Who We Are
In 1846, 17 Lutherans in Fort Wayne, led by Henry Rudisill (a prominent and well-known resident of Fort Wayne) decided to form an English-only speaking Lutheran congregation for the benefit of their children. At the time, Lutheranism in Fort Wayne was closely aligned with an ethnic, German, heritage with worship generally in the German language. Rudisill and his companions recognized that the future did not lie in memories of the past but was calling them to bold ventures focused on the future. Our name, Trinity English, is a reflection and reminder of the bold, forward-looking vision of those first members.
One of the hallmarks of Trinity English has been its ability to find and nurture outstanding leaders in the parish and the greater community. The first of these was a new pastor and Civil War veteran Samuel Wagenhals, who served Trinity English from 1868 to 1920. Dr. Wagenhals was a noted preacher, scholar, pastor and community leader. His personal library was one of the largest in the community. Amusingly, he also concocted medical remedies in a small laboratory in his home.
Paul Krauss came to Trinity English in 1920 and served as pastor until 1967. Dr. Krauss would nurture the explosive growth of the parish into one of the largest Lutheran parishes in the United States. People in the parish still remember Dr. Krauss and his nearly larger than life presence in the pulpit. One of the longest lasting legacies of Dr. Krauss was his searching out of Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, one of the foremost Gothic revival architects of the time, to design and build a new church home for Trinity English. The result was the historic building we continue to worship in to this day. This space continues to shape the spirituality of generations of people.
Pastor Richard Frasier had come to Trinity English as an associate pastor as a new pastor in 1956. He would then become senior pastor at Dr. Krauss’s retirement in 1967. Pastor Frasier would help shape the growth of the youth ministry and then further growth of all of the programs at Trinity English. One of the things Pastor Frasier is most proud of is the large number of sons and daughters of Trinity English who would go on to be pastors themselves.
Fred Hasecke succeeded Pastor Frasier as senior pastor in 1998. Pastor Hasecke oversaw the purchase of land adjacent to Trinity English that was used to add more parking and a new entrance and gathering area for the life of the parish family. Included in this project was work that made Trinity English’s facilities accessible to those with disabilities and geothermal heating and cooling systems. Gary Erdos would succeed Pastor Hasecke as senior pastor in 2012, making Pastor Erdos only the fifth senior pastor in 144 years.
Through its long history Trinity English has been a leader in the Fort Wayne community through its music and arts programs, children and youth ministries, and benevolent outreach. Trinity English continues to be a dynamic, lively parish, willing to commit its vast resources to the work of spiritual growth of its people and the greater welfare of the city we call our home.