In 1846, Henry Rudisill, along with 17 other Lutherans, decided to establish an English speaking Lutheran church.[1] Prior to 1846, the Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne was led by the German community and had strong ties to the ethnic heritage of Germany.  Rudisill and his fellow companions realized that they should be looking forward to the future and not the past, therefore, they felt it was important to part from the traditional German Lutheran church and establish a new English Lutheran church that had a forward-looking vision.[2]

The English Lutherans, after their separation from the German Lutherans in 1846, grew slowly, receiving members from among new arrivals from the eastern states, as well as American-born children of immigrants and a few Scandinavian Lutherans. The congregation first worshipped on Sunday afternoons in the First Presbyterian meetinghouse on Berry and Lafayette Streets. The Presbyterians, in anticipation of moving into a new church, soon sold their fifteen-year old building to the English Lutherans. When the completion of their new structure was delayed for two years, the Presbyterians were forced to rent their old church form its new owners

Under the leadership of the Reverend William P. Ruthrauff, the membership of Trinity English Lutheran doubled, making a larger church building necessary. A lot on the corner of Wayne and Clinton streets was purchased for a new church and the cornerstone of the Gothic Revival building was laid on July 29, 1863.[3] In 1868, the Reverend Samuel Wagenhals assumed the pastorate, continuing for fifty-two years, which was the longest tenure of any Fort Wayne clergymen. His successors, the Reverend Paul H. Krauss, served the parish for nearly fifty years and lead the congregation in the erection of the present facilities on the south side of Wayne Street between Fairfield and Ewing streets. [4] After the retirement of Reverend Krauss in 1967, Associate Pastor Richard Frazier took over as head of the church. The congregation at Trinity English Lutheran welcomed two other pastors over the years. Over the course of 144 years, Trinity English Lutheran Church has only had five pastors.[5]

Designed by B.G. Goodhue, one of the leading architects of the Gothic Revival style, the church was dedicated in 1925, and it is on the National Register of Historic Places. From the steeple still rings the city’s oldest church bell. Originally installed in the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church, the bell rang in 1837 both as a call to worship and as the town’s “fire alarm.”

[1] “Our History,” Trinity English Lutheran Church, (accessed 2/19/2016).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Tom Castaldi, “First Churches,” History Center Notes & Queries, (accessed 2/19/2016).

[4] The Bicentennial Heritage Trail Committee, On the Heritage Trail: A Walking Guidebook to the Fort Wayne Heritage Trail (Fort Wayne: ARCH, Inc., 1994) 170-171.

[5] “Our History,”