"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..."

- Ephesians 2:8

The History of Emmanuel Lutheran Church

A Walk Through Emmanuel's History

Established 1867
Emmanuel -- God With Us

historic-churchIn 1867, St. Paul Lutheran Church, currently located at 1125 South Barr Street, decided to split into two congregations in order to better serve its members. At a special meeting this new parish adopted Emmanuel as the church name and petitioned to join what is today known as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. St. Paul presented the new congregation with the property in the 900 block of West Jefferson, on which a house and a two-room school already stood. With this simple school began Emmanuel commitment to Christian education and service to its members, and the West Central neighborhood in which it stands.

An enthusiastic congregation which continued to hold services at St. Paul until the edifice was ready, closely watched the building progress over the next 15 months.  And well it should have, because every member had sacrificed to make the church a reality by either using his savings or mortgaging his home to meet his subscription. A total of $34,039.60 which included $7,000 donated by St. Paul, was raised. The new church, resplendent with its new furnishings, including a 29-stop organ costing $3,800, was completely free of debt when dedicated on Sunday and Monday, August 29-30, 1869. The parishioners did not stop there. In November, they oversubscribed to a free will offering for the church three bells, which cost $2,282.69, by $240.

Emmanuel has grown and prospered over the last 138 years adapting the changing face of society. The original congregational constitution stipulated that all services were to be conducted in German. In 1903, this paragraph was suspended and it was resolved to introduce English services. Beginning in 1928, services were broadcast on the radio from Emmanuel. This invention spread the Word into the very homes of the people.

The great depression was felt by the church as well as the general population. During these years, school enrollment dropped and consideration was given to a merger with St. Paul Lutheran School. A decision was made, which proved a firm conviction that Emmanuel school ministry should continue.

In 1942, the 75th Anniversary was celebrated. During this time, the church received extensive repairs and redecoration. Its completion was marked by a rededication ceremony on July 21, 1946.

The mid-1950 brought to light a new challenge within the Fort Wayne community. More and more churches were either choosing to build in, or relocate to, suburban sites. Emmanuel also carefully considered a move to suburbia¬Ě The congregation voted and decided to stay where its roots were--at least for the next two years to see what would happen. Under the leadership of that day, Emmanuel grew and flourished, and ultimately the congregation decided to stay on West Jefferson, in the heart of Fort Wayne West Central Neighborhood.

In 1962, Emmanuel and St. Michael Lutheran Churches formed a joint school which continues today. At that time a new gym/auditorium, a meeting room with kitchenette, a stage, showers and three classrooms were either built or remodeled, and the facility was dedicated in November of that year.

The old parsonage, which stood on the northeast corner of the property, was razed in 1966 and Brandt Hall was constructed. The new building held five offices and a workroom, the Kiefer Memorial Library and lounge, a meeting room, and a choir rehearsal room. Redecoration of the church also began that year to coincide with the centennial celebration which took place in 1968.

Also in 1968, Emmanuel joined other west side churches to form the West Central Neighborhood ministry, a social ministry which reaches out to the residents of the area, addressing a variety of social and spiritual needs.

The installation of the white oak church doors, which resemble the original doors of 1868, was completed in April of 2005. The doors were dedicated to the service and glory of God on April 17, 2005.

Emmanuel has given financial support to many churches over the years, including Aboite Lutheran Church, Shepherd of the City, Emmaus, Redeemer and Bethlehem Suburban. These efforts are a part of a strong outreach tradition which continues to this day.
God has truly been with us over the years. We continue to thank and praise Him for His grace and love and all the wonderful blessings our congregation has received.