Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church began in the summer of 1960 when the Central Illinois District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod called the Rev. August Lubkeman to serve as the missionary at large to the northwest side of Peoria. The first church service was held on November 12, 1960 at the Exposition Gardens in the Youth Building. In June of 1961 the constitution was adopted and the charter members signed the constitution on August 6, 1961. Rev. August Lubkeman was also installed as the first called pastor of Immanuel, which had a baptized membership of 45.
Rev. William Marston was ordained and installed on June 12, 1966. As the near north side of Peoria grew, so did Immanuel. A new church building was dedicated on January 25, 1970. Shortly after the completion of the new church building the congregation began planning for the future with the addition of a fellowship hall, offices, and classroom space. In 1974 the addition of the fellowship hall was complete. Unfortunately, in 1978 the congregation split and membership and church attendance was cut in half. It was the beginning of a long period of numerical decline.
In 1992, after 27 years of service to Immanuel Lutheran Church, Pastor Marston retired and the congregation called Pastor Craig S. Stanford to serve as her third pastor. He was installed on January 17, 1993. Since that time Immanuel has struggled to survive amidst a declining and doctrinally divided LC-MS and an increasing and unbiblical competitive spirit within the local Lutheran community.
In an effort to help properly train high school students to be our Lutheran leaders of tomorrow, Immanuel founded the Robert D. Preus Evangelical Lutheran High School in 2002. Unfortunately, the school had to be closed in 2007 for lack of support among the Lutheran community.
By 2010 it had become clear that Immanuel could no longer afford to keep its property at Glen and Knoxville. The large mortgage payment had made it necessary for her pastor to go work outside the church as a bi-vocational (worker-priest) pastor. In 2015 Immanuel was finally able to sell its property and purchased her new church home in East Peoria. In so doing it became debt free and is once again able to provide a basic salary and some benefits to her pastor.
It has also become clear, that if Immanuel was going to survive and have a “chance” at thriving, Immanuel needed put the long history of synodical difficulties behind her and pursue a future solely dedicated to doing the work she has been given to do without the entanglements of external influences. Thus in 2015, Immanuel became an independent Lutheran congregation.
Immanuel is a congregation that seeks above all else to be faithful to the doctrine and practice of the Apostolic Church. Acts 2:42 described the opening days of the New Testament Church this way; “And they continued steadfastly [stubbornly] in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread [holy communion], and in prayers [the liturgy].” (NASB) Jude 3 also instructs pastors and congregation to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (NKJ). Along the side of the Scripture’s teaching on the centrality of Christ’s doctrine and worship of the Triune God, the Scripture also instructs us “to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Gal. 4:1-2 NKJ) We seek to do the same. This is what we mean when we say that we are a caring, confessing, and contending congregation of the Reformation.
Immanuel uses the historic and biblical liturgies. The Lutheran Hymnal of 1942 is our primary hymnal, but at various times throughout the year we use doctrinally sound liturgies and hymns from other sources to celebrate the high festivals. We have designed and are remodeling our building to reflect the rich biblical theology and to use Christian symbolism to enhance our worship and to teach God’s Word.
We are a small congregation, a true family. We worship, work, eat, celebrate, play, and mourn together. As a small congregation our resources are limited, but we seek to help and make the most of the opportunities given to us to teach and help our neighbors.
Please take a little time to get to know us further via our homepage. Feel free to make use of it to learn about the Christian Faith in general and Lutheranism in particular. And of course, consider joining us for the Divine Service with Holy Communion every Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m.