The history of the Lutheran Church on Washington Island is actually older than the building itself. By the mid 1870's many of the island’s inhabitants were from Scandinavian countries. There are a few records of some work done by a Lutheran congregation on the island from this time but there was not a strong enough presence to form a permanent congregation.

That changed over time as immigrants continued to come to Washington Island. The strong Danish population continued to grow. In the 1920’s, interest once again emerged. On June 20, 1926, Rev. John Christensen arrived on the island and officially began the work to establish a congregation.

The first services of this newly established Lutheran presence were held at Bethel Church. On October 31, 1928, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in the pastor's home with 38 souls including baptized children. By the fall of 1929, the current church site was purchased from James Boyce for the sum of $200.00.

Construction work soon began with Mr. Charles Haglund (Charter member) and Rev. John Christensen as the main carpenters. The structure was finished at a total cost of $8,000.00. The first services were held on December, 21 1930. Formal dedication was not until May 31, 1931.

Trinity continued to grow and flourish over the years. In July of 1946 the mortgage was burned and the church became self sufficient for the first time in its history. All seemed to be going well.

Tragedy stuck on January 12, 1947. Pastor Svendsen, called in an alarm that the church was on fire that Sunday morning at 8:40 a.m. Forty Five minutes later all that was left of the original church building were charred timbers and the basement walls. The only item that was rescued from the fire was the newly dedicated carillon music system.

Damage was estimated at between $20,000 and $30,000, however the church only carried $8,000 of insurance. The immediate response from the congregation was, "We will rebuild!"

The current sanctuary was built at a total cost of $61,000. First services were held on June 19, 1949. The dedication was on August 27 1950.

At the turn of the Millenium, members began “Build for the Future.” The project added a spacious kitchen, a large, community friendly Fellowship Hall, new office space, ramps for handicapped access to the sanctuary, and a much needed nursery room and classrooms. The project involved Mission Builders, an ELCA-sponsored ministry that uses skilled workers from around the U.S. The buildings cornerstone was set in 2002. Shortly thereafter, through a generous gift from the Jessen family, the mortgage was paid off.


Membership in 1950 was 188 Baptized.
Membership in 1975 was 226 Baptized.
Membership in 2000 was 285 Baptized.
Membership in 2010 was 297 Baptized.

Pastors who served at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church

John Christensen 1926 - 1933
Leo H. Anderson 1933 - 1938
James P. Christiansen 1938-1944
Edwin Svendsen 1944-1948 (on leave for chaplaincy 1946)
Lyle Paulsen 1948 - 1953
C. Krogh - Interim Pastor 1946 and 1953
Roy Mumm 1953-1956
Roy Paulson - Interim 1956-1957
Myron Haleen 1957-1961
Chester Nerenhausen 1961-1975
Samuel Kochel 1975-1978
James Reiff 1978-1985
Brian McCaffery 1986-1988
Rick Pettis 1988-1990
Steve Paulson 1990-1993
Joan Mau 1994-1998
David J Glesne 1999-2005
Harvey J. Jaeger 2005-2006

Frank H. Maxwell II 2006-2013
Alan Schaffmeyer 2014-current