The history of our immigrants of Sleepy Eye lead us to many Danish relatives.
Danish Lutheran Church
The history of our immigrants of Sleepy Eye lead us to many Danish relatives. The Danes were interested in this area because of its good farming land. These Danish immigrants started coming to Sleepy Eye around 1870. The land and countryside was much to their liking, so much more than their familar depressing conditions in their homeland. In their homeland, the church and the state ran their lives with a firm hand. Here in America and in Sleepy Eye they naturally fell in love with their surroundings and wrote back home to tell everyone, friends and family to come to America, come to Sleepy Eye and see for themselves the freedom that lay ahead.
As most know, the Danish were very industrious people and it did not take very long for them to clear some land, build barns and homes. They became citizens, homesteaded lands and organized politically and socially.
By the time Sleepy Eye was established as a town in 1872, many of the Danish immigrants contacted the Augsburg Seminary in Minneapolis and Rev. Niels Olson, from the Noregian-Danish Lutheran Conference, who would come out to preach to the Lutherans in the Sleepy Eye, Brookville, Prairieville and Evan area. When in Sleepy Eye, each took a turn meeting Pastor Olson taking him in their wagons or buggies to someone’s house where the meetings were held.
By 1882, the Sleepy Eye Danes were ready to become an organized congregation. On Aug. 15, 1882, the Sleepy Eye Danes voted to officially incorporate and record in the courthouse at New Ulm stating the name to be “Danish St. John’s Lutheran Church” of Sleepy Eye Lake, Minnesota.
German Methodist Church
On Nov. 11, 1883, services were held for the first time in the old German Methodist Church. By Feb. 24, 1884, meetings and a vote was made to build a new church. Nothing happened after this meeting on building a church except for growth of the congregation, enough money was raised so that the congregation could pay back a loan to Hans Morgensen for the pastor's house, fundraising, and winter time that demanded wood to keep the church warm (which required donation of wood).
It wasn’t until 1897, that a new church was finally built. The newly built church was located on Walnut Street (where the Beth-El Church and the old Senior Citizens Center is located). New exciting things were able to happen within the newly built church, Thursday night Bible study was able to begin which they never had before. Until the 1920s, the Danish language was used exclusively. In 1920, two services were offered, one in Danish and the other in English.
There was a German Wisconsin Synod Church in Sleepy Eye called St. John’s Lutheran Church. As you can imagine, this caused quite the confusion having two churches by the name of St. John’s Lutheran Church. So in 1940, the name of one church was switched to Trinity Lutheran Church.
Trinity Lutheran Church had seen many hard times, two World Wars, the Depression era, yet they overcame with new congregation members and pastors to help along the way. In 1957, once again the decision to make a new church was brought up and voted on. The new church was to be built where the present day Trinity Lutheran Church is (217 Brackenridge St. SW). On July 12, 1959, the church was finally completed. In 1964, a new parsonage was also built. In 1979, an addition was added to the church. Later in 2014, an elevator was added to Trinity Church.