HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

History Summary: Immanuel Lutheran Church is located in East Central Illinois and began in 1872 when immigrants from East Friesia, German, settled in Champaign County, Illinois. The immigrants drained off the swamp land and began to farm the rich soil.


The present church structure was built in 1914 to accommodate the growing congregation. Immanuel was given the name "the mother church", as a number of neighboring Lutheran Congregations grew from it. Today it is part of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC).


We are known as the "Cathedral in the Cornfield" due to our rural location.

1869 - 1872

The first East Friesians had come to Champaign County in 1869. (East Friesia, or Ostriesland, is an area in northwest part of Germany, along the North Sea).


In 1872 church services in the Flatville area were first held in the Maple Grove School, two miles west and mile south of Flatville.


Picture to left is a map of Champaign County.

1874

In 1874 the congregation decided to become a self-supporting congregation and dispense with the part time services of Pastor Grupe. Immanuel Lutheran Church, Flatville was established. In May 1874 William Flesner designated five acres of land that could be used and the first church was built.


Picture to right is a sketch of the first church building

1874 - 1880

Pastor G.H. Fischer (Left) was called to Immanuel from 1874-1879 and Pastor Friedrich Ave-Lallemont (Right) was called from 1879-1880. 


The German heritage was central to the Flatville community. Church services were conducted in the Plattdeutsch dialect (or Low German as was referred to in the community). Plattdeutsch was spoken in the Ostfriesland area of Germany the immigrants came from and was the language used in the community. Services were conducted in German until 1939 when an English (or “American” service as it was called) was introduced. Both German and English services were held until 1962, when German services were discontinued. Confirmation classes were conducted in ‘High German’ (the German language was spoken in Germany outside of Ostfriesland) until the early 1940’s.  


Picture to left is of Pastors Fisher and Ave-Lallemont


1881

Pastor John Heiniger (no picture) was called to Immanuel in 1881-1882.


In 1881 the first Mission Festival was held, thus beginning a strong tradition that continues to the present day.


Picture to right is of a current Mission Festival service.   


1886 - 1899

Pastor Ludwig Seehase was called here in 1883-1895. 


The congregation grew and in 1886 it was decided to replace the first church building. The second church building was constructed in 1887 at a cost of $4,031 ($100,775 in 2014 dollars). 

1890- Our bell was cast. 

1899- On July 9, the 25th anniversary of the congregation was celebrated with three services. A pamphlet was produced for the occasion. 


Picture to left is of Pastor Seehase and bell (left) Second Church (right)

1913 - 1914

Pastor Ernst Moehl was called to serve Immanuel from 1895-1938.


At the annual meeting in 1913 “the congregation voted to make an attempt to raise enough money by subscription (pledges) to build a new church”. By June pledges totaled $40, 995 ($986,572 in 2014 dollars) and plans were made to build a new church. The second church building was moved, which allowed the third and present church to be in located in the same footprint.  


Picture to right is of Pastor Moehl and Church cornerstone. 

1915 - 1930

The present church building was dedicated on January 24, 1915, a very cold day.  

1918-the congregation exercised privileges of membership in the Iowa Synod

1924- On September 24, the 50th anniversary of the congregation was celebrated in conjunction with Mission Festival.

1930 the Iowa Synod merged with the synods of Ohio and Buffalo to form the American Lutheran Church.


Pastor Herbert Hafermann was called to serve Immanuel from 1938-1948. 


Picture to the left is of the present church building and Pastor Hafermann

1949 - 1950

Pastor Herman H. Diers was called to serve here from 1948-1962. 


In 1949 Immanuel Lutheran church celebrated its Diamond Jubilee of 75 years from the time the congregation was established. A book was written by Reverend Diers for the occasion.  

1950 Renovations on the church (again in 1960 and 1987) began. They used a corn crib as scaffolding. 


Picture to the right is of  Pastor Diers and renovations using corn crib.

1952 - 1960

1952 Ladies Lunch In

1954 Education was a priority for the congregation, both for public school and confirmation and Sunday School classes. As the congregation continued to grow, a Sunday School building to accommodate the growing number of children in Sunday School and confirmation was needed. In 1954 the current Sunday School building and the current parsonage were built.  

1960- Immanuel Lutheran became a member of The American Lutheran Church Synod. 


Picture to left is of Education Wing and Parsonage (top) Ladies lunch (bottom)

1962 - 1969

Pastor Russell Mueller was called to Immanuel from 1962-1969.

Pastor Walter Liebfarth served as a Visitation Pastor. He was called to Immanuel from 1965-1968.

During this time is also when we began broadcasting our church service on radio which we still do today.

Pastor Mueller started a Dial-a-Devotion where people could call in to hear a devotion. 


Picture to the right is of Pastor Mueller (left) and Liebfarth (right)

1974

Pastor Alton Zenker was called to Immanuel from 1969-1976.


In 1974 a “Centennial Week of Celebration” commemorating 100 years since the beginning of the congregation was held.  


Picture to the left is of Pastor Zenker and Courier Newspaper Photo.

1976 - 1984

Pastor August Blobaum served as a Visitaiton Pastor. He was called to Immanuel from 1972-1976.

Pastor Gerald Mertz was called to Immanuel from 1976-1984. 


Picture to the right is of Pastors Blobaum (left) and Mertz (right)

1987

Pastor Lynn Broughton was called to Immanuel from 1984-1995.

Pastor Jack E. Dixon was called here from 1986-1988. 


1987- the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church of America merged, forming the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. 


Picture to the left is of Pastors Broughton (left) and Dixon (right)

1999

Pastor Henry Flessner served as an Associate Pastor. He was called from 1988-1995.

Pastor Mark Billow was called to serve Immanuel from 1993-1998.


1999 marked the 125th anniversary of the congregation. A book commemorating this event was done. The theme for the celebration was “That the World May Know Christ”. 


Picture to the right is of Pastors Flessner (left) and Billow (right). 

2010

Pastor James T. Lehmann was called to serve Immanuel in 1996. He continues to serve them presently. 


2010- the congregation voted to leave the ELCA and join the newly-founded North American Lutheran Church. 


Picture to the left is of Pastor Lehmann and new signage.

2005 - 2017

Pastor Barbara Busboom serves as a Visitaiton Pastor. She was called to Immanuel in 2005. 

Pastor Cynthia A. Bisser served as an Associate Pastor. She was called to Immanuel 2014-2017. 


Picture to the right is of Pastors Busboom (left) and Bisser (right).