In the year 1942, two seminary students, Cecil W. Carpenter and John Sparks, did a religious survey of the city of Sanford, North Carolina, and discovered a small group of devout Lutherans. The Reverend Dorus P. Rudisill did preliminary work, and the North Carolina Synod showed interest in establishing a church. On July 11, 1943, a group of nineteen people met in the educational building of Steele Street Methodist Church for the first service. In August 1943, the group moved to the American Legion Hut on Park Drive. Interest was keen and the small group grew.
Anticipating the need for a church building, a lot at 525 Carthage Street was purchased on November 8, 1943, with the North Carolina Synod and the group sharing the cost equally. The Reverend Vance Daniels accepted a call to serve as the first pastor and arrived on March 1, 1944. Shortly before, on February 13, 1944, the group conducted a service of formal organization into a congregation named Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church. A constitution was adopted, and nineteen adults expressed their intention to become members. Mr. V. J. Cline was elected Vice-chairman and Mr. E. R. Smith, Secretary. On July 9, 1944, the charter membership was closed.
Because of war conditions, the building program of the church was delayed. Services were held at St. Clair School during this time. A little brown hut in which to hold services was built in August 1946 on the back portion of the lot. At the same time the first parsonage was purchased at 214 Circle Avenue. The North Carolina Synod granted $3,000.00 and the State Brotherhood loaned $3,000.00 for the two endeavors. Plans continued for construction of the church building.
The groundbreaking service was held on March 28, 1948; on July 11, 1948, Dr. Voight R. Cromer, President of the North Carolina Synod, conducted the cornerstone-laying service. At this time there were 60 confirmed members and 28 baptized members. Finally, on February 27, 1949, the first worship service was conducted in the new building. Pastor Daniel resigned on January 31, 1951, and the Reverend H. Alvin Kuhn served until September 15, 1955. The third pastor, the Reverend Lester O. Roof, Jr., accepted the call in February 1956 and arrived in June following his graduation from Southern Seminary. On Easter Sunday, April 6, 1958, the Dedication Service was held. Membership at this time was 115 confirmed and 173 baptized members.
During this time a corner lot on the 200 block of Park Avenue was purchased, and an eight room brick parsonage was constructed in 1961. This was in use until 1986 when it was sold and provision was made for a pastor’s housing allowance.
The small hut remained on the church site and in the early 1970’s was relocated and remodeled. It is now in use as the Victor J. Cline Youth Building. In 1962 Trinity was instrumental in organizing a new congregation in the nearby town of Southern Pines, North Carolina.
After Pastor Roof’s resignation in 1967, the Reverend Charles R. Huggins took office as Trinity’s fourth pastor on November 1, 1967, and continued to serve until his retirement in 1999. Pastor Huggins received his Doctor of Ministry degree in 1981.
A fellowship hall and kitchen were added onto the church building in 1985. Numerous renovations to the old structure were completed at the same time. The chancel was modernized, the nave redecorated, and the lower level rebuilt, greatly improving the appearance and usefulness of these areas.
On August 12, 2000, the Reverend David A. Jenkins was ordained at Trinity by NC Synod Bishop Leonard H. Bolick. He served the congregation until December 2006, when the Reverend Doctor Ted E. Edwards began as interim pastor. In October 2007, the Reverend M. Timothy Martin accepted the call to Trinity and began serving as pastor on December 10, 2007. In 2017, Pastor Martin left to pursue other career interests. The congregation called the Reverend Ann W. Kelly as their next pastor, and her service began on February 1, 2018.
Trinity stands on a solid base of dedicated Lutherans whose faith, devotion, and service strive to witness and fulfill God’s purpose through their endeavors. The congregation is made up largely of people from other parts of the state and nation. Originally established to serve the influx of military people from Fort Bragg, the congregation took on new character as business and industry flourished in the 1960’s and 70’s, bringing Lutherans and others from all over the country.
In the 1980’s and 90’s, the area saw a migration of retired people brought South by the kinder seasons and generous living conditions, including close proximity to Duke University Medical Center and other outstanding health services. Included in the attractions of the area are the many golfing opportunities, the close proximity to the seashore, and excellent educational opportunities.
Presently the Sanford area continues to draw retired people from the United States and other countries, provides a place for work and daily life for people of Hispanic origin, and is becoming a bedroom community for Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Fort Bragg.
1944-1951 Vance M. Daniel
1951-1955 H. Alvin Kuhn
1956-1967 Lester O. Roof, Jr.
1967-1999 Charles R. Huggins
2000-2006 David A. Jenkins
2007-2017 M. Timothy Martin
2018 – Ann W. Kelly