The history of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Watertown, South Dakota, is a history closely connected with the formation of the church body to which it belongs, the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC). Trinity's first pastor, Christian Albrecht wrote the following brief History:
In obedience to the Word of God, Pastor Chris Albrecht and a number of families of Immanuel Lutheran of Grover, and of St. John, Mazeppa Township separated themselves from their former affiliation in their congregations and with the Wisconsin Synod (WELS). These joined together under the leadership of Pastor Albrecht to form a new congregation to become known as Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Watertown. This action was taken in the early months of 1959.
God's blessing rested upon such action taken in obedience and faith. Without property, without established credit, Trinity set forth to establish a place and house of worship. Land was purchased; a building committee (George Dummann, Martin Fuerstenau, Edmund Klatt, Ralph Breitzman, and Pastor Albrecht) was chosen; plans were drawn up, and the building program began. Zealous members gave untiringly of their time, talents and money to make the new church home a reality. Dedication services were held July 31st 1960.
Charter members consisted of Ralph Breitzman, Elmer Dummann, George Dummann, Carl Fritz, Edwin Fritz, Elmer Fuerstenau, Gilbert Fuerstenau, Martin Fuerstenau, Norman Fuerstenau, H. Max Fuerstenau, Hubert Fuerstenau, Jake Fuerstenau, John W. Fuerstenau, Paul Fuerstenau, Paul Fuerstenau, Vernon Fuerstenau, Otto Groskruetz, Arnold HAllauer, Bert Klatt, Edmund Klatt, Edwin Klatt, Orville Klatt, Willie Klatt, Martin Kuhlman, Orville Noeldner, Howard Olstlund, William Reinschmidt, Chester Svarvari, Robert Wagner, Carl Zweig, Larry Zweig. The first elected officers -- October 11, 1959 -- were: President George Dummann; Seretary-Treasurer -- Edmund Klatt; Financial Secretary -- Willie Klatt; Mission Secretary -- Orville Noeldner; Trustees -- J.W. Fuerstenau, Robert Wagner, O. Groskrueutz; Elders -- Martin Fuerstenau, Bert Klatt; Sunday School Elders -- Vernon Fuerstenau, Edwin Klatt.
Separation action had been and was being taken by others formerly affiliated with the Synodical Conference; Interim meetings were held in the years 1957 through early 1960; a Constitutional Convention for the Interim group was hosted by Trinity August 9-12, 1960, during which the name "The Church of the Lutheran Confession" was chosen for the Church Body. Trinity was privileged to be a charter member of this body.
Church Life for Trinity now turned to a more normal and settled state; attention focused on extending the Gospel through mission work, Bible classes, Sunday School and to the establishing of a Christian Day School for the fostering and preserving of the blessed heritage of the Word and Sacraments. The goal of a Day School was reached in the Fall of 1968 under the pastorate of Daniel Fleischer. The school opened with an enrollment of 18 children. Miss Shirley Wendland, the called Teacher, used her talents of organizing to establish an orderly and efficient nursery of Christian training. The school brought further evidence of the Lord's gracious blessings. A second teacher in the person of Mrs. Mary Ann Gerth was added in the Fall of 1971.
Pastor Chris Albrecht served from October 11, 1959 until April 1967; Pastor Daniel Fleischer served from April 1967 until August 1970; Pastor Vernon Greve served from August 1970 until May 1984; Pastor Paul Gurgel served from June 1984 until 1990. In the interim after Pastor Gurgel became the Foreign Missionary of the CLC, Pastor Leland Grams served as vacancy pastor two months during 1990 and again for seven months during 1991 and 1992 following the term of Pastor Michael Thom. Pastor Michael Thom served from 1990 until 1991. Pastor Jay Hartmann served from 1992 until 1997. Pastor John Johannes served as vacancy pastor in 1997 until Pastor Schaller's installation. Pastor Andrew Schaller served Trinity from 1997 until 2015. Photos of those men who have served as called pastors of Trinity may be found by clicking on the link below:
We thank God that the Christian Day School, organized by Shirley Wendland in 1968, continues to this day. The following have faithfully served at Trinity Lutheran School during its history: Shirley Wendland served from 1968 until 1973; Mary Ann Gerth served from 1971 to 1973; Erma Maier served from 1973-1974; Alvin Sieg served from 1974-1979; Ona Wheaton served from 1972 until 1984; Marlys Gerth served from February 1984 until 1990. School at Trinity was suspended during 1990. Miss Beth Johannes (now Mrs. Beth Sandeen) served from 1991 until 1995. Miss Sarah Lau (now Mrs. Sarah Schaller)served from 1995 until 1999. Miss Vanessa Bernthal (now Mrs. Vanessa Wales) served from 1999-2001. Miss Erin Libby served from 2001-2005. Mr. Ryan Hammett served from 2005-2012. Mr. Sherman Carstensen is the current Christian Day School Teacher. Photos of those who have served as Teachers at Trinity Lutheran School may be found on the link below:
Mr. Martin Fuerstenau served as organist from the very early days of Trinity's history. In 1980, Mrs.Paul Dummann (Melanie) was voted assistant organist. Mrs. Cheryl Thompson also served as organist while a member of Trinity. Mr. Alvin Sieg; Miss Sarah Lau (now Mrs. Sarah Schaller, wife of Pastor David Schaller); Miss Vanessa Bernthal (now Mrs. Vanessa Wales, wife of Teacher Nathan Wales) also helped by playing organ during their tenures as teacher.
Return to Main Page