Home/About us/History

trinity_1960s_400Our beginnings

The Rev. A.E. Kurtz did missionary work in the Palo Alto and San Mateo areas in 1925. He held services at the Women’s Club House at Homer and Cowper in Palo Alto. Later that year, the Rev. Paul H.D. Lang was called by the California-Nevada District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to serve the Stanford University campus and the Palo Alto mission. Upon graduation from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in 1925, he had initially been assigned to do mission work in China, but that mission field was closed due to the outbreak of civil war there. Pastor Lang was installed as the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church on December 6, 1925, at the Women’s Club House.

A new church building for Trinity was designed by Charles Sumner, a well known San Francisco architect whose home was in Palo Alto. Ground breaking was held August 19, 1928, first at the Women’s Club House and then at the new site at 651 Hamilton at Byron. The church was built by the Minton Company for an estimated $10,000.

The cornerstone was laid on October 20 and the church was dedicated on December 2, 1928, the second Sunday in Advent. The first anniversary was celebrated on December 3, 1929, with the Rev. A.E. Breihan preaching at the morning service and the Rev. T.C. Pieper preaching in the afternoon.

The wood panels on the altar were carved by Pastor Lang and were dedicated on October 27, 1940. A new pipe organ was dedicated April 26, 1941. The stained glass windows on the south side were dedicated on June 10, 1945 at the 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of the congregation.

The rite of blessing a new church site was May 17, 1953. Worship began at the new site on August 2, 1953 before the building was moved! On Thursday, August 27, 1953, the church building was moved from Hamilton Avenue to its present location at the McKenzie Estate. (Many long-time Palo Alto residents remember the building sitting on Middlefield Road when the moving platform broke down.) The church building was rededicated on December 6, 1953. The windows on the north side of the church were dedicated on May 28, 1961.

Pastor Taddey was called as Assistant Pastor in 1964. When Pastor Lang retired in 1965, Pastor Taddey accepted the call as Pastor and was installed as Pastor on Transfiguration Sunday, 1966.

The three-story house on the estate served effectively as a fellowship, meeting, administration, and education facility until 1967. The house was condemned by the City of Palo Alto as unsafe and was demolished on Saturday, July 1, 1967. The present office, education, and fellowship buildings were designed by Carroll Rankin and built by Ira Ota. These buildings were dedicated on May 27, 1968.


On October 21, 1993, an unknown arsonist started a fire in the Church Sacristy. Through God’s grace, the fire was discovered almost immediately by Vicar Wiley Smith, and was promptly extinguished by the Palo Alto Fire Department. In one way it can be said the fire was a blessing: many repairs and improvements were accomplished which might not have been made otherwise, including an expanded Sacristy with a new roof line, handicap access to the chancel, new heating and electrical systems were installed, along with fire and burglar alarms, and there was much painting and many repairs. Trinity congregation has much to thank God for, not the least of which is being able to return to its house of worship!

Rev. Paul H.D. Lang, Pastor, 1925 – 1965

Rev. William Klaustermeyer, Assistant Pastor, 1947 – 1957

Rev. Norman Theiss, Assistant Pastor, 1959 – 1964

Rev. Martin Taddey, Assistant Pastor, 1964 – 1965

Rev. Martin Taddey, Pastor, 1965 – 1996

Rev. Stewart Crown, Assistant Pastor, 1995 – 1996

Rev. Stewart Crown, Pastor, 1996 – Present

The Rev. Oscar Gerken, 1946 – 1947, With the Lord

The Rev. Paul Schroeder, 1948 – 1949, Unknown

The Rev. Alan Rehwald, 1985 – 1986, With the Lord

The Rev. Alan Klatt, 1986 – 1987, Unknown

The Rev. Stewart Crown, 1987 – 1988, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Palo Alto, CA

The Rev. Todd Biermann, 1988 – 1989, Faith Lutheran Church, Grand Blanc, MI

The Rev. Ernest Bernet, 1989 – 1990, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lawrenceville, GA (Church of the Lutheran Confessions)

The Rev. Peter Cage, 1990 – 1991, Saint Paul Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, IN

The Rev. James Bushur, 1991 – 1992, Asst. Prof. at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN

The Rev. Robert Weller, 1992 – 1993, Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, San Jose, CA

The Rev. Wiley Smith IV, 1993 – 1994, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Redlands, CA

The Rev. John Paul Salay, 1994 – 1995, School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Loyola University, Chicago, IL (Roman Catholic)

Mr. Kevin Walker, 1999 – 2000, Translation Work

The Rev. Daniel Grams, 2000 – 2001, Ascension of Christ Lutheran Church, Beverly Hills, MI

The Rev. Robert Mayes, 2001 – 2002, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Beemer, NE

The Rev. Eric Brown, 2002 – 2003, Trinity Lutheran Church, Herscher, IL

The Rev. Derek Roberts, 2003 – 2004, Praise Lutheran Church, Maryville, TN

The Rev. Joshua Haugen, 2004 – 2005, Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Greensboro, NC

The Rev. Peter Gregory, 2005 – 2006, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Westminster, MA

The Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz, 2006 – 2007, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Huntington Beach, CA

The Rev. John Sias, 2007 – 2008, Secretary of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, St. Louis, MO

The Rev. David Solum, 2008 – 2009, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Michigan City, IN

The Rev. Stephen Preus, 2009 – 2010, Trinity Lutheran Church, Vinton, IA

The Rev. Timmothy Heath, Jr., 2011 – 2012, Saint Peter Lutheran Church, Hilbert, WI

The Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, 2012 – 2013, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and School, Ferndale, CA

The Rev. Chris Suggitt, 2013-2014, St. Paul Lutheran Church and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Pigeon, MI

The Rev. Noah Rogness, 2014-2015, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls, MN

The Rev. Kevin Belter, 2015-2016, Redeemer Lutheran, Salt Lake City, UT

Seminarian William Maggard, Jr., 2016-2017, 4th student at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne

Mr. Paul Frase, 1968 – 1973

Mr. Timothy Halter, 1974 – 1977

Rev. Robert Mitchell, 1977 – 1984

Song Bennett, 2016-