Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church History
"O give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good, for God's steadfast love endures forever."
- Psalm 136:1
The first Lutheran work in Towanda, as is recorded in any case, was done by Pastors H.G. Deisher and J.D. Keener of Dushore Parish, who held services in the home of M/M Elwood Kunes in 1940-42.
Trinity Parish grew from house-to-house visits in 1955, initiated and carried out entirely by the Rev. Donald R. Gebert of St. John Church, Sayre, and the Rev. Charles A. Souders of Dushore. We are forever grateful for their zeal and leadership.
Regular services were begun in October, 1955, in Christ Church (Episcopal) where we worshiped until year end, then in the Sylvania Club rooms on Park Street, (where Ben Franklin is now, and next to the Reuter law offices), until we moved into Trinity Chapel in August, 1956.
A service of transmittal to Pastor Hart was held in Christ Church on the 4th of March, 1956. Trinity Church was instituted the 22nd of April, 1956, the Rev. Maurice J. Hart becoming mission developer, then first pastor.
The Church was incorporated the 23rd of July, 1956.
Also in 1956, the Edward Laning Elliott house and lot were acquired, where services were held in Trinity Chapel until 1965. While temporary, Trinity Chapel was an attractive and satisfactory place of worship.
The Benjamin property at the corner of Grant and Main Streets was purchased in 1958 to complete our holdings to the corner.
The Lutheran Laymen's Movement
In 1962 an intensive and successful building fund drive was conducted by the Lutheran Laymen’s movement. This solicitation exceeded what we thought our capabilities were.
For a number of years an active building fund continued financing the church building. Salary aid was received for ten years from the Board of American Mission.
The Church Building
The year of 1964 was busy, with both the contract let for $84,353, and the ground breaking in June; and the laying of the date stone and blessing of the outside cross in November.
The new church was dedicated on Trinity Sunday in June 1965. It was designed by Donald Duncklee of Allentown, and built by George Leo of New Albany, a member of this parish.
Mr. Duncklee followed a contemporary style, appropriate to our large lot with large trees. Usually a mission congregation builds a parish house first, but we were able to build our church because we had Elliott House.
The Bell Tower and the Stained Glass Windows
The bell tower was erected in 1982, and the bells moved from their temporary place.
For years the beautiful and unique round church with the flat roofline caused headaches periodically as it leaked. In 2001 this problem was solved. A slanted roof was added to the structure, eliminating the leaking windows that skirted the base of the round roof.
In place of the clear windows, backlit stained glass windows were installed and dedicated on May 18, 2003. The fine pieces of art were designed and installed by Mezalik Design Studio, LLC.
The Rock Garden
Later in that same year, a corner of the property was beautified with the installation of a rock garden along Grant Street. For years the corner was an eyesore of fill. Roger Blatz presented the concept of the rock garden and soon (with the hard work of Al Homan and many other volunteers) the corner was blossoming with flowers and landscaped with well positioned rocks.
The Rev. Maurice J. Hart Parish Center
In the years preceding 2010, there was much discussion about finishing the original vision of the church building which would have educational and office space attached. This addition would replace the Parish House, which had fallen into disrepair over the years and would have been a hefty investment to rehabilitate. The church voted to approve a capital campaign, and on April 25th, 2010 the congregation broke ground for what would become The Rev. Maurice J. Hart Parish Center (in honor of the congregation's first pastor).
Construction started May 21st, 2010 under the direction of Maureen Engelhard, the capital campaign committee, and The Rev. Jira Albers.
On August 7th, 2011 Bishop Samuel Zeiser, The Rev. Maurice Hart, and The Rev. Jira Albers, along with the entire congregation, dedicated The Rev. Maurice J. Hart Parish Center (known as the Hart Center) and celebrated with a meal following.
The center is used to this day for faith education, weeknight worship services, youth events, a home for Grace Connection Inc., and a space for community organizations.