News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 28, 2008

Terre Haute Lutheran church to celebrate 150 years


TERRE HAUTE — Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, 645 Poplar St., celebrates its 150th anniversary on July 1.

In addition to a total renovation of the interior of its historic 122-year old sanctuary, a number of events have been planned in celebration of the anniversary, which officially falls on Tuesday. A buffet-style picnic took place Saturday, on the church grounds, along with a reunion of Immanuel’s former vicars.

Today, the sanctuary will be re-dedicated at the 10:30 a.m. Divine Service, followed by a presentation on the history of the congregation at 2 p.m. and a special anniversary service at 3 with a guest sermon by former Immanuel vicar Lawrence R. Rast Jr., now academic dean and professor of American Christianity and American Lutheranism at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. The anniversary year will conclude with a special celebration on Reformation Sunday, Oct. 26, with a congregational dinner and special Vespers Service at 3 p.m. with strings, brass and guest organist.

The history of the congregation extends back to 1846, when a newly arrived group of Lutherans from Northern Germany joined with other Germans in Terre Haute to form a joint congregation of Lutheran and Reformed worshippers.

This joint arrangement existed until 1858, when the groups split to worship on their own, with the Lutherans signing the constitution of their newly formed German Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Terre Haute on July 1, 1858. The congregation affiliated itself with what was eventually to become the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and a parochial school was immediately established, which remained in existence until 1946.

The first church building, erected on the corner of Fourth and Swan streets, served the congregation until 1885, when the Poplar Street structure was built.

The congregation officially adopted its present name in 1918, dropping the term “German” during a period of anti-German sentiment in the United States. However, Immanuel maintained a strong allegiance to its German heritage, and German-language services continued to be conducted up into the 1940s.

Nine different pastors served the congregation during its 150 years. The Rev. Philip G. Meyer has served since 1973.