Trinity Evangelical United Brethern Church History

Author Unknown

Posted at on September 19, 2007 by Teddy Linenfelser, Town Historian, Grand Island, New York

Sometime between 1864 and 1866 a group of German families under the leadership of Conrad Smith met in his home on Staley Road for prayer meetings. The families were those of Casper Sietz, Henry Spohr, John Schloerb and Philip Alt.

Near the Smith home was an old log house which the group used for a Sunday School. Three laymen from the First Church in Buffalo aided the islanders. Caspar Routh, a Methodist layman, gave them much help.

The first building of the Evangelical church was erected on Whitehaven Road in 1867, on the site of the present-day institution which is called Trinity Church. The church was dedicated on November 24, 1867, with appropriate services. The people followed an old custom of having the women sit on one side of the aisle and the men on the other. Services were held Sunday mornings and evenings with prayer meetings during the week. All the services were conducted in German.

For about ten years the church was on a circuit, the minister coming from Buffalo, Tonawanda or Niagara Falls. The Rev. Samuel Bean became the first resident pastor in 1877. A parsonage was built at that time.

The church was destroyed by fire in 1885 and the one built to replace it was burned down in 1905. A building committee consisting of Henry Kaiser, chairman; Henry W. Long, William Rohde, Adam Kaiser, Henry Ehde, John Schutt Jr., and the Rev. Jacob Rothen was appointed to make plans for a new church. This building was dedicated on September 15, 1907. A large addition to Trinity was completed in 1950.

Grand Islanders referred to Trinity as the German church, while the Congregational church was usually called English. In the beginning, services had to be in German because most of the people knew no other language. During the pastorate of the Rev. Oscar Ochener (1892-1895) the Sunday evening service was conducted in English. A little later the Sunday school, too, adopted English, and in World War II the Sunday morning service was changed.

Emmanuel Chapel of Trinity Church, located on Ferry Road just west of East River Road in Ferry Village until the 1950s, was built in 1913. Previous to that time the group met in a district schoolhouse at the corner of Baseline and Bush Road. For a number of years, Mrs. Richard Pettit served as superintendent of the Sunday School. The pastor of Trinity Church also served the chapel until it became necessary to hold two services at Trinity Church.

Today services are held in the "new" Trinity United Methodist Church, built in 1965 on the Whitehaven Road property.