The ceremony was led by Pastor Mary Forell and Property Minister Mark Singleton, who spoke of the parish's history, its current role in the community, and its future.
"This church has been a part of the Hoboken community for the last 150 years," said Singleton. "And it's our job for the next 150 years to remain an important part of this community."
Singleton emphasized the need for renewed fundraising efforts for future restoration projects, such as the removal of Plexiglas that has hidden the church's stained glass windows for the last 30 years, and the reconstruction of the tile mosaic that formerly adorned the church's façade but deteriorated.
According to Singleton, the parish has raised approximately $150,000 in pledges so far with a goal of raising $250,000 within the next two years.
Bells and organs
Singleton also said that recent structural improvements for the church included restoring its bell and organ.
Repairs were made to the church's 5-foot tall bell that resides in its tower by the steeple. The 125-year-old bell would chime at the beginning of every hour year-round until about 20 years ago, when the mechanism that controlled the hammer stopped functioning properly.
Until the repair, the bell had to be manually operated for Sunday service. The bell currently sounds from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all week long and can be heard clearly within a four-block radius.
The church has also been restoring its George Jardine & Son Tracker Pipe Organ for the past five years, replacing the electric blower and cleaning the pipes. The organ, which consists of almost 1,600 pipes, was built within a casing of walnut and oak and, according to pipe organ architect Randolph Gilberti, it is one of the only remaining Jardine organs in the metropolitan area that has been restored to a functional state.
Gilberti also speculated that the instrument's actual date of creation preceded the construction of the church because of distinct features it possesses, which suggest that the model was assembled prior to 1877. In Gilbirti's opinion, the organ was not an addition to the church but rather a model for it. The 42-year-old organ architect, who has been working with organs almost his entire life, believes the church designed its interior arrangement and exterior façade to mirror that of the organ.
The organ is played every Sunday for mass and will be completely restored to its former glory for the actual 150th anniversary celebration in 2008, according to Gilberti.
Three churches merged
The current St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Parish at 57 Eighth St., off Hudson Street, is a product of three separate Lutheran Hoboken churches that merged over time due to diminishing congregations.
The first church of those churches to come about was the St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church. Founded in 1858 by residents who were predominantly of German descent, the original house of worship was located at Third and Washington streets, where a McDonald's now stands.
In 1877, the parishioners moved to the church at Eighth and Hudson streets because the space was larger, and have been there ever since.
The second Lutheran church, which was founded in 1890, was the Scandinavan Lutheran Trinity Church, comprised mostly of individuals of Norwegian and Swedish ancestry. The church was located at the corner of Ninth and Clinton streets.
The third parish, which formed the Lutheran Trinity responsible for the present day church, was the Holy Trinity English Evangelical Lutheran Church, formed in 1903 by Hoboken residents of mostly German and English descent and located at Tenth and Garden streets.
The Holy Trinity and Scandinavian Lutheran churches merged in 1948 and they continued to worship out of the church at Ninth and Clinton streets.
In 1969, the combined parishes merged with the St. Matthew's church to form the present day St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran parish.
Michael Mullins can be reached at email@example.com