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, then the lead pastor of St. Stephen’s Lutheran in Cedar Rapids, 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 hasty 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 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.
In more recent years, Holy Trinity has added Richard Tiegs as our office administrator, hosted Amy Heinz as a pastoral intern, was blessed to call Pastor Katie Lowe Lancaster to serve as Pastor of Discipleship Ministries, hired Laurel Hibbard as our Social Media Coordinator, Megan Miller as our IT Coordinator and Rebecca Pape as our Collaborative Accompanist. The congregation has continued to thrive, evolve and generously share the love of Christ with North Liberty and well beyond.