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Our Story

The Heritage of Immanuel Lutheran

In the early Spring of 1869 a small group of Lutheran men and women gathered together, and under the guidance of Rev. John Karrer they formed The German Evangelical Emmanuel's Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of Leland and Vicinity. (Thankfully the name was shortened to Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church!)

In 1879 the congregation joined what would become The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Originally, German was the official language of the congregation. English could be spoken if 2/3 of the members present approved. A meeting of the voters on February 10, 1919 decided that English would become the primary language and German could be used if those present approved.

Two of the goals of the congregation upon its founding were the conducting of regular worship services and maintaining proper educational programs for the young people of the congregation. Worship services and Bible studies were held in homes and in school buildings, when available.

The first church built was wooden

The first permanent church building was built in 1873 and was located about where the Parish Hall is today. (Church records reveal that the original building cost $375.54 to build and furnish!) A parsonage was also built and was located on Pearl Street about one block away from the church.

Some highlights from minutes of the congregation's meetings include:

  • January 1, 1911 - Minutes began to be kept in English only!
  • 1912 - A new parsonage was built for $2,622.89 and the old one sold for $800.
  • 1914 - Families were allowed to sit together. Previously, men sat on one side of the sanctuary and women and children on the other side. Young people sat in the front pews so that the pastor could have them review what they learned in class the previous week.
  • 1927 - The present sanctuary was built under the leadership of Rev. Edward Schmidt.
  • 1930's - Pastor Schmidt started a congregation in Glen Arbor (Bethlehem), which was originally a summer-only parish. The pastor served St. Paul (Good Harbor) and Immanuel (Leland) during the whole year.
  • 1968 - Ground-breaking for the present Parish Hall occurred on September 22.
  • 1987 - The parish agreed to divide with Immanuel having its own pastor and Good Harbor and Glen Arbor being a dual parish with its own pastor.
  • 1995 - Immanuel undergoes a small renovation project that includes the addition of a Narthex that connects the Parish Hall and sanctuary.
  • 1999 - A pipe organ was built and installed by the Lauck Pipe Organ Company (Otsego, MI). It contained 8 ranks of pipes (538 pipes in all).
  • 2016 - The Lauck pipe organ was expanded and renovated by Buck Pipe Organs of Wyoming, MI.

Pastors of Immanuel Lutheran Church

Since the founding of our church in 1869, we have had sixteen pastors shepherding the flock here in Leland:

Pastor Karrer

Pastor John Karrer Founder 1869

No Photo Available

Pastor William Dinke- October 1869 through June 1870

No Photo Available

Pastor Martin Toewe- August 1870 through September 1874

Pastor Bundenthal

Pastor John Bundenthal- September 1874 through September 1877

Pastor Karrer

Pastor John Karrer- October 1878 through May 1883

No Photo Available

Pastor Herman Bruss- 1883 through November 1885

No Photo Available

Pastor George Hempfing- 1887 through 1891

No Photo Available

Pastor William Boritizke- October 1890 through February 1897

Pastor L.J. Schmidt

Pastor L.J. Schmidt- 1897 through July 1900

Pastor Specklin/

Pastor H. Specklin- 1900 through 1903

Pastor Englebert

Pastor Paul Englebert- 1903 through 1910

Pastor Hessler

Pastor T.C. Hessler- 1912 through 1925

Pastor Edward Schmidt

Pastor Edward Schmidt- 1925 through 1953 (son of L.J. Schmidt)

Pastor Krueger

Pastor Albert Krueger- 1953 through 1962

Pastor Werkwert

Pastor Karl Weckwert- June 1964-January 1979

Pastor Butler

Pastor Robert Butler- May 1979 through January 1993

Pastor Matro

Pastor Larry Matro- August 1993 through November 2014

Pastor LeFeve

Pastor Joshua LaFeve- July 2015 to present What to Expect Our Beliefs Our Story Staff