Our Story

Heritage of Immanuel Lutheran


In the early Spring of 1869 a small group of Lutheran men and women gathered together, and under the guidance of Rev. John Karrer they formed The German Evangelical Emmanuel's Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of Leland and Vicinity. (Thankfully the name was shortened to Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church!)

In 1879 the congregation joined what would become The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Originally, German was the official language of the congregation. English could be spoken if 2/3 of the members present approved. A meeting of the voters on February 10, 1919 decided that English would become the primary language and German could be used if those present approved.

Two of the goals of the congregation upon its founding were the conducting of regular worship services and maintaining proper educational programs for the young people of the congregation. Worship services and Bible studies were held in homes and in school buildings, when available.

The first permanent church building was built in 1873 and was located about where the Parish Hall is today. (Church records reveal that the original building cost $375.54 to build and furnish!) A parsonage was also built and was located on Pearl Street about one block away from the church.

Some highlights from minutes of the congregation's meetings include:

  • January 1, 1911 - Minutes began to be kept in English only!
  • 1912 - A new parsonage was built for $2,622.89 and the old one sold for $800.
  • 1914 - Families were allowed to sit together. Previously, men sat on one side of the sanctuary and women and children on the other side. Young people sat in the front pews so that the pastor could have them review what they learned in class the previous week.
  • 1927 - The present sanctuary was built under the leadership of Rev. Edward Schmidt.
  • 1930's - Pastor Schmidt started a congregation in Glen Arbor (Bethlehem), which was originally a summer-only parish. The pastor served St. Paul (Good Harbor) and Immanuel (Leland) during the whole year.
  • 1968 - Ground-breaking for the present Parish Hall occurred on September 22.
  • 1987 - The parish agreed to divide with Immanuel having its own pastor and Good Harbor and Glen Arbor being a dual parish with its own pastor.
  • 1995 - Immanuel undergoes a small renovation project that includes the addition of a Narthex that connects the Parish Hall and sanctuary.
  • 1999 - A pipe organ was built and installed by the Lauck Pipe Organ Company (Otsego, MI). It contained 8 ranks of pipes (538 pipes in all).


Immanuel has been served by 16 pastors throughout its history:

  • John Karrer (1869)
  • William Denke (1869-1870)
  • Martin Toewe (1870-1874)
  • John Bunderthal (1874-1877)
  • John Karrer (1878-1883)
  • Herman Bruss (1883-1885)
  • George Hempfing (1887-1890)
  • William Boritze (1890-1897)
  • L.J. Schmidt (1898-1900)
  • H. Speck (1900-1903)
  • Paul Englebert (1903-1910)
  • T.C. Haessler (1912-1925)
  • Edward Schmidt (1925-1953)
  • Albert Krueger (1953-1962)
  • Karl Weckwert (1964-1979)
  • Robert Butler (1979-1993)
  • Lawrence Matro (1993 - 2014)
  • Joshua LaFeve (2015-present)

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