Elgin at the turn of the 20th century was a bustling happening place. Over 39% of the industrial workforce in Elgin were women. The women came from all across the United States and many worked at the Elgin National Watch Company for .06 cents per day. One of the women, Ada Beck could not find worship services in English. She did find Lutheran services in German, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish languages. She then wrote to her former Pastor Rev. A. C. Anda in Goshen, IN and convinced him to come to Elgin to try and start a new church. They began with a forward thinking Mission Statement, “The faith of the Fathers in the Language of Children”, meeting began in the fall of 1902. Meeting were held in Unity Hall on the dance floor. Then the people attending the services would meet in each other’s houses to learn the liturgy and hymns in English. Forty one charter members incorporated Holy Trinity English Lutheran church March 9, 1903. Many of the early members previously had no church affiliation.
In 1904, the building site at the Southeast of Division and Chapel Streets was purchased for $4,200. On June 10th, 1906 the cornerstone for the church was laid. The first service was held on Christmas Eve 1906 and Holy Trinity was consecrated January 27, 1907.
The Elgin newspaper described the new church as “The exterior is of brown brick with white stone trimmings. The walls of the sanctuary are a cream color, deep at the base and gradually growing lighter towards the top until it blends easily into the very delicate ceiling shade. In the center of the ceiling is a large skylight of leaded glass in soft pearl, cream and violet shades.”
The windows of the sanctuary are of leaded glass and done in rather plain colors. The two windows at the sides of the altar have designs of white lilies. Total cost of the lot, structure, and furnishings was $24,972.
Almost immediately after completion they ran out of room so the congregation decided to dig a basement underneath the superstructure. Men donned overalls and armed themselves with picks and shovels and went to work digging. The men worked until their hands were blistered and backs were lame. They worked three nights a week. St. Jacob’s Oil and mustard plasters were in heavy demand. The men described the digging “oodles of fun.”
There were many obstacles for parishioners to attend services. World War 1, epidemics, and weather all played a part in that. In 1918, a huge blizzard kept most people at home. They also had a work-less and coal-less Monday. March 29, 1920 one of the worst tornadoes to ever hit the Fox Valley struck Elgin on Palm Sunday. The First Congregational Church just a couple of blocks away was severely damaged and many residents lost their lives. Holy Trinity was spared from damage but the homes of several members were damaged or destroyed. The Council began checking with members to see what help they needed to rebuild. Influenza epidemics kept people quarantined several times. Our members lived through the polio epidemic when no Sunday school classes were held because children were not supposed to be in large groups.
By 1932, in spite of the depression and economic difficulties, Holy Trinity experienced one of the greatest years in its history. Attendance figures were the largest in history. Total income was the highest in its history. A building campaign was undertaken and was the first financial campaign in the area in 10 years to succeed. The balcony was added to the sanctuary.
In 1951, the cornerstone for the offices was laid and a Sunday School addition was added in 1952. The building was remodeled in 1995 to make it barrier free and handicap accessible.
Rev. Paul W. Roth served as the first Pastor serving from 1903 – 1908. Rev. Paul W. Roth presided over the opening service. Holy Trinity, which was the first English speaking church in town, was described in the local newspaper The Elgin Advocate as it will be one of the finest but not the largest Church in Elgin. Rev. Anda felt it was necessary to preach the faith of the fathers to the children in their own language.
Permanent organization of Holy Trinity was established in January 1903. A constitution was adopted, a charter procured, and they were presented to the Chicago Synod, which at that time was located in Mulberry, IN. The Elgin Advocate newspaper described the congregation as active & enthusiastic with a membership of approximately 100. There were pledges by voluntary contributions to cover the construction of the Church. The Sunday School was described as vigorous and flourishing. There were bouquets of pink and white peonies present.
Rev. Anda complimented Rev. Roth by saying “I rejoice and thank God that your efforts have been rewarded with such excellent success and I would speak words of encouragement to those who are engaged in this great and noble work. It indicates patience, courage, and self sacrifice for all. We are thankful today that we are able to lay the corner stone of this house of glory. We thank God for public buildings which are necessary. We thank God that we have public schools and we are thankful for our
homes, but above all these we also have that building which is called God’s house in which we may experience the grace of the Almighty when once we have been lost in sin. This is the nature of the house you have built, the corner stone of which you will lay this afternoon”.
Paul W. Roth 1903-1908
Benjamin F. Hoefer 1909 – 1919
Carroll J. Rockey 1920 – 1929
Armin G. Weng 1930 – 1939
Harmon J. McGuire 1939 – 1948
Robert J. Scheneck 1948 – 1968
Walter R. Hebron 1953-1972
Glen C. Gilbert 1969 – 1978
Robert E. Linstrom 1979 – 1992
Peter Maisen 1981-1983
Dale Allard 1983-1986
Joleen Gleasman 1987-1992
Curtis W. Gerald 1993 – 1999
Mark A. Lund 1997 – 2001
Olin K. Sletto 2002 – 2014
Jeffrey Mikyska 2015 – 2020
Oct. 19, 1902 - First service held in Unity Hall
Jan. 29th, 1903 - Church organized, 41 charter members
June 21, 1903 - Rev. Paul W Roth installed as the first Pastor
May 10, 1904 - Building site purchased
June 10, 1906 - Corner stone of new Church laid
Jan. 27 1907 - New Church consecrated
Mar. 21, 1909 - A new pipe organ was consecrated which included a more than $1,000 donation for the organ from Andrew Carnegie marking the first time Carnegie family money found its way to Elgin.
July 28, 1910 - Formal opening of newly purchased parsonage
Nov. 1921 - Church formally cleared on indebtedness
Jan. 28, 1923 - Twentieth anniversary service
May 18 1924 - William D. Ackemann chimes installed
Jan 27, 1928 - 25th anniversary service
1951 - Breaking ground for new Educational Building and Church addition
1952 - Corner Stone laid for new building and addition
Unknown - Consecration of new building and addition
Jan. 28, 2007 - 100 year anniversary service with Bishop Paul Landahl serving as guest Preacher. Two former Pastors attended.
At one time membership roll was 926 with 664 in Sunday School. Seating capacity is listed at 775.