|In the early 1900's
missionaries of the Oregon and Washington District (now Northwest District)
of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, paid periodic visits to the Bellingham
Bay country. Among these pioneer missionaries were E. DOERING, H. BOHL, and
C. EBELING. In 1902 Gottlieb WASCHKE and the RAUCH brothers, Adam and Fred,
petitioned the District for a resident pastor. H. C. HINZ, from Illinois,
was ordained and installed as pastor of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church
in September 1902. The church was located at the corner of Smith Rd.
and Northwest Rd. in present day North Bellingham. The original seven voting
members were: Adam RAUCH, Fred RAUCH, Gottlieb WASCHKE, John WASCHKE, REDA,
and the two KAMMERZELLS, Henry and John.
After a short time, preaching stations were established in Blaine, Delta, Everson, Acme, and Whatcom (now Bellingham). Rev. HINZ resigned his position due to ill health and in September 1903 F. M. L. NITZ took over the pastor duties and served for 44 years. Rev. F. M. L. NITZ was born in Pomerania, Germany, the son of a forester and professional hunter. He came to this country with his parents and settled in Ohio. He studied in the parochial school of Zion Lutheran Church in Akron, OH, at Concordia College in Ft. Wayne, IN, and finally at the seminary in St. Louis from which he graduated in 1903. He married Caroline HEITMUELLER of Akron, OH in August 1903 and arrived in Whatcom County, September 5, 1903.
The preaching station in Whatcom grew and requested a vicar. Student Hans ROSENWINKEL spent one year here, returning to the seminary in the fall of 1904 to finish his studies. In August 1904, Theodore GESSWEIN arrived and was then ordained and installed as missionary for the Bellingham area. His first service on August 21, 1904, was attended by 17 members of the early families: Mrs. O. STEIN and children, Mrs. LEITNER and her children, and the BAUKE family. At this time services were conducted in Zion Lutheran Church (Norwegian) on Grant Street near Gladstone. The rental fee was 50 cents per service.
In the spring of 1904 a piece of property was purchased at the corner of Gladstone and Franklin at a cost of $700.00. The building was started in the summer of 1905 and completed by September. The total cost of construction was $625.00. The dedication took place of September 17, 1905 and on October 3, Rev. GESSWEIN opened school with four pupils in attendance, the HOFFERBER children - Fred, Conrad, Adolf and Maria.
At a meeting held on Thanksgiving Day 1905, the decision was made to draw up a constitution. The organizational meeting took place January 1, 1906. Eight voting members met with the pastor and signed their names to the constitution: Henry KAMMERZELL, Sr., Jake KAMMERZELL, John WASCHKE, Conrad HOFFERBER, John BAUKE, Julius NEIMANN, Martin GESSWEIN, and Ludwig FITZ. The name given to the parish was Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church. Services were conducted in German.
On July 7, 1907 Pastor GESSWEIN preached his farewell sermon. Rev. NITZ from North Bellingham was called to serve this congregation and he moved to town after the Christmas holidays in 1907. He continued to serve for the next 40 years, passing way Sunday, January 25, 1948. In addition to his regular parish duties, he continued the school begun in 1905 and taught for 15 years. The school was finally discontinued after the term of 1926. Other teachers had been A. GRABOW and O. WINTERSTEIN.
After the departure of Rev. NITZ to Bellingham, Peace Lutheran Church in North Bellingham was served first by Rev. C. H. WEBER from 1908 - 1910, and then by Rev. W. SCHMOOCK from 1910 - 1914. Finally in 1925 Peace Lutheran disbanded and the members were transferred to Trinity in Bellingham. Rev. NITZ served Peace Lutheran from 1914 until it disbanded.
In July of 1910 a building permit was issued with E. E. ZIEGLER of Seattle listed as the architect and Rev. NITZ as the contractor. The new building was to sit on the front corner of the existing church lot. Cornerstone laying took place in October 1910 and the building was completed in November 1910 at a cost of $2,497.64. Men from the congregation who donated labor were: Jake KAMMERZELL, Alex DIETZ, John HOFFERBER, J. WASCHKE and J. JASCHINIAK. C. LAUBE built the altar and pulpit.
During the early years the language was largely German, but in 1911 the congregation began to hold 2 English vesper services a month. Forty years later the situation was just reversed the 2 German services a month and all others in English.
The present church lots at the corner of Texas and Dean Streets were purchased during the pastorate of Rev. Edward BARTELL, a former Army chaplin, who came in August of 1948, succeeding Rev. A. EICHMANN of Mt. Vernon. Rev. BARTELL accepted the call to Bellfield, North Dakota in 1952 and again Rev. EICHMANN served the congregation. In May 1953, Rev. Carl R. EGGERS was installed. Construction on the new church parsonage commenced in October and by Easter Sunday, 1954, it was dedicated. The church building was begun under the direction of architect, Robert CHERVENACK of Seattle.
Shortly after completion of the new Trinity church at Texas and Dean Streets. Rev. EGGERS transferred to another congregation. It wasn't until late1959 that Pastor Carl FISCHER accepted a call to Trinity where he remained as pastor for 28 years. During that tenure two satellite congregations were started. One in Blaine known as Peace Lutheran so named after the first church in North Bellingham. The second one was formed in North Bellingham known as Redeemer Lutheran about a mile from the original church.
Submitted by John L. Rauch
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