Trinity Lutheran - History

History

The history of Trinity Lutheran Church began July 29, 1895 when a meeting was called by the Mission Committee of the Reading Conference of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania. This was held by the Lutherans of Wernersville and in the vicinity in the Wernersville High School building. Services were held regularly in the high school building and were led by supply pastors and ministerial students. In December 1895, the Wernersville Union Chapel Fund Society, organized four years earlier for the purpose of erecting a chapel for interdenominational services, turned over its funds of $1200 to the new Lutheran congregation. Trinity’s members solicited additional funds for a building.

In 1896, land was purchased on South Walnut Street. On October 6, 1896, ground was broken and on November 15, 1896, the cornerstone laid. The completed church structure was 44’ X 60” and was made of native mountain stone with a slate roof. Formal dedication of the church building was on August 27, 1897. The Rev. William A. Snyder was installed at the first service held in the new church. The church shared Pastor Snyder with Bethany Lutheran Church in West Reading. The Sunday School was organized on August 29, 1897 by a corps of dedicated teachers and officers with an enrollment of more than 100 children. In those early years, the church held German services on Sunday mornings, English services in the evening and Sunday School in the afternoons. Since the congregation was small in number, over the years it was a union church with St. John’s in Sinking Spring, Yocum’s Church in Grill and Vinemont Lutheran Church. In 1957, these alignments ended and Trinity has been on its’ own since then. Signs of growth over the years include:

1898 Purchased the bell in the church tower, dedicated the baptismal font
1903 Purchased a two manual pipe organ
Became a self-supporting church (no longer a mission church)
1913 Electrical lights installed
1926 Purchased new Mohler pipe organ
1931 Began basement excavation (done by hand) for Sunday School space, a kitchen and a raised platform stage, dedicated November 15, 1931
1951 Mother’s Group formed which later became the Women of the ELCA
1953 Sunday School addition/annex begun, dedicated in 1954
1954/55 Parsonage constructed and dedicated (later sold in 1978)
1954 Shulmerich Carillon dedicated
1964 paving of the parking lot
1964 to 1966 Building renovations including a 9 foot church extension, new Italian marble altar, new entrance and narthex, new stained glass windows and pews, choir loft, relocating organ, re-designing Sunday School rooms, library and kitchen and finishing basement annex
1975 Started a Berks County Day Care Center which became a Preschool Program in 1982 and continues today
1976 Endowment Program started
1973 to 1978 Strawberry Festivals held each spring
1987 Re-instituted Strawberry Festivals, continued to present June
1995 celebrated 100th Anniversary, Blind Window above altar purchased
2008/2009 Capital Campaign for a new roof, air conditioning the church, a new parking lot and an organ upgrade
2009 Purchased the 108 and 110 South Walnut Street property

The Pastors called to serve Trinity have been:

July 1897 March 1904 Rev. William A. Snyder
March 1904 July 1941 Rev. Jacob W. Lazarus
September 1941 July 1952 Rev. Clarence R. Schaeffer
November 1952 September 1957 Rev. Byron J. Somers
February 1958 December 1961 Rev. Louis Ewald
May 1962 October 1968 Rev. James D. Koones
March 1969 November 1977 Rev. Kenneth C. Feinour, Jr.
June 1978 February 1983 Rev. Carl D. Shankweiler
November 1983 February 1992 Rev. David H. Pflieger
February 1993 August 2014 Rev. Lee A. Diefenderfer

Trinity’s early members were a closely-knit group of friends, relatives and families living near the church. They were also civic minded and active in the progress of the town of Wernersville. In the 1920’s and 1930’s the Sunday School was extremely active in the social life of the congregation. Activities included strawberry and other summer festivals, birthday parties, church suppers, Easter and Christmas festivals and always an anniversary celebration in August. After the church basement was added with a stage, it no longer was necessary to hold entertainments in the School Auditorium. Many suppers, plays and entertainments in Trinity were high points in community social activities. The Sunday School Orchestra, organized in the late 1920’s, led many activities. (see more under the Music tab for information about the Sunday School Orchestra)

Space available does not allow mention of the numerous memorials given to the congregation, the names of all the lay leaders and workers throughout the decades of the congregation’s history, or the numerous other accomplishments of Trinity both at home and in the area of benevolence and supporting the work of the larger Church. From Mission to Mission could easily describe much of Trinity’s life from inception to its present position. By the help of God, we can continue to minister to one another and serve our community.