetery was established and worship services were conducted until fire consumed the log building on October 11, 1879. The decision was then made to locate in town. Two lots were purchased on the northeast corner of Church and Higbee Streets. A frame church, measuring 26’ x 40’, was dedicated on August 15, 1880. In the fall of 1880, the congregation began its “regular school”. Classes were conducted in the church until a new church building was built in 1893. The former church was then used exclusively for school purposes until it was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1920. Construction of a new frame school began immediately and that building served as the school until a congregational study in 1952 indicated the need for a larger, more modern building. The new school building was constructed on the west side of the church and the old school, still being structurally sound, was sold and moved one mile south of Reed City. Two additional classrooms and a gymnasium were added in 1961 and two more classrooms in 1980. The construction in 1980 also include a ramp way entrance connecting the church and school.
The church structure built in 1893 underwent various physical improvements throughout the years. In 1911, a bell weighing 1600 pounds was purchased and installed in the tower to summon worshipers. The 1930’s and early 1940’s witnessed an ongoing renovation program during which time hand-carved chancel pieces were installed, the Felgemacher organ was expanded and relocated by the Wangerin Organ Company, an ornate wood ceiling and new lighting fixtures were installed, concrete steps with a stone railing replaced the wooden ones, and a slate roof was put on the main part of the building. The installation of the beautiful stained glass windows occurred in 1952 and new pews, hymn boards, carpeting, and oak flooring were dedicated in 1963. A major renovation and preservation of the church steeple took place in the 1980’s. In 2004, the congregation instituted the “Building in Faith for All Generations” stewardship program and plans for a new church and school moved forward. Pledges were received toward a new church building with plans for the school to be built as soon as possible after the completion of the church. The new church building, located east of Reed City of U.S. Highway 10, was dedicated in June, 2006, and the new school building was dedicated ten years later in September, 2016.
Change has also taken place in how the congregation has conducted their worship services. During its early years, the German language was used almost exclusively. Services in English were conducted on special occasions. However, in 1912, monthly English services were added in order to accommodate those who knew only English. By 1928, with English being used more and more, the decision was made to conduct services in both languages each Sunday. Attendance at the German services began to decline and finally, in 1950, they were discontinued.
The year 1960 saw the introduction of two morning services during the summer months as an accommodation to tourists and members of Trinity who desired an earlier service. This “summer service” was gradually lengthened until 1972, when it was decided to conduct two morning services each Sunday throughout the year. During the 150 years of its organized existence, Trinity has been blessed by the faithful service of sixteen called ministers: the Reverends Johann Karrer, C. L. Wuggazer, Hermann Juengel, Theodore Finck, F. W. Geffert, C. C. Koessel, A. W. Born, Walter B. L. Strandes, John J. C. Brehm, Richard A. Krugler, Russell E. Koen, Robert D. Baerwolf, Dean M. Davenport, Jeffrey R. Potter, Timothy M. Verity, and Paul A. Tonn.