Hayfield’s Trinity marks dedication centennial
You’ll be forgiven if you’re a little confused by the story of Hayfield’s Trinity Lutheran Church.
After all, it involves two churches merging, a new name, two upcoming anniversaries, and the re-emergence of one of the original names.
But in the end, all that matters is this weekend’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the church building’s dedication.
In 1878, Cedar Creek Lutheran Church formed in Hayfield.
Just 13 years later, Synod Lutheran Church — sometimes called the South Church — formed.
In 1921, the two churches decided to join forces; they would tear down Synod Church and build a new church on that site. Along with the new church came a new name: Trinity Lutheran Church.
“We don’t know why they merged, just the fact that they did,” said Randy Demmer, a lifelong member of Trinity Lutheran and part of the anniversary committee.
According to documentation they’ve tracked down, “it was strongly supported by both congregations,” he said.
At the time of the merger, Cedar Creek Lutheran had 62 members, and Synod Church had 67.
The cornerstone for the new church was laid in May 1922, said the Rev. Kristen Anderson, pastor at Trinity Lutheran.
During the build, the bell was removed from the tower of Cedar Creek and hung in the new church tower.
The price tag came in around $67,000; the mortgage was paid off in just 10 years, she said.
Several current members have deep roots at Trinity — some dating back to the original churches.
“We do have people in our congregation that have ancestors that go back that far,” said Kathy Demmer.
That includes one of the members of the anniversary committee.
“One of the guys — Bob Holton — his grandfather was involved in the building of the church,” Randy Demmer said. “Bob’s also a carpenter, so he’s been involved in a lot of the work that’s been done on the building since.”
It took just over a year for the new church to be built; it was dedicated in May 1923.
“On that day, both congregations gathered at Cedar Creek Lutheran Church, then walked from there to Trinity,” Kathy Demmer said. It was symbolic, and “I’m so glad people at that time thought to take a picture of it.”
According to one document, as the people walked toward Trinity, they could hear the newly installed pipe organ playing. The same organ remains there today.
The building has stood since, spared by a tornado that struck Hayfield in 1925.
“Things started getting rolling in January or February,” said Kathy Demmer. “That’s actually when the biggest body of the committee was put together. We’ve been very hard at work: redoing the history, looking for pictures, having digital pictures taken of the church…”
On Sunday, their work will be on display at Trinity Lutheran Church, beginning at 9 a.m. with coffee and a social hour in the narthex. During that time, a PowerPoint of the church’s history will play in the sanctuary.
The worship service will begin at 10 a.m. and feature a commemorative program.
Following the service, a catered meal will be held in the fellowship hall.
Throughout that time, a self-guided, do-it-yourself activity for families and others is planned. A map of the “Trinity Treasure Hunt” will be available, directing participants to hidden treasures in the church — as well as places and history they may not know about, Anderson said.
There will be plenty of photos of big projects throughout the years, including the installation of an elevator, a large stained glass window project, a remodel of the fellowship hall a few years ago, and a complete renovation of the sanctuary about 10 years ago.
“I think the congregation has been very invested in keeping the church well-maintained and improved,” Kathy Demmer said. “It seems like people step up to the plate when there’s a need in the church.”
“That building is beautiful,” Randy Demmer said.
“We’ve been organizing, spending quite a bit of time going through old pictures and documents, trying to put together, the best we can, the history of the building,” he said. “It was for this celebration, but also then, it’ll be there for people in the future to see the timeline of things that have happened.
“It’ll be helpful going forward for those that come after us,” he said.
In just five years, the 900-member congregation will mark its 150th anniversary, using that Cedar Creek Lutheran Church founding date of 1878.
“The building’s a building,” Demmer said. “We’re celebrating that we’ve had it 100 years, but the congregation itself is a different issue — though it’s easy to intertwine those two things. We celebrate the fact that the church is there, and it’s a church and a congregation of believers.”
He grew up in the church and said he likes to think of it “as a warm and welcoming place for people. It’s been a good resource for this community.”
It’s a community that once again has a Cedar Creek Church.
“It’s there,” Demmer said, “but it’s not Lutheran.”