The church became their world.
After traveling nearly 1,300 miles and leaving everything they knew back in Minnesota, Clarie Kuball’s family found a refuge at Trinity Lutheran Church.
She was 11 at the time, and her dad had just died. Widowed with three young kids, her mother, Evelyn Syverson couldn’t find a job in the tiny town of Goodridge, Minn. So she packed the car, drove across the mountains and settled her family in Coeur d’Alene.
During this painful time in their life, it was Trinity Lutheran that gave them hope.
“The church became our community,” recalled Kuball, now 65. “It gave me guidance and a sense of safety. It was a huge part of our lives.”
On Christmas Day, this church that has served as a spiritual home for Kuball and many others will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
It will be a quiet observance, especially since the congregation had its big party this fall. Nonetheless, it will remain a special day – a day for parishioners to celebrate the birth of Jesus, to remember the people who came before them and to honor their church’s rich history.
Established by Norwegian immigrants, Trinity Lutheran Church began as a small, white chapel built eight years after the congregation’s first organizational meeting in 1905. Services were strictly in Norwegian until 1924, when its largely Scandinavian population decided to switch to English.
Now, after several additions over the years – including the construction of its present sanctuary in 1962 – the church appears quite modern and includes a gymnasium and classrooms for the TLC Learning Center.
It is a church of about 250 people, a mix of older couples and young families who worship side-by-side every Sunday.
“Trinity is a Christ-centered community of believers, saved and enlightened by God’s grace,” according to its motto on the Web site. “We serve God by serving others.”
Since her family first came in 1951, members of the church have always supported each other and reached out to the rest of the community, said Kuball.
Marion Keating, a member since 1962, fondly recalled the numerous bazaars, yard sales, Bible study gatherings and other special events that the church has hosted over the years. She and others belonged to the wedding reception committee, the fellowship committee and other church groups. These associations helped foster a sense of belonging, she said, while strengthening her faith.
“People here have always been friendly and willing to help,” said Keating, who worked as the church’s secretary for 20 years.
Now 74, she and her husband Warren (also known as “Squirt” to most of their fellow parishioners) continue to attend Sunday services and have maintained the friendships they have made at Trinity over the years.
She and others attribute Trinity’s ongoing success to their pastor, the Rev. Katy McCallum Sachse, who first came about five years ago.
“She’s a gracious lady,” said Keating, who raved about the pastor’s sermons. “She always has a smile on her face.”
“We are so lucky to have her,” said Kuball.
McCallum Sachse started paying tribute to Trinity’s 100th anniversary as early as January of this year.
“This birthday gives us a chance to look forward,” she wrote back then in her monthly pastor’s message. “What do we want to be 100 years from now? What kinds of ministry is God placing in our hands for the next century? Because, as much fun as we will certainly have celebrating this place, the real celebration takes place in the daily lives of the people in this congregation.”
Despite the many changes that have taken place over the years, there is something eternal about their church, said Kuball. “Churches don’t stand still,” she said, “but on the other hand, this place remains timeless.”
Kuball left Coeur d’Alene and her church when she was in her 20s and didn’t return until 1998 to help take care of her mother. Although she had been away for so long, it was as though she had never left.
When her mother died a year ago at the age of 96, it was the church that once again gave her the spiritual and emotional support she needed.
“It’s still my community,” said Kuball, who lives three blocks away. “It’s a place where I go when I need to make connections. … The people there remain my rock.”
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