History of Trinity Lutheran Church:
In 1879, a decade after the first log building appeared in downtown Winfield, two dedicated Lutherans arrived in Winfield from Independence, Ks. John Peter Baden and his wife Adelaide were to become a significant force in the development of the community and several of its institutions, especially the Lutheran Church, St John’s College and the Lutheran Children’s Home.
Upon their request, the Rev. G. Tuenjes of Independence visited Winfield on July 3, 1880, preached in the German language, and baptized several children. This most likely was the first Lutheran church service in the community. This service as well as others that followed, was held in the Baden home. Pastor Tuenjes, along with several seminary students from Independence, served as preachers for these services scheduled for the first Sunday of each month.
Growth in membership and the arrival of the Rev. Friedrick Otto in Mulvane made it possible for local Lutherans to hold more frequent services and to organize as St Martin’s Lutheran Church in the fall of 1882. This group of seven members elected J.P. Baden and HG. Buss as its first elders. In September of 1883 the congregation reorganized under the leadership of the Rev. A. K. Kraemer of Humbolt. Student G. Brauer assisted him in the work at Winfield.
In the spring of 1884 this congregation, together with the congregation at Mulvane, received J. H. Ehlers, a new graduate from the seminary at St. Louis. After Pastor Ehlers accepted a call to Missouri in 1886, the small congregation had to depend on the availability of pastors from eastern Kansas and western Missouri. During these years the congregation worshipped in a variety of settings. When the Baden living room became too small for the growing flock, a series of moves took it to a storage room in the Baden store at the southeast corner of l0th and Main, the city hall, the court house and the lecture room at the Baptist Church.
The need for a permanent house of worship prompted the purchase of a site at the northwest corner of 7th and Andrews for the construction of the new church home. Plans were drawn and in February of 1888 the cornerstone was laid. During the months that followed much of the work was done by volunteer labor. The debt that remained on the building was then assumed by Mr. Baden. The structure was dedicated on the second Sunday in June, two Sundays later Pastor C. Spannuth was installed into office. Now that the congregation had its own building and had called its own pastor, it was able to settle down to a period of sustained growth and development.
Less than four months later Pastor Spannuth accepted a call to Wichita. His brief ministry in Winfield, however, was marked by effective preaching in both English and German and the establishment of a German-English day school for the congregation. On the third Sunday in November 1888, the Rev. A. W. Meyer was installed as the new pastor. In a meeting on the following New Years Day, a new constitution was discussed and adopted. The document, written in both German and English, stipulated that worship services were to be held in both languages. During Pastor Meyer’s ministry at St. Martin’s, an organ was installed in the church and a Sunday School was initiated.
An eight-month vacancy began when Pastor Meyer accepted a call to Penn. In May of 1892, the Rev. George Luecke became St Martin’s next pastor, a position he held for three years. During this time Baden founded St John’s College, thus beginning a long and mutually beneficial relationship between this new institution and the local church. The formation of the Ladies Aid in 1894 marked the beginning of the organizations 100 years of service to the congregation.
After Pastor Luecke moved to North Carolina in 1895, the congregation was without a regular pastor for nearly three years. During this vacancy, A. W. Meyer, back in Winfield as president of St John’s College, was asked to serve as the interim pastor with the understanding that he and other faculty members conduct the services each Sunday. In February of 1898 the congregation called Rev. H. Rauh from Denver as the new Pastor.
On the evening of March 3, 1900, the entire Winfield community was shocked to learn that Baden had died following a brief illness. With his death the community lost one of its prominent business and civic leads; the college its founder and benefactor; and the congregation its founder and generous supporter. He had served his church well, filling a variety of elected offices and frequently making substantial contributions for specific purposes, in addition to his regular pattern of giving.
After a ministry of nearly three years in Winfield, Pastor Rauh accepted a call in January of 1901 to serve the Lutheran Church in Joplin, Mo. A year later, the Rev. John Lindemeyer became St. Martin’s new pastor. With his resignation in 1904, the congregation began its longest vacancy, a period of nearly six years, during which time three professors from St. John’s served as part-time pastors.
This long vacancy was productive in terms of St. Martin’s property and buildings. The original church had been damaged in the 1902 flood to the extent that it eventually was condemned. A committee, including Mrs. Baden was formed in May of 1903 to “see to the building of a new church.” Beginning in early 1905, the congregation began to hold services at St John’s chapel. The church, sold later that year, was later rebuilt into a residence that is still in use today. Mrs. Baden agreed to pay for the construction of a new building if the congregation purchased the lots.
Agreeing with her request that it be near the heart of the city, the congregation located the new structure at the corner of 8th and Loomis. Out of gratitude to Mrs. Baden for building a new church in honor of her deceased husband, the members voted to name it J.P. Baden Memorial Lutheran Church. The new building was dedicated on Jan. 28, 1906, with three special worship services.
This long vacancy, which also witnessed the transfer of the congregation’s affiliation from the English Synod to the Kansas District of the German Synod, was concluded with the installation of Pastor J.W. Werling in January of 1910. Problems related to the usage of the German language surfaced several times during Werling’s pastorate, especially during the period of World War I. In order to allay community suspicions and resentment, the congregation decided to discontinue all German worship services and usage of German in the day school. Pastor Werling, who already had been teaching at St. John’s on a part-time basis, accepted a call to become a full-time instructor at the college in the spring of 1918.
Five candidates were called to replace Pastor Werling before the Rev. Luecke accepted his call in October of 1918. Property improvement and maintenance demanded considerable attention as it was becoming more evident that the church structure was deteriorating and was not adequate to meet the growing needs of the congregation’s membership and programs.
Several studies were made, resulting in a variety of changes and renovations, both inside and outside. This included the installation of a concrete floor in the basement so that it could be utilized for Sunday school and group meetings. In 1924 a house was purchased at 1305 E. 7th which served as the parsonage until it was purchased by St. John’s College in 1969. Pastor Luecke left Winfield in 1926 to assume his new duties as instructor at Concordia Institute in Bronxville, N.Y.
In June of 1927 the Rev. Frederick Worthman began a pastorate that was to extend over a 10-year-period. During this time the congregation began its series of noon-day Lenten Services at the Regent Theater, initiated Sunday morning broadcasts over the local radio station, and participated in Oklahoma-Kansas Walther League Talent Quests that were promoted by Professors G. A. Kuhlmann and A. E. Kunzmann. On Feb. 23, 1930, the name of the congregation was officially changed to Trinity Lutheran Church. The arrival of Pastor Werner Kuntz in November 1937 ended a brief vacancy caused by the departure of Pastor Worthman several months earlier. In January of 1942 Trinity lost one of its founding members and generous benefactors with death of Mrs. Adelaide Baden. Another of Winfield’s many floods struck on April 24, 1944; this one, however, was more serious than most. The water rose suddenly, forcing curtailment of a Sunday service. Although it completely filled the basement, the water caused no structural damage to the building. On April 2, 1945, Pastor Kuntz was released to accept a call to the Lutheran Social Service Office of the Michigan District.
A month after the installation of Rev. Clemens Zehnder in October of 1945, the congregation elected a building committee which was charged with the task of making plans to finance and construct a new building. However, because the cost to relocate was higher than expected, the congregation decided to remain in their building and make a limited number of repairs and alterations. Beginning in 1953, more studies regarding construction and relocation were made but disagreement regarding the best options prevented any final solutions. This indecision was finally resolved when a suitable site on Mound between 9th and 10th became available. The purchase of this property was approved on May 5, 1958, and the William Caton firm was hired to draw up plans for the new structure to be built on that location. At this point Pastor Zehnder accepted a call to a church in Mexico City, thus ending a pastorate of 13 years.
The planning and execution of the next stage of the building program proceeded without the services of a full-time pastor. After the old church was sold to the local Church of Christ, Trinity’s members worshiped each Sunday at St John’s chapel. In May of 1959 the congregation approved the architect’s basic floor plan after the necessary financial arrangements for the building program were completed. The program received additional impetus with the arrival of Pastor Earl Schmiesing the following August. Final plans were completed by August of 1961 and the next month bids for the building construction were accepted. Groundbreaking services on Sept. 17 were followed by the laying of the cornerstone on Feb. 8, 1962. A fill day of activities and services highlighted the dedication of Trinity’s new church and school on Nov. 4, 1962.
The Schmiesing pastorate also saw significant changes in the church office with the introduction of new procedures and equipment. In May of 1964 the congregation adopted a completely new constitution, replacing the original constitution that dated back to 1889.
Pastor Schmiesing terminated his ministry of nine years in Winfield when he accepted a call on April 8, 1968. He was replaced by the Rev. Thomas Brooks in November of 1969. During the next 10 years the various programs of the church expanded as the congregation approved a series of changes in the constitution and church organization. The summer of 1979 brought another change in leadership when Pastor Brooks accepted a call to Hays, Ks.
The Rev. Martin Pullmann, campus pastor of St John’s College received and accepted Trinity’s first call for a new pastor. Pastor Martin Helmer assisted Pastor Pullmann as its visitation pastor. Major changes in Trinity’s worship were effected on March 7, 1982 with the introduction of Lutheran Worship, the new synodical hymnal. Pastor Pullmann served until 1985 at which time he retired here in Winfield.
Plans for the observance of Trinity’s centennial in 1982 led to the formation of two special committees, the Centennial Planning Committee and Building and Grounds Improvement Committee. As a result of the analysis made by the latter committee, the congregation approved a series of renovations and improvements totaling nearly $200,000. The Planning Committee scheduled and planned a series of events for Nov. 13 & 14, 1982, including a banquet and two festive worship services to celebrate 100 years.
Rev. Kenneth Haskell was installed as Pastor in 1984. In 1986 Trinity along with the Winfield community mourned the closing of St. John’s College after 90 plus years of existence. In 1989 Pastor Haskell accepted a call to Grace Lutheran in Ulysses, Ks.
After a one year vacancy, Rev. Roderick A. Hathaway was installed as pastor in June of 1990 and served at Trinity until July 1, 2018, the longest pastor in the congregations history-28 years. In 1992 the church under went a face lift when the sanctuary was completely remodeled, a new pipe organ was installed and the parking lot was expanded to the east. The Capital Fund Program was initiated and the Church & School Endowment Funds started. In 2006, the need for additional playground space was obtained with the purchase of an adjacent property east of the original playground. And in 2007, additional improvements including the installation of an elevator, ADA accessible restrooms in the basement of the church and a new fire alarm system throughout the church & school were completed. The church Bylaws were also significantly revised and ratified June 2007. This revision established the Parish Life Committee replacing the Board of Stewardship, Parish Education and Missions, Evangelism and Social Concerns committees.
Trinity observed and celebrated it's 125th anniversary April 13, 2008.
Several technological advances were made to the church. At the end of 2008 wireless internet was installed in both the church and school. In 2015 a new sound system was fully implemented in the chapel which allowed the school to perform the annual school musical in house. And in 2016 security cameras were installed.
In 2019, Rocky Mease became Interim Pastor at Trinity and Jane Limback Interim Principal.
January 2020, Pastor Seth Meyer accepted a call from Trinity to become it's pastor. In the summer of 2021, Chris Dehning was installed as Trinity's Principal.
Trinity Lutheran Church currently has a membership of 469 baptized souls and 320 communicant members. The church continues to support and maintain a school Preschool through sixth grade.