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Church Histories

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Schleswig, Iowa

Founded 1912

First Lutheran Church, school and parsonage (right to left).

Church History


As the town was being established, it was evident the Lutheran people wished to be served. Pastor Runge began a preaching mission in the railroad station. However, Schleswig was included in the Grant Township (in Ida County) parish and for this reason Rev. Vonder Au continued this work until 1904.

Rev. R. Amstein was called to Grant and continued the work until 1911 when Pastor Schwenk came. Pastor Schwenk conducted services in the Schleswig Public school. After this structure burned to the ground, they were forced to secure a new meeting place. They used the little brick building under the Schleswig water tower. Here Pastor called a meeting for the purpose of organizing a congregation.

Five men were willing to assume this difficult task and on August 15, 1912 did organize under the name of Immanuel Lutheran Church. These five were Otto Stegemann, Andreas Hollander, George Brodersen, Franz Keller and William Baak. After the organization, attendance increased where even the new school was too small to accommodate this congregation.

A resolution to build was passed on October 27, 1912. The cornerstone was laid November 24, 1912. The dedication of the new church was June 13, 1913.

Five years after the organization of the congregation, the desire and need to have their own pastor was expressed by the people. Rev. Edward Firnhaber was installed October 21, 1917. A parsonage was purchased and at this time the congregation had now grown to 324 communicants. Rev. Firnhaber remained with this congregation nearly twelve years.

A call was then extended to Pastor E. F. Schwidder, who accepted and was installed October 27, 1929. After Pastor Schwidder accepted a call to Seattle, Washington, the Rev. Elmer Strelow was called in 1942 and installed as pastor of the congregation.

At this time, it was decided to drop the German services. In the Spring of 1948, Pastor Strelow accepted a call to serve the congregation at Humboldt, Iowa. The congregation now numbered 412 communicants.

The present pastor, Rev. Fredrick A. Wiese was installed in August of 1948. On April 11, 1949 ground was broken for the erection of a new Church. On July 16, 1950, the cornerstone was laid. At this service Rev. Schwenk was present and Mrs. Otto Stegemann, the only founder still a member of the congregation.

Dedication was June 24, 1951. 490 were in attendance with Grandmother Stegemann the first to enter the church. $16,000 was received that day in gifts to the church. On August 26, 1951, 2600 persons attended open house, with 800 persons attending morning services. There were capacity crowds at the services and 2000 noon meals were served.

The Mortgage was burned November 17, 1957, complete cost of the Church including painting, principal and interest was $142,448.91. In 1952 the old church was moved off it's foundation and then to Ricketts where it is used by St. Luke's congregation.

And, now in 1974, a new parsonage is being erected on the site of the old church. In January, 1959, the voters elected and authorized an Educational Unit Committee to make plans for this structure to be erected east of and connected to the church. On January 24, 1960, the new addition was dedicated. After its 50th Anniversary celebration in 1962 Immanuel congregation continued to grow.

In 1968 a tornado struck Trinity Lutheran Church, Grant Township. Trinity congregation realized two things. First, their church membership was decreasing because of the shrinking of their area to serve. Secondly, that the cost of repairs to the badly damaged church was prohibitive. The congregation decided to disband. On October 22, 1969, thirty families joined with Immanuel congregation. The remainder joined St. Paul Lutheran Church, Ida Grove, splitting on school district lines, which was the logical thing to do.

Immanuel has continued to grow and at the present time has some 1100 members. Pastor Wiese retired at the end of May, 1974 after serving the congregation for 27 years. His family consists of his wife Alma Lukow Wiese and four children: Ariand, Ardith, Lawrence and Mary. The congregation has now extended a call for another pastor.

The Ladies Aid has a membership of seventy-two; the Men's Club has twenty-five members; there are fifty members in the Lutheran Youth for Christ, and the choir has twenty members. Mrs. Ray Schmidt has been the organist for forty-four years. Mrs. James Else was the church secretary fifteen years, and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Pickel are the custodians.

This history and photo of the Immanuel Lutheran Church was taken from Schleswig's 75th anniversary publication Schleswig, Iowa: The First 75 Years by Lillian (Kuehl) Jackso and Emma (Brasse) Struck.

Submitted by Bob Kuehl