The origin of our congregation goes back to the late 1840s when German-speaking immigrants – many of whom were Lutherans – began to arrive in Victoria, settling in and around the fledgling City of Melbourne.
At first they worshipped in private homes under the leadership of lay readers, and then in the Independent Chapel (the original building on the site of the present St Michael’s Uniting Church) in Collins Street, for lay reading services. Occasionally, Lutheran pastors from South Australia would visit and conduct worship services and administer the sacraments.
In the early 1850s, despite the rush to the goldfields, a formal congregation was organized whose committee set out to obtain the services of a pastor and to seek a grant of land to build a place of worship. Both were eventually successful, and on 25 March 1853 the Rev. Matthias Goethe was installed as the first resident pastor of The German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Melbourne.
That same year construction of a church building was commenced on the present site, and the consecration of the church to be known as Trinity Lutheran Churchtook place on 11 June 1854, the Feast of the Holy Trinity. On the adjacent plot of land a manse was erected in 1855, followed in 1864 by the dedication of the hall situated between the church and the manse. The original church building was replaced by the present structure in 1874, and the original manse made way for the present building in 1890.
From the beginning Trinity Church retained its role as the mother church of Lutheranism in Victoria, with its pastor as President of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Victoria. Ecumenically, Trinity Church became part of such inter- denominational initiatives as the Hospital Sunday Fund and the Council of Churches.
Both World Wars created difficult times for the congregation; however, German was maintained as the language of worship. The arrival of large numbers of German-speaking immigrants after 1945 swelled the membership ranks but also presented new challenges. Soon the need for an expansion of the Church’s ministry in various directions became apparent.
The pastoral care of new arrivals, who found employment in German industrial enterprises in the Dandenong area, was met with the establishment in 1960 of St John’s German Lutheran Congregation in Springvale. The growing need for the care of ageing Church members resulted in the establishment of Martin Luther Homes Boronia in 1970.
To this day Trinity Church continues to provide spiritual care and guidance for German-speaking Lutherans in their native tongue.
The history of the congregation from its very beginnings has been summarised in the book “A German Church in the Garden of God”. Together with other Authors, editor Herbert D. Mees gives a close-up portrait of the history of German migrants to Australia based on the example of the Trinity Church Melbourne. This 700-page masterpiece bursts with images, maps and other historic documents.