Church History

History of Our Church

Trinity Lutheran Church, founded in 1968, has a rich history. 

On Ascension Day of 1965, the Reverend Kenneth C. Schlueter, the Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church of Terre Haute, Indiana, held a service in the home of William and Eva Harvey of Jasonville, Indiana. Shortly after that date, services were held on a regular basis once a month. The services were held in Linton in the old building owned by Trinity Lutheran Church, a name adopted by the people of the community and voted on in 1953.

          In September of 1996 an intern by the name of Harold Schlactenhaufen was assigned to the U.S. Penitentiary through the Reverend W. Ralph Graham, Chaplain. Mr. Schlactenhaufen worked part-time for Christ Lutheran Church in Terre Haute, Indiana, and part-time for the correctional facility. In his work at Christ Lutheran Church he conducted worship services under the supervision of Reverend Kenneth Schlueter. In September,1967, Intern Schlactenhaufen was succeeded by Intern John P. Schmeling.

During 1968, the Reverend Norman L. Orth, Director of the Great Lakes Region, Division of American Mission of the American Lutheran Church (A.L.C.), conducted meetings and an investigation regarding the venture of a mission in Linton, Indiana. The American Mission of the A.L.C. officially extended the sanction to begin responsibility of providing Trinity Lutheran Church to serve the Linton, Indiana area on April 13, 1968.

On April 14,1968, a call was extended to intern John P. Schmeling to serve as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church after his ordination. He was ordained on May 26, 1968. As of June 1, 1968, Pastor Schmeling accepted the call and responsibilities of shepherding the new community of Trinity Lutheran Church.

          On May 8, 1968, the congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church (TLC) was officially incorporated under the State of Indiana. The newly elected officers of the congregation were: Walter Stoppenhogen, chairman; William Harvey, vice-chairman; and Herbert Greenwood, secretary-treasurer. On June 1, 1968, Trinity Lutheran Church officially separated itself from Christ Lutheran Church of Terre Haute, Indiana and began conducting itself independently as a congregation of the AL.C. of the Illinois District.

          Pastor John P. Schmeling, his wife Susan and their three children, resided at White Rose until the parsonage was built.

          Miss Cindi Nitschke, a home Mission parish worker for the A.L.C. did a three week survey of the area. The purpose of the survey was to contact residents of the area to determine who might be interested in becoming affiliated with the new church.

          In July of 1968, a tract of land measuring 1.3 acres and a second 80’ x 140’ were purchased by the A.L.C. Board of American Missions in the Green Acres subdivision. Construction of both the parsonage and the first unit of the church were financed through the Division of American Missions of the A.L.C.’s church extension fund loan plan.

          The church was built under the supervision of Laymon Bickle working for Gund Incorporated of Kansas City, Missouri. The total cost of the first unit of the church was $49,000. The parsonage was built by Davis Homes Incorporated at the cost of $32,000.

          On October 6, 1968, the congregation under the guidance of the Reverend Doctor Elmer A. Nelson, President of the Illinois District, became an officially organized congregation of the American Lutheran Church. There were 72 baptized members. A new call was placed to Pastor John P. Schmeling to remain as the pastor. He accepted this second call.

          The church was dedicated on Sunday, November 24, 1968. In March 1969, TLC was selected as the “Church of the Month” by the national office of the American Lutheran Church.

          Pastor John P. Schmeling left TLC in the fall of 1974.

          The Reverend Clyde Friedman accepted the call to be the Pastor of TLC and began his ministry on February 1, 1975. He resigned as Pastor in August of 1981 to serve a congregation in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

          The Reverend Jim Wilson accepted the call to be the part-time Pastor of TLC in September, 1981. Reverend Jim Wilson was also working as a doctoral student at Indiana University.

          During the years 1983-1985, the Southern Indiana Conference of the American Lutheran Church sent gifts in excess of $23,000 to help retire the mortgage on the church building. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church retired the debt in February of 1985 with the conference repaying them. In October, 1985, the American Lutheran Church ended its support for partnership gifts, and the parish was now self-supporting.

          Four new rooms were added to the south side of the church during 1984-1985 without accruing any further debts outside of the parish. This was used for three educational rooms and a new church office.

          In addition the new church bell was sold to the congregation by Mr. Mason Bryant, III, of Gentryville, Indiana. The bell had been used to call children to school at Gentryville from 1929-1964. Mr. Bryant, his father and his son, all attended the school and he retrieved the bell for a special use when the school was demolished. With the assistance of  Mr. Ben Lee, neighbor and friend of the congregation, and members of the church, the bell was purchased for our use. Gregg Witte, a member, built the bell tower.

          In 1986 a playground was developed with the help of Lutheran Brotherhood funds and under the leadership of member David Konnert as hjis Eagle Scout project.

          The Reverend Jim Wilson began serving the parish as a full-time pastor in September 1986 and served in that capacity until he resigned in November, 1987.

          The Reverend George Hoog served as interim pastor from November, 1987, until May 19, 1988.

          The Reverend Michael Conklin came to TLC on June 1, 1988 and was installed as the pastor on July 10. 1988. In July 1988, six youth chaperoned by Pastor Conklin, his wife Michelle and Janet McNabb flew to San Antonio, Texas, for the National Youth Gathering. Pastor Conklin resigned from TLC on January 26, 1992.

          The Reverend Michael Hartman began serving TLC on June 1, 1992. He was installed as the pastor on June 6, 1992 by the Dean of the Bloomington Conference of the E.L.C.A., Reverend Richard Zawistoski. Pastor Richard Hartman, his wife Melissa and their daughter came from Ohio, where he graduated from Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Of special significance was the purchase of a new Allen MDS-1 organ from Meridian Music Company of Indianapolis, Indiana on August 1, 1993. The organ was dedicated during the Twenty-fifth Anniversary celebration. In July, 1994, 4 youth attended the National Youth Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Pastor Richard and Melissa Hartman and Christa Miller accompanied them. Pastor Hartman left in October 1994 to take a call to a congregation in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area.

          From November 1994-March 1996 Pastor Ed Johnson, who was retired, served as the interim minister. He was at TLC on Sunday for worship and in the area calling on members one day each week as well as attending council meetings and covering other essential functions. His wife Edie was also a welcome attendee of our services.

          Pastor James Wetzel was called to TLC in April 1996 and his first service was on Good Friday. In 2000, the pews were reupholstered. In August 2001, the hand bells were purchased and several members learned to play them. Diane Schnabel was the conductor of the Hand Bell Choir. Also in 2001, the parsonage windows were replaced. In 2003, the floor in the fellowship area was replaced. In January, 2003, Brooks Green was recognized for receiving the Eagle Scout Award. In October, 2003, during a Sunday evening Koinonia, charter members were recognized as 35 year members. These included: Walter and Pricilla Laughlin, Margaret Hale, Anne Handley, Freida Tincher, and Genny Schroeder. In 2004, new landscaping was done around the church by Kevin Kramer and others from the Master Gardeners’ group. This work was done in memory of Naomi Wetzel, wife of Pastor Wetzel who had died from cancer. In 2005, new playground equipment was installed. In 2006, a new roof was put on the church. Pastor Wetzel resigned in August, 2005, and Mark Schnabel, a member of the congregation who had been studying to become and Associate in Ministry, (A.I.M.), accepted a two-year part-time internship at TLC.

          Pastor Joe Faust was called to our congregation in June, 2007 after graduating from seminary in Philadelphia in 2006. He was ordained at the Synod Assembly and began serving as pastor on August, 2007. His wife at the time, Jennifer, was called to serve as pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Loogootee, Indiana. Pastor Faust resigned to take a call in Pennsylvania.

          In January, 2011, the Reverend John Stacy, retired, came to TLC serve as interim. During his time much was accomplished regarding the outreach to the community, updating parish records and the constitution and helping members focus on basic Christian education.

          The Reverend Doris Sparks was extended a call to TLC on May, 2012. She began serving as pastor in July, 2012.

The rest of the history of Trinity Lutheran Church has yet to be written but God holds the future of the people of God in firm hands. The mission will always be the one given by Jesus “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The world begins right outside our doors.



History of the ELCA

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was formed over 20 years ago. This new church was formed from three separate and well-established North American church bodies:


elca logobigger

  • The American Lutheran Church
  • The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and
  • The Lutheran Church in America.

Beginning January 1, 1988, these churches, with shared beliefs and missions, officially formed the ELCA. Two decades later, this energized church is composed of 4.8 million members and nearly 10,500 congregations across the U.S. and Caribbean. Today, the ELCA reflects the rich and diverse heritage of the people it serves.


But to understand our heritage fully, one must trace our roots back through the mid-17th century, when early Lutherans came to America from Europe, settling in the Virgin Islands and the area that is now known as New York. Even before that, Martin Luther sought reform for the church in the 16th century, laying the framework for our beliefs.

Read about Lutheran Roots in America on the ELCA website >>


Go to our own What is the ELCA page >>

May 21, 2019


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