As growth in North Liberty escalated in the early 2000s, members of the three existing ELCA congregations in Iowa City began discussing the possibilities of a new church plant here. Rev. Kathy Gerking, then Director of Evangelical Mission with The SE Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), began working with those congregations to begin planning.
In the summer of 2007, recent seminary graduate Steven Zittergruen was engaged to offer a Bible study and create a preaching point for worship. He invited two dozen current area pastors to preach and preside over a Saturday evening worship service starting in October, with an average of about two dozen worshippers in attendance. Charlie Rod was also hired as music leader. Pastor John Meyer later assumed leadership of worship while a call committee worked with the synod to find an official mission developer.
The following May, the ELCA called Pastor Timothy J. Smith as the pastor-developer of the new mission. Pastor Smith was blessed with new donated office space that month, and launched two Sunday morning services in July, offered at the newly-renovated Epley Center on Quail Creek Circle. A host of unexpected circumstances with record flooding, an economic crisis and a difficult churchwide decision resulted in new challenges, yet the congregation still launched Sunday School, confirmation and preparations for Day Camp as well as an intergenerational mission trip. Average worship attendance grew to over 100 by the spring, with participants coming from a wide area to engage in the congregation’s mission to “Love, Live and Share Christ.” By 2010, the ELCA determined that the new worshiping community was ready to be welcomed as an official congregation. Holy Trinity was formally organized and incorporated in May 2010, with 350 baptized members. Over the next six years the staff also included the musical leadership of pianists Matt Wheeler, Catherine Kastens, Lin-Yu Wang and Eunjin Lee.
In 2011, the Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA helped secure a retail facility on 240th St. NE, where the congregation utilized $65,000 from a capital campaign to complete $300,000 worth of renovations. A Mission-Builder team from Nazareth Lutheran in Cedar Falls assisted with framing, and several member families contributed an amazing amount of sweat equity. The congregation assumed the mortgage in 2013, and added significantly to the parking capacity at the same time.
In 2016, Holy Trinity called Pastor Katie Lowe Lancaster as full-time Pastor of Discipleship Ministry. Along with sharing preaching responsibilities with Pastor Smith, she held the lead for children, youth, and family ministries keeping an intergenerational mindedness for the vision and mission of Holy Trinity. Pastor Katie accepted a new call in August 2022. We are grateful for the impact she made on Holy Trinity and wish her the best in her new church.
In subsequent years, the people of Holy Trinity have engaged significantly with the community, participating in the NL Food Pantry, Relay for Life, Back 2 School Bash, Lutheran Day on the Hill, Table 2 Table and the local Blues & BBQ Festival. We have become partners with Lutheran Campus Ministry, FreeIndeed Congregation at the Anamosa Penitentiary, and Water to Thrive. We have hosted Meals from the Heartland, Blood Drives and a prolific Quilting ministry. We’ve initiated numerous small groups, a Bread Basket gleaning ministry and helped found the Johnson County Interfaith Coalition.
Currently our staff includes: Richard Tiegs our office administrator, Laurel Hibbard as our Social Media Coordinator, Mark Stern as Sunday Morning Tech Leader, Paul Castiano as a collaborative pianist, and Cale Berry as weekend custodian.
Today, Holy Trinity continues to be a vibrant, thankful and generous congregation as we grow in our relationship with God and with one another.