Trinity Lutheran to celebrate 125 years

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 18, 2002

The Waltham Trinity Lutheran Church will celebrate 125 years of service on Sunday.

The Trinity congregation is looking forward to the coming weekend's special events, planned within the white facades of its beautiful country church.

Jeff Kuddes, resident pastor of Trinity, with the help of parishioners Paul Schulz, president, Marcia Pesch, board of finance, and Jim Pesch eagerly talked about the upcoming program. On Saturday afternoon, there will be a service and luncheon, and after that, showing of videos of times past.

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Assisted by Kuddes, Lane Seitz, president of Minnesota South District of the Lutheran Missouri Synod, will be guest speaker at the 10 a.m. Sunday service. After this service, there will be a catered meal to feed about 300 expected guests. The plan to release 125 balloons is probably the most popular part, at least for the children. It is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and is to be followed by a 3 p.m. service by Kuddes and guest speaker, Pastor Daryl Gehlback.

'Trinity', as the members affectionately call their church family, has grown in number since 1874, when Pastor Joel of Claremont began to conduct public worship in the homes of a few area families. At a meeting in 1877,a congregation was organized, and Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Waltham Township was adopted. Consequently, the constitution was signed by nine members.

As families expanded, the need for a larger meeting place became apparent. In 1879 they dedicated their first house of worship.

Pastors from sister churches traveled many miles to hold worship services in Waltham until the congregation was able to call its first own pastor. In 1884, a parsonage was built and Rev. J.C. Martin, Trinity's first resident pastor, moved in.

Martin, seeing the need for Christian education, opened a Christian day school and taught there.

The little schoolhouse closed at the end of the 1964-65 school year.

The church membership grew, so it was decided that a larger building had to be built. The two-acre lot where the church, school and parsonage sat next to the cemetery was not big enough.

In 1895 the buildings were moved to a four-acre lot, donated by Herman Meyer, and the new church was dedicated.

"This is a mother congregation to St. John's in Brownsdale, Our Savior's in Brownsdale and St. John's in Austin. In other words, we helped start those congregations." Kuddes said.

A proud smile lit up his face as he continued. "People would leave here to help those get started; that's of some significance -- that people from here helped other churches get started."

"It would be like what we now call a mission church," Marcia Pesch added, no less proud than her pastor.

Kuddes is the 22nd pastor to serve in Waltham. He, his wife Michele, and their three children, Caleb, Jacob and Naomi have been here just more than a year.

Over time, 914 baptisms have been performed in this church, 725 confirmations, 236 marriages and 339 funerals. The membership numbers about 200 people, from the oldest, Ray Sasch of Austin, to the youngest, Caleb Myers.

The most recent touch-up work done in the church building is fresh paint in the lower level, which houses the community room and kitchen. In response to a compliment about the nicely modernized kitchen, Kuddes cast a fond eye in its direction.

"That's the most important part!" he exclaimed, and all agreed in hearty laughter, for how would a church handle meal service for hundreds of guests, were it not for the kitchen?

The pastor then extended the "birthday party" invitation to all past and present Trinity family members and guests.

Nini Johnson can be reached at