Our Faith – St. Paul Lutheran Church
St. Paul Lutheran Church in Trenton celebrates its 75th anniversary
Reflecting upon its rich history and its impact on the community over the past 75 years, the members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Trenton believe the future is more exciting than ever.
The 75th anniversary is not only about celebrating the past, but looking ahead. As Jennifer Riley, head of St. Paul’s 75th Anniversary Committee, explains: “[The 75th Anniversary] has been a wonderful opportunity to look back on how God has worked through our congregation over the years and to look forward to what is yet to come.”
Although St. Paul Lutheran Church now has 1,200 members, its beginnings were much humbler and its founding is a story of perseverance and dedication to spreading the Gospel message. In September 1941, 30 members of Trinity Lutheran Church in Wyandotte who lived in Trenton gathered to discuss forming a new church in their community. By November 26th of that year, this newly formed congregation selected the name St. Paul and began meeting at Trenton High School, where Reverend Harold Iben became the first pastor.
With the United States on the brink of entering World War II, the task of building a church proved to be formidable, since local governments were not prioritizing building permits for churches. Yet, the congregation not only persevered, but also continued to grow to over 100 members. They raised a building fund of $4,500, and as World War II came to an end in the fall of 1945, they were able to begin constructing a church building. Finally, on October 23rd, 1949, St. Paul Lutheran Church was dedicated, its first sanctuary was established, and its steeple was raised.
As the years passed, the congregation steadily grew and the church saw several different pastors dedicate many years of service to St. Paul Lutheran Church. Like his predecessors, the current pastor, Reverend Rick Blythe, is committed to the founding vision and mission: “We shall live the Great Commission.” Taken from the Gospel of Matthew, 28:18-20, the message is to go out, baptize, and spread the good news–or, as the people of St. Paul Lutheran Church proclaim, “We live to know Christ and make Christ known.”
St. Paul Lutheran Church practices this founding vision through its community outreach. Each year, St. Paul Lutheran organizes Back to School fairs, where they give backpacks to children in Trenton who are in need. They also orchestrate large donations to food pantries every Thanksgiving, host a 5K Fun Run health fair, hold a First Responder Memorial Service with the Trenton Police and Fire departments, and host a Salute to the Heroes concert to honor our nation and those who served in the armed forces.
Pastor Blythe elaborates, “We care for people in a holistic way, centered on Christ.” Through St. Paul Lutheran’s many charitable works, Pastor Blythe believes the church is “a positive partner with the community.”
St. Paul Lutheran Church is also dedicated to education, especially among the youth. An important part of their youth ministry is their annual Vacation Bible School program and their preschool. With typically over 200 children attending each year, the success of their preschool and youth programs stirs excitement for the future. “We are really looking forward to what is yet to come–thinking about our high school youth who are taking on leadership roles and even our preschool kids who will take us into the next 75 years,” says Riley.
With so much growth over the past 75 years, the anniversary year has been the perfect opportunity to celebrate and reconnect with past friends and former pastors. Riley remarks, “One of the really fun aspects of this celebration has been getting to reconnect with old friends and seeing many of our former pastors again. You don’t really realize how much time has passed until they come back and say how long it’s been since they left. It’s amazing how quickly the time passes.”
While the celebration is exciting for those within their church community, as always, St. Paul Lutheran Church is dedicated to living the Great Commission through assisting and supporting the Downriver community through charity and love. “It’s amazing to think about the impact St. Paul has had on our community over all 75 years,” Riley explains, “We have been richly blessed, and we plan to continue to spread God’s love throughout Downriver for many years to come!”