Immanuel's Centennial Story
In 2001 we celebrated one hundred years of God's rich, abundant blessings on our congregation. How blessed we have been by the people and opportunities God has placed in our path to help us move ever forward in our goal of seeing all people come to the knowledge of Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior!
The city of Everett, Washington, was incorporated in 1893. Into this newly created city came the first German Lutheran service which was held at the Scandinavian Lutheran Church in 1893 by Pastor M.C. Baade from Tacoma.
Pastor Herran C. Ebeling, the resident pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Snohomish, was installed on April 24, 1898 and his duties included mission work in Everett. Pastor Ebeling held services at the Scandinavian Lutheran Church, located on Lombard Avenue between Hewitt Avenue and Wall Street, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month at 3:00 PM, with Sunday school every Sunday at 9:30 AM. By the end of 1901, 30 communicant members were listed in this congregation, only a third of which actually resided in Everett. These people were mostly from the Midwest.
On July 18, 1901, eight or nine laymen met with Pastor Ebeling and unanimously resolved to organize a congregation. They adopted the name "First German Evangelical Lutheran Emanuel Church" and elected three elders: Otto Schade, Reinhart Krentz, and Carl E. Ogrosky. On August 11, 1901 they adopted a constitution modeled after that of Zion, Snohomish with the provision that the German language should at all times have preference, in church and school. It was not forbidden to preach in any other language, if the circumstances warranted it.
Our first resident pastor was Rev. Henry G. Schmelzer, of Endicott, Washington who was installed on February 9, 1902. Pastor Schmelzer was to shepherd Emanuel and continue the mission work started by Pastor Ebeling in the north part of the county and on Whidbey Island. Immediately after his installation, officers were elected, plans for a church building site were broached, and the Ladies Aid (Frauen Verein) was asked to purchase communion ware. In the summer of 1902, Pastor Schmelzer taught summer school in the guildhall of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, charging fifty cents for the first two children in each family. There were 26 who attended. Formal arrangements were made with the Norwegians to use their sanctuary every other Sunday in the afternoon and alternate Sundays before noon for a rent of one dollar per week. They also made arrangements for the meeting of the choir and the Young People's Society.
On December 27, 1903 two lots were purchased from John B. Snyder for $755, and the present church site was born. Plans were made for a wooden building 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 18 feet high. All members were asked to contribute to the construction project, both monetarily and in donated labor. In March 1904 Andrew Klippen was awarded the contract to build the church. By August, the congregation moved out of the Norwegian Lutheran Church and began holding services in the basement of the new building. On December 4, 1904 the church was dedicated by a service at 10:15 AM, moving from the basement, where services had been held, up into the new sanctuary. The entire church structure was built for $2,602.45. A parsonage was built behind the church in 1907.
In the summer of 1904 Emanuel was admitted as a member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, relying on the inerrancy of the whole Bible as the inspired Word of God. This belief is still the foundation of our congregation today, and by God's grace, will be our belief forevermore.
In the spring of 1908 Pastor Schmelzer resigned citing the illness of his wife, causing a nucleus of communicant members to leave Emanuel. After this split, 15 active voting members remained.
In 1908 the congregation called Rev. Herman Bohl. During his ten years at Emanuel, the congregation doubled in size. The use of the English language increased during this time from one service a month in 1911 to one service a week in 1918. Between 1910 and 1918 the Sunday school adopted the English language. This may partly be due to the assimilation of the younger generation into American culture and partly due to the anti-German sentiment evoked by the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915 and World War I which followed. Several members of the congregation served in the armed forces and one of them, Ernest Krentz, was killed. During this period, a Red Cross auxiliary was established in the church.
The school had grown so that it was necessary to call a full time teacher, William C. O'Neill in 1917. Teacher O'Neill resigned at the end of the 1917 school year to join the Marines and fight in World War I. The congregation called H.B.R. Mantey to replace O'Neill that same year. The use of the German language was discontinued in the day school at that time.
In the fall of 1918 the city was struck by the Spanish Influenza. During October 1,222 cases were reported in Everett. The churches of the city were closed for over a month because of the fear that the infection could be spread when large numbers of people gathered. No one in the congregation died of the influenza. However, the funeral of Mr. Henry Strege had to be delayed because of the ban on large gatherings.
In the spring of 1918 Pastor Bohl resigned due to health issues and Rev. Edmund Brandt was called to shepherd the congregation. During his three-year tenure the congregation purchased two lots adjacent to the church on the north side as the site of a new parsonage. Both English and German continued to be used at the Sunday services. Pastor Brandt accepted a professorship at Concordia College in 1921 and Rev. Walter Biel was called. However, he remained less than a year before he had to resign due to his wife's health.
In 1922 Rev. Martin Engel was installed. The service was conducted in English, a practice that Pastor Engel favored. Two services were held each Sunday. During this time only the morning service on the first, third and fifth Sundays of each month were held in German. During the 1920s church notices in The Everett Herald began using the English spelling of the church's name, "Immanuel". However the church seal remained in German until 1929. The financial picture of the congregation improved during this time, becoming debt free in 1927. Pastor Engel resigned in December of the same year.
In 1928 Rev. Frederick Zehe was called as Immanuel's sixth minister. During his pastorate, the Sunday evening services were dropped and English and German services were held each Sunday morning. Church picnics and mission festivals were held annually during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1925 Immanuel hosted the state Walther League convention. In 1927 the men's club was formed (later to become the Lutheran Laymen's League).
In April of 1932 both Pastor Zehe and Teacher Mantey voluntarily took a 10% reduction in pay due to the Great Depression raging at the time. By borrowing against the church building fund, the congregation was able to pay its bills and by the late 1930s the situation had improved. In 1933 Kurt Sylwester became the day school teacher.
In October 1939 it was proposed that a new church building be erected rather than making costly repairs to the existing structure. Drives were held over the next several years to raise money for the building. In March 1942 the congregation purchased the two lots to the north of the church property for $2,000.
Of course, by this time the United States was involved in World War II. At a special voters' meeting held on December 7, 1941, the use of the German language was officially dropped. Many members served in the armed forces and Rodney Kreft (a grandson of Pastor Bohl) was killed. Teacher Sylwester participated in Civil Defense training and the church was used by the Civil Defense. In 1944 Teacher Sylwester resigned due to the illness of his oldest daughter, at which time the congregation voted to discontinue the school because of low attendance, the condition of the old building, and their plans to construct a new church building.
In January 1948 the old church building and teacherage were torn down and construction of the present church was begun with Mr. Harry Maude as contractor. The cornerstone was laid on April 18, 1948, immediately following the 10:30 service. The Gothic-style building is 92 by 40 feet with room for 392 souls. The entire structure, including furnishings, was completed for $110,000. During construction, services were held at Normanna Hall, located at 2725 Oakes. On September 19, 1948, services were first held in the basement of the new structure.
Due to a delay in the delivery of the furnishings, the dedication ceremonies were not held until July 24, 1949. Rev. Amos Schmidt of Portland officiated. The guest organist was Martin Kosche of Zion, Snohomish; Elmer Maier conducted the choir. Mrs. Martha Bohl Schultz gave an organ concert on the new dual pump pipe organ at 8:00 PM.
In 1956 the old parsonage was torn down to make room for a new, modern educational unit. A new parsonage was also constructed immediately north of this building. More property was purchased along Lombard for parking lots in 1958.
In 1957 Pastor Zehe, who served Immanuel longer than any other minister, retired. The voters called Rev. Richard H. Weiland of Albany, Oregon to be their new shepherd. During his tenure, Immanuel planted the daughter congregations of Messiah Lutheran Church in Marysville (1957) and Grace Lutheran Church in Everett (1959). About 100 communicant members transferred to these new congregations. However, Immanuel continued to grow.
An eternal flame was donated to Immanuel by Mark and Becky Lutthans in1958, symbolizing the eternal presence of God with us. In 1963 a new public address system was installed, making it easier to hear the worship services. In 1964 the organ and choir loft were moved to the balcony and the communion rail was extended. In 1966 Pastor Weiland moved from the parsonage. The building was then used for offices and a library. In 1972 the church basement was completely remodeled.
On August 31, 1978 Pastor Weiland retired after 21 years of faithful service. Rev. DuWayne Kline was installed at Immanuel on March 18, 1979. Pastor Kline began the men's Saturday Morning Breakfast Bible Study in September 1979. The practice of using acolytes began in 1984, along with Friday night Bible studies and the family ministries program. Retreats were held for adults and families, usually at the Warm Beach Christian or Cedar Springs Campgrounds. The Senior Ministry started with leadership by Pastor and Marion Kline. A mid-week Bible Klub for ages three through adult was well attended.
In July 1984 DCE (Director of Christian Education) Robert Mitchell was called to aid Pastor Kline in fulfilling the educational needs of our congregation. Weekly home Bible studies were expanded using material formulated by DCE Mitchell.
In 1986 the congregation began holding two services on Sunday mornings. The 8:30 service was a more contemporary service; the service at 10:30 was traditional. The early service was changed a few months later to 8:00.
In August 1992 Bob Mitchell resigned as DCE in order to attend Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN. After ordination he was called by First Lutheran Church Bozeman, MT. Pastor Kline continued shepherding the congregation until June 1, 1997.
On August 9, 1998 Rev. Kyle Heck was installed as Immanuel's eighth pastor. Pastor Heck has been instrumental in steering the congregation into the 21st century. Adding computers and a cell phone to his tools, Pastor Heck has been able to minister more effectively to the expanding needs of the congregation, while still holding to the tenets espoused by the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. His passion for teaching has led many to resume their study of the Word of God on Sunday mornings.
In October of 1998, the members of Immanuel adopted the following mission statement:
We, Immanuel Lutheran Church, sinners saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, unite to share the Gospel with all.
In July 2000 Rev. Kyle Castens was called to fill a shared pastor agreement: as Pastor of Chapel on the Hill Lutheran Church in Granite Falls, and as Youth Pastor at Immanuel. Pastor Castens and Pastor Heck exchanged pulpits on the fourth Sunday of each month. Pastor Castens revived the youth program, providing many activities for the youth, including softball, cardboard boat races and FOLF (Frisbee golf) outings. A young adult fellowship group was also formed. Pastor Castens received a call from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis MO and left Immanuel in August 2003.
In September 2000 the voters' assembly decided to change to one worship service on Sunday mornings at 9:00 with the desire to unite Immanuel as a family. Sunday school and adult Bible class were held after the worship service from 10:30 to 11:30.
In September 2007 worship time was changed to 10:00, with Sunday school and adult Bible class at 11:30.
In May 2005 the education building was demolished to make room for new construction. The narthex, kitchen and fellowship hall were expanded; several classrooms, a large library, and new office facilities were added. The new construction includes ADA accessible restrooms, ramps, and elevator. The addition was seamlessly blended with the existing church building. A worship service was held January 29, 2006 to dedicate the new facilities to the Lord.
For more than one hundred years, the congregation of Immanuel has worked together to accomplish the goal set out for us in God's Holy Word, namely "that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow ... and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." Philippians 2:10.