History of the Church
Map of Champaign County
The first East Friesians had come to Champaign County in 1869. (East Friesia, or Ostfriesland, is an area in the 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.
Sketch of the first church building
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 of 1874 William Flesner designated five acres of land that could be used and the first church was built.
Pastors Fischer and Ave-Lallemont
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.
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.
Pastor Seehase and bell (left) Second Church (right)
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.
Pastor Moehl and Church cornerstone
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.
Present church building and Pastor Hafermann
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.
Pastor Diers and renovations using corn crib
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.
Education Wing and Parsonage (top) Ladies lunch (bottom)
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.
Pastor Mueller (left) and Liebfarth (right)
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.
Pastor Zenker and Courier Newspaper Photo
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.
Pastors Blobaum (left) and Mertz (right)
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.
Pastors Broughton (left) and Dixon (right)
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.
Pastors Flessner (left) and Billow (right)
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”.
Pastor Lehmann and new signage
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.
Pastors Busboom (left) and Bisser (right)
Pastor Barbara Busboom serves as a Visitaiton Pastor. She was called to Immanuel in 2005.
Pastor Cynthia A. Bisser serves as an Associate Pastor. She was called to Immanuel 2014-2017.