Trinity Lutheran Church is a local ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, a branch of Protestant Christianity that follows the teachings of reformer Martin Luther. Trinity welcomes all people into worship, fellowship and mission and makes no distinctions of age, race, ethnicity, economic condition, disability or sexual orientation. We strive to be the body of Christ at work in the world today, paying special attention to the needs of our own members and of the community that surrounds us.
In offering a brief history of Trinity Lutheran Church (officially named "The Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church of Dover"), it is possible only to mention the most important periods or events in its history.
Trinity enjoys the distinction of being the first Swedish congregation to be organized in the State of New Jersey since colonial times. Although the period of its existence is not as long as that of other congregations in Dover, the Trinity congregation represents an important spiritual influence in the community.
In May of 1886, Mr. John Edward Larson arranged a meeting of a group of individuals on the government reservation near Dover. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of organizing a Sunday School for children, and to arrange for Swedish Lutheran services. The first service was held in July, 1886 with Pastor J. A. Rodell of Brooklyn, N.Y. officiating. Subsequently, the Rev. A.B. Lilja, an emigrant missionary, was sent out to preach twice monthly.
On March 9, 1889, with Pastor Lilja serving as chairman, a meeting was held for the purpose of incorporation and election of trustees and to name the congregation. The name decided upon was: The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Dover. And so a Swedish Lutheran church came into existence in Dover to serve the Swedish-speaking immigrants, many who had made their homes in and near that community. The congregation shifted to English language services following World War I, and at that time absorbed a German Lutheran Congregation that was using it's building for worship.
The ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of our present building was held on July 23, 1894. The completed building was dedicated in ceremonies held on March 17, 1895. A parsonage was built in 1912 during Pastor A.G. Olsson's period of service. In 1972 a terrible fire gutted the parsonage that was adjacent to the church, resulting in the construction of the new Parish Life Center. The sanctuary underwent a major redesign in 1985.
Since its founding in 1889, Trinity has been served by thirty student-pastors and pastors ending with our previous pastor, The Reverend Cheryl Johnson. Pastor Cheri began her ministry at Trinity on July 1, 1983, and was the spearhead of many successful programs during her ministry here. Pastor Cheri retired August 1, 2014 after thirty-one years of leadership here. We are presently in transition and are being served by interim Pastor Daniel Schroeder. We are looking forward to calling a new settled minister in the very near future.
In 2014, we celebrated 125 years of ministry and we look forward to the next 125!