Trinity's Story

Trinity's history began early in 1944. World War II was raging and the population of Corpus Christi was increasing rapidly due to the growth of military installations in and around the city. A group of Lutherans banded together to start the third Missouri Synod congregation in Corpus Christi. The other two were St. John's, the first LCMS church (1935) in the city, located on the north side, and Our Savior, a Hispanic mission church (1941), located on the west side. The newly formed group saw the need for a church in what was then the growing south side (and what has now become the central part of the city as Corpus Christi continued to expand even further to the south).

They petitioned the Mission Board of the Texas District (LCMS) and soon thereafter Pastor Julius A. Fritze was assigned to serve the new mission. The first worship service for the new congregation was held on September 24, 1944, in Carpenters' Hall at the corner of 19th Street and Morgan Avenue, a site now occupied by a Walgreens drugstore. Services continued at that location until July 1946. The new congregation had purchased lots at the current location on Louisiana Avenue at the end of 1944. The following year, 1945, saw the formal organization of Trinity Lutheran Church and the groundbreaking for construction of the new building on the Louisiana property. Construction began in 1946. World War II had ended and service people were coming home. Optimism ran high. Soon the congregation voted to start a school. In the beginning the school occupied barracks purchased from the Army Air Corps and moved from Matagorda Island to the Louisiana site. In 1958 Pastor Roland Wiederaenders was installed at Trinity. Under his leadership the present school building was erected in 1961, replacing the barracks. A year later Pastor Wiederaenders accepted a position as Vice President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in St. Louis. He was followed at Trinity by Pastor was George H. Fehl.

The congregation continued to grow, with projections that attendance at Trinity would exceed 300 on any given Sunday. With that in mind, a building project was begun, special revenue bonds were sold to raise funds, and ground breaking took place on May 23, 1965, for a new sanctuary adjacent to the original church. Construction on the new sanctuary began June 15, 1965. During construction the congregation worshiped two blocks east in Menger School cafeteria for several months. The new sanctuary was dedicated on February 6, 1966. It is the sanctuary currently in use today. The original sanctuary is now utilized as the parish hall, but the round stained glass window of the former sanctuary is still in place in the east end of the parish hall.

Pastor J. C. Henning was installed  in January 1970 after Pastor Fehl was called and accepted a pastorate in St. Louis. During the next several years the church and the school thrived, even weathering damage from Hurricane Celia in 1970 that literally raised the roof and set it back down. Thankfully most of those repair expenses were covered by insurance.

 

After Pastor Henning accepted a call to Houston, Pastor Clifford Larson accepted Trinity's call. The decade of the 1980's was characterized by sharp swings in the economy in the state of Texas, largely influenced by what was happening in the oil business. It was the "best of times and the worst of times." The congregation numbered 950 souls at its 40th anniversary in 1984. After Pastor Larson's retirement in 1989, Pastor Stephen Rynearson (Faith Lutheran, Aransas Pass) served as vacancy pastor during the 1989-1990 period. It was also during this time period that Trinity made the financial decision to close the elementary school.

In the summer of 1991 Pastor Michael Birnbaum, a "son of the congregation," accepted a call, coming to Trinity from California. He brought new vision for Trinity and a desire to try different forms of evangelism. A contemporary service and home bible studies were started. The contemporary worship service continues at Trinity to this day as the Blended Service at 11:00 on Sundays, with celebration leaders of various musical talents participating. In October 1993 Pastor Michael retired from full time ministry due to health problems.

 

Captain Alston Kirk, a distinguished Navy Chaplain, soon-to-be-retired but still working at NAS Corpus Christi, accepted a call to Trinity. He was installed in August 1994.  The following month, on September 25, 1994, a celebration service took place at Carpenters' Hall commemorating Trinity's first service which was held there on September 24, 1944.  Invitations went out to former members near and far. Those attending even included two of the charter members who were still living in the area. About a month later that building was raized to make way for a Walgreens drugstore. Another milestone for Trinity occurred in 1999, when with a great sense of pride and relief Trinity "burned the mortgage," after a firm commitment by the congregation to become financially free of a mortgage payment.  Shortly thereafter an associate pastor was called and Jeffrey Doria was installed in that position on July 8, 2001. During Pastor Jeff's tenure he also served Trinity-West Sinton as vacancy pastor. He left Trinity to accept a call to King of Kings, San Antonio. In May of 2004, after a long and illustrious career, Pastor Kirk retired. He and wife Susan live in Corpus Christi and continue as faithful members of Trinity.

Pastor Phillip Phifer was called and arrived in the summer of 2005. Enthusiastic and energetic, he started programs to reach out and serve not only the members of Trinity but also others in the Corpus Christi community. Pastor Phifer was instrumental in re-opening the school as a preschool and childcare center. In early 2009 Pastor Phifer received and accepted a call to a parish in Indiana.

Pastor Russell Strimple accepted a call to Trinity and was installed as Trinity's pastor in July 2009. With a new pastor, Trinity again experienced a growth spurt, adding new members and new traditions. It was under Pastor Strimple's leadership that Trinity's annual Oktoberfest began, now having been an annual event for the church for over 10 years.

Pastor Strimple accepted a call to his hometown of Houston at the end of 2010. During the resulting vacancy Trinity was very fortunate to have Pastor Gil Franke, recently retired from St. Paul in Bishop, Texas, serve as vacancy pastor during the call process.

In June 2011 Pastor Dustin Beck was installed as Trinity's new pastor. Pastor Beck and Trinity were very actively involved in LCMS disaster relief work following Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. Trinity and Corpus Christi proper were spared the devastating damage and hardships experienced by communities just beyond the city to the north. Trinity was able to provide a staging area and lodging for LCMS teams from throughout the country who traveled to the Coastal Bend to help. This relief work continued for the better part of two  years.

In July 2019 Pastor Beck received and accepted a call to Holy Cross in Warda, Texas.

Pastor Richard Lofgren is serving as Trinity's vacancy pastor. Pastor Lofgren is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Corpus Christi.