A Century in the Word

A Brief History of the Evangelical Trinity Lutheran Congregation of Clinton, Massachusetts on the Occasion of the Threshold of Its Centennial Celebration in 2015      Page 3

AN ANCHOR OF UNCHANGING TRUTH IN A CHANGING WORLD

1964 -- Whereas in the early history of the congregation, the congregation found it necessary to introduce English services, the congregation now found it appropriate to limit the German language services. Starting in 1964, German services were conducted only once a month. These services were to include Holy Communion and would we held on the second Sunday of the month. Special services and festivals would still include a separate German language service.

1965 -- On May 16, Trinity celebrated its 50th year in service to the Lord from the Chace Street address. A special service was held during the afternoon with Pastor Adolphe Steinke of Syracuse, N.Y., formerly pastor at Trinity, as the guest preacher.

1968 -- Due to a dwindling attendance, the German language services were discontinued altogether.

1973 -- The illuminated cross in the belfry was donated and installed in memory of Mr. Fred Schubert. Although installed in 1973, the memorial had actually been given 54 years earlier.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, a controversy occurred in the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod over the nature, authority, and integrity of the Bible as the inerrant and inspired Word of God. The controversy involved an attack of the Lutheran Confessions and the use of the Historical Critical Method of Bible interpretation which denied the historicity of certain portions of the Bible; it proved extremely divisive. By the end of the 1970's approximately 200,000 members of the LCMS had left our synod, and joined a splinter church called The Association of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (AELC). Our congregation's district (then the Atlantic District) was especially hard hit, losing about 30 percent of its congregations to the AELC.

During this time, our congregation, through its pastor, officers, and voting body, took an uncompromising position, siding with Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and synodical conservatives. As a representative of the district, Pastor Martin instructed many congregations about the dangers of joining the AELC and urged them to stay with the Missouri Synod. This congregation's unyielding position required the defense of Biblical doctrine in meetings and conferences in the presence of liberal opposition.

During the 1970s Trinity reached out to the community through a program aimed at combating the growing belief in Darwinian evolution. The congregation invited three guest lecturers to present the scientific foundations of Creation in opposition to the theories of Evolution. These guests included Pastor Walter Lang, then of the Bible Science Association, Dr. Anderson, and Dr. Tinkle.

Also during this period, the youth of our congregation were introduced to the Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ program. This program was sponsored by the synod as an outreach to the local communities by the youth of the congregations. Pastor Douglas May of Christ Lutheran in Troy, N.H. spearheaded this program in our district circuit.

1985 -- Pastor Martin announced his intention to retire following his 70th birthday in June. He agreed, however, to help in the search of a new pastor and also agreed to stay on until a new pastor had been found. In May of that year, Philip Stuart, president of the congregation, received a letter from Pastor Richard Paul Bucher announcing his acceptance of his call to Trinity and his intention to start on July 21.

REACHING STILL FURTHER

In the fall of this year the voters agreed to offer Holy Communion twice monthly, on the first and third Sundays of each month. It had previously been offered only once.

Also in the fall, in an effort to reach the community with the Gospel, called Survey Saturdays, were begun. Each month Pastor Bucher and members of the congregation would go door to door throughout the town of Clinton, asking a series of evangelistic questions. The first Witness Workshop was held at this time also.

The voters agreed to begin special children's sermonettes once a month. These sermons, given by Pastor Bucher, consisted of an object lesson of some kind and were designed especially for the children. The Voters later agreed to offer them twice a month, on the second and fourth Sunday of each month. This continued during Pastor Bucher's tenure.

1986 -- To give our members opportunity for Bible Study and fellowship, In-Home Bible Studies were begun. These studies were written by Pastor Bucher, were led by leaders within the congregation, and met in member's homes.

An Evangelism Ministry, was formed early in the year. This ministry consisted of several teams of evangelists who were trained by the pastor and then made evangelism calls in homes throughout the community once a week.

In light of a renewed interest in evangelism, individual and group Bible study, and to allow for better use of the facilities, it was decided to covert the upstairs room in the east wing of the church into a library. This room has since been used regularly for small meetings, confirmation classes, and prayer groups, as well as to house a growing collection of Christian reading materials available for use by our members. Mr. Eugene Bock was selected to be our librarian. Today, we still have our library, but it is now located in the upstairs room of the west wing.

A monthly newsletter was introduced to the congregation. Proclaim! was intended to contain not only the news of the congregation but Scriptural and Confessional content as well.

A Friendship Sunday was held in February of this year. Several were to be held in the years following. These special services were opportunities for our members to invite non-Christian friends and relatives to church to hear the Gospel.

To get the Word of God primarily to our shut-ins, a tape ministry was launched in memory of Edgar and Irene Wallat. Each Sunday the sermon is recorded and duplicated by our tape volunteer. The tapes are then distributed later in the week, or available for pickup at the church.

In the summer vinyl siding and new windows were installed on the parsonage in an effort to reduce maintenance and lower the heating costs. The work was done by Carlton.

1987 -- Bibles were purchased by our congregation and placed in every pew. These were intended to be used by members during the reading of the lessons as well as during sermons. The Bibles were given in memory of Edgar and Irene Wallat.

As we became more aware of our need to evangelize, the congregation decided in December to begin a weekly radio program. The name Proclaim! was chosen for the new program, as it had been for our newsletter, because through it we would attempt to "proclaim" the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to our community. The first host of the program was Thomas Becker. The initial format consisted of hymns by our own church choir and a sermon from Pastor Bucher. The program began in January of 1988 and was aired Sunday afternoon over WCMX AM radio in Leominster.

1988 -- Mr. Richard Steinau took over as the host of Proclaim! radio program in June. A change in format was introduced with pre-recorded Christian music being added to supplement the Trinity hymns. Later in the year the program was moved to a Sunday morning time slot.

In July, the congregation decided to install vinyl siding on the church building. This project was completed in November by Carlton.

In September, a Saturday afternoon worship service was begun. This service was intended to be another way of reaching out to the community and the inactive members with the Gospel.

A Planning Council was formed. The Council was made up of representatives of the many committees and ministries of the congregation. Its purpose was to do long term planning for the congregation's future ministry and make recommendations to the Church Council and Voters Assembly. A Statement of Purpose for our congregation was drafted by this group and approved by the Voters.

A Helping Hand fund was initiated to assist those in financial need in the congregation and outside it.

1989 -- A fund drive was started to help to pay for the purchase of a new organ. The Baldwin organ was now 30 years old and was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. An organ search committee was also formed to find a suitable replacement before the 75th Anniversary Year celebration. On the committee were Mr. Phil Stuart, Mrs. Gladys Stuart (our Choir Director), and Mr. David Purinton. The new Allen 1140 electronic organ was installed in May and was dedicated in a special evening service on June 18 with Mr. Charles King as our guest organist. The old organ was given to Miss Arlene Beebe, our organist at that time.

Trinity Lutheran Press was begun in May. This "Press" consisted of various desktop publishing equipment in the church. Its purpose was to produce books, booklets and tracts which would communicate the truths of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions with our members and community.

1990 -- In an effort to reach a greater number of people with the Word, it was voted to move Proclaim! to a new station: WORC AM radio in Worcester. This was begun in January.

Consistent with the 75th Anniversary theme of "Presenting Lutheranism to the Community," Pastor Bucher also revised the program format by replacing the sermon with "I Was Wondering." In this segment the pastor would answer questions of contemporary religious interest sent in by members or other listeners. This was to be another means of explaining our Biblical and Confessional Lutheran position.

Guest speakers for the 75th anniversary celebrations of our congregation included Rev. Kurt Marquart and Rev. Robert Preus, both world-renown Lutheran theologians of the LCMS's Concordia Theological Seminary of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

MOVING INTO THE 21st CENTURY, STAYING GROUNDED IN OUR CONFESSION

During Pastor Bucher's pastorate, a congregational website was also begun. It continues to this day, having developed over time, including adopting new and improved URLs periodically.

Also, the 2000s was the setting of one of the most active youth groups in our congregation's history, under the leadership of several adult members, notably Mrs. Ruth Terry, Mr. Dale Perkins, Dr. Rick Waller, and Mrs. Kathy Waller. Many others, notably parents of the youth themselves, were also involved. Activities included serving Easter breakfast (and other meals from time to time), Bible study, recreational activites, and even travel to participate in youth gatherings.

2003 -- In the spring, Pastor Bucher received, and accepted, a call to serve as pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church of Lexington, Kentucky. During the subsequent pastoral vacancy, Trinity was served by area pastors, notably Rev. John Beck, retired pastor from Middletown, Connecticut; Rev. Piotr Malysz, associate pastor of sister congregation Our Savior Lutheran Church of Westminster; and Rev. Tim Knapp, pastor of sister congregation Mount Calvary Lutheran Church of Acton. Pastor Martin was also again active during this period, often preaching and celebrating the Eucharist at Trinity. This arrangement continued until late summer 2004.

2004 -- In June, a call was extended to Rev. Paul Edward Gramit, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church of Cedar Lake, Indiana, to serve as pastor of Trinity. He accepted, and was installed Sunday afternoon, September 12, 2004.

2007 -- During Lent, as part of the effort to edify the family of God at Trinity in a deeper understanding and appreciation of our historic Lutheran liturgical heritage, to take advantage of the richness of the season of Lent to this end, as well as to increase the opportunity to receive the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, Divine Service with the Sacrament was introduced on an every Sunday basis during Lent. In the years since, the Sacrament has also been routinely made available on the first, third, and fifth Sundays of the month, as well as on key festival days.

Also in 2007, after many years of service as choir director, Mrs. Gladys Stuart stepped down from this position. Mr. Doug Bittner, who'd recently joined our congregation and brought with him a wealth of choral knowledge and experience, took over as director. Throughout much of the year, in addition to anthems, the choir also sings liturgical parts on key occasions, notably during Lent. The Choir also switched to an 'a cappella' format.

The late 2000s were the setting for several other beginnings or reintroductions. Ladies' Book Club was begun at this time, under the direction of Mrs. Kathy Martin, wife of president Mr. Paul Martin and daughter-in-law of Pastor Martin. Participants would read the book of discussion in advance, often a story of Christian faith or mission efforts.

Also during this time, in-home Bible studies, after several years' absence, were reintroduced for a brief run, with Stewardship as the theme. These studies were led by Mr. Paul Martin, Dr. Rick Waller, and Pastor Gramit.

Trinity continued its activity as a beacon of the Gospel of Christ in and around the town of Clinton. For a time, Trinity sponsored the broadcast of the Lutheran Hour from nearby Fitchburg. Vacation Bible school has been a valuable outreach to the children of the community and their families. On a nearly annual basis, Trinity has been active in the annual Clinton Olde Home Days event held every September in the downtown Clinton park. We also support the First Concern Pregnancy Resource Center here in Clinton as part of the living of our pro-life dynamic, including particpating in their "Baby Bottle" fundraiser endeavor each year. The Ladies' Aid activity has included serving supper periodically at the Clinton Community Cafe on High Street, as well as operating its annual Christmas Fair each November.

2009 -- In May, it was our privilege to commemorate Pastor Martin's 70 years in ministry; the first two being as dean of students at what is now Concordia University of Texas, the next seven being associate pastor of First Lutheran Church of Holyoke, Mass., and the remainer of them here at Trinity, between his 37 active and, as of 2009, 24 retired. He and Mrs. Martin were recognized with an after-service lunch and program, led by their son Paul. Just under two months later, it was our Lord's gracious will to call to Himself Mrs. Martin. Her funeral was led by Rev. Robin Michael Hintze, senior pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church of Westminster, as Pastor Gramit was in another part of the United States at that time on family vacation. As Trinity's pastor, he submitted an email statement, read by Pastor Hintze at the funeral.

2010 -- The city of Worcester and its immediate area was left, over time, with no conservative and orthodox Lutheran congregations whatsoever. Our own Trinity had become the closest such congregation to the city. Recognizing the need to be instrumental at the disposal of the Holy Ghost in planting such a seed in the city, in the spring, an informal Bible study was begun, led by New England District--LCMS mission developer, Rev. Landon Schkade. Pastor Gramit has also been involved in the study. Originally set to meet in the parish hall of a neighborhood Protestant church near Lake Qunisigamond, a crossing of signals led to the first meeting occurring at a nearby Burger King instead. Due to the study's small size and the visibility of meeting in such a place, as well as Burger King's willingness to allow the study to meet there, it was decided to keep the study meeting there, where it continues at Lake Quinsigamond Road and State Route 9 in west Shrewsbury. After several months, when Pastor Schkade took another call to serve missions and a congregation in the south shore area, Pastor Gramit took over leadership of the study. It continues to meet most Tuesday evenings.

APPROACHING OUR CENTENNIEL

2013 -- After a couple of years of joyfully anticipating the 100th anniversary as a congregation, plans to commemorate, celebrate, reach out, and joyfully and boldly enter our second century began to take shape. The theme, "A Century in the Word," was implemented, with the key Scriptural verse being Psalm 119:105, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Also, work on a new updated website (this one!) was begun and is being maintained by congregation members.

In October, at a special after-service coffee hour, Pastor Martin was recognized for his 65 years as pastor at Trinity after 37 active, and now 28 (years) retired.

2014 -- The church's basement fellowship hall was repainted in late February and March, replacing the beige color with a much lighter shade. Other basic redecorating was done as well.

2015 -- With great joy and by God's grace, our congregation began its centennial celebration. The main theme, "A Century in the Word," was supplemented by three subthemes: "The Creating Word," "The Redeeming Word," and "The Sustaining Word." With Hebrews 11:3, "The worlds were framed by the Word of God," as well as John 1:1-5, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was light . . . and the light shineth in the darkness . . ." as key Scripture passages, we celebrated "The Creating Word" on Sunday, April 26, with a special dinner in our fellowship hall, after our worship service. Other special celebrations were planned for Sundays June 14 ("The Redeeming Word"), September 13 ("The Sustaining Word"), and the pinnacle celebration October 25 ("A Century in the Word").

The 100th anniversary as a congregation was a time to recognize, above all else we've been blessed with, the gifts of the Word of God and the Sacraments of His Grace, which ultimately testify of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, as the only Hope of salvation for all of mankind. While, like many congregations, we too experience our challenges, by God's grace we've also been richly blessed. Many, MANY are the volunteers not listed in this history, who perform many tasks related to Sunday School, Altar Guild, Church Council, Ladies' Aid Society, and so on. Moreover, this congregation, and this especially by God's grace, remains firmly grounded, having resisted the trends which have caused entirely too many congregations to compromise. At the same time, we seek to concern ourselves with Christian discipleship and mission. Much of what had been established over the years, including some of what is in this history, has since run its course; with other things, they continue; and still other new projects or programs have been introduced and, Lord willing, this will continue also. But, amid all that changes, God's grace is forever!

As we commemorated "A Century in the Word," as well as having entered our second century, may God continue to keep us in His grace and favor, for Jesus' sake.

SOLI DEO GLORIA!

the Bible is the Word of God
 

Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Galatians 1: 3-5

 

Contact Pastor Paul Gramit:
Phone: 978-365-6888 or Email

Webservant email

Ev. Trinity Lutheran Church, 117 Chace St., Clinton MA Phone: (978) 365-6888
Member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Unaltered Augsburg Confession
{Copyright (C) 2015, Ev.Trinity Lutheran Church, Clinton MA All Rights Reserved}

 

 

 

 

 

LCMS Cross