Plainview’s first German Lutheran settlers began meeting in their homes as early as 1870, using the Lutheran Hymnal and the printed sermons of C. F. W. Walther as worship guides. In 1873, the Rev. August Sippels, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Potsdam, MN, served the small group on a part-time basis. In the fall of 1875, the German Evangelical Lutheran Emmanuel Congregation of the Augsburg Confession was formed, pledging faithfulness to the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments and the Lutheran Confessions. Until 1876, this new congregation was led by Pastor Sippels, thereafter until 1886, by Pastor M. Stuelpnagel, and from 1886, by Pastor P.G. A. Schaaf, all from Potsdam.
In 1887, discussion on building a church began. It was April of 1890 when land was purchased, and in May, bids were considered for the building of the church. The winning bid for the building was $1649. With education being a strong concern for Immanuel’s members, a small school building was constructed behind the church building in 1891. This building was used for confirmation instruction, Bible classes and a summer Bible school for both children and adults. That same year, the Rev. G. Drews accepted the congregation’s first call for a full-time pastor. The pastor’s annual salary was $350, with a free home and firewood, plus 50 cents per child in school. Immanuel received its first 25 confirmands into membership in 1892.
Giant Steps / Building for the Future
By 1910, the annual budget exceeded $1000 and the coming years brought continued growth and prosperity. With an eye to the future, in 1913, Pastor Drews addressed the congregation on the subject of a new church building. That same year, pledges were gathered for the building of the new church. Immanuel also voted to become a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). In January of 1915, with pledges of $9,600, the congregation proceeded with the building of the new church. The building was completed at a cost of about $28,000 and dedicated in March of 1916.
Christian Education Valued
In September 1922, after calling a full-time teacher, a parochial school was opened. Classes were held in the church basement. The first steps toward an English service began in January of 1919 with the purchase of 200 English hymn books and the offering of a monthly English evening service. Immanuel’s confirmation class of 1920 was the last class to be taught in German. By October 1922, when Rev. Schoewe was called, English services were offered, along with German services, on two Sundays of each month, increasing to every Sunday by 1929. The call to Rev. Rodney Riese in 1955 finally specified that services be offered solely in English. Services were increased to two per Sunday. In the years following the Great Depression, the parochial school was in danger of collapse. However, after successful pleas for support and encouragement from Pastor Schoewe and church elders, members gained confidence that the school would prosper and endure. In 1952, a new school building was dedicated by Rev. Schoewe. However, continued growth spurred a large addition in 1964, to the school, which more than tripled its size. During this time, the church was remodeled. In 1975, as a part of its 100th aniversary celebration, Immanuel added an office and a conference room to the church, as well as renovated the church interior. In 1990, an elevator and vestibule were added. The most recent and ambitious addition has been a multi-purpose gymnasium, dedicated in 1999.
Organized For Action
Immanuel’s first mission festival was held in 1902. The Ladies’ Aid, formed in 1914, became a charter member of the International Lutheran Women’s Missionary League in 1946. The Ladies’ Aid reorganized in 1964 and formed the Immanuel Lutheran Church Women (ILCW). The congregation chose its first district lay delegate to the LCMS in 1915. The Lutheran Laymen’s League, with national affiliation, was organized in 1945. In 1953, Immanuel’s Board of Christian Education organized a Parent-Teacher League (PTL), along the same lines as the National Lutheran PTL. In 1957, members of the neighboring Hoosier Ridge congregation united with Immanuel. That historic building is privately maintained and an occasional special service is held there.
Changes continued throughout 1980s and 1990s. Immanuel switched from operating under a simple constitution and adopted Articles of Incorporation. Voting rights for women were granted by a constitutional amendment. Girls began serving as acolytes during Sunday services. The Lutheran Hymnal was replaced by the revised hymnal, Lutheran Worship. A monthly contemporary music service and special weekly children’s messages were added.
In closing this brief history of the congregation, we reiterate the thoughts of our former pastor, Rev. Rodney Riese, “The real history of the congregation is… in the lives and dedication of the [people who] have gathered about the Word and Sacrament… – the founders of this congregation, and [we] who followed after… are the history of this congregation. As we go forward, may it be with the prayer, ‘May the Lord be with us as He was with our fathers, and may the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us, yea the work of our hands, establish Thou it!'”
We praise Him for calling us to the message of salvation in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We join the Apostle Paul in asking only for His grace in Christ, that we might be made worthy through Him, to reach toward the prize of the high calling to be His people at this time, in this place and in eternity.
This is only a brief synopsis of the rich history at Immanuel. If you would like more information or if you have additional information about Immanuel that you would like to contribute, please contact the church office at (507) 534-3700.