August 8, 1858, the Rev. Friedrich Ruff, came to Bloomington and first preached in the old McLean County Court House. On September 19, 1858, Trinity Lutheran was organized. Pastor Ruff served as our first pastor in October of 1858. Our Christian Day School began at this time as well and was taught by our first three pastors. Over the first few years, the congregation rented a small hall, until a suitable lot on which to build a church could be purchased.
The First Site
Trinity Lutheran purchased an old church building at a cost of $250 and moved it to a lot purchased for $450 at the northeast corner of Madison and Olive Streets. The new church was solemnly dedicated to the Lord at the end of June 1863.
Joining the Synod
In 1867 the congregation was officially received as a member of the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other States, convinced that this body preached and taught the Word of God in its truth and purity. Later this Synod would become what is known today as the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
A Growing School
By 1872, enrollment in the Christian Day School had reached over 100 pupils and the congregation realized that they had long outgrown their current church facility and decided to build two separate schools by 1873. One school was located on the south side of Bloomington at the northeast corner of Lincoln and Main Streets and was taught by Mr. John Brase, and the other on the west side of Bloomington on West Chestnut Street taught by Mr. E. C. Marr.
On the Move
Church attendance greatly increased, necessitating the building of a new church home. On April 20, 1884, a resolution was passed to move the church building to a lot they owned near their school in the western part of the city and to erect a new facility.
All preparatory work for the new building was completed by August 1884. On September 7, 1884 the cornerstone was laid, and on June 14, 1885, the new church edifice, having a seating capacity of 905 people, was dedicated to the Lord. The cost of the new church amounted to $19,000.
A New School
By the early 1890’s, the congregation decided to consolidate its two schools and purchase property at the 700 block of South Madison Street. The new school building was built at a cost of $7,500 and dedicated on October 30, 1892.
To assist with preaching and the other various pastoral duties of our congregation, student assistants or vicars from seminary began serving our congregation in the fall of 1931 which would continue until 1985.
By the mid 30’s, the congregation realized the need for a parish hall and improved school facilities, and proceeded with plans to build. After demolition of the school building, the new project begun on August 20, 1940 and a cornerstone was laid on September 22.
On March 2, 1941, the new Trinity Lutheran School and Parish Hall at 701 South Madison, at a cost of nearly $80,000 was dedicated to the glory of God.
On the Move Again
By the late 1940’s, the attention of the congregation was directed towards the need for a new church and better Sunday School facilities. It also became apparent that even with the recent completion of the new school, additional schoolrooms would be needed to accommodate the increased school enrollment and the new kindergarten class.
At the October 11 Voters Meeting in 1953, after long and prayerful deliberation, the congregation decided to build our new church home next to the school building with additional schoolrooms, thus having one complete unit for the combined needs of the church and school.
Work on the new church progressed satisfactorily; Sunday, April 4, 1954, the cornerstone was laid.
On July 20, 1954, the three church bells which were originally cast in 1885 were lowered down from their high perch to be transferred into the new church tower at 801 S. Madison St.
The long-awaited day of dedication for the new structure was held on Sunday, February 13, 1955. Our new edifice provided not only a sanctuary and chapel with seating for approximately 1,100 people, but also new Sunday School rooms, three additional school classrooms and kindergarten for our Christian Day School, and pastoral and church offices. The total cost of the new building with all equipment totaled nearly $725,000.
In honor and expectation of the 100th anniversary of the congregation, on May 8, 1956, the congregation voted to establish a new mission church, initially known as Centennial Lutheran Church, on the east side of Bloomington.
A 7 ½ acre site for the new mission church, located at 1800 block of East Lincoln Street, was selected and approved for purchase by the voters’ on November 13, 1956. Ground was broken for the new church at a special ceremony on Sunday, July 13, 1958 and cornerstone-laying ceremonies followed on December 14, 1958.
On June 2, 1959, 44 new charter members attended an organizational meeting for the new east side mission church and the name “Our Redeemer Lutheran Church” was chosen for the congregation.
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church was dedicated on September 20, 1959 with the first regular service held the following Sunday presided over by the church’s first pastor, the Rev. Holland Jones.
After having approved a new constitution in the summer of 1993, many in our membership had grown dissatisfied with leadership direction of the congregation. After unsuccessfully attempting to work out a new constitution through Voters’ meetings in 1994 and 1995, a segment of our membership left to form a new congregation of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bloomington. By the grace of God, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church continues to serve the community of Bloomington to this day.
The Hamilton Site
Over the course of 1997 and 1998, after a thorough assessment and feasibility study, a Planning and Building Committee was appointed in January 1999.
As a result of the work of the committee, three-fold plans were accepted by the congregation to build a new educational facility offsite to meet the growth needs of our school, to purchase property on which to build our new facility, and to renovate and update our current church facility.
In April 2000, a 48.6 acre tract of land on Bloomington’s south side was identified and purchased in June, as the future site for our new educational facility. In the meantime, our new capital stewardship program entitled “Envision The Possibilities” kicked off with a special commitment dinner held at ISU on November 12, 2000.
In March 2001, our congregation approved the educational facility plans and the renovation plans at our current facility to include construction of a new south parking lot with lighting; installation of new sanctuary lighting; construction of a handicap accessible, covered drop-off entrance; construction and installation of an elevator; upgrades of the 6 electrical system of the church; and renovation of the lower level church restrooms.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new educational facility was held on June 17, 2001 with close to 550 people in attendance. In the following months, trees were cleared, land graded, and the foundation was begun on November 15, 2001.
In March 2002, the renovation projects were underway starting with the elevator, followed by the covered drop-off canopy in April. Most projects were completed by November of 2002 and were dedicated on December 1, 2002 at the end of our second year of our Envision campaign.
After a year and a half of construction, the new educational facility had been completed. The last day of classes of Trinity Lutheran School at 701 S. Madison St. was held on January 18, 2003 and classes began at the new facility on Monday, January 21st. A special dedication service of the newly-constructed Trinity Lutheran School at 1102 West Hamilton Road was held on Sunday, March 2, 2003.
150 and Counting
In 2008, Trinity Lutheran celebrated it's 150th year serving the people of Bloomington, IL and the surrounding communities. By God's grace, we continue to serve!