The Mission Church – 1886-1907 Spring 1885
Rev. Samuel Smith, from the Board of Missions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, was sent to the river town of Sioux City to canvass the area for three months. Rev. Smith reported a great need for an English speaking Lutheran church in Sioux City.
Missionary Pastor David L. MacKenzie arrived in Sioux City to begin the second Iowa Mission Lutheran Church. The first service was held in the old Northwestern Business College at Fourth and Nebraska Streets with a total congregation of Mrs. Mary MacKenzie, his mother and the first church organist, his brother, Charles, Andrew Engh and Pastor MacKenzie.
On September 19, 1886, there was organized and established at Sioux City, in the County of Woodbury, State of Iowa, a Religious Society composed of a Board of six Trustees and 27 members, known as the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. This organization was perfected in the old Court House on 6th and Pierce Streets, which for awhile served as a place of worship.
This young and growing congregation had nearly 40 members and raised $2,600 to purchase lots for a church and parsonage built in 1888 at the Northwest corner at 11th and Nebraska Streets.
The flood of 1892 was devastating, money was tight, and there was an international depression; therefore, lack of Sunday School teachers kept Sunday School growth slow. Still, by 1893, church membership was about 127. The first choir was organized that year and Trinity was able to send $17 to a new Mission Church in Clinton, Iowa.
In May 1895, the Rev. J. Alfred Koser became Trinity’s second pastor. The church was frescoed and repainted and a new parsonage was bought in 1896. Membership and attendance fell as many people left town.
The Rev. C. Rollin Sherek arrived to take the leadership of Trinity. Church membership grew to 150 and due to the city changing the grade of Nebraska Street, the building had to be raised three feet. The building was renovated and beautified.
The cost of supporting this Mission Church had been going down bit by bit, and on September 1, 1907, Trinity became independent!
Sioux City was booming and Trinity was too! Plans were being made to build a new church, right in the middle of World War I. On April 6, 1919, the Nebraska Street congregation, led by the Pastor and the choir, marched one block north and one block east to 12th and Jackson Street for the dedication of our present building.
The total cost of this new brick church, including the site, building, pews, altar, windows and pipe organ, was $98,708.15. The structure of the new church is Gothic and Cruciform and the altar is a traditional high altar patterned after those found in the Roman Catholic Churches. The windows, among the most magnificent in the area, are now priceless. The artist (unknown) has caught the Good News of the gospel through the Birth, the Death and the Resurrection.
Trinity celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1936.
The 30s was a time of great growth, so Pastor Schwertz, who had been at Trinity for nine years, felt that the congregation needed to begin a mission church in the Morningside area where many members lived. Thus, in 1938 the United Lutheran Church Board of Missions established St. Lukes Lutheran Church. This church grew so substantially that today St. Lukes has its own mission church, St. Mark Lutheran Church.
Trinity burned the mortgage at a special service on January 14, 1945.
Ground breaking for the new Education Wing took place on a bleak day in March 1953. There were 18 classrooms, a nursery, beginner’s department, an office and a beautiful little chapel. At the same time the basement was renovated, a new kitchen built where the stage once stood and a new furnace installed. The total cost was $116,976.54.
Pastor Walter A. Voss, who served as Trinity’s pastor since 1941, was attacked in the alley and knocked unconscious as he walked home one evening. After suffering several strokes shortly afterwards, he died February 6, 1954. The Voss Memorial Chapel and the Memorial Education Building were dedicated May 9, 1954. Pastor Voss was not able to see this day for which he had worked so hard.
On October 30, 1954, Russell James Olson began his work as the 11th pastor of Trinity and continued this work for 22 years. A new parsonage was purchased on 24th Street. He became active not only in the local affairs of the church but also on a state level. Pastor Olson was also active in community and political affairs, served on many local and state boards, lectured, and helped organize the weekly television program “Concern,” serving 17 years as its moderator.
In 1960, the congregation purchased a 32-rank, 1865 pipe, Reuter organ and in 1961 completely redecorated the nave. By the mid-60s, two adjacent pieces of property were purchased for off-street parking.
By the mid-70s, Trinity had air-conditioning, pew cushions, the Satter Youth Room, and a complete, new, modern kitchen facility, a total property value set at over one million dollars. Pastor Olson retired in 1976. Pastor Frank Starkey was called to Trinity in October 1977. New oak front doors were installed.
Pastor Fred and Ruth Lubs and family came to Trinity in July 1980. Ruth Schuldt, Trinity’s Secretary for 38 years, retired. In February 1985 the new Narthex was dedicated. The project included renovation and carpeting of the church parlors, installation of an elevator, and creation of a new music room.
Today Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church stands on the hill in stately, reverent beauty, to proclaim the love, the sacrifice, and the noble service of faithful and generous members for over 100 years, as well as to give eloquent testimony to the Christ whose love has inspired all that has been done.” Another 100 years and we will no doubt seem an ancient society, but the word of God will remain. His will be done, forever and ever.