The History of
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Fairfield, Iowa

The first 25 years...

            St. Johnís Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod was erected in 1893 at Four Corners, Iowa northeast of Fairfield.  Our church has roots there, as Myrna Reppís grandfather, Frederich Wolter, was the first pastor there.  Coming to Four Corners, Iowa in 1893 was a historic day for Pastor and Mrs. Wolter.  They came from Wilton Junction to Brighton, Iowa by train, a distance of 75 miles.  Then a delegation from Four Corners met them at Brighton with a team and took them to a log house in Four Corners.  Another root tells us that Inez Hiselís grandfather was a member of the delegation.  Regular services were held until 1951 with Rev. Alton Koch of Mt. Pleasant being the last pastor.

            Members then transferred to churches in Mt. Pleasant, Lockridge, and Fairfield, but several members held their membership at St. Johnís and later became charter member, with others, of the new Immanuel Lutheran Church, Fairfield.  One was Otto Hildebrand, who with this twin brother, Louis, were two of the first babies baptized in St. Johnís in 1893.  In April 1956, the church building and parsonage were sold to Roy Stattler.  The contents were sold at public auction.

            Later, Lenten services sere started in Fairfield by Pastor Koch at McElhinny House, 300 N. Court, Fairfield.  He as assisted by Pastor Michaels of Ottumwa and Pastor Johanson of Washington.  These services were continued until Iowa District East saw the need for a mission to be stablished.  The first service of the Lutheran Mission was held October 8, 1961 with Rev. Alfred Bertke of Washington serving the mission. 

            The first Sunday school consisted of three classes with 14 children.  The first adult baptized was Clarence ďJakeĒ Allender in 1961.  Cheryl Ann Hildebrand, Daughter of Ronald Hildebrand, was the first baby baptized on January 28, 1962.  The first adult confirmands were Clarence ďJake and Kathryn Allender, Loren and Maxine Parker, Esther Peterson and Art Usher in July 1962.  Kathy Hisel was the first youth confirmand in 1963.

            The women organized at this time under the name of the Immanuel Lutheran Ladies Circle.  Meetings were held in homes.  The first Vacation Bible School was in the summer of 1963.  The younger children met in the Loren Parker home and the older ones at Pastor Schmidtís home, with about 25 students.

Pastor Schmidt

            A building committee was appointed and contracts for the building of a new church on a five-acre site at 1601 S. Main were awarded in October 1963.  The groundbreaking service as held October 20, 1963.


Groundbreaking in October of 1963

    On November 24, 1963 the cornerstone was laid with Rev. Marcus Zill as guest speaker.  The cornerstone laying is remembered as the weekend of the slaying of President John F. Kennedy.  In a copper box behind the cornerstone will be found a newspaper showing Immanuelís service and the death of the President. The copper box also holds a Bible and a list of the charter members at that time.

            Immanuel Lutheran Church was formally organized April 12, 1964 with 46 communicants and 68 souls as charter members.  The new church was formally dedicated on June 14, 1964.

Dedication service on June 14, 1963

Pastor Schmidt took a call to Hays, Kansas that same month.  The Rev. Irwin Moldenhauer, Burlington, was vacancy pastor until January 19, 1965 when Rev. Herman Kramer came.  He served until April 6, 1969.  During this time the congregation purchased a parsonage at 710 W. Tyler in February 1968.  Previous to that the church rented a house at 409 W. Carpenter and 205 Ĺ E. Hempstead.  For Pastor Kramer, we rented a house at 807 S. Fifth.

Parsonage at 710 W. Tyler

            Rev. Otto Beer was vacancy pastor until July 1969 when Rev. Karl Barwin came to Immanuel.  Pastor Barwin served until November 1972.

Pastor Barwin

During this time Faith Lutheran in Mr. Pleasant built a new church and Immanuel exchanged folding chairs for church pews.

After Pastor Barwin left, Pastor Alton Koch of Mr. Pleasant served the vacancy.  On July 29, 1973 the Rev. John Temple began serving our parish as a worker-priest.

Pastor Temple

On January 1, 1975, the congregation became completely self-supporting and a mortgage-burning service as held September 21 of that year.

Bell given in memory of Loraine and Doron Hormann
by the Hormann family.
Dedicated September 18, 1977.

           Work was begun to establish a mission congregation in Van Buren County in June 1976 and an addition to our church building was begin in June 1978.  Pastor Temple served as pastor of the dual parish until September 1978.

The Rev. Roy Radloff, Ottumwa, filled the vacancy until July 15, 1979 when the Rev. John W. Sattler was installed as pastor of the Fairfield/Keosauqua dual parish. 

Pastor Sattler

During this time , the addition to the church was constructed by Lesterís Builders, Fairfield with much labor from the men of the congregation and women of the Ladies Circle.  God guided the labors of these who worked long hour to finish the interior.

Addition to the church

            We also expressed gratitude to the Iowa District East Church Extension Fund for loan of funds and the District LWML that provided $2,500.00 financial support for the new kitchen.  The Service of Dedication of the new addition was held July6, 1980. 

During this time, Pastor Sattler gave members orientation on the new Lutheran Hymnals, which were purchased by individual members and donated to the church.  September 1983 also saw the beginning of the Mothersí Day Out Preschool with 18 children and 2 teachers meeting 1 day per week.  With the Lordís guidance, MDO has grown to 5 days per week with 39 children and 4 teachers in 1989.

On October 28, 1984, the Sattler family left for Munster, Indiana where Pastor had accepted a call.  The Rev. Daniel Krueger, Mr. Pleasant, served as vacancy pastor until June 23, 1985 when the Rev. Terry Ellis was installed.

Pastor Ellis

            In January 1989 the Votersí Assembly voted to have Immanuel become a single parish and have its own minister.  Pastor Ellis left January 8, 1989 for Charlotte, Iowa.  The Rev. Kevin Popp, Ottumwa, was vacancy pastor until June 18, 1989 when Rev. Alan Hafner was ordained and installed.

Pastor Hafner

To be continued...

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