Trinity Lutheran Church Pledge Drive

While looking for a Trinity Lutheran School yearbook for a video I’m putting together, I found this Trinity Lutheran Church publication promoting a 1954 pledge drive with a goal of $225,000. This photo of the congregation caught my eye. It was put in the booklet so the left half was in the front and the back half was the next-to-last page. I joined the two halves together as best I could here.

I saved it at a higher resolution than usual, so you might be able to find yourself or someone you know if you click on it to make it larger.

This church no longer there

This church was razed just shy of its centennial, supposedly because of structural problems. Brother Mark and I crawled all over the building just before it was torn down documenting the attic, bell tower, organ pipes and other areas most folks have never seen. Those photos will run in the future.

Learned about fund-raising in Gastonia

One night when I was working in Gastonia, N.C., a couple of rowdy strangers on motorcycles started playing like they were something out of Marlon Brando’s The Wild One at a local drive-in restaurant. Just before things got ugly, a tall, lean Johhny Cash lookalike came into the picture and cowed the bikers and made them see the error of their ways. He also let it be known he’d be preaching at a tent revival on the edge of town. (You won’t be surprised to learn that the bikers traveled with the revival.)

I showed up and did a whole picture page on the old-time, sawdust-floor revival. There was much singing and writhing on the ground, speaking in tongues and passing of collection plates filled with loot. A photo of the latter was featured prominently on the page.

The next day, I’m sitting at my desk when I see the preacher striding down the hall toward me with his black coat trailing like Superman’s cape. I figured he wasn’t happy with the way I portrayed his revival.

On the contrary, he loved it

“Those were great pictures,” he gushed. “I’d like to hire to to come out tonight and take pictures of the crowd from all four corners. Show up about X o’clock and I’ll have ’em worked up real good by then. Shoot your pictures, then signal me when you’re done.” I think he promised me a hundred bucks, which was more than half a week’s pay in those days.

I showed up at the appointed time. True to his word, he had the crowd really rolling. I gave him a nod, then worked all four corners of the tent. When I had taken the last photo, I gave him the high sign.

“The Holy Ghost has spoken!”

“The Holy Ghost has spoken!” he shouted. “The Holy Ghost has spoken! We have to move on! We have to move on! Everyone back in your seat, please. The Holy Ghost has spoken.”

That was the biggest promotion I had ever gotten in my short career as a photographer. By the way, I got my cash up front for the pictures.

[Editor’s note: I draw no parallels between The Man in Black and Trinity’s pledge drive.]

“We must sacrifice to improve…”

I recognize several of these photos as having been taken in Trinity Hall at Trinity Lutheran School, an interesting old house that was torn down in 1967.

“…these crowded conditions”

I don’t recall being all that cramped, but I guess first or second graders don’t take up all that much room.

The whole fund-raising publication

I scanned the whole document into an Adobe pdf format. Click on the link below to download the whole fund-raising booklet with some church history and other things in it. Trinity Lutheran Church Pledge Drive Booklet


24 Replies to “Trinity Lutheran Church Pledge Drive”

  1. Ken–When I see on Facebook something you have posted I always open it first–You are doing a great job with your pictures, and the stories behind them. thanks so much–Yvonne Henson Miller, class of 53

    1. Thanks, Yvonne. Glad I can help start your morning off.

      If you subscribe to the site by clicking on the Post and Comments button on the top, right-hand side, you’ll get a notification whenever something new is posted or someone leaves a comment.

      The latter is particularly helpful because a lot of folks may leave comments for a topic that is months old.

  2. Ah, the old church was very Lutheran inside; with the pulpit raised high, it made the pastors seem larger than life. I was baptized in November 1954 by Pastor Koenig, but he was gone before my real memories formed. Pastor Fessler floats in the background, but more so for me, Pastor O.A. Gerken is the one that really reinforced my faith formed by Grace in Baptism.

    I really miss the old church building. It was relatively modest inside, with the real focus on the chancel, especially on the altar; where it should have been. The large statue of Christ up there helped young minds, fed by God-given faith, formulate some understanding what our beliefs were about.

    Thanks again for reviving and reinforcing old memories.

    1. Keith,

      Pastor Fessler is the one who looms in my memory. He’s the one I had for Confirmation.

      One of his assignments was for us to turn in a 100-word summary of his sermon every week. I made it a point to write exactly 100 words; not one word more; not one word less. I give him credit for teaching me how to take notes and write for space.

      He also had, I assume, a wry sense of humor. It was the tradition at Trinity to assign each child a Bible verse upon their confirmation.

      He gave me Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

      He figured that my meeting the minimum requirements was the best he could hope for.

      I thought it was a crime that the old church was torn down. Buildings in much worse condition have been restored. The rumor I heard was that a substantial gift was made, but that it could only be used to build a new church. I’ve never tried to verify that. Maybe another reader can confirm or deny it.

      I haven’t been in the new church, nor do I plan to go in it. It holds no meaning for me.

      It reminds me of a church down here in Jupiter, Fla. I shot the first service in it. Then, ten years later, I photographed the county fire department using it for a practice burn so the land could be used for a McDonald’s.

  3. Ken, the rumor you heard was not a rumor. There was a very large amount of money (approx. $2M) left to the congregation that could only be used for a new church building. It came from the Hirsch family that owned Hirsch Brothers Mecantile and Provision Co at 720 Good Hope and later Hirsch Brothers Grocery at 241 S. Sprigg.
    As the story goes, one morning after worship service in late 1979, a group of people, standing outside talking, noticed a bow in the upper center sections of the side walls. This resulted in an engineering survey of the structure. The survey indicated severe structural problems, including the lack of cement in the mortar between the bricks; there was only lime and sand. My uncle Jim Haman stated that he witnessed first-hand the severity of the structural weakness. The survey concluded that the structural problems were not insurmountable, although remediation would be greater than building a new stucture of equal size.
    Ultimately, the decision made by the congregation was to use the memorial fund money in addition to a capital campaign to build a larger structure with greater functionality. The new church is very functional and has elements preserved from the old building (chancel windows, pipe organ, bell), but it lacks the character of the old nineteen century sanctuary.

  4. I did not attend Trinity. I went to Lynwood Baptist. But I remember the day the church was razed. If memory serves me right, they had a very difficult time knocking it known. I worked at Sunny Hill Restaurant from ’76-’82. One of our very dear waitresses was a member there. Iris Zelle. I took her home numerous times to her house on Washington by SEMO. She loved that church.

  5. They wrecking crew had a difficult time taking down the bell tower and steeple. That portion of the structure was extremely well built with lots of reinforcement due to the thickness of the walls. The crew placed a 12 x 12 beam on the west wide of the bell tower with a cable running from it through where the louvers were for the sound of the bell to come out. The other end of the heavy cable was connected to a bulldozer. The bulldozer struggled to get enough traction to pull the bell tower over into the rubble of the sanctuary, but eventually the bell tower succumbed.

  6. While the Lutherns recall the church with affection, Lions, their cubs and no doubt others remember with fondness the weekly bowling leagues at the alley in the basement of the school. For years it helped maintain a warm camaraderie among Lions Club members of all ages that has since faded, disconnecting the Old Monarchs from the rest of the club.

  7. Ken, seeing the congregation sitting in the pews at Trinity church brought a smile to my face…my sister, Mary Lewis Schaefer is sitting on the end of the fourth pew on the left and I’m next to her followed by my dad, Bill, and my mom, Linda, where you can see the hat she wore that day. We always sat to the front of the church and I still like to do that free of distraction from the pew sitters. My husband, Tom, and I were married in that church 50 years ago this coming June 17. Also I remember that bowling alley in the school basement across from the cafeteria where we were served hot meals. One more comment. Do you or anyone reading this remember those wonderful chicken pie suppers………My mom gave me the recipe and our children and families look forward to hearing that would be on the menu when they come to our lakehouse. Thank you for the memories!

  8. My sister, Georgia Buelow Burgfeld and her husband, L. R. Burgfeld are sitting in thr first row , right. They were married there in March 1950 and she was buried from there in November 2009. I always sat in the balcony where I could watch Mr. Henry Krahn or Mr. Paul Steffens play that wonderful organ

  9. I’d like to leave one more observation, in looking at this photo again I found myself in the right rear of the church standing next to the older gentleman in front of the door that leads to the basenent of the church. The tall young man standing at the base of the steps to the balcony is “Dub” Suedekum

  10. I remember the bowling alley in the school. I graduated from Trinity in 1976 and I believe you had to be in 8th grade to bowl during PE and walk to Dairy Queen for lunch on Friday through the back alley. I also just ran across a small box that my parents gave me that was made from the poplar beams after Old Trinity was razed in 1979. The name on the business card in the box is Ted Suedekum. Is he the same man as “Dub”?

  11. Stephanie,
    Ted Suedekum was a gentlemen that lived out near Gordonville, north of County Road 214, west of County Road 213 – commonly called Pecan Grove Road. He and his wife Ernestine had two daughters, Marjorie Ann and Shirley. Ken is probably familiar with Marjorie since she worked for the Missourian. Shirley married Stanley Popp, who was an American Family Insurance agent. The Suedekums were relatives of mine.
    In his later years, during the 1970’s and 1980’s, Ted had a woodworking hobby that included making all kinds of nice craft items like miniature birdhouses and many other neat things. He recovered some of the wood from the old Trinity Church and made various mementos from the wood. For someone that grew up with the old church, those items hold a special place in our hearts. I missed out on getting one of Ted’s pieces made with old church wood since I had moved out of town by the time he started making them.

    Clarence Wilhelm “Dub” Suedekum, Jr. was the son of Clarence and Carrie Suedekum. They owned the Suedekum Electronics Supply Company that was on the south side of west Broadway next to the Clark Station, east of the Masonic Lodge.

  12. Thanks for the insightful info on the Suedekum family and the man who made my Trinity keepsake box! Once again, life comes full circle – I knew the Popp family very well when I lived in Cape! So if I have it straight – Ted is Mrs. Popp’s father…I’m wondering, also, if Cape has a Historical Society that may house items from historical buildings, such as Old Trinity – and the Quonset Hut at Hanover…Are there still craftsmen in Cape who make keepsakes from old buildings for those of us who are interested in purchasing a piece of our childhood?

    1. Stephanie,

      I haven’t heard of anyone doing that kind of work, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for it.

      I’m prone to picking up small souvenirs of the past like that. They’d be meaningless to anyone else, but they serve as a touchstone to a memory for me.

  13. Ted Suedekum was Stan Popp’s father-in-law. I have found that for most of us in the “Lutheran’s world”, there is no “six degrees of separation”; we are much more closely connected.

  14. ‘Six’ degrees of separation indeed!

    Marjorie Ann Suedekum is my godmother.

    ( Our family farm is close to the Suedekum place, on CR 209. )

  15. A question for Timothy Keller – Would you contact me? I am doing family history on many of the Lutheran families; the Suedekum’s, Keller’s and the Popp’s just to name a couple of them.
    I’m sure Ken will forward my email address to you. Also, if there are any other folks who be willing to share family info with me, I would appreciate hearing from them all.

    Marlin S. Buelow
    Trinity Class of 1950

    1. I’d be happy to put folks in touch with each other. I’m going to be on a road trip starting Jan. 20 for a few days, so I may not be able to respond as quickly as I usually do.

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