Trinity Evangelical Lutheran-Joppa

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church-Harford County


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“The German Lutheran Church” was established here in 1873 as the first Lutheran church in Harford County. It was originally served by Pastor Geiser, who walked 15 miles every Sunday from Stemmers Run to conduct an afternoon service in German. The congregation worshipped in “The Church on the Hill” which was built on the premises of the current church.

In 1886, a Lutheran Church was established in Aberdeen which would become St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Trinity and St. Paul’s would share pastors and mission as the Harford County Lutheran Parish until 1962.

In 1917, the Edgewood Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Ground were established; these installations would be important to the growth of the county and of the Parish.

On March 22, 1922, a call was extended by the congregations at Joppa and Aberdeen to a senior student at the Theological Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. W. Edward Austin became Pastor. Trinity’s baptized membership was 150.

In 1928, Trinity added a two-story Parish Hall. Two years later, the original wooden church was destroyed in a fire. A new fieldstone church, now the “Cry Room” and “Archives Room,” was dedicated on November 29, 1931. The church cost $16,500.

In the mid-1950’s, with a need for more staff, the congregation began to mentor interns who were preparing for ordination. One notable intern was John H.S. Austin.

In 1956, Pastor John had finished his seminary training and was called as a second full-time pastor in the Harford County Lutheran Parish. Pastor John worked with his father until May 13, 1962, when Pastor Edward Austin retired after 40 years of faithful service. During Pastor Austin’s ministry, Trinity had grown from a baptized membership of 150 to over 700. Also, Bethel Lutheran Church in North East, Maryland, had been established under his guidance as a mission congregation, and later became an independent parish.

With the retirement of Pastor Austin in 1962, the Harford County Lutheran Parish divided into two separate, firmly established congregations. Both Trinity and St. Paul’s had grown tremendously. Trinity congregation unanimously requested Associate Pastor John H. S. Austin to remain as their full time pastor. During the coming years, the growth of the congregation more than reflected the growth of the surrounding area; new members were received into the church at a rate of more than 100 persons per year.

As the congregation grew, more room was needed, in particular for Christian Education. On October 5, 1958, the present church was dedicated. On November 22, 1964, Trinity’s single-story educational unit was dedicated. The two-story building was not far behind; it was dedicated on May 28, 1972.

In April, 1978, the church took a forward look at the future with a Mission Study Commission. The result of this one-and-a-half year study was a switch to the present structure with a Parish Planning Council and an emphasis on lay leadership.

Pastor Arthur S. Hanson joined the ministry staff on July 1, 1979, as Visitation Pastor. James B. Shuler joined the staff in 1982, and served as a Lay Assistant until his ordination in the Presbyterian Church on June 30, 1989. Pastor John S. Hergert was called as an additional pastor on January 15, 1986, and he served until 1990.

The congregation continued to grow, and on September 25, 1988, an expansion of the sanctuary was dedicated along with other renovations to the entire facility.

On May 10, 1989, Pastor Paul Edward Austin, son of Pastor John Austin and grandson of Pastor Edward Austin, was called to Trinity. He was ordained and installed here on July 16, 1989, the 67th anniversary of his grandfather’s installation.

By 1995, the baptized membership of the congregation had grown to 2300. A decision was made to call a third ordained pastor, and on February 12, 1996, a call was extended to Pastor Charles Lashley.

On March 10, 1996, the new school building and gym were dedicated with Pastor Jim Shuler returning to preach. Pastor Hanson retired as visitation pastor on September 28, 1997.

There were several notable events in 1998. On March 1, Dave Simpson joined the staff as Lay Pastoral Assistant. (Pastor Dave would be ordained on June 2, 2007). On September 27, the stained glass window was unveiled, having been transferred from St. Mark’s Lutheran in Baltimore. Finally, on December 6, Pastor Calvin Jordan was installed as a full-time Trinity pastor.

On August 15, 1999, Pastor Paul Austin preached his first sermon as Trinity’s new Senior Pastor. Pastor John continued to serve as the Trinity School Headmaster.

The “John H.S. Austin Educational Building” was dedicated on January 6, 2002. The next major building project was the new sanctuary that is dedicated today. Ground was broken on June 25, 2006.

On March 2, 2008, Trinity’s newest worship space, seating over 1100 worshippers, was dedicated.

Trinity Lutheran School is also an important part of our church history. A parochial kindergarten was established in 1960 along with a weekday preschool. This educational ministry expanded to include Grades One through Five beginning in 1988. The Middle School began with the addition of Sixth Grade in 1996. Trinity Lutheran School and Childcare now educates and shares the love of Jesus Christ with almost 400 children each day.

Church Location:

1100 Philadelphia Rd.

Joppa MD 21085

Phone (410) 679-4000

Fax (410 ) 679-3472