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Last updated 10/25/11


Trinity Lutheran Church History

By Marvin and Virginia Baird

By Walter Ernst

William Ernst and start of Trinity

By Angie (Nelson) Muko

By Art & Mary Goldgrabe

By Dr. George Guidera, Principal, 1973-1976

From the Rapps, Trinity in Stockton

By Pastor Trent Thompson

By Sandra Cooper

By Pastor Gene K Merrell

By Marilyn Nickols

From Pastor Lloyd & Sharon Willweber

By Ron & Bobbi Meadville


 Trinity Lutheran Church History

The organizational meeting of Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church of El Paso de Robles was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. F.L.E. Adler on Maple Street on October 16, 1921. Eight voting members adopted a constitution to guide the establishment of the Lord’s work in the community. On December 2, 1921, a Charter of Incorporation was issued by the State of California. The charter members of the congregation were F.L.E. Adler, Andrew Iversen, Mat Claus, Robert C. Paulus, Arthur Claus, Melvin Moe, Paul Eimon and Otto Paulus. There had been a number of attempts to establish a Lutheran church in the community as far back as 1905, but there had been no permanent results. Various church buildings or Sunday school rooms of other denominations were used for these services. In 1920 Reverend Theo F. Haeuser was called to Bethlehem Lutheran Church at Geneseo, which also included members in the Creston area. He was to serve that congregation and also see about advancing the work of the Lord in the Paso Robles area. Beginning July 3, 1921, a schedule of two Sunday morning services a month in the English language was begun. Mr. and Mrs. F.L.E. Adler offered the use of their home both for Sunday school and church services. Services were held there for eight months. Two lots on the corner of Ninth and Vine Streets, 100 x 140 feet, were purchased for $1400 on November 18, 1921, and ground was broken on the afternoon of the same day. Dedication of the first Trinity Lutheran Church was March 12, 1922, with Reverend Theo F. Haeuser delivering the dedication sermon. Three infants were baptized at this service: Solveig Moe, daughter of charter member Melvin Moe and wife Sigrid, William Cammack and Karl Haeuser, son of Pastor and Mrs. Theo Haeuser.

The congregation continued to grow. A sixteen-voice choir was organized, and on Christmas Eve, 1946, presented “The Messiah.” There was an active young people’s group named “The Walther League,” a Synod-wide organization. During World War II, many service men and women from Camp Roberts worshiped at Trinity. Members would invite the service people for a home-cooked meal on Sundays. A Lutheran Service Center was located on the Northeast corner of Thirteenth and Pine Streets, and the congregation supplied home-baked cookies and cakes for the service people and their friends. Trinity also had a growing Sunday school and an active Lutheran Laymen’s League. In 1950, the parsonage on the corner of Ninth and Vine Streets was moved to a lot on the north side of the church. This cleared the corner lot so a new church could be erected. The second Trinity Lutheran Church was dedicated to the Glory of God on June 10, 1951. The former church building and hall became Sunday school rooms and meeting rooms. The church was built at the cost of $75,000 including the furnishings. It seated two hundred and seventy, with additional seating for seventy.

A parochial school had long been in the plans of the congregation, and a seven-and-a-half acre parcel of land had been purchased along Creston Road. Trinity Lutheran School opened in 1962, grades 1-8. The first principal and upper grades teacher was Ralph Ott, 1962-1972. Erlene Rupprecht taught grades 1-4.

An addition to the school was dedicated in April, 1981, and portable classrooms were placed on the school grounds in 1993 and 1995 to accommodate an expanding ministry. A preschool opened in the parish hall in 1993.

Beginning in 1993 Mr. Bret Harrison led the 5th – 8th graders in painting three murals on the side of classroom buildings: “Bible Highlights,” “Jungle,” and “Jesus Lives.” In 1998, the Boosters purchased and upgraded a state-of-the-art computer lab.

A Lutheran Braille Worker’s center opened in 1977. The Mary-Martha Guild was formed in 1978, and along with the Dorcas Society, are members of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. The Quilt Crafters met for the first time on March 1, 1989 and sew quilts to send to Lutheran World Relief.

As the years went by, God continued to send His blessings on Trinity Church. Worship services were held, Sunday school continued, Pastors came and went, but there was always the hope that one day a church building could be erected on the Creston Road property where Trinity Lutheran School was located.

A faithful member of Trinity congregation, Ed Borchert, went to be with his Lord in May, 1986. His will left a sizable portion of his estate to Trinity Lutheran Church, with the stipulation that it be used for building on the Creston Road property. The congregation voted to build a church and parish hall on the Creston Road property with the Borchert bequest helping toward the financing of the buildings.

Ground breaking for the new facilities was May 6, 1990. A “Farewell to old Trinity” service was held at the church on Ninth and Vine Streets on May 5, 1991. Many weddings, baptisms, and funerals were held in the church for the forty years since it had been dedicated, and it was difficult leaving those memories behind. Installed in the new Trinity church was the reredos--or back of the altar, the Good Shepherd window, and the baptismal fount.

Appointments of the altar—the communion ware, cross, altar books, candlesticks, and Bible holder—were also placed in the new church from Old Trinity. The third Trinity Lutheran Church and Hall in Paso Robles was dedicated on Mother’s Day, May 12, 1991. The same bell that called the congregation and friends to church services at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the Geneseo-Creston area now resides in the present Trinity Lutheran Church bell tower and still calls the congregation to worship our Lord each Sunday morning. The bell has been hung in all the Trinity Lutheran Churches and was one hundred years old in 1998. The present membership of Trinity Lutheran Church is over 700 baptized souls. We pray that God will continue to bless our congregation and bring many more souls to kneel at His feet in years to come.

Update from 2011

God has continued to bless Trinity Lutheran Church & School. Senior Pastor Daniel Rowe was called here in 1998. Jane Fairbank began serving as principal in 2002. Steve Willweber was added as associate pastor in 2005. The school and preschool serve almost 250 students and their families.

A school building was built in 2001, providing better space for our students. Another building was re-modeled for our preschool, providing improved, dedicated facilities for our youngest students.

The people of Trinity continue to serve locally and globally, involved in the Tree of Life pregnancy center, the Loaves & Fishes food pantry, Family Care Network, Braille Bibles for the Blind, Quilters making over 200 quilts per year for the needy and poor throughout the world, building houses for the poor in Mexico, adult literacy classes and Children’s Bible Clubs in India, the Cornelius Society in Kyrgyzstan, Faith Comes By Hearing audio Bibles for the illiterate in Azerbaijan and for our military, and many other ministries. Thanks be to God for so many decades of blessings, all begun with the gift of His Son, Jesus, who loved us enough to die for us and rise again.


 By Marvin and Virginia Baird

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear Members of Trinity,

First we wish to thank you for thinking of us and sending us news of your 90 years in Paso Robles, California. We will be unable to attend but Trinity is always in our hearts and prayers.

There are so many memories that it is hard to find a favorite. Braille and all who worked will always be remembered. Work days and all those who were there to help. My very favorite was bringing Monarch habitat to the Preschool, Kindergarten and first grades so the children could follow the life of the butterfly.

You are all missed so much and thought of often. We wish you many more years and growth. The picture is wonderful and will be among all our precious memories.

God bless you all with peace and joy now and on this happy day and all the days to follow.

With much love and God bless,

Marvin and Virginia Baird

PO Box 200

Big Springs NE 69122-0200


 By Walter Ernst

August 14, 2011

Dear Members and Friends of Trinity,

I am writing on behalf of my wife, Erlyne (Rupprecht) Ernst, who was the lower grades teacher at Trinity School during the 1962-1963 school years.

She wants you to know that she appreciates your invitation to the upcoming celebration of the various anniversaries at Trinity. However, unfortunately, she had a stroke six years ago, and traveling 200 miles would not be a very practical experience for her. I also will miss not being there, since my father was born in Creston in 1888, and, as you know, there are a few people in your area who have the same surname as mine. I also spent many weekends in Paso Robles during the year she was teaching as we became engaged the summer before she began her year with your school.

In closing, let me assure you that she has very fond memories of her year at your school, and hopes and prays that your church and school will continue to experience God’s riches blessings.

Yours in Christ,

Walter Ernst

724 Nina Lane

Foster City, CA 94404


 William Ernst and start of Trinity

The following was written by Frida Ernst Knight, daughter of William and Barbara Amelia Ernst

William Ernst visited California in 1883, liked it, and decided he would move there with his family. Upon his return to Geneseo, Illinois, always interested in any news of California, he happened to see a small paragraph in a Geneseo newspaper that interested him very much. This paragraph said that “three thousand acres of land were to be sold in San Luis Obispo County near the Huer Huero, and that this would be a good chance for buyers who would be interested in starting a Lutheran congregation.” Signed Charles Pepmiller (Father of Ida and Marie Cammack). Mr. Ernst corresponded with Mr. Pepmiller and then came to investigate. He purchased 80 acres and chose the sight for a new home. Three months late, in December 1884, he with his wife and four children left their home in Geneseo, Illinois for a new home in California. By train (4 days and 4 nights) they traveled to Los Angeles, then took a boat, “The Santa Rosa,” to Port Harford (now Port San Luis). At the port they, and all their belongings, transferred to narrow gauge Pacific Coast train as far as San Luis Obispo. After spending a night at the Laurie House, next morning they took a stage as far as Beans Station (foot of Northern end of Cuesta Grade). Mr Pepmiller met them with a wagon and team. They took the Rocky Canyon Road through Creston and on to the Pepmiller home, where they lived until their own home was built up on the hill. The Fred Hirt family, parents of Mrs. Mat Claus, were the only other family residing in the neighborhood. A year later three more families came from Geneseo, Illinois. John Ernst (twin brother of William), Martin Ernst, and Martin Holzinger, a brother-in-law. Edward Gruenhagen, who resided in Creston, had a little General Merchandise Store and drove to San Luis Obispo for mail once a week. Thus the little church and a school at Geneseo, California, was started.


Direct descendants of the Pioneers that are still members of Trinity:

The William Ernst Family: Bill, Laura, JoAnn and Paul Ernst, Howie Steinbeck and Cindy (Steinbeck) Newkirk,

The John Ernst Family: Jack Perry and Marcia (Perry) Jewell

The Charles Pepmiller and Fred Hirt families: Kathleen (Claus) Belmont


 By Angie (Nelson) Muko

Hi! Sorry I cannot attend the reunion, it is kind of a long commute from South Dakota! I will just share a few quick memories from my childhood and wishes for you all to have a beautiful and joyous reunion.

Christmas caroling with candles....I believe someone’s hair caught on fire one year!

Mrs. Gulbro teaching English at the school.

The GIRLS ONLY being allowed to go to a sewing class at the church.....I made a horrible pair of ugly terry cloth shorts!!

Catechism class after school in Jr. High with Pastor Atrops.

Pastor Russow taking my sister and I, and his kids, to Disneyland one year.....I think we drove him crazy asking "Are we there yet?"!!!

Many big BBQ's at the Steinbeck’s ranch, and how fun it was to get to drive around in their jeep on their back property.

Again, my thoughts will be with you during the reunion, wish I could be there!


 By Art & Mary Goldgrabe

Blessings to all who are preparing to "Celebrate Decades of Blessings"! The Lord has truly poured out his blessings on the various ministries of Trinity over the decades. As principal/teacher for two school years, 1987 - 1989, I witnessed so many members who served the Lord in various ways both at church and school. The welcome my wife and I received upon our arrival was most memorable.

One incident stands out. Ready to begin the first day of school in 1987, a discovery of vandalism in the west wing of the then existing campus led to a closure of a couple of days. Paint was poured on books and materials in two classrooms and both rooms were in complete disarray. It was literally a mess.

But, the response of Trinity's members plus the whole community's efforts resulted in a huge work party and cleanup crew. It was an unfortunate incident but, at the same time, it did make the community most aware of our existence. The Lord works in his own mysterious ways.

We pray that the Lord will continue to bless Trinity Church and School in the decades ahead as he has in the past.

Art & Mary Goldgrabe

Kennewick, WA


 By Dr. George Guidera,
Principal, Trinity Lutheran School,

Decades of Blessings are the act of a loving God for his people who cared for the children even as the world bucks and changes all around them. Celebrate well; I can almost taste the Tri-tip! I often talk about my most wonderful middle school at Trinity back when it was just two rooms sitting out there on the road on the edge of town. Though there were a few times I looked out back upon the hill for needed strength; it was the place where so many ideas about education aged and evolved as I loved the children that God had given you to care for. Your prosperity is an indication of God keeping His promises to you as you were faithful to Him. Perhaps that is the most powerful lesson, His faithfulness. I am still loving God's young people as I share the mission with the new teachers in my classes and the Lord continues to provide the strength and passion for the task. There is a time for celebration, so do it well, Blessings to you all, who were such a blessing to me.


 From the Rapps, Trinity in Stockton

God’s blessings on your special day! Trinity Lutheran Stockton sends along greetings as you celebrate this wonderful occasion! May you continue to be a “light” to the people of Paso Robles!

In His great love,

Pam and Bill Rapp (Trinity Lutheran Church – Stockton)


 By Pastor Trent Thompson

Dear Trinity Lutheran Church:

While I am unable to attend on Oct. 23rd, I will be thinking of you on this wonderful occasion of celebrating God’s faithfulness in ministry to the residents of Paso Robles! God used Trinity to help me in many ways: 1) a student at the school (special memories in children’s Christmas programs, harvest festival, playing “four-square” with then-teacher, Mr. Schliebe in 1st grade, the teaching of Ms. Hostetter; 2) a Sunday school student (Mr. Oppegard, Miss Ernst, and others!); 3) Music Ministry (serving God as minister of music through choir, handbells, special music, organ/piano praise team, etc. during my young adult years) and being mentored by Pastor Rowe; and 4) being financially/prayerfully supported by Trinity through seminary.

Trinity will always be my “home” congregation and as ministry takes place in other parts of California it began with the seeds sown in Paso Robles. Thank you for your faithful investment into lives!

A grateful recipient,

Pastor Trent Thompson

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Hemet, CA


 By Sandra Cooper

I wish I could be there with everyone to celebrate this Great Blessing. 

I have many happy memories and friends and blessing from being a member of Trinity for 31+ years. My youngest daughter graduated from the school in 1973, she is now celebrating with all of God's angels. My three grandchildren attended school and Sunday Day school at Trinity and so did my oldest great granddaughter. 

I am now located here in ID and AZ. I have been very fortunate to have Churches in both these places.

I hope for many more years of blessings for Trinity Church and School. 

Sandra Cooper


 By Pastor Gene K Merrell

October 17, 2011

Friends at Trinity Congregation, Brothers and Sisters in Jesus:

Greetings in our great, good Triune God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You honor me with your invitation to the Decades of Blessings Celebration. Sadly, Betty Lou and I won’t be able to attend in person. But we surely will be enjoying your company in spirit and joining in your thanksgivings to God that day.

Your invitation asks that I “share a memory.” Just one? Impossible! The 19 months I served among you as an Interim Pastor (Nov. ‘96 to May ‘98) gave me at least a decade of memories! And all of them center on people praising God, serving Him and showing His blessed work in their hearts and minds. Among hundreds of memories, I treasure two living Nativities at the Vine Street community Christmas event; Braille Center workers; Elders visiting with me regularly; outdoor Easter Communions, the special Easter pageant with a half-dozen scenes; marvelous music at our worship week after week -- and more individuals than I have space to name.

I pray our good Lord Jesus will bless you all, as a congregation, with on-going joys and continuing progress in missions, education, and outreach. I hold you all in my heart and mind, with thanks to God for our time together.

Pastor Gene K Merrell


 By Marilyn Nickols

I want to extend my best wishes to Trinity Lutheran on this happy occasion of the church. We had many great memories of this church, Robie especially, and we would have been at this special occasion today, had things been different in our lives.

We were married there ten years ago April 21 but we were not able to celebrate that occasion either with Robie’s death on April 4. I am doing well, but it’s a lonely world without Robie, of course. I would appreciate receiving a bulletin of today’s service if that would be a possibility. Have a great day!


Marilyn Nickols


 From Sharon (Brandt) Willweber

In 1953, my brother, Vernon Brandt, was stationed at Camp Roberts. My Mom, Dad, sisters, and I visited him. On Sunday, we worshipped at Trinity. Since we had grown up on a farm in Oregon, Vernon was thrilled to help on the Steinbeck Ranch. Mrs. Hazel Steinbeck provided delicious home cooked meals!

Fast forward. I attended Concordia College, Portland, in the early 50s - at the same time that the future Pastor Carl Hafner was at Concordia, High School, Portland.

Fast forward.  I married Lloyd Willweber  in 1966. We lived in Granada Hills, Ca. Our three sons attended North Valley Lutheran School, in the  San Fernando Valley. Miss Susan Amundson was their teacher.

Fast forward. Trinity, Paso Robles, hosted Concordia, Seward, choir in the early nineties. Our son, David, and his future wife, were members of the choir. We attended the concert.

Fast forward.  Steve Willweber accepted the call to Trinity Paso Robles, in April, 2005.

Wonderful memories.

from Pastor Lloyd Willweber and Sharon,

Delano, CA.


 By Ron & Bobbi Meadville

Congratulations to Trinity Lutheran. What a wonderful time this is for you and what a blessing you have been to Paso Robles and surrounding area. We were so thankful that we were able to send our son to school there and as a family attend church together. We sure have some special memories, and  even moving far away, we still hold you all very dear in our hearts. May God bless Trinity with another 90 years of serving Him and God bless you all.

Always in His name,

Ron & Bobbi Meadville

P.O.Box 55

North Fork, Idaho 83466  



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