Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb

Church Histories

Trinity Lutheran Church

Manilla, Crawford Co, Iowa

The Early Days

In 1878 the first German pioneers settled in the vicinity of Aspinwall and in the area which is now the town of Manilla. Pastor Gottlieb Haar, who was the first resident pastor of the Lutheran Church in Denison, found the Lutherans of this community and served them with the Word and Sacrament. Worship services were held in the homes and schoolhouses. This beginning was made between 1870-1872.

In 1872 Pastor Theo. Brauer succeeded Pastor Haar at the Denison Lutheran Church. He also came to serve this community during his one year stay at Denison. In 1884 Rev. Sessler, who was serving in Carroll and Greene counties, started serving the Lutherans in Hayes Township of Crawford County. One man could not accomplish all the work in these areas, so the Mission Board decided to acquire an assistant for Pastor Sessler. Pastor Brandes was called and soon arrived to assist Pastor Sessler.

The Church is Organized

Trinity Lutheran Church of Manilla was organized on October 24, 1886 in a schoolhouse, in Aspinwall, Iowa. Rev. W Mallon helped to organize the congregation which consisted of three members. The original signers of the constitution were William Kraupp, Carl Wenzel and Fred Wenzel. At the next congregational meeting two more men, Andreas Bahls and John Schwiesow also signed the constitution.

The congregation continued to meet at the Aspinwall schoolhouse, but in April of 1888, the few members agreed to no longer conduct their worship services in Aspinwall. The congregation held a regular business meeting. Members stated their desire to continue as a congregation, and they decided to have their own pastor and their own house of worship. At this time they extended a call to a candidate for the ministry, Rev. M. Bruggemann, who came to be the first resident pastor.

A Building for the Church

On April 17, 1893 the congregation elected new officers and decided to purchase lots 1 and 2 of block 30 of the town of Manilla. A 20 ft. x 30 ft. x l2 ft. church building was to be erected on these lots. At another meeting, on April 23rd, it was voted that the responsibility of building the church be given to the elders. The plan and price of the church had been accepted by the congregation. On June 25th, the congregation accepted the building at a cost of $520.00. This did not include the furniture, altar, pulpit and pews. The congregation gave an allowance to the board of elders to purchase church furniture, altar and pulpit. Instead of purchasing pews, the congregation decided to buy 32 school desks. These were to be used as seats in the church services and during the week for school purposes. The pastor organized and conducted a Christian day school.

Eventually, other necessary buildings were added, and within a period of one year, the congregation had acquired a church property of its own, the first, after years of existence. The first church building of Trinity Lutheran Church was later sold and converted into a dwelling. It is still standing today, West of the present parsonage.

A Parsonage and a New Building

In 1898 the congregation assembled in a special meeting, on January 22nd, and voted to build a parsonage, if $500.00 in funds could be raised. A canvass was conducted and members pledged to pay a total of $500.00 or more. At a regular meeting, on March 16, 1898, it was voted to go forward with the erection of the parsonage. Plumbing facilities and a furnace were later installed approximately in the year 1926. A garage, for the pastor, was built in 1927. This parsonage was enlarged and renovated in 1952. At a special meeting, on April 16, 1904, the congregation purchased lot 12 in block 29, of the town of Manilla, for $300.00. This was to be the location for a new church. On July 10, 1904 the cornerstone was laid and dedication services were held in the latter part of August, 1904. The total cost of the church was $3,000.00


The church was renovated in 1954 and enlarged to the dimensions of 90ft. long and 30ft. wide, with a transcept to the East, 30ft. long and 14ft. wide.

The parsonage was removed from the premises in 1968. A new home with three bedrooms, a full basement, and attached garage was built to replace it.

As time passed, the congregation acquired the property, with two houses, West of the church. This property was purchased with the hope that the educational facilities could be expanded.

A Sanctuary and Education Unit

On April 16, 1984 the congregation decided to proceed with a building project that would add a sanctuary and education unit and remodel the existing building for the fellowship hall. The houses West of the church were torn down to accommodate the new sanctuary with a basement. A ground breaking ceremony was held September 9, 1984 and construction began the next day. On February 17, 1985 dedication services were held for the new sanctuary. The sanctuary measures 48ft. x 68ft. with a 15 ft. wide foyer, restroom and office space addition on the South side. The educational facilities are located directly underneath the sanctuary and consists of 11 classrooms. A brief dedication service for the classrooms was conducted during the Sunday School hour on March 17, 1985. The old sanctuary and offices were renovated into a kitchen and fellowship hall. Following the completion of the building project an Open House and Dedication was held on June 2, 1985. A Centennial Festival Series was held during 1986.


Trinity Lutheran Church has been served by the following pastors:

  • Rev. W. Mallon, 1875
  • Rev. A. Ehlers, 1887
  • Rev. M. Bruggemann 1893
  • Rev. Amstein, vacancy pastor 1896
  • Rev. C. Krog, 1896
  • Rev. F. Lothinger, vacancy pastor, 1902
  • Rev. H. W. Saeger, 1903
  • Rev. W. Engelke, 1906
  • Rev. H. Wendt, 1908
  • Dr. Luepke, 1919
  • Rev. J. Krueger, 1920
  • Rev. Wiegand, 1921
  • Rev. Ansorge, vacancy pastor, 1926
  • Rev. F. Israel, 1926
  • Rev. W. Kanning, vacancy pastor, 1952
  • Rev. L. Nutzmann, 1953
  • Rev. C.W. Schmidt, vacancy pastor, 1960
  • Rev. R.W. Natzke, 1960
  • Rev. V. Gunderman, vacancy pastor 1964
  • Rev. H. Kothe, 1965
  • Rev. E. Heinicke, vacancy pastor, 1968
  • Rev. R. Meyer, 1969
  • Rev. E. Heinicke, vacancy pastor 1973
  • Rev. V. Hoyer 1974
  • Rev. E. Heinicke, vacancy pastor, 1981
  • Rev. P.Wiegert, vacancy pastor 1981
  • and Vicar Glenn Wiechmann, 1981

Vicar Glenn Wiechmann joined the Missouri Synod Coloquy Program and after serving the Trinity Lutheran Congregation at Manilla for one year, was ordained into the Holy Ministry, and called as the pastor of the congregation on November 14, 1982. He is serving as the pastor at the present time.

Trinity Lutheran Church has a soul membership of 527, with 402 communicant members and 49 voting members. Official acts performed as of this date are: Baptisms, 1355; confirmations, 974; marriages 300 and burials, 421.

Submitted by Irene Genzen, Manilla, Iowa