~~How did the birth of Immanuel take place? Following the Civil War, many people from Sweden immigrated to Jamestown and nearby towns in New York and Pennsylvania.
Many became members of First Lutheran Church. As early as 1879, a group had withdrawn from First Lutheran and organized a Swedish mission congregation. Twenty three families and twenty four single persons presented a petition asking permission to form a new congregation. In 1887, a new congregation was formed in the name of the Triune God, and received the name Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church. (It was in 1958 the name was officially changed to Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church)
The group continued to meet for services in the hall in Brooklyn Square. The first collection amounted to $3.53, which was used to buy a broom and water bucket. The congregation prospered and decided to buy a lot on East Second Street, and a wooden church was erected in 1889. With thanks and praise to God, this newly formed congregation worshipped in their new building. Within two years, the membership grew to 500 people. Under the leadership of beloved pastor, Dr. Felix V. Hanson and his wife Josephine, there were many firsts for the church. The Women’s Mission Society and a Young Girl’s Mission Society were organized. A lot east of the Church, (now the lower parking lot), was purchased for the purpose of building a new parsonage. During these many years, the surroundings at 556 East Second Street, has changed considerably, and the Church has continued to adapt the uses of the building, upgrade the facilities to meet the needs of mission in the 21st century.
Another milestone in the history of Immanuel was reached when the $100,000 Parish House was dedicated on Sunday, December 1, 1951. This was built to meet the needs of the growing Sunday School. The facilities of the Parish House housed the mission of the Joint Neighborhood Project. The Joint Neighborhood Project has been a mission of the Church for close to 50 years, that is defined by its mission statement, ‘In response to the call of Christ, Joint Neighborhood Project helps those in need today and provides hope for a better tomorrow, serving and empowering people of all ages, races, and creeds.’ (see the JNP icon on the website to learn more about the ministry of the JNP) In 1966, the Immanuel congregation voted to purchase 5 acres of land in a new neighborhood, and relocate the mission of the Church. As they were facing the possibility of moving to a new church building, and the congregation needed to decide where to build the new church building, Pastor Clyde Christmas defined the issues at this point in a letter to the congregation, ‘It is a desire on the part of our churches to take seriously our ministry in this community. It is not an attempt to provide just a service to people, but it is an attempt to enter into a relationship with people, a relationship based on ‘God loves, therefore I love.
God cares, therefore I care.’…As we approach the question of relocation, the question of our future relationship with the Joint Neighborhood Project has been asked.’ Immanuel Lutheran Church chose to rebuild in the same neighborhood, on the same plot of land, and doing so, decided to continue and expand the ministry of the JNP. During the construction of the new church, the members of the Church worshipped at First Baptist Church on Church Street between East Fourth and East Fifth Streets. It was a joyful, thankful people that dedicated our our present edifice on Sunday, December 16th, 1973. Immanuel has been kept by the power of God through faith to serve God and neighbor through Worship and acts of love. In the fiftieth anniversary book Dr. Hansen wrote, ‘No person can write the real history of a Christian Church. One can write about beginnings, special events, when and how a church was organized, and other important happenings, but that is not the history of a church. Only God knows the real history and only God can give it.’ Because of the need for more space, JNP was located in the Immanuel House at 532 E 2nd St until there was no longer funding for them and the organization closed in 2013. Immanuel Lutheran, now a branch of Tree of Life Lutheran Community along with Holy Trinity continues to give thanks for the history being written by God, and we pray for continued guidance, as God continues to rebuild, renew, and resurrect the world through Jesus Christ. May Immanuel, ‘God with us’ continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. here.