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Trinity Lutheran Church-Reisterstown

Trinity  Reisterstown
                                                                    Trinity Lutheran Church-Reisterstown-1920

Source:  Centennial History of the Evangelical Church in Maryland 1820-1920, Wentz

Trinity Lutheran Church was organized August 10. 1855, by Rev. Daniel Hauer, itinerant pastor of Manchester, Bachman's, St. Paul's (Arcadia), Schaeffer's, and Hoffacker's at the home of John Gies, Sr. Fourteen charter members were present. A committee of two, John Gies, Sr., and Lewis Tritle, was named to secure a suitable place of worship, and Lewis Tritle was appointed to apply, on behalf of the newly formed congregation, for admission into the Maryland Synod.

The little flock was received by the Synod the same year. They met for worship in the lower room of the Odd Fellows Hall from 1855 to 1866 being served successively by Rev. William Heilig, of Lutherville (1855-59), Rev. J. M. Orabill (1860-61), and Rev. Joseph R. Focht (1861-64). During Rev. Grabill's pastorate Reistertown was united with St. Paul's (Arcadia) and Trenton congregations into one charge, and when Rev. Focht became pastor Chestnut Ridge was added.  Rev. Focht preached in both the German and English languages.

While yet occupying Odd Fellows Hall, the Sunday school was organized (September 18, 1864) under the name ‘Harmony’ Sunday School." The organization did not become known as "Trinity Evangelical Lutheran until about 1890, although it had become distinctly Lutheran long before that time. The first superintendent, Lewis Tritle, was succeeded after a year by Reister Russell, who served in that capacity from 1866 to 1878 and again from 1899 to 1918.  Russell was present at the organization of the Sunday school and continued a faithful member for fifty four years.

At the resignation of Rev. Focht, Rev. Jacob Martin of Westminster was elected to serve the combined congregations. During the early years of Rev. Martin's pastorate, the little flock began to feel the need of a more fitting place of worship.

Accordingly a subscription list was opened and the work began. The corner stone was laid on July 8, 1866 and the building dedicated the following year. John Geis, Sr., George Kephart, and George Crawford were the building committee. In 1867 Rev. Martin resigned from St. Paul's and devoted all his time to Trinity, until he left, in 1871.

Rev. Heilig again came to the aid of this congregation and served them in connection with Chestnut Ridge.  But the distance between the two churches made the combination impracticable and Rev. Heilig resigned after two years of service here.

Then Reisterstown was reunited with St. Paul's and Rev. C. Lepley who had been supplying the latter, was elected to serve the new charge. He accepted and continued his work with the combined congregations until 1881. Rev. Lepley was the first pastor to occupy the Reisterstown parsonage, a double-brick dwelling adjoining the church, which had been purchased at the suggestion of the ladies of the congregation.

Rev. Lepley was succeeded by Rev. Albert Bell, of the Gettysburg Seminary, as pastor of Trinity and St. Paul's, and at the termination of his pastorate (1884), Rev. George H. Beckley was elected.  Rev. Beckley served the combined congregations for thirteen years.

The congregation at Reisterstown withdrew from St. Paul's, keeping Rev. Beckley.  The action was sanctioned by the Synod.  Rev. Beckley continued his pastorate at Trinity seven years longer, retiring in October, 1904.

Rev. Silas H. Culler, from the Seminary at Gettysburg, was elected to fill the place of the retiring pastor and began his work in 1905. In the fall of the same year the congregation, which had been steadily growing in numbers and influence during the half century of its history, determined to erect a new place of worship on the site of the building then being used. A building committee consisting of Messrs. Reister Russell, John Neel, F. H. Zouck, Kephart Pfeffer, and G. H. Stevenson, was elected. The old edifice was soon torn down and the new one under way. The corner stone was laid on August 5, 1906, and the building completed and dedicated the following summer. The new church was an ornamental brick structure. It contains four memorial windows, which are surpassed for beauty and quality of workmanship by few larger churches. During Rev. Culler's pastorate, J. Edward Graefe, a member of Trinity congregation, graduated from the Seminary at Gettysburg, was ordained by the Maryland Synod.

Paul W. Quay, took up the work at Trinity on May 16, 1918.

If you have additional information on the history of this church, please send it for inclusion to germanmarylanders@gmail.com.

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