Trinity Lutheran Church History
Formation of the first Congregation Committee
At a meeting held January 2, 1891 at the home of Tom Abrahamsen, the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Congregation was founded. Pastor Everyone of Brooklyn, was chairman and Pastor Gramstad of Hoboken, was secretary. Both of these ministers had already occasionally held services here in Jersey City.
A constitution was written and signed by 35 men and women. Mr. Tom Abrahamsen, Mr, Reinert Johnsen and Mr. Aanun Tobiasen were elected trustees. Mr. Abrahamsen was also elected treasurer and Mr. David Thompsen, secretary.
As a place to hold their meetings and services the congregation rented Humbolt Hall. 60 new members enrolled at the next meeting held in January 14, 1891. Pastor Gramstad with the consent of the congregation was called as pastor. He gave his initial sermon in Humbolt Hall, on January 18, 1891.
In the interval a church on Eric Street was rented, and the next service was held there on Januray 25, 1891. Few months later they received notice to look for other quarters, and in September they moved into Mission Hall on Morris Street. They thought of buying a site for the church, but the prices of all the places considered were prohibitive. Then they tried to consolidate with the congregation in Hoboken and build a church at Jersey Heights, but this did not materialize. On April 7, 1892, Pastor Gramstad preached his farewell sermon.
On Sunday, June 19, 1892, Pastor Shive preached his first sermon after accepting the call from the congregation. In January, 1893, the congregation again rented Humbolt Hall as their meeting place and remained there for nearly six years. On May 3, 1895, Pastor Shive took a four month leave of absence to visit Norway with Pastor Hovde as temporary minister on Sunday, June 19, 1895.
At a meeting in November, 1895, they received the sad news that the congregation in Hoboken with whom they had been served jointly by the same Pastor, would sever this connection and call the minister for themselves. Pastor Shive, back from Norway, was present and announced that he received a call from the west and very likely would accept.
Therefore, it was decied to call Pastor Hovde, who had not yet left the city, as their Pastor. He accepted the call. At this meeting they also received the good news that they now could get from the Synod $300 a year to help pay a minister. On November 6, 1896, Pastor Hovde informed them that he had received a call from Wisconsin, and would like to leave. At a regular meeting on December 4 and 30, 1896, Pastor Hovde brought his request and the congregation gave their consent. He left on January 7, 1897, and once again there was no minister. The congregation in Hoboken was asked if Pastor Amdalsrud can serve the Jersey City temporarily and the request was accepted. However, this temporary arrangement did not last long.
On May 7, 1897, Pastor Everson informed that Pastor Amdalsru's health would not allow him to continue further. On December 5, 1897, the congregation decided to call their own minister, Pastor Dietrichson and was installed by Pastor Everson.
Cornerstone for building a new church
On August 19, 1898, the congregation decided to buy a lot on Monmouth Street, 30x75 for $1,200, all other expenses search, etc., included, it amounted to $1,375. A building committee was elected and it was decided to set up a building 28x58. The committee was fortunate to get a Building and Loan for $3,000. A contract was given to Gunder Tallaksen to build for $3,123. On February 5, 1899, the work was so far advanced that the cornerstone was laid for the new church. It was a joyful celebration for the congregation who had for almost ten years held their meetings in rented halls. On May 17, 1899, the new church was dedicated for them.
However, just two years later the church started to sink on one side. It had been known that the ground was soft around there, though the architect thought the small building will hold. When the best architect was called to evaluate the situation, he told them that the church needs to be closed for sometime. There was only two things to do, either to prop the church up on the outside with strong timbers, or else to move the upper story over on a nearby lot, tear down the brick foundation, and sink solid piling underneath and rebuild the foundation. The first was not very practical. The second was an expensive job. Where would the money come from?
The congregation secured a second loan from the same Loan Company for $1,500, and received a gift of $400 from congregations. The cost of rebuild was about $2,000.
A number of years passed without any disturbance. The basement was fixed and a new sidewalk and an iron fence arounf the front. An organ was brought and installed. This necessitated building out the gallery. Together with the organ, this costed $850.
As time went by, the neighborhood became unsafe and services could not be held in peace. Police protection was needed at times, due to disturbances on Sunday mornings.
Church to be sold
At a meeting on October 27, 1917, it was decided to sell the church. By this time they began to feel the need of English services alternating with the Norwegian, heretofore the only language used.
On January 25, 1918, it was decided to call an assistant pastor to take over the English part of the work. In June, 1918, Candidate Romness accepted the call as assistant pastor and was ordained on August 25, 1918, by Pastor Turmoe, President for the Atlantic Circuit.
In February, 1919, the congregation sold the church on Monmouth Street, and rented a hall on Belmont Avenue, where they held their meetings and services for three years.
Purchase of land and building new church
In July, 1919, they bought a plot on Britton Street, for $13,000 and had architect Rowland draw plans, but the estimated cost for the building for $62,000 was more than they could afford. His estimate for a house with a big hall for $40,000 also was above budget.
On November 16, 1920, Pastor Dietrichson was placed in Greenville Hospital where on December 16, 1920, he passed away. Pastor Romness promised to stay until they could get a new pastor.
The congregation sold plot on Britton Street for $15,000, and bought a lot on Claremont Avenue for $7,000, and set to work with building plans. Pastor Romness, Mr. T. Jahnsen, Mr. F. Skou, Mr. Akselson, Mr. Hauge, Mr. Manning and Mr. Rieber were elected Building Committee. Mr. Skou resigned shortly after because he wanted to bid on the new church. At a meeting on October 2, 1921, Mr. Skou was awarded the contract for $25,775. On Sunday, November 20, 1921, the cornerstone was laid by President Nordby.
First service at the new church
The first service was held in the basement on Sunday, April 9, 1922. The upper floor was not yet finished. The pulpit and pews were missing. A temporary pulpit was set up for the dedication of the new church in April 30, 1922.
In June, 1923, Pastor Romness tendered his resignation. On November 18, 1923, Pastor Bergh was made the Pastor.
After three years later, on June 25, 1926, Pastor Bergh tendered his resignation, but promised to stay until a new Pastor came.
At a meeting, held on July 22, 1926, the congregation sent a letter of call to Pastor Juell in Minneapolis, which was not accepted. It was then decided to call Pastor Birkelo of Madison, Wisconsin and on July 23, 1926, they received a telegram from him saying that he would come.
Pastor Birkelo of the Norwegian Immigrant Home in Brooklyn gave his first sermon here on the first Sunday in November. Three years later he sent his resignation because his health failed him, but he promised to stay on until they got a new pastor. On December 27, 1929, the congregation sent a call to Pastor Preus of Wisconsin.
Though he could not come because his congregation did not permit him to leave, they finally gave their consent, and this was conveyed to our congregation meeting held on February 28, 1930. Pastor Preus was installed here by Pastor Amdalsrud on August 10, 1930.
Under Pastor Preus, our congregation made tremendous progress. A new pipe-organ has been installed and dedicated to the church. The congregation weathered serious years of depression. In 1931, the Luther League finally bought the long worked for pipe-organ and later in the year, the congregation purchased a parsonage across the avenue from the church and finally in 1939, the whole church was redecorated within to covercome the leaking walls.