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story.lead_photo.caption Gerry Tritz/News Tribune Mayor Carrie Tergin reads a proclamation for Trinity Lutheran Church's 150th anniversary celebration on Sunday. The church was first established in 1870 at a location downtown.

More than 200 Trinity Lutheran Church members celebrated the Jefferson City church's 150th anniversary Sunday with a catered dinner, music, a historical display and a proclamation read by Mayor Carrie Tergin.

A planning committee started work two years ago with the intention of celebrating the anniversary last year — but it was delayed a year due to COVID-19.

"We had no idea that our best-laid plans would be laid aside," Pastor Sam Powell said at the dinner celebration. "Perhaps, though, the best thing that came from those first (planning) meetings was the theme, 'Rooted in Faith: Always Growing.'"

"That theme was the one thing a global pandemic couldn't mess up," he said.

Trinity members in the past also faced trying and uncertain times, he added.

"Of one thing we are sure: That we have received everything that we need," Powell said. "Most especially His word in Jesus Christ."

Longtime congregation members Jack and Bethel Johnson, who have been church historians for more than 50 years, created a church history display that included photographs, school yearbooks and confirmation photos.

The church also produced a commemorative coin, a Christmas ornament, an anniversary booklet and a stained-glass window booklet.

Jack Johnson said some of the changes he recalls most were the physical changes to the church — including moving to the current location at 803 Swifts Highway in 1961 and the additions to the church and school since then.

He said every time the church has had a need — big or small — congregation members have stepped up with their time, talents and contributions.

"That's kind of the way people are," he said. "When you have a need, they'll say, 'Hey, I can help you with that.'"

On June 11, 1961, he and his wife, Bethel, were the second couple to be married in the church at its current location. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year.

The Lutheran religion was founded in the 1500s when Catholic monk Martin Luther, a German, was excommunicated from the Catholic Church after seeking reform.

In Jefferson City, Trinity built its first church at the northeast corner of Monroe and McCarty streets downtown at a cost of $1,650. It had 17 founding members.

A year after the church was built, it started a school, which still exists today at the same location as the current church.

Trinity's second location was built at the northwest intersection of the same streets in 1895, where the Missouri Bar is now located. The old church served as the school.

In the church's 15oth Anniversary Commemoration booklet, Powell wrote: "They were Germans in an American town. They were by no means wealthy."

He added the sanctuary had less than 700 square feet, and the church didn't have a pastor for its first two years.

For several decades, the church's services were all in German, Jack Johnson said.

Bethel Johnson, 86, is a lifetime member of Trinity. Her father also was a lifelong member.

While Trinity is a close-knit community, she said, churches, in general, used to be more central to people's daily lives.

"Now, there are so many things to get your mind away from church," she said. "Then, there was no television or anything. Everything was done together. You had a church family, and it worked together and it was always fun.

"Working together with and for the Lord. That's the whole thing," she said.

What hasn't changed?

"Yesterday, today and forever, God's love is the same," she said. "Just knowing in this very, very topsy-turvy world that God is still God: He has all the power. He makes us and takes care of us and prepares us for heaven."

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