Trinity Lutheran Church was formed in 1851 in a chapel set on a hill in the Lutheran Cemetery, which the congregation called Luther Chapel. Formal incorporation within the State of New York took place in 1863. Later that year as the congregation grew, a parochial school was started just inside the cemetery gate. In April 1863, the congregation suffered the first of several fires that were to plague its history.
The congregation then purchased a lot on Juniper Avenue (now known as 69th street). The new schoolhouse was built there and dedicated during the Pentecost season in 1865. All was well until Trinity suffered its second fire and the school was destroyed. Classes continued to be held in the lobby of a local hotel and in the offices of the Lutheran cemetery. By the fall of 1895, nine months after the fire, a school and parsonage were completed at a cost of $10,706. The bell in the new schoolhouse was donated by the Confirmation class of 1895. That bell is now displayed in the monument at the corner of 81st Street and Juniper Boulevard South.
Fire struck again in 1906 when the old Luther Chapel was destroyed. Services were conducted in the schoolhouse. By 1907 a new stone church, built on the old cemetery site, was dedicated on Trinity Sunday, June 14, 1907.
In 1975, plans were being made to completely renovate the “Church in the Cemetery,” but before work could begin lightning struck the highest peak directly above the altar causing structural damage. At the completion of the renovation several pews from the nave and balcony were not returned to their positions. Instead they were placed in the Dry Harbor Chapel to replace folding chairs.
Disaster Strikes Again
On Easter Monday, April 12, 1977, disaster struck once again. The “Church in the Cemetery” was completely destroyed by fire. The congregation was again faced with the decision to rebuild on the cemetery site or on the Dry Harbor Road property. This time Dry Harbor Road was the choice. The congregation continued to worship in the Parish House while the new sanctuary was being constructed next door. Formal dedication of the new facility took place on Reformation Sunday, October 28, 1979.
The congregation recently made a huge decision to renovate their parish house. The hall was built in the mid 1930’s. Little has changed in the building outside of removing two bowling lanes and closing up the windows during the 1960’s and then re-opening the windows in the 1990’s. Currently building plans have been drawn up and with the approval of the congregation, we are about to bring the parish house up to date.
Microburst Hits Middle Village
On September 16, 2010, a tornado, which spawned a microburst, took the siding off the front of the building on Dry Harbor Road and sent it flying into the street and onto some houses opposite the church. The ceiling over the porch was severely damaged; part of it fell and the rest had to be removed because there was a danger that more would fall. Also the maple tree on 81st street suffered severe damage and much of it was torn off.
It has been very discouraging to this congregation that another disaster has fallen on the church, but their faith is strong.
On June 12, 2011, Trinity will celebrate an historic day, as they formally welcome the good people of Ascension Lutheran Church of Glendale into their family. They will merge and only become stronger.
Trinity will celebrate 150 years of ministry to this community under the guidance of Pastor Leo E. Longan in 2013. We pray that with the help of God and community they will become a shining example of love and cooperation. The congregation is fewer in numbers these days, but strong in faith and their goal is alive and well.
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SERVING MIDDLE VILLAGE AND MASPETH SINCE 1938.