Trinity Lutheran Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Jun 28, 2024

When I initially set out to write this article for Trinity Lutheran’s 75th anniversary, I knew I wanted to encapsulate the church’s history in so few words. What I found, though, as I spoke to charter members such as Marge Wilder and Helen and Forrest Wichern and reflected on my own experiences in church, was an aspect of spirituality that goes beyond the confinements of timelines and chronology.

A theme that emerged repeatedly was community, a term bearing timeless significance. It emanated from every memento that Marge, Helen, and Forrest shared with me and from my fond memories as well. Marge, who offered a brief history of the church, always used the pronoun “we” when referencing milestones such as the organization of the church in 1948 and the transition into a new building in the 1990s, and she closed in deeming her fondest memory of the church the very notion that it has continued to function for 75 years. Her exact words were, “We’ve worshipped the love of God and His guidance through the years, and it’s been very, very important to all of us.”

Helen and Forrest’s accounts presented a strong emphasis on the enduring nature of community, too. They touched on the communal effort to organize a live nativity scene, outreach from other church communities in supplying new pews and a school bus for Sunday school students, as well as help from congregation members in procuring live camels from North Dakota for camel pageants, and how such a large number of children used to attend Sunday school that Forrest’s father once speculated that the basement held a hatchery. Forrest recalled him and his father working their way through the growing crowds of children upon the release of Sunday school before church on Sundays.

Not only this, but Helen relayed one of her favorite memories from her years of membership at Trinity Lutheran: the Lady’s League would organize an annual mother-daughter banquet and one year, it took place just a few days after the birth of her very first baby girl. She, her mother, and her five-day-old baby were all able to attend together, and she remembers that evening with great endearment. Helen also mentioned how the men always did, and still do, host a pancake breakfast on Easter mornings, and this is among her favorite memories as well.

Community is so vital to faith, and its effects exist outside of time, but this is not to say that time itself isn’t fundamental to this conversation. In combing back through my faith journal entries and newsletter columns, my own contribution to our ongoing sense of community, I realized a number of valuable truths that being a part of this congregation has taught me. Regarding the notion of time, I think first of Transfiguration Sunday and how it teaches us that our God is always becoming and changing — the living Word! Romans 2:12 encourages that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and through this, we see that transformation brings about renewal, and God is powerfully active in chaos and change. Further, everything has been resurrected (pain, sorrow, joy, and loved ones…), and this serves as a reminder of time’s gateway into salvation.

Regarding community and the Sanctuary itself, God is infinitely and gloriously multi-faceted, and the Word commands, “Come just as you are. This is a place where God resides.” We are relational, spiritual beings who were made for connection, and church is a space that deems human life sacred and offers everyone respect and dignity. Being marked the salt of the Earth allows that we are not responsible for everything; we are merely called to be exactly who we are, and together, collectively, we each shine our own light. Finally, we are commanded to love as God has loved us, a request so central to community and to serve one another.

All of these intricately interwoven truths create the church that we are all proud to call our own today, and they are the foundation of this glorious, steadfast Sanctuary of a community. On July 20th, we celebrate this fact with the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Cody, Wyoming’s very own Trinity Lutheran Church, and we continue to rejoice in the fact that we can leave our anxieties, grief, triumphs, and victories with God and one another.

Baylee Stafford

My name is Baylee Stafford! I am 23 years old, and I have been a member of Trinity Lutheran Church for as long as I can remember. I write a column in the church newsletter entitled “Where I Saw God,” and I just recently graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s in English. In the fall, I will travel to Moscow, Idaho to pursue a Master’s of Arts in English. In my free time, I like to read, write, and spend time with the people close to me, and I am recently engaged, so I look forward to planning a wedding in the near future!

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