Immanuel Lutheran Church

Early Immanuel Lutheran Church Building


1891 Immanuel Lutheran Church Building

Immanuel Lutheran Church, 150 Years


Immanuel Lutheran Church was founded by immigrant Germans in 1855. It was the first Lutheran congregation in Grand Rapids. The church was chartered as St. Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1856, meeting in the basement of the First Reformed Church.

In 1858 the church building was dedicated at the southeast corner of Division Avenue and Michigan Street.

1859 found Immanuel starting a Christian day school which was taught by pastors until 1865 when teacher J. G. Denninger was hired.

1884 was the beginning of the pastorship of Rev. Charles Frincke which lasted 26 years and was a time of great membership growth.

In 1890 a new church, which still stands was built on the same site for $35, 240.

A brick two-room schoolhouse is built next to the church in 1892.

Immanuel means "God with us".

The first pastor, Rev. Friedrich Richmann guided the church to join the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a theologically conservative denomination. The church nearly died soon after its start as many left over a theological dispute and Richmann departed after a year. English services were gradually introduced beginning in 1900 when an English-speaking assistant pastor was hired to preach half of the Sunday services. German services continued to be held until the 1950’s. Rev. Timothy Verity, of Gladwin, who came as pastor August 28, 2005, is the twentieth pastor of the church, succeeding Rev. David Davis with Rev. Gordon Goltz serving as interim pastor since 2003.

Some of the early families were the Bremer’s, Kusterer, Uecker, Bischoff’s.

Today this 800-member church is very involved in the city seeking to evangelize college students and business people, low-income families, the homeless and foreign-born ethnic groups with a number of ministries which include: a monthly pancake breakfast for the poor, picnics and art classes for children in the Belknap area, English tutoring for foreign workers from Spectrum Health and the VanAndel Institute.

St. James Lutheran School is for children through the third grade and Immanuel Lutheran School teaches children from the fourth through the eighth grades.

Their vision is to be a sanctuary for the city in connecting people with Christ.

Created: 22 November 2007