In 1986, a small group of Christians came together in Hollister.
They decided to fill a void in their community by establishing a
place for residents to worship God according to the Lutheran
In 1986, a small group of Christians came together in Hollister. They decided to fill a void in their community by establishing a place for residents to worship God according to the Lutheran tradition.
In only three years, they were able to reach that goal. Trinity Lutheran Church was built on four-plus acres of land just below Airline Highway. The new facility included a sanctuary, classrooms, offices and fellowship space. Soon the well-landscaped lot and attractive complex offered an inviting welcome to residents of San Benito County.
At one time, the ELCA congregation numbered nearly 200 members, and it was able to take an active part in the city’s public life through such annual activities as Vacation Bible School programs and craft fairs, but it it fell on hard times. The poor economy ended the building boom that brought in new residents. Rising unemployment forced members to move away. Many who remained in the community have had to cut back their financial contributions to the church. After months of prayerful consideration, the members of Trinity Lutheran Church voted to close on April 25, becoming another casualty of the recession.
However, a small group of parishioners was not willing to give up that easily. They decided to bring life back to the congregation by re-establishing the tradition of worshiping God and serving the community. They went to Salinas and consulted with the Rev. Herb Hoff, pastor of St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church, a thriving congregation in that city.
By the beginning of May, a plan had been put into action. Each Sunday, a Christian worship service reflecting the Lutheran heritage is held in the Trinity Lutheran Church sanctuary, 2300 Airline Highway, at 5 p.m. Either Pastor Hoff or Intern Pastor Jason Gudim travel from Salinas to share the Word of God with inspirational messages and celebrate Holy Communion.
Former members of Trinity maintain the property, usher, play the organ to provide music for hymns, read the appointed Bible lessons and assist in distributing Communion. Attendance has averaged 15 to 20, which is encouraging to the group because summer is a slow time for most churches.
Plans are proceeding for the current members to contact Lutherans in the area and do extensive personal outreach in the community. They have confidence they can grow with the leadership from Pastor Hoff and Saint Ansgar’s and hope to be able to give new people the opportunity to help mold the church activities to meet their needs. Their message is “Come and join us as we take a faith journey together.”
Organizers feel that “current times find many facing moral dilemmas and uncertainty as people live their lives and raise their children. The possibilities of this new congregation are limitless in building community and providing service to meet people’s needs. This is a unique opportunity in Hollister for anyone looking for a personally meaningful relationship with God and to build a church to meet his or her specific needs.”
All of this is a big undertaking for a small group of people. They have the faith, though, that animated the early followers of Jesus: If they are doing God’s will, they will succeed in growing His ministry for the people of San Benito County.
For more information about this venture of faith, call Jim Bents at (408) 489-5295 or e-mail [email protected]