Trinity Lutheran Church is celebrating its centennial this year. To recognize its 100 years, the Sheldon congregation is hosting special celebratory events.
Pastor Dean Pastor Herberts quoted Scripture when reflecting back upon what the church has meant to the community over the last century.
“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’” (Acts 2:38–39, ESV)
“For 100 years the good news of Jesus for you has been shared within our homes, our church, our community and world! This is a message that is true for all generations and all people. ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:10, ESV).
The church has a missionary currently serving out of Taiwan coming this Sunday, July 28. Worship is at 10:15 p.m. and a potluck meal with mission presentation will follow the service.
Rev. Roy and Eliza Askins serve through The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) in Asia, based in Taiwan. As the Communications Manager for the Asia region, Roy works with other LCMS personnel serving in this region to communicate the Gospel through social and other media outlets. He helps to share the story of what God is doing through LCMS personnel, partner church bodies and all believers, using print media, video, social media and the Internet.
“We have had several missionaries come as we are celebrating out 100th anniversaries,” Herberts said.
Other missionaries to visit and speak to the congregation include pastors currently serving in Mongolia, Asia and Gambia, Africa.
“It is wonderful to see how God’s graces have been passed on from generation to generation,” Herberts said. “The gospel needs to be proclaimed and that is how our church began.”
The 100th anniversary celebration will be held on Aug. 24. There will be a service at 11 a.m. with a potluck and more festivities to follow. Multiple pastors to have served at the church have been invited back for the event.
Trinity Lutheran Church had its beginning in 1905 when four or five Lutheran families were located and Pastor K. C. Bubeck of Cadott, made trips into this wooded area about twice a month, weather permitting, with horse and cutter in the winter months, to serve these poor lost souls with the precious Means of Grace.
Services were held in the homes. This continued until 1915, when Rev. F. E. Golcke was sent to the area and ordained on Aug. 15, 1915 by Rev. Zeick. Pastor Bubeck was also present. Services were then held in the newly built school. Both pastors and students served the congregation up to 1919.
The first 25 years
By 1919, with Rev. Golcke’s help, the congregation organized. Since Gilman already had their church, the pastor made his residence there. Gilman, Jump River, and Sheldon were joint congregations and were served by one pastor.
“The members were few but their courage was great, and they immediately laid out plans for building a church,” a historical church document states.
In 1918, Rev. Golcke was called to Ladysmith but still served the congregations until 1921 when their call for another pastor was answered by Rev. Hemer. By this time their church was built and was dedicated early in 1922. Up to that time services were held in school houses as well as in the various homes of members.
It is well to remember that, along with some purchased furnishings, the church altar, pulpit, lectern and baptismal fountain were made by a former member, A. C. Wagner and family, and were still serving our needs today.
Prior to 1919 a group of ladies joined hands, including non-Lutherans, and started working as a Ladies’ Aid. Since there were not more than 8-10 women, meetings were held in homes with the hostess serving a supper to the entire public, 18-25 people. This sometimes took the group out into the country for its very special Ladies’ Aid meetings. Since the organization of the congregation, the women more and more perfected their aid.
Funds accumulated to help meet the various needs in the new church. A kitchen and serving tables were made, and the basement parlors made ready to enable the ladies to serve various dinners. Harvest suppers and election dinners can well be remembered.
In 1931 the Lutheran Ladies’ Aid was reorganized. The membership of about 25 women serving in consecration and devotion performed its share of work within the congregation.
“It is difficult to state briefly the work the ladies of Trinity have accomplished. Trinity is proud of having as its own such a fine Ladies’ Aid,” a historical church document states.
During the summer of 1931 a parsonage was built. The entire debt on this property was liquidated on Dec. 31, 1942. Since January 1943, Trinity, together with its two sister congregations, Zion at Gilman and Bethany at Jump River; became a self-supporting parish.
On July 12, 1931, a Sunday School was organized. Up to that time religious instruction had been given to young and old by the pastors.
By the church’s 25th anniversary, over 50 pupils were enrolled in the school, which was manned by a staff of consecrated and educationally qualified teachers.
The newly confirmed boys and girls were not forgotten during these years. In February 1932, Concordia League was organized. In the fall of 1936 the Concordia developed into the Trinity Ev. Lutheran Walther League. This league was always a source of joy to the congregation as well as to the pastor. Much work had been done and was being done by the Walther Leaguers. Trinity saluted members of this league.
In October 1943, the Lutheran Layman League was organized. While this organization was still in its infancy, church leaders believed it would fill a definite need in the life of the congregation.
“God has richly blessed Trinity Congregation,” a 25th anniversary booklet from 1944 states. “He taught it how to work, to cooperate, to sacrifice. We look to God for continued guidance, protection, and blessings. We do not take credit for anything that has been accomplished. We humbly and thoughtfully exclaim: All Glory and Praise Be to God!”
During the church’s first 25 years, six pastors dispensed God’s Word to the little flock, administered Holy Baptism, and distributed the Lord’s body and blood. God did not withhold His blessings from these ministrations, but rather showered benedictions upon one and all.
1944-1969: The Second 25 Years
Sadly, during 1945, two of the congregation’s young men gave their lives for their country and military funerals were held for James Kolar on May 20, 1945, and Donald Haley on July 20, 1945.
Rev. Motzkus was called to Kaukauna. Rev. Kuerschner of Ladysmith served the short vacancy. In October 1945 Rev. Carl Rathjen accepted the call. He served for 10 years. During his stay the Ladies Aid joined the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League and the large porch was added to the parsonage. In August 1954 Rev. Rathjen was called to Steven Falls, Idaho. Rev. Kuerschner again served the vacancy until October 1954 when Rev. Geffert accepted the call.
Rev. Geffert stayed until 1962 and during his stay the church underwent a complete remodeling with an addition on the north end, extending the church proper, adding a pastor’s study, and an overflow area. The basement was also enlarged as restrooms were added, the kitchen was enlarged, the church parlor refinished and an extra Sunday school room was added. Upstairs a cry room and a balcony were added. New kitchen equipment was purchased and a new furnace was installed. New pews were also purchased. Attendance and membership grew, and the entire debt was paid by the time Rev. Geffert left in 1962. Rev. Messerschmidt of Ladysmith served as vacancy pastor until Rev. Fellbaum was called in November 1962. He left in 1966 to answer a call to Wheaton, Kan. Rev. Messerschmidt again served as interim pastor.
In November 1966, Rev. Wendling came from Waupaca and remained until 1969 when he retired. An addition was added to the front of the church making more room for coat racks and a larger reception area. New carpeting was laid throughout the new area, and a new aisle runner was installed.
Rev. Edgar Barg of Ladysmith faithfully served as vacancy pastor until Nov. 2, 1969, when Rev. Edwin J.F. Jording was called. The Golden Anniversary was celebrated in 1969.
1969-1994: The Third 25 Years
Rev. Jording retired at the end of September of 1972 and the 13th pastor, Rev. Willis Schwichtenberg, was installed on Oct. 1, 1972. While he served at Trinity, a Senior Citizen’s Bible class was organized. A second ladies group, called the Trinity Missionary Circle was formed in February of 1974. Rev. Schwichtenberg accepted a call to Milford, Ill, leaving on Dec. 29, 1976.
Rev. Barg served as interim pastor until May 15, 1977, when Rev. Perry Schefelker was installed. Bible study groups were organized and met in member’s homes twice a month. On July 15, 1979, the congregation celebrated its 60th anniversary with a special worship service. Rev. Schefelker was called to be the Refugee Services Coordinator for Lutheran Social Service of Kansas-Oklahoma at Wichita, Kan., in June of 1981.
Once again Pastor Barg served as vacancy pastor until Aug. 8, 1982, when Rev. Donald Schoenback was ordained and installed as the 15th pastor. In October of 1983 the congregation voted to purchase the lot and house adjoining the church property on the west side. The lot and home were purchased from Gary and LaVesta Lance. The house was used for Sunday School classes and meetings. A new Constitution and By-Laws were adopted on Nov. 20, 1983, at the Annual Meeting. Rev. Schoenback accepted a call to Wausau in 1986.
Once again, Pastor Barg served as vacancy pastor. Rev. Roland Rakow accepted the call in 1987. Sadly, in December 1988, the Lord called him home. Pastor Barg faithfully cared for the congregation once again. Rev. Brent Parrish was called in June of 1989. The new Lutheran Worship hymnal was adopted in 1992. During Rev. Parrish’s call, the exteriors of the church and the education building were painted. Pastor Parrish accepted a call to Jamestown, N.D., in November of 1992. Pastor Barg looked after the congregation until Rev. Todd I. Frusti was installed on June 20, 1993.
In 1993, when St. John’s Lutheran Church of Ladysmith installed a new carillon, a musical instrument that is typically housed in the bell tower belfry of a church or municipal building. The congregation gratefully accepted the gift of their old one. The town of Sheldon shares in the joy of its music.
1994-2019: The fourth 25 Years
Pastor Frusti accepted a call on Jan. 7, 1996 to Trinity Lutheran Church in Ironwood, Mich. The congregation extended a call from Concordia Theological Seminary – Fort Wayne to Nathan Meador. Pastor Meador was installed on June 23, 1996. During Pastor Meador’s call new siding was installed on the church and new windows were put in at the parsonage. Pastor Meador held two dual worship services including a sister congregation, Zion Lutheran Church in Gilman. In June 1998 Pastor Nathan Meador accepted a call to Zion Lutheran Church, Town of Easton, Wisconsin. Once again the congregation was blessed to have Pastor Edgar Barg fill the vacancy.
A call was extended to and accepted by Pastor Steven Haag from North Dakota. Carla Gerberding’s husband helped move Pastor Haag and his wife, Karen, from North Dakota to the parsonage in Sheldon. On Aug. 22, 1999, Pastor Steven Haag was installed.
On March 14, 2006, a new organ was purchased from Morgan Music in Eau Claire. In 2008 copies of the new Lutheran Service Book and inserts for candles were purchased with funds from the Lisetta W. Olson Memorial. In 2009, the church purchased a new carillon which was enjoyed by all who listened to it. Also, in that same year, the church agreed to donate the education building to Jennings Anderson in return for him backfilling the resulting hole.
On Aug. 30, 2010, Pastor Haag announced his retirement. A joyous retirement celebration was held and the Haags were given the gift of a recliner for their new home in Crivitz. Once Pastor Haag retired Pastor Gary Paul, a former member of the congregation, was asked to serve as the vacancy pastor.
In February 2011 the church decided to extend a call to Concordia Theological Seminary, and on June 26, 2011 Pastor Aric Fenske was ordained and installed. Pastor Fenske took the youth group to his family’s cottage and the children enjoyed spending time in God’s Word, enjoying the Lord’s majestic power, the beauty of His creation, and pontoon rides. Pastor Fenske also instituted family Vacation Bible School.
In 2011 a new roof was put on the parsonage by many strong hands in the congregation. Additionally, renovations took place to make the church more accessible. A gracious donation of some furniture by one church family gave mothers of young children a quiet space. In 2014 a new sound system was purchased and installed by Audio Architects. In 2016 new front doors for the Narthex were purchased from the Dale Kolar Memorial.
In February 2017 Pastor Fenske was called to Trinity Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran Church in Bear Creek. On Feb. 26, 2017, a farewell gathering was held to celebrate the time spent with Pastor Fenske and his family. Pastor Gary Paul was once again asked to fill in as vacancy pastor.
In 2017 Trinity Lutheran Church members with the aid of a contractor began remodeling the parsonage in anticipation of the arrival of a new pastor. In September of 2017 a call was extended to and accepted by Pastor Dean Herberts from North Carolina. On Oct. 7, 2017, Pastor Herberts was installed into the church.
In 2018 the sidewalk at the parsonage was torn out and a new one poured by members of the congregation.
In May of 2019 the church had Barefoot Painters of Ladysmith, giving a fresh new coat of paint to the altar, lectern, pulpit and baptismal font. On May 18, 2019, the congregation voted to have a new communion rail built by Andy Borntrager.
“We thank our gracious God for these years He has given us to do His will,” church leaders stated “With thankful hearts, let us sing His praises for all the blessings we have received. May Trinity Lutheran Church continue to grow in Christ and to serve Him. Glory be to God!”