The History of Holy Trinity

The first prayer, hymn, and affirmation of faith spoken together was on October 4, 1959, over 60 years ago, the worshippers had a sense of anticipation and elation hardly consistent with the congregation’s circumstances. Its pastor, Robert Lawson, was newly ordained, there was no property, and the people were meeting in a converted chicken coop on a yet-to-be launched Lutheran college campus. Yet, by April 3, 1960, the membership had grown, and the church, now named Holy Trinity, was received by the California Conference of the Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church as its newest congregation.


  • September 24, 1959 – Pastor Robert Lawson hosts a meeting in his home to discuss the beginnings of a new Lutheran congregation
  • October 4, 1959 – Holy Trinity holds its first worship service in a converted chicken coop
  • April 3, 1960 – Holy Trinity holds its first formal worship service in a spruced up chicken coop
  • September 15, 1960 – The Augustana Lutheran Church Women of Holy Trinity is formed, laying the groundwork for today’s still-active Dorcas, Ruth, and Mary-Martha fellowship Circles
  • October 25, 1960 – Holy Trinity holds its first Sunday School classes during the 9:45 educational hour
  • November 1, 1960 – Luther League, Holy Trinity’s youth group, meets for the first time
  • January 16, 1961 – land is purchased at the corner of Avenida de Los Arboles and Mount Clef for $30,000
  • April 16, 1961 – Ground is broken to begin construction of Holy Trinity’s first building
  • October 15, 1961 – A multipurpose room is dedicated to serve as a classroom and sanctuary
  • Fall of 1961 – Classes begin at California Lutheran College, and Holy Trinity lends its meeting space to students and professors
  • September 23, 1973 – New education building and playground are dedicated, paving the way for Holy Trinity’s Honey Tree ministry
  • 1979 – Holy Trinity calls its first female pastor, Reverend Lillyanne Belusa
  • 1980s – Muslim families in the Conejo Valley begin using space at Holy Trinity for prayers and other meetings
  • April 13, 1986 – A new sanctuary and office building are dedicated on the Holy Trinity campus
  • 1980s – Bishops’ Garden is planted on Holy Trinity campus
  • 1981 – Adult and youth education as well as visitor outreach efforts are expanded
  • 1983 – Holy Trinity hires its first full-time youth director, Steve Dwyer
  • 1983 – “Adventures in Faith” radio mission broadcast begins
  • 1987 – Conejo Valley Winter Shelter program begins, to serve area homeless community
  • 1990s – Pastor James Oines begins tutoring program with Park Oaks School 
  • 1990s – A board of directors is organized to lead the Ventura County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice; fair trade coffee becomes the staple drink at all church functions
  • 1990s – Rev. Ron Kragthorpe begins ministry to visit hospitalized and homebound individuals
  • 1990s – Associate Pastor Janet Hansted Meadors and Children’s Ministry program develop new Sunday School model and redesign First Communion and Confirmation courses
  • 2000s – Holy Trinity welcomes its first Parish Nurse, Rose Egertson, to lead wellness education and fitness classes, and coordinate blood drives
  • 2000s – Women’s Dorcas Circle Quilting Group begins making quilts for all babies baptized at Holy Trinity
  • 2000s – Anna Esmay and Anne Lieberknecht begin ministry at elderly care facility, providing manicures and companionship to bedridden residents
  • 2000s – A Peace Pole is erected in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, to remind church attendees to serve in peacemaking roles in the world
  • 2004 – The church library is renovated
  • 2005 – Holy Trinity begins its first contemporary-style praise band to lead music during worship
  • 2009 – Holy Trinity adolescents attend the ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans and help retain a park destroyed by Hurricane Katrina
  • 2009 – Holy Trinity members raise funds to build a bell tower at sister church Espiritu del Gozo (“Spirit of Joy”) in El Salvador
  • 2020 - Holy Trinity becomes an RIC - "Reconciled in Christ" community, Harbor House begins using Holy Trinity as its central location for serving meals to the community, Holy Trinity sells part of property to the city to build a new firehouse. Funds are used to renovate the preschool, fellowship hall, and bathrooms/showers. 
  • 2022 - The music room is renovated, the Prayer Garden is built
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