Historical Sketch of Trinity Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church was founded by Danish immigrants
who settled in Westbrook, Maine. The first Danish family,
Mr. and Mrs. Laust Horlick and their four children,
arrived in 1873 followed by a steady influx of immigrants
from Denmark. The Horlicks invited other Danish families
to their home for worship. Seven sons and daughters of
Jannik and Maren Smith migrated to the States and later
brought their parents and younger brother to Westbrook.
Mads Nielsen arrived in 1875 and that same year married
Maren Smith, oldest daughter of Jannik.
From 1876 to 1893,
pastors from the First Lutheran Church of Portland came
to Westbrook and conducted worship services in Danish in
people’s homes, nearly every Sunday afternoon. Increased
attendance created the need of organizing a congregation.
A meeting at the home of Mads Nielsen resulted in the
formation of the "First Danish Evangelical Lutheran
Church of Westbrook, Maine". The congregation was
incorporated on January 20, 1892 and shortly after
decided it needed its own church. Using $500 that the
Ladies Aid had raised, a lot was purchased on the corner
of School and Main Streets. Within a year a church
building was erected at a cost of $3,124.87. On January
1, 1893, the church was dedicated by Pastor N.J. Ellestad.
In the early part of the 20th century,
the church grew, adding 20' to the front of the building,
moving the steeple to the side and putting in a balcony.
The congregation also purchased the Sullivan House,
located adjacent to the church, to use as a parsonage. In
the 1920’s changes to the church included the
installation of a pipe organ, putting a foundation under
the building and finishing the basement for use by the
Sunday School. During this time, English services were
added and a new constitution was adopted, giving women a
right to vote.
By the 1940’s, more growth occurred. At the1942 yearly
meeting it was voted to hold all worship services in
English and to celebrate the congregation's 60th
anniversary on November 2, 1942. The chancel was
redecorated and a new altar was installed for the
occasion. In January, 1943, the name of the congregation
was changed to "First Lutheran Church of Westbrook,
Maine.” During the war, a Danish merchant ship was held
in Portland Harbor. Many of the congregation showed
kindnesses to the sailors and as an expression of
appreciation they presented the church with a miniature
of the ship "Jutta", which was suspended from the ceiling
in the nave.is now on display in the front stairwell of
the church. In 1946, the congregation changed its name to
"Trinity Lutheran Church, Westbrook, Maine".
new Moller pipe organ was dedicated on October 15, 1950.
At the 1954 annual meeting a vote was passed to put a 12'
wide addition the full length of the church on the School
Street side, increasing seating by 80 in the sanctuary
and creating three additional Sunday School classrooms in
the vestry. Many memorial gifts were received including
the art glass windows, altar cross, missal stand, chancel
chairs, lectern, pulpit and baptismal font.
Many social and cultural changes occurred in the
1960’s and 1970’s. Girls were included as acolytes.
Expanded cooperation happened between area Lutheran
churches. In 1978, the new Lutheran Book of Worship was
introduced. Outreach activities included resettlement of
two refugee families, and direct involvement and
financial support of local and church wide activities. In
1962 the ship “Jutta” was placed in a wooden and glass
case in the church entry way in order to preserve it.
A year long celebration of the congregation's
100th Anniversary, culminated on November 6, 1982, with
an Anniversary Banquet and Program. Changes to the church
include remodeling the chancel, adding a free standing
altar, major repairs to roof and bell tower and
redecoration of the interior of the church. In the
1990’s, the biggest accomplishment was the replacement of
the old parish house/Sunday School building with a new
educational building dedicated on January 2, 1994. The
new building and the church were now handicapped
The 125th anniversary of the church was
celebrated in 2007 and a new replica of a Danish merchant
ship was hung in the Nave. In 2010, the first female pastor
Through the past one hundred and twenty eight years,
God has truly blessed our congregation. Seventeen pastors
have served us well. Sixteen of our former members have
entered the ministry. As we move ahead into the 21st
century, we need to meet the new challenges with enthusiasm
and vigor. While our accomplishments have been many, we need
to find new and meaningful ways to meet the needs of others
in society and to share the good news of Jesus. May we
continue to bless others as we have been blessed.
Trinity Lutheran Church - 1997
Much material taken from histories written
for the 75th and 100th Anniversary booklets. (me)