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A BRIEF HISTORY OF IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH


(Adapted from the 2001 125th anniversary book and other church records)
The earliest records of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Broadlands, Illinois, go back to the year 1870. Pastor H. Grupe of St. John's Lutheran Church, Champaign, a circuit rider, began mission work at Philo, Sidney, Sadorus, Flatville and among the newly arrived settlers from Germany in the Broadlands area. Pastor Grupe served the area occasionally from 1870 until his departure from St. John's in 1875. Immanuel's Kirchen-Buch records three marriages and seven baptisms performed by him during those years. The first baptism performed among these German Lutherans in Raymond and Ayres townships was Johann, son of Johann Heinrich Edens, in July 1870. The first marriage, according to this congregation's records, was performed by Pastor Grupe on February 9, 1870; this ceremony united Johnann Schumacher and Katherine Edens. Services during these initial five years were held in the Fairview schoolhouse, two-and-one-half miles north of Longview, Illinois.

Soon after, during the pastorate of E. Martens (1876-1878), the first house of worship, the only one in Raymond township, was built on land purchased from Claus and Emma Edens for the sum of twenty-five dollars. The structure for this German Lutheran Immanuel Church, located about one mile east of the schoolhouse, was dedicated on October 29, 1870. The signing of the constitution also dates from this day, and was signed by the following members: George Edens, John Edens, Fred Mohr, W.Wiese, C. Klinger, C.T. Block, Claus Edens, Christian Kuhlman, C.F. Weise, P.H. Edens, J.C. Weasa, C. Frese, G. Priffert, and A. Priffert. Later in the same years, more names were added to the list. Pastor Martens began his first Kirchen-Buch in 1879, although some of the dates recorded preceded his services. It is believed that these records may have been transferred from St. John's congregation in Champaign at that time.

Pastor C. Bauman served the Broadlands and Philo congregations from 1879-1883. His postal address was Sidney, Pastor C. Mueller then served this congregation and the one at Philo until 1886, when he was called to Shiloh Hill, Illinois. In July, 1887, candidate Julius B. Graupner, a recent graduate of Concordia, Theological Seminary in Springfield, IL. was ordained at this church. He too served only a short time, leaving the next July.

In 1888 the German Lutheran Immanuel Church called her first real full-time pastor, C. J. J. Johanning. He lived with his family in the parsonage and received his mail, first from Orizaba, Illinois, and later from Longview. The pastor taught school four days a week at the church, and put the finishing touches on his sermon on Friday. Students in the county schools usually took from one to four years out between seventh and eighth grades to meet four days a week at the church to be instructed in Luther's Small Catechism, Church history, and Bible study. The church building had pews in the front which could be turned into desks for school on Monday mornings, and the parsonage was large enough to accommodate pupils who lived at a distance and must board with the pastor to attend the parochial school.  

About 1894 or 1895, the members of the German Lutheran Immanuel Church had a disagreement which split the congregation. The Thode, Schumacher, Benschneider, Zenke and other families organized St. John's Church (the cornerstone said "German Evangelical Lutheran St. John's Church, 1895").

In September of 1894, the remaining members of Immanuel congregation decided to build a new church building where Immanuel congregation meets today, two miles east and a mile north of the site of the original church building. On March 19, 1895, Mina Dohme Messman signed a lease with Charles F. Messman and John C. Kuhlman, trustees of the German Lutheran Immanuel Church, for five acres of land for the sum of $240.00. This location has been the site for Immanuel Lutheran Church ever since. The property included cemetery ground, and a school. The 40 x 50 foot wood church with a tower 75 feet high, costing $2150.00 was dedicated to the service of the Triune God on August 18, 1895. A revised constitution seems to have been adopted at this time as well. The old church was torn down and a part of the lumber was used to build at this location. The lease was replaced in 1927 with a Quit-claim deed by the Messman's.

In 1897 the congregation took another step in its conservative, confessional stand by joining the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, now known as the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).

Pastor John Henry Hafner came to serve Immanuel in 1899. While at Broadlands, he taught the upper grades in the school. During this time also the records first mention a young people's gathering, choir practice, Bible study and mission festivals which were held with other congregations. Now some of the congregation's money was going to India, where the LCMS had established a mission in 1894.

The church, which stood on the corner of the property and faced north, was torn from its foundation and badly damaged by a tornado in 1903. Thereupon, the congregation decided to move the structure about 100 feet to the south and have it face west. It stood on that spot until it was taken down in 1941.

When Pastor Hafner accepted a call to serve in Wahpeton, North Dakota, in 1905, Pastor Carl Boevers, an 1897 graduate of Concordia Seminary, Springfield, came to serve Immanuel, Broadlands. The congregational minutes during the next years report the election of delegates to attend the convention of the Central Illinois District and occasionally of the Synod. Pastor Boevers, who made a second complete record of the congregation (the first was made by Pastor Hafner, who tabulated 131 members) served Immanuel until 1912. He was succeeded by Pastor Robert Krenzien, another 1897 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield and the former pastor of Macedonia, north of Tuscola. During his ministry at Immanuel, the school was enlarged and new furniture for the church was purchased.  

The Young Peoples Organization was founded in 1915, with choir singing as the main objective. Four years later the Evangelical Lutheran Ladies Society was chartered for the purpose of promoting the congregation and supporting Lutheran charitable organizations. Also in 1919, the congregation resolved "that we begin in summer to conduct a Sunday School, and that the Sunday School begin one half hour before the public worship."

In the middle of this decade, the nations of the world were involved in World War I. That raised for many of those of German descent, including Lutherans, problems concerning language, because German was spoken in their homes, schools and church. The Immanuel congregation, like many others, was forced to discontinue all German services during the wartime due to the pressure from the surrounding communities. In 1918, the catechism class was confirmed in German for the last time. Although some German services were resumed after the war, for the most part the congregation was easing into an English language pattern.

When Pastor Krenzein was called to Rushmore, Minnesota, in 1922, Pastor William E. Klautsch was called from Chandlerville, Illinois, to succeed him. The Bible Class was organized and a system of Saturday School for Religious instruction (Confirmation) was introduced. The Your People's Society was also re-organized. The first printed financial yearly report for distribution to the members was from August 1, 1933 to July 31, 1034. Five years later the church, parsonage, and other buildings were wired for electricity and the church property was insured for the first time.

Pastor P. E. Kerkhoff and his family came to Broadlands from White City, Kansas, in 1939.

In April 1941, the congregation resolved to build a new house of worship. The new church building was designed by Liese, Ludwick, and Jones of Danville, with A. R. Hickman serving as the general contractor. It was constructed of buff brick and built according to the English Gothic plan of architecture. The white board church was torn down, and services were held outside during the construction of the new brick church. The cost, including pipe organ and furniture, was $27,000.00. The dedication took place on February 15, 1942. This was a very festive - and long! - day in the life of Immanuel. The initial dedicatory service was at 11:00 o'clock that morning, with the Rev. W. Albrecht, professor of doctrinal theology and liturgics at Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Illinois, as guest preacher. An afternoon service at 3:00 o'clock featured Rev. Carl Geiger, pastor of St. Johns Lutheran Church, Mattoon, as the guest preacher. At 8:30 the congregation returned for a final service in which copies of their new worship resource, The Lutheran Hymnal, were distributed, dedicated, and used for the first time. The Lutheran Hymnal was published by the Synod in 1941. The guest preacher for this final service was the Rev. Albert C. Bernthal of Trinity Lutheran Church, Danville. The organist for each of these services was Mr. William Ahlbrand of Trinity Lutheran School, Danville.

The first Vacation Bible School was held in 1948. During this year 1950, additional land was purchased to enlarge the cemetery.

On August 5, 1954, the voting assembly decided to build a new brick veneer parsonage. The three-bedroom house was dedicated in the summer of 1955 and has served as the home for the pastor of Immanuel ever since.

Pastor Robert E. Wunderlich came to Immanuel in January, 1955, from Christ Lutheran, Hickey North Carolina, and served until his death on May 13, 1963. After a vacancy of almost a year, Pastor Allen H. Brutlag, of Grace Lutheran Church, Midland, Texas, was installed on June 7, 1964.

On October 9, 1966, the voters assembly once again voted to begin a building program, consisting of a new church, classrooms for the Sunday School children, and the remodeling of the existing facilities. The brick church was converted into a fellowship hall with a new kitchen. And the basement was remodeled for additional classrooms. The new facility, included furnishing, cost $278,862.00. It was constructed of Indiana split stone, with a seating capacity of 360, and a choir loft accommodating an additional 40. The new facilities also included seven Sunday School rooms, offices for the pastor and Sunday School superintendent, a library, a chapel, a nursery, restrooms and storage space. Dedication services were held on Sunday, January 14, 1968. At 10:00 a.m. the valedictory service lead by Rev. Paul Kerkhoff was held in the brick church; at 10:15 Dr. Max Culver, professor at Concordia Teachers College, River Forest, Illinois, spoke at the dedication service in the new church; at 2:30 p.m. Dr. Erich Heintzen, professor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois, spoke at the service of thanksgiving.

In the later part of 1975, a new two-car garage was built near the parsonage to replace the brick garage which dated back to 1947. Pastor Brutlag left the congregation in 1977.

In February 1978 Pastor Dean Wachholz was installed as pastor of Immanuel. Pastor Wachholz came from Christ Lutheran Church, Mason City, Illinois, with his wife Betty and son Chad. He served as pastor until 1990, giving his farewell sermon on November 11.

Pastor Mike Mast, church planter, who later was the founding pastor at Friendship Lutheran Church of Joy in Savoy, and Pastor Jack Miller, of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Sadorus, served as vacancy pastors. Rev. Dymann Jirovec was installed as pastor on June 23, 1991. Pastor Jirovec was pastor of Immanuel until 1997 when he moved with his wife Dawn and three daughters to Normal, Illinois, to become campus pastor at the Wittenberg Lutheran Center serving Illinois State University.

Pastor Don Ehlers, having retired as pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in Champaign, IL, served as Immanuel's vacancy pastor for most of the sixteen month vacancy in 1997-1998.

Pastor Lynn Podoll of Redeemer Lutheran Church, Newton NJ, accepting the call to serve as Immanuel's pastor on June 22, 1998. He and his wife Karla moved to Illinois in August, and he was installed as pastor on August 16. He retired on June 30, 2008 and Pastor Don Ehlers assisted by Pastor Gerald Renken agreed to fill the vacancy.

Pastor John Sharp of Saint Peter, Holyrood, KS and Zion, Claflin, KS accepted the call to serve as Immanuel's pastor on March 3, 2009. He and his wife Christy moved to Illinois in April, and he was installed as pastor on April 19, 2009. It was decided to renovate the parsonage for the new pastor. We added a bathroon and enlarged the master bathroon. The cost of the renovation was $65,000.00. The pastor and Christy moved into the house on July 31, 2009.

The congregation currently holds membership in the Central Illinois District of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and is a member of the Champaign circuit.
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