Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
- Hebrews 13:8
The history of Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Saint Charles, Missouri, always was and is all about Jesus. Immanuel’s history is His story of love and overflowing blessings for us. Immanuel began as a congregation in 1847. Generation after generation God’s incredible blessings have been poured out upon Immanuel Lutheran! In times of prosperity and times of adversity, God’s Immanuel people have taken big and bold steps of faith and generously supported and carried out God’s Ministry and mission.
The God-given message and mission of Immanuel Lutheran Church and School was, is and always will be to share God's Good News with all people that Jesus is our Savior from sin, Satan and death. We have received God’s priceless gifts of Holy Baptism (Matthew 28:18-20), Holy Communion (I Corinthians 11:23-26) and the saving Gospel of Jesus (I Corinthians 15:3-4). As Christ’s disciples our ongoing passion is to share the treasures of God’s Word and Sacraments with more people with faithfulness and boldness.
Members voted to begin Immanuel Lutheran School in 1848, just one year after the congregation formed. Providing an excellent Christian education for generations of children and their families has been and remains a high priority at Immanuel. Immanuel passionately supports Lutheran education. In the past and the present, Immanuel’s Church and School operate as a united and harmonious Ministry teaching the unchanging Truth of God’s Word and sharing the Good News and joy of Jesus.
To put Immanuel’s rich history in perspective, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. The nation was divided and devastated after a horrible civil war. There was economic uncertainty and high anxiety, but God continued to bless Immanuel with growth. Even in the midst of difficult times, God’s people at Immanuel Lutheran in Saint Charles, Missouri, trusted in God and decided to build a large new Sanctuary. It is remarkable that the Sanctuary was built in about ten months and dedicated on Reformation Day in 1867.
The primary purpose of God’s family of faith at Immanuel in the past, present and future is to preach, to teach and to reach more people with the life-changing love of Jesus. What we do for Jesus has both generational and eternal significance. As forgiven and saved children of God, we continue to make history by sharing HIS story--the story of Jesus--with the present and future generations! The saving truth of Jesus transforms lives in time and even forever through the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
- The Sanctuary of Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. Charles, was dedicated October 27, 1867, the 350th anniversary of the Reformation. Four separate services were held with different sermons preached for each of the dedication celebrations.
- The Sanctuary length is 110 feet, the width is 50 feet, the height is 37 feet. The original steeple was 158 feet high.
- On June 26, 1892, a lightning strike damaged the original steeple of Immanuel’s Sanctuary. The current steeple was built at a cost of $1,100 over the charred remains of the damaged steeple rising to a height of 176 feet.
- There were small square boxes filled with sawdust under the pews on the “men’s side” (north side). They were used for spit from chewing tobacco!. These were removed in 1901.
- The current gold leaf plated cross and base is over 9 feet in height and was placed on top of Immanuel’s steeple in 1912.
- There are 3 bells in Immanuel’s steeple. They were made by H.W. Rincker foundry in Chicago, Illinois. They were installed in May 1868. The largest bell has “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (“Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott”) inscribed on it.
- In 1894 the coal oil lamps in the Sanctuary were replaced with electric light fixtures.
- The very first LCMS international missionaries were commissioned in Immanuel’s Sanctuary in 1894 at the convention of the Western District of Synod. Rev. Theodore Naether and Franz Mohn were sent to serve in India (a plaque in our narthex commemorates this historical event).
- In 1867 long rows of hitching posts for horses were placed around the Sanctuary along the streets. These horse posts remained until 1924.
- The first central air conditioning system was installed in Immanuel’s Sanctuary in 1971.
- On Memorial Day of May 2018 half of the interior ceiling of Immanuel’s Sanctuary collapsed causing severe damage to the pews, lights, attic, building and pipe organ. Thankfully, by God’s grace, no one was hurt since Sanctuary was empty! Several neighbors (members and non-members) around Immanuel indicated they actually woke up around 1:30 a.m. when they felt a massive vibration and heard the boom from the implosion of Immanuel’s ceiling collapse.
- Renovations and repairs to restore Immnuel’s damaged Sanctuary were completed in about 10 months, and the Sanctuary was rededicated on March 2, 3 and 4, 2019. Over 600 attended the Saturday 5:00 p.m. service. During the Sunday rededication services, there was a heavy 10+ inch snow storm. Yet over 1,200 people gathered over the weekend to praise and thank God at 5 Sanctaury Re-Dedication services!
By Rev. Scott Schmieding (Reformation 500--10.2017; updated 3.2019 & 1.2020)Based on multiple service programs, historical sources from the Immanuel Lutheran archives, and from Immanuel Lutheran Lutheran Church History and Families edited by Jenn Smith and published in 2016.