In 1852, the first Swedish settlers made their way west in search of a site where water, wood, and tillable land was available for the establishment of homes. Being deeply religious people, these settlers gathered in the different close-by school houses and homes for worship under the direction of S. P. Sandeen. By the mid-1860’s, the settlement in the Amityville area was large enough to meet for corporate worship.
In 1868, Rev. B. M. Holland, the first ordained pastor in Burlington, assisted with the organization of the congregation known as the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Amityville (after moving to Mediapolis, the congregation became Immanuel Lutheran Church of Mediapolis). The constitution was adopted on the second day after Christmas, and signed by forty charter members. On May 10, 1869, the congregation decided to become affiliated with the Augustana Synod. Construction on the first building was completed on August 20, 1872. The first pastor was called on January 11, 1875. Rev. Nels Forsander served the congregation until 1881. During this time, a parsonage was built. In 1873, additional land was purchased to lay out a cemetery under the Swedish plan.
In the late 1880’s, the congregation decided to move into Mediapolis since it was centrally located, had a railroad and a post office. The new church building was completed in 1890.
On January 8, 1908, the women of the congregation won the right to vote on church affairs.
By the 1940’s, the small frame church, which had served the congregation faithfully for many years, had become inadequate because of its lack of facilities for Sunday School and fellowship. There were also structural issues beginning to surface as the building aged. On January 9, 1945, the congregation voted to make plans to build a new church building as soon as possible.
Final services were held in the old church on October 4, 1953. The next morning, men and women removed the furniture and furnishings from the building and began the tearing down process. On October 11, just one week after the final services in the old church building, groundbreaking services were held on the site where the old building had stood. Both men and women worked on the tear-down and construction of the building as well as the refinishing of many of the congregations furnishings. The first worship service was held in the new building on October 3, 1954 (one year after the last service in the old building). The new church building was dedicated on March 27, 1955.
Since the building dedication, several improvements and updates have been made:
- Over the years, additional stained glass windows have been installed to beautify the worship space,
- Air conditioning was installed in the fellowship hall,
- In the early 2000’s, a handicap accessible rest room and chair lifts were installed,
- In 2005, air conditioning was installed for the worship space,
- In 2006, a outside ramp was installed to provide ease of entry into the building,
- In August, 2010, a new parking lot was dedicated across the street from the church building.
In 1966, St. Paul Lutheran Church in rural Sperry, Iowa was closed. At that time, the members and history of St. Paul’s became part of Immanuel. This history is remembered by an annual service at St. Paul’s during September. With no electricity and the old church building, this worship service is a step back to another time.
In 1993, Immanuel celebrated its 125th anniversary with special events and celebrations at the original congregation site in Amityville as well as at the current congregation home in Mediapolis. It is with great excitement that we look forward to celebrating 150 years of God’s ministry at and through Immanuel in 2018.
Over the years, eight members of Immanuel have entered ministry:
- Frank Bonander
- A. S. Hamilton
- A. Nortbom
- John Alexis
- Emil Bergren
- Otto Eklund
- Richard Friedstrom
- Marcia Kisner
Pastors called to serve at Immanuel and their years of service:
- Rev. Nels Forsander 1875-1881
- Rev. C. G. Widen 1881-1884
- Rev. A. F. Nelson 1885-1887
- Rev. P. J. Kallstrom 1887-1892
- Rev. A. Mattson 1892-1897
- Rev. E. V. Isaacson 1898-1901
- Rev. Christian Svenson 1902-1907
- Rev. Dr. M. J. Laure 1908-1912
- Rev. Edward Stark 1912-1919
- Rev. E. H. Karlson 1919-1923
- Rev. C. O. Nelson 1924-1929
- Rev. Oscar F. Bohman 1929-1933
- Rev. J. T. Kraft 1933-1937
- Rev. R. V. Samuelson 1938-1943 (his death)
- Rev. Rupert A. Hull 1944-1950
- Rev. Donald L. Anderson 1952-1958
- Rev. Kenneth E. Ebb 1959-1961 (recalled to active military duty)
- Rev. Keith A. Pearson 1962-1965
- Rev. D. Duane Olson 1965-1970
- Rev. John Meyer 1970-1977
- Rev. Carl Beyerhelm 1977-1989
- Rev. Paul Fredericksen 1989-1993
- Rev. Mary Jo Maass 1994-2003
- Rev. Armin Weng, Interim 2003-2005
- Rev. Jerleen E. Schlesser 2005-Present