History

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1865, after its founding members had already been served for about 30 years by the famous circuit rider, the Reverend Friedrich Schmid, who traveled a set route from Ann Arbor to Detroit to Monroe and back, conducting worship services at various sites along the way.

A more regular schedule of services in Saline began when the Reverend Nathaniel Wolfe from St. John Lutheran Church in Bridgewater was willing to aid the fledgling group of Lutherans to the east, who officially organized Trinity with eleven voting members. The congregation was served by Pastor Wolfe and his successors at St. John, Rev. J. Doerfler and Rev. Frederick Meuller, until 1878. At that time, with membership having grown to 50 families, Trinity called its first resident pastor, Rev. C.A. Lederer.

In the meantime, in 1871 the cornerstone was laid for a new church building on the corner of East Michigan Avenue and North Harris Street, an area formerly known to the locals as "the frog pond." The building was completed in 1872 at the cost of $5600.

With Pastor Lederer's arrival, Trinity began a history of retaining its pastors for long terms of service. In fact, from 1878 to 1986, a period of 108 years, Trinity had only four pastors! Pastor Lederer served well into the 20th century, but his declining health led the congregation to call his son Adolph to assist him beginning in 1918. C.A. Lederer died in 1926, while son Adolph continued alone his pastoral ministry at Trinity for eleven more years, before his retirement in 1939.

At that time Pastor Hilbert Engel was called to serve in Saline and he remained here until his retirement in 1967 and his death in 1983. Knowing a transition period was coming, Trinity called Pastor John Westendorf in 1966 to serve with Rev. Engel until his retirement. Pastor Westendorf himself continued to minister to the members of Trinity for another 20 years, eventually with the help of Vicars (or student pastors) from 1974-75 and 1978-85, and finally serving alongside Pastor William Natsis, who was called as Associate Pastor in 1986.

Health problems forced Pastor Westendorf to retire in 1987, when Pastor Philip Wilde was called to serve as Associate Pastor with Pastor Natsis. Pastor Wilde became the first resident pastor in Trinity's history to accept a call away from Saline, which he did in 1992, moving to an Exploratory Mission in Edmonton, Canada. At that time Pastor Mark Smith was called to be Pastor Natsis' associate, and the two of them remain as Trinity's pastors today.

Trinity's heritage is as the "German Church" in town, although the German language was no longer used in services by the middle of the 20th century. However, the architectural style of the "German church" has remained a constant over the years. A number of additions changed the size of the 1872 building, but great detail has been kept in maintaining its original Gothic structure, including the soaring steeple and the tall, narrow arches of the stained glass windows. The latest remodeling took place in 2001, when an elevator, new offices, two handicapped restrooms, and two new meeting rooms were incorporated into the structure. A new pipe organ was installed in 2003.

The congregation also owns two parsonages, at 107 and 108 E. McKay Street.