Recently, Trinity Lutheran Church in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis installed their new pastor, Rev. Joshua Hatcher. I do not know how many pastors have served this congregation over the years, but today I would like to focus on the first two.
Yesterday, our blog post discussed the arrival of the Olbers in New Orleans on January 20, 1839. Aboard that ship was the man who would become the first pastor of Trinity, sometimes called Old Trinity or Historic Trinity Lutheran Church. His name was Rev. Otto Herman Walther.
Tragically, Rev. Walther would not live very long. A short two years after his arrival in America, he succumbed to disease and died on January 21, 1841. In those two years, Rev. Walther shepherded those people who made the decision to remain in St. Louis rather than settle in Perry County. There were about one hundred of the original immigrants who made that decision. In those early years, Trinity was allowed to conduct its services at Christ Episcopal Church, and this new Lutheran church began to grow. Many German Lutheran immigrants were arriving in St. Louis.
Otto Herman also traveled to Perry County toward the end of 1839 to marry his sweetheart, Agnes Buenger, on November 15th. On October 1, 1840, this couple welcomed their first child, a son named Johannes Gottlob Walther. But then, early in 1841, Otto Herman died.
Trinity decided to call Otto Herman’s brother, Rev. C.F.W. Walther to become their next pastor. This Rev. Walther was serving two new congregations in Perry County, one in Dresden and one in Johannisberg. However, Rev. C.F.W. Walther was having health issues of his own, and he was also struggling with the spiritual hardships the new immigrants were having with the scandal involving Rev. Martin Stephan. It was not until after the Altenburg Debate in April of 1841 that he decided to accept the call to the St. Louis congregation.
Interestingly, Rev. C.F.W. Walther would also take a trip to Perry County to marry a Buenger girl. He married Emilie Buenger on September 21, 1841.
When the new synod which eventually became called the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was formed in 1847, their first President was Rev. C.F.W. Walther.
There is a definite reason that Trinity is often called Historic Trinity Lutheran Church. It indeed has its place of importance in the history of our church body.