Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1612 P Avenue located north of Clarinda, will celebrate its 150th anniversary Sunday, Sept. 1.
Immanuel Lutheran Church had its beginnings in the 1860s, when the early German Lutheran immigrants came to homestead farm northwest of Clarinda, Page County, Iowa.
Some of them came directly from Germany, while others migrated from Jackson County, Indiana, where they originally settled from Germany. Initially, these early German Lutheran settlers met for worship services in private homes. As time went on, they decided to officially organize a Lutheran congregation and called the church, Immanuel (which means, God With Us) Lutheran Church. Immanuel Lutheran Church affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, based in St. Louis, Missouri, and continues this affiliation to this day.
In August 1869, Immanuel Lutheran Church adopted its constitution which was signed by the following eight charter members: Fred Barthels, Henry Driftmier, John Groeling, Fred Knost, Henry Otte, Fred (Friedrich) Sundermann, Henry (Heinrich) Sundermann, and William (Wilhelm) Sundermann. Other generational families continue with the church and include: Barr, Buch, Dammann, Goecker, Herzberg, Mascher, Steeve, Wagoner, and others.
The congregation purchased 20 acres of land in Nodaway Township, which is the current location. In fall 1869, the congregation erected a building, with the first floor for the pastor’s home and the second floor for the church and school. In 1876, a fire destroyed this building. In 1877, a separate parsonage was built for the pastor and his family and another building was constructed for the church and school.
As the congregation grew, a new church was built in 1885 and the former building was used solely as the Christian Day School. The 1885 church was moved a short distance south to make room for the expanded cemetery, and was completely remodeled in 1914. A teacherage was built in 1898, for the principal and family.
In 1923, a new teacherage and Immanuel Lutheran School building was constructed. The current parsonage for the Pastor and family was built in 1953. The current church was constructed and dedicated in 1960.
In 1984, the teacherage was torn down and the Immanuel school building was torn down in 1989. In 1986, Immanuel Lutheran School was closed and Immanuel merged its school with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church to form Clarinda Lutheran School which is located in Clarinda. Immanuel Lutheran Church continues to support Lutheran education at Clarinda Lutheran School and many Immanuel children attend there.
As German Lutheran immigration and families grew, the Immanuel Church pastors assisted in establishing the daughter congregations of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Yorktown and St. John’s Lutheran church in the town of Clarinda. Later on Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Villisca and Trinity Lutheran Church in Shenandoah were also established.
The Immanuel Lutheran church services and school studies were all conducted in the German language until the World War I era. In 1910, the Immanuel School lessons were divided and some were taught in German and some in the English languages. As the public sentiment grew more antagonistic toward the Germans in the community, the Immanuel School was closed from 1918-1920.
When the Immanuel School reopened in 1920, all subjects were taught in English. The church services also gradually became conducted in English also. However, the Lutheran Doctrine taught by Dr. Martin Luther from the Protestant Reformation in Germany over 500 years ago has not changed. Many of the Lutheran hymns have been translated into English and continue as part of the German Lutheran heritage.
Immanuel Lutheran Church continues to be a traditional, conservative, Bible based church following the doctrines of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).
Weekly worship services, children’s Sunday School, and adult Bible classes are held. In addition, there is a Lutheran Youth Fellowship (LYF) youth group. The women of the church have the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) which is affiliated with the national LCMS-LWML. The group meets monthly for fellowship, Bible study, and to work on mission projects. It is an auxiliary group for the local congregation and is also involved with local, national, and international mission projects.
Immanuel Lutheran Church’s 150th anniversary celebrations will be held on Sunday, September 1. Two church services will be held that day. The morning service will be at 9 a.m., with guest speaker, Rev. Jerome Wagoner from Clarinda. Rev. Wagoner grew up at Immanuel, is the Pastor at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Villisca, and farms in the area. He has been the interim pastor and zone counselor for many of the Lutheran churches in the area.
The afternoon celebration service will be held at 1 p.m., with guest speaker, Rev. Dr. Wally Arp, from Winter Springs, Florida. Arp is the son of former Immanuel Pastor, Rev. Dr. Gary Arp.
Rev. Dr. Wally Arp grew up in Clarinda and graduated from Clarinda High School. He is currently the Senior Pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Oviedo, Florida. Rev. Wade Brandt, current Pastor of Immanuel Church, is the host pastor, and will be assisting with the worship services.
The celebration will include a meal at the church which will be served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. A free will offering will be taken. RSVPs would be appreciated for planning. A reception will follow the afternoon service.
In addition, there will be a museum, an outdoor display of vintage tractors and cars, and special music. A cemetery walk at Immanuel Cemetery, adjacent to the church, will be held between the services and after the afternoon service. Descendants of the early families and generational families will be there to talk about the history of the church and its families.
Immanuel Lutheran Church’s 150th Celebration is open to the public and all are invited to attend. For more information on the 150th celebration or to RSVP for the meal, you may contact Chairpersons: Myron and Robin Sunderman at (712) 542-4266. If you would like more information about Immanuel Lutheran Church and its worship services and Bible classes, you may contact: Rev. Wade Brandt at 515-290-7469.