Holy Cross Lutheran Church has had only three leaders in its almost 60 years of history.

That’s why Eric Wismar is in a rare position, filling the shoes of Pastor Witschy as he works towards building his vision for the church’s community.

The cornerstone of that project began Sept. 6 and will continue through May 15 as the pastor guides churchgoers each Sunday through the entirety of the Holy Scripture from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.

“People don’t seem to know the whole story as well as past generations,” said Pastor Wismar, who was installed in May after preaching for 10 years at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in New Fairfield.

“Lots of things are pulling at people these day, and that’s why I really want us to walk together through the whole story,” he added. "It's a unique thing to get to walk through the whole story, and to realize the key - the golden thread that runs through the whole thing, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ."

With a summer sermon series on the basics of Christian teaching and a fall kick-off sermon beginning the Bible journey already checked off, the new church leader is looking forward to his first year in Trumbull.

He commuted from New Fairfield into town during his first two months of working at the church before moving with his family at the end of June.

“I wasn't looking to move or to take a call to a new church," pastor Wismar explained.  "But when I was out in Colorado this past spring doing some training, I happened to get a call inquiring about my interest to become a missionary overseas. I then started the process to become an overseas missionary, which also brought all of my paperwork up-to-date. As a result, when Holy Cross also expressed interest in adding me to their call list, my paperwork just happened to be current.”

“What I came to learn pretty quickly is that these are great folks — it’s a really tight-knit church family, and that convinced me to make the move,” he added. “It ended up being the perfect time to make a move.”

His four children have since enjoyed their first day of school in Trumbull,while the pastor juggles the renovations at the church’s Main Street parsonage and ministering every day to its many members.

“When it comes to preaching, I like to come down to talk with the people, talk with them directly and engage them in a back-and-forth dialogue,” he said. “I love traditional preaching and often preach from the pulpit, but I feel that some times you can engage with people more directly when you are right up close next to them…

“My favorite part is interacting with the people and caring for them,” he added. “That’s what it’s all about — walking with them through the good times and the bad times, and always being there to share the hope of the Lord’s Gospel.”

Holy Cross background

The church established in 1957, and first held services at Center School at 888 White Plains Road.

The Main Street property was purchased and the current church structure built in 1962-63 — long before Pastor Wismar’s time.

But he’s a firm believer in respecting the congregation’s history, which has led to a seamless transition, he said.

“When a church has a vacancy like Holy Cross had, there are a variety of ways they can go about filling it,” he explained. “The congregation here got a year of self-study, and that’s when I started in May. It wasn’t a quick move — it was a reflective one, and I think that was beneficial to both sides.”

A man with wings

In addition to leading Holy Cross, Pastor Wismar is a chaplain with Connecticut Air National Guard.

Originally, he wanted to serve as an active duty chaplain in the Air Force, not as a congregational pastor in a parish ministry setting. However, as he spent time ministering to his first church family, he realized that it was his calling to be in a parish setting. Wismar mentioned that his first call was supposed to be to a church in Battle Creek Michigan, but he ended up being called to a little church in New Fairfield, only miles away from his hometown of Newtown.

“I grew up as a pastor’s kid in Connecticut,” he explained. “I’m actually a 15th generation pastor that goes all the way back…

“When the church called me back to my own backyard, I knew this was where I was supposed to be,” he added. “I began to think about my family and decided that active duty might not be the best for me, so I switched from the reserves into the air National Guard when they had an opening in 2008.”

He loves that part of his work, traveling to Bradley International Airport where his base is located on the first weekend of every month to spend time with the servicemen.

“Getting to have a personal relationship with the airmen, and going from squadron to squadron is really exciting,” he said. “You get to see all the parts of it, from the electricians to the engineers to the pilots.

“The mission of our wing is to fly airplanes and to maintain them. My job as a chaplain is to make sure that our airmen are maintained and doing well physically, spiritually emotionally and relationally," he added.“Just like the work I do here in Trumbull. It’s really all about caring for them and learning about who they are and what they do — a ministry of presence."

He said that part of his job translates well back to his parish ministry duties.

“Holy Cross is the second church I’ve been with, and at Good Shepherd (my former congregation) there were only two pastors before I received the call and arrived as well,” he said. “I’m really blessed to work here in a church with such continuity that has such great folks and is just one united, loving family."

Holy Cross Lutheran Church is located at 5995 Main Street. For more information, visit the church website at www.holycrosstrumbull.org or call 203-268-7555