Occasional worship services were conducted and led by supply pastors. A vacant Methodist Church on Moose Meadow Road, Willington, CT was used. The building later became the home of Donald and Darlene Hipsky.
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church was first organized on November 15, under the leadership of Pastor Ludwig J. Karlowski, Andrew Gajdos, Michael Kmetz,Sr. and John Michalec, Sr. were elected the first officers. The organizational meetings and the first services of worship took place at the vacant Methodist Church on Moose Meadow Road in Willington. Before November 1917, Pastor Karlowski would come to conduct services on national holidays and on church festivals that fell on a weekday. Regular Sunday services did not begin until the arrival of the first full-time pastor (in 1917), Pastor John Murcek, who served the congregation until August 1921.
Pastor George Pankuch arrived in November
He saw that it would be beneficial for the congregation to have a more central place of meeting. A location in Stafford Springs would enable the congregation to grow and prosper. Therefore, the present structure was purchased from a German social club in 1922 and remodeled as a church that same year. The cornerstone was laid and the service of dedication was held on August 6, 1922. Pastor Pankuch continued to serve the congregation until June 1926.
Pastor John J. Mital came to Stafford Springs
He served until November 1929. During his pastorate, the Ladies’ Altar Guild was organized under the leadership of Mrs. Mital. In July 1929, the congregation obtained an official charter in the following name: Slovak Evangelical Lutheran Holy Trinity Church – Augsburg Confession.
Parsonage purchased and Sunday School starts
Pastor John Bellan then served the congregation starting in May and continued until until December 1937. A parsonage was purchased on Olympic Avenue, a Sunday school was begun, and a Young People’s Club organized. It was also during this time that the English language was first used in services.
Pastor Andrew Balaska arrives in May
His arrival followed an interim period during which Pastor Billy of Northampton, Pennsylvania, served here. The mortgage on the parsonage was paid in 1944 and in August 1946, the present organ was purchased and dedicated. Pastor Balaska remained in Stafford Springs until June 1950.
Regular English Services Begin; Choir is organized
During the relatively short ministry of Pastor John Nosco, who served from February 1951, until June 1953, a choir was organized. Most significantly, weekly English services were begun. Pastor Albert Ursin of Torrington, Connecticut, served as administrator until the arrival of the next pastor.
Pastor John E. Drzik arrives in May.
During his pastorate the congregation began to grow as the English ministry gained emphasis, while the Slovak element was also maintained. The congregation, which had been independent since its organization, officially joined the Slovak Zion Synod. The Luther League and Men’s Club were organized during this time. In 1956, the congregation had bought land on Green Street, across from the church yard. In 1960 a new parsonage was erected there. Following Pastor Drzik’s resignation in January 1964, Pastor Ursin again served as administrator.
Pastor Kenneth Michnay arrives in June
The model constitution for congregations of the Lutheran Church in America was adopted and the official name changed to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Toward the end of Pastor Drzik’s ministry here, a building fund had been established for an educational unit. A committee was appointed to consider how to proceed with the expansion of our facilities. The committee suggested an addition to the old structure, providing a parish hall, and renovation of the former basement, providing classrooms and a kitchen. The Narthex was also expanded.
Building Project Begins
Ground was broken for the project on May 28, with dedication the following year. To continue building the spiritual life of the congregation, Pastor Michnay moved toward a more frequent celebration of the Sacrament of the Altar. Pastor Michnay served Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Stafford Springs until March of 1976.
Pastor Goldstein serves Holy Trinity
Pastor Goldstein accepted the call from Holy Trinity and served Holy Trinity until 1980. Pastor Goldstein kept the Slovak tradition going by learning the Slovak liturgy. This was greatly appreciated by many of the older members.
Pastor Robert McGurn Answers The Call
On June 1, Pastor McGurn was ordained and installed as Pastor of Holy Trinity. His wife Linda and children Robb, Megan and Katie were here to share his joy in this special event. Pastor McGurn initiated the completion of the worship area in 1983, transforming the area to a quiet elegance and intimacy, which invites prayer and worship. Pastor McGurn led us in prayer and worship until 1988.
Pastor German serves Holy Trinity
Pastor German and his family settled into Stafford Springs and Holy Trinity quickly and enjoyed working with the Harvest Sales, anniversaries and other special services. Pastor German kept a close relationship with Slovakia and preached a sermon in his family’s parish in Veranow, Slovakia. Needless to say, many members were pleased to have a Slovak speaking pastor even though English was used in the liturgy. Pastor German resigned in 1994 due to health problems. (In 1998 with significantly improved health he was able to serve as pastor of St. Pauls Lutheran Church, Danbury, CT.)
Pastor Linda Kraft arrives in winter
It was indeed a busy time for Pastor Kraft. Pastor Kraft quickly began her work her, enjoying meaningful worship, soup suppers, moments of laughter, tight budgets and some tears but always ready to do the task God called her to do. In the spring of 2002 Pastor Kraft was called to be Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Trumbull, CT.
Pastor David Dalzell accepts the call
With Pastor Dave’s hard work we continued to grow our congregation and enjoy spiritual guidance and meaning full worship. On Sept 15, 2008 Pastor Dave concluded his ministry here and accepted a call to be pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Laconia, NH.
Pastor Thomas S. Drobena accepts the call
In July, the call committee issued a pastoral call to the Rev. Seminarian Thomas S. Drobena to become our pastor after years of serving as an intern. The call was accepted and he was ordained that August. The Installation took place on September 14, and Pastor Tom serves us to this day.
The years have certainly been marked by change…
We began with a group of people who worked and sacrificed to have a place where they could hear and rejoice in the Gospel in their mother tongue. Their example of faithfulness is one which we pray to follow. The call of the Gospel lead them to open their embrace to more and more people, not only those of the Slovak heritage, but to all people whom God in Christ has called to himself. To be true heirs to their faithfulness we must also give our devotion to the true treasure of the Church, the Cheerful News of God’s work in Christ to embrace all people with his love.