History of Immanuel Lutheran Church
Our congregation traces its origins to the pre-statehood days of the Broken Arrow Indian Territory. Most of the German families who settled here had lived in Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas.
The beginning of the congregation derives from a survey taken by Pastor Richter and Pastor Graebner as suggested during the 1904 Kansas District Synodical Convention. In 1905, work here and in adjacent areas was carried out under the supervision of the Rev. L.C. Hermerding of Muskogee.
At this time, Rev. Hermerding found two Lutheran families (with a total of 10 souls) living in Broken Arrow.
In 1906, Rev. Hermerding accepted a call to serve elsewhere. Student R. Schamber then served for eleven months until another missionary, Rev. P. Gulzov, was installed. During the time Rev. Gulzov served Broken Arrow, the group of Lutherans increased to ten families.
In 1909, the work being more than one man could take care of, Rev. Gulzov was given a helper. This helper was student R. Diersen, who taught school in Broken Arrow and helped bring the Word of God to the various mission stations.
In 1910, Rev. Gulzov, too, accepted a call. Since the work was steadily increasing, two pastors, Rev. Hoffmann and Rev. Gassmann, were called. Rev. Gassmann was to reside in Broken Arrow and become the first resident Lutheran pastor of Broken Arrow. At this time, Broken Arrow had only three Lutheran families.
After a year and a half, Rev. Gassmann and Rev. Hoffman both accepted other calls. Broken Arrow then was served by Students Karl Schmid and A. Potrafke for the following six months.
In September of 1912, another missionary, Rev. P. Strasen, was installed as Mission Pastor for the German Lutherans.
Although the families brought little of the German culture to Broken Arrow, they did bring their religion. The First Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Congregation of Broken Arrow, Tulsa County, was organized by seven German families on December 29, 1912, with nine charter members signing the constitution. Those names included John Detmer, Herman Detmer, Henry Freese, F.C.Bieberich, W.R’. Schindler, Chris Gerlach, Herman Scheer, Albert Ninman, and Rev. P. Strassen. Rev. Strassen was also the first fulltime pastor of the new congregation.
Soon after organization, the need for a house of worship was realized. In the fall of 1913, one-half block of land with two homes was purchased on West College Avenue. One of the homes was converted into a house of worship, used for both church and school, while the other served as a parsonage.
Because most German families lived on farms, Sunday worship services were often the one time a week that the families came together. Due to that fact, fellowship became an all-day affair, with dinners for the entire congregation served on the grounds.
The German language was used in the worship services, although most of the families also spoke English. Parents also taught their children how to write and speak German at home. The German services were discontinued during World War I because of the suspicions some of the other Broken Arrowans had of the “German Lutherans ” Immanuel still has the original ledgers used to record charter members, births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths of the pioneer families, all written in German script.
By 1919, Immanuel had grown to such an extent that the need for a new church was most apparent. Built on the same grounds, a white frame church measuring 28 ft. X 42 ft. was erected on property acquired in the 500 block of West College. The cornerstone was laid on August 24, 1919, and dedication took place May 16, 1920. Services were held in this small white frame building for the next 41 years, with some remodeling and redecorating done on occasion.
A Walther League (a teen youth group) was organized on August 7, 1921. The congregation’s chapter of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League was formed almost a year later on June 8, 1922. By 1926, the congregation had become not only self-supporting but also debt-free. The year 1926 also saw the organization of the first Sunday School and Bible Class.
A new school building, measuring 44 ft. by 24 ft. by 12 ft., was dedicated on September 11, 1927. This was enlarged by adding a north wing and a basement in 1947. Additional playground space and teacherage were provided in 1950 through the purchase of a 150 ft. by 75 ft. lot north of the West College property. The first parsonage of the congregation served for some thirty-five years. In 1948, it was dismantled and a five-room ranch type home with garage and office study was constructed at 524 West College.
The school was closed in 1955 and the 150 ft. by 75 ft. lot with teacherage was sold. A small portion of the sales price went toward a building fund for a new church. In 1956, ten acres of land overlooking Broken Arrow was purchased for $12,000. On October 6, 1957, this land was dedicated as the site for a new church, to be built in the future. A concrete cross was placed on the summit to proclaim the intent to build a permanent altar on that spot. All members of the congregation participated in the dedication ceremonies by building an altar of bricks surrounding a large white cross. Each member brought forward a brick as an offering of intent for building the new church.
An architectural firm was engaged and plans were drawn in November 1959 for our new place of worship.
Not until May 1960, did groundbreaking ceremonies take place for the church that was designed as a crown for the hilltop which overlooks the city. Construction of the unusual building was completed in the spring of 1961.
April 16, 1961, marked the dedication of the first phase of the new church and educational building. The congregation then numbered 170 communicant members and 290 souls.
The statue of Jesus Christ that was on the altar in the first church was transferred to the new sanctuary to adorn the balcony. A parsonage was built at 201 Highland Drive in 1963 after the old property was sold. With the growth of the community and the congregation, the second phase of the building program was started in August 1972. In this program, the Cloister area was enclosed and nine additional rooms to be used as classrooms, offices, and nursery were provided. Also, the kitchen area was enlarged. On May 6, 1973, this new enlarged area was dedicated as part of a 60th Anniversary celebration. This marked the second phase of Immanuel’s building program at that time. The congregation now numbered 341 communicant members and 500 baptized souls.
Again, due to continuing growth and to effectively respond to the growing opportunities for increased ministry, Immanuel Lutheran Church embarked on a new three-phase Master Building Plan in 1983. The three phases include an extension of the educational facilities, a gymnasium, and a new sanctuary.
Groundbreaking for the first phase was held on November 18, 1984. Less than a year later, on October 27, 1985, dedication took place for the new two-story education/fellowship center (the Upper Room) and the enlargement of the cloister and parking areas. The congregation numbered 482 communicant members and 958 souls. These new additions have enabled the growth of Immanuel to continue.