150 years ago, when Immanuel Lutheran Church was founded (1865), the first church was a little wooden building 46 ft x 26 ft with a small 6 ft steeple, and was located on Trumbull Ave. north of Michigan Ave. It was begun as a mission school of Trinity Lutheran Church is 1863 (now known as “Historic Trinity in Detroit”) Two years later, it was decided in a school district meeting on July 18, 1865 that a new congregation be formed. A constitution was drawn up and ratified on August 27, 1865. The first called pastor, Konrad L. Moll, who began in February, 1866, shepherded his small flock to the construction of a large majestic building on 17th and Pine, which was dedicated on
January 12, 1873, and an eventual membership of 2000. With the steady immigration of German Lutherans, looking for an “evangelical” church, the common bond of the existing membership with their own cultural heritage, attracted many new families who settled in the area.
Rev. Moll was pastor from 1865 to 1897, and in this time saw several milestones in the city and in his church. In 1883 a new 2-manual organ was purchased for $2,200, followed in 1887 by the addition of three new bells. These bells, which were brought to the present site on Ann Arbor Trail were eventually sold to St. Aidan’s church on Farmington Road and can still be heard on Sunday mornings. With the large wave of immigrants both the city population and the church congregation grew rapidly in the last half of the 19th century.
In May, 1898, Rev. William Hagen was installed. His long years of service ended in 1938, when following his death, he was laid to rest during the Thanksgiving week of that year. Church membership began to decline shortly after he was installed, because many members were building new homes on the outskirts of the city and began attending new churches (many of which were daughter churches of Immanuel). By 1917 the number of district divisions of the congregation had been reduced from 25 districts in 1873 to only 15. Up until 1918 nearly all services were conducted in German, and in that year it was decided to introduce English gradually by holding
English services twice a month, in the evening. In 1922 the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Church Dedication was observed by holding the morning service in German by Rev. Wm. Moll and the evening service in English by Rev. F. Tresselt of Bethlehem. Also in 1922, after a couple of lightning strikes and other deterioration, the original tall steeple of the church was removed and replaced with a small pyramid steeple. Actually, just a peaked roof on the square bell tower.
The next pastor was Rev. Carl L. Nietzke, a recent graduate of Concordia in St. Louis. He was ordained on December 11, 1938. When the 75th Diamond Jubilee anniversary was celebrated in 1940 it was reported there had been 5,186 Baptisms, 2,455
Confirmations, 1,343 Marriages and 1,956 Burials since 1865. During his pastorate, the congregation was reorganized and the parsonage was remodeled. Also the church was redecorated and a new organ installed. Rev. Nietzke accepted a call in 1946, and was succeeded by Rev. A. W. Radtke of Santa Maria, California.
Rev. Radtke served only until 1951 when he was replaced by Rev. Lorne C. Ruhl, who remained until 1953. In July of that year, Rev. Carl Trosien was called. Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the church in 1965 was marred by the news that the building would be razed to make way for a new expressway. Rev. Trosien sadly watched every day with tears in his eyes as the grand old brick building was demolished by the wrecking ball and finally a fire. The beautiful 15 foot high stained glass windows, the two large rose windows and the brick structure all came tumbling down.
In 1965 the church acquired the property on the current site on Ann Arbor Trail in Dearborn Heights and constructed the present building, including the parsonage, under the direction of Rev. Trosien who continued as pastor until his retirement in 1983.
The next pastor, Rev. Elmer E. Beyer was installed in 1984 and he has seen the congregation grow from 20 families to about 200 members. Rev. Beyer served Immanuel until 1998. Rev. Milton Schemm was asked to help out following Pastor Beyer’s illness and departure. What we thought would be a short period of time, ended up with Pastor Schemm serving for seventeen years as Immanuel’s Pastor. In January of 2015 Pastor Schemm retired.
In January of 2015 God, in his infinite wisdom, brought the Rev. Paul Pollatz to serve as a substitute pastor for Immanuel. At a congregational meeting in August of 2015, it was voted to have Pastor Pollatz serve the congregation of Immanuel.