Our History

Trinity Downtown > Our History

Welcome to the Trinity Lutheran Church Community!

Established in 1879, Trinity Downtown is proud to be a vibrant part of the Houston community. In fact, “Downtown” was added to the congregation’s name to emphasize the importance the Houston church has always had for ministering to the people who live, work and play in the heart of the City. It’s a big part of our history! Not long after Houston had its start, a group of 24 men gathered on
November 9, 1879 and founded the congregation. At the same time, they began a school to meet the spiritual, educational, and social needs of their children. Worship services were initially conducted in a rented room at a residence on Texas Avenue and classes were held there too. The first church building was built in the 400 block of Louisiana and dedicated for use on November 28, 1880 and a school building opened the next year at that same location. The congregation also bought land on Sawyer Street in 1881 and dedicated the property for use as a cemetery.

Riesner Church

Interior of the Riesner sanctuary

The church and school were both blessed with growth and a new location in Houston was needed for the thriving congregation. Property was purchased at Young Street (later renamed Riesner St.) and Washington Ave. The school moved to the new site in 1903 and the church moved into a new sanctuary at the current location in 1905.

Over the years more land was acquired and additional building projects undertaken to support the congregation and its ministries. Today, Trinity Downtown has over 9 acres right on the west edge of the City Center with land on both sides of Washington Ave. Its current sanctuary was built in 1954, a Family Life Center in 1996, and an Education Center in 2011. With 100,000 square feet of facilities, parking and even a baseball diamond it has resources for its ongoing ministry.

In 2017, the congregation entered into a strategic partnership with Upbring to meet the ongoing need for the care and education of children in the neighborhood. Upbring (formerly Lutheran Social Services of the South) has been supported by Trinity Downtown since the beginning of its ministry and the congregation continues to actively partner and support Christian education in Houston.

While the heights church has always been located in downtown Houston, its work has never been limited to the local community. The congregation has daughtered eight other churches throughout the City. It was one of thirteen congregations that gathered at Trinity in 1906 to form the Texas District of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS). Trinity Downtown continues to support mission work through the LCMS, sponsors missionaries and volunteers who are in ministry internationally. Two past Senior Pastors of Trinity Downtown have served as Presidents of the Texas District and of the LCMS.

Throughout its history, Trinity Downtown has been actively worshiping and serving the Triune God and ministering to people’s needs in the name of Jesus Christ. That ministry continues as we remember the past and look to the future sharing His grace and mercy with the community.

Original School

Moments in Trinity’s history

  • January 11, 1880 – The Rev. Timotheus Stiemke installed as first pastor
  • November 28, 1880 – First sanctuary dedicated in the 400 block of Louisiana, current location of the Lyric Theatre
  • January 1, 1881 – Trinity Lutheran’s first school building dedicated, directly behind the sanctuary.
  • February 5, 1893 – Young Men and Young Women’s Society (Junglings und Jungfrauenverein) organized
  • September 6, 1903 – Trinity Lutheran School, initially known as German Lutheran School, dedicated its second building located on Young Street, renamed Riesner Street
  • December 10, 1905 – Congregation dedicated its second sanctuary at 12 Riesner Street at Washington Avenue
  • February 14-20, 1906 – Trinity Downtown Church became the first congregation of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) in Houston
  • November 11, 1918 – Forty-six members of the Trinity congregation served overseas in World War I – all returned safely
  • January 15, 1928 – Original German name changed to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (U.A.C.)
  • 1940 – Use of German language discontinued in worship services. Those members that disagreed with the decision left to form Bethlehem Lutheran Church of the Heights
  • April 4, 1954 – The cornerstone for the current sanctuary at 800 Houston Ave. was placed.
  • November 21, 1954 – The current sanctuary was dedicated, celebrating the 75th “Diamond” Anniversary of the Trinity Lutheran congregation
  • June 26, 1958 – The corporate name of the church was changed to Trinity Lutheran Church, its current name
  • September – November 1979 – Trinity celebrated its 100th Anniversary
  • January – November 2004 – Trinity celebrated 125th Anniversary
  • March 6, 2011 – Trinity Education Center for infants through 4th grade is dedicated.
  • November 9, 2014 – Trinity celebrated our 135th anniversary with hymn festival following the Sunday worship service.
  • Present – Trinity continues to serve God by Joyfully Sharing Christ’s Saving Love With All People Now.