History of Emmanuel Lutheran Church
“Celebrating 125 years of God’s Grace”
Emmanuel Lutheran Church celebrated its 125 th anniversary on Saturday and
Sunday, September 15-16, 2018. Highlights of the weekend included a 1.25 mile fun
run/walk on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. The congregation celebrated “A Festival of Worship”
on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. with former pastors and staff attending. A Brass Quartet from
Sioux Falls greeted the congregation with special music. The Emmanuel Senior Choir,
directed by Susan Jensen; Emmanuel Bell Choir, directed by Shelley Jensen; and
Emmanuel Sunday School, directed by Chris Doeden provided special music.. A delicious
catered meal occurred in the fellowship hall. WELCA set up a historical church display in
the Narthex and a video presentation in the sanctuary. Our celebration reminded our
congregation again of the verses, “For it is by Grace you have been saved, through Faith,
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Emmanuel Lutheran Church met and organized on June 21, 1893 in the home of
Rev. Gunner Graven. The new congregation had a charter membership of fourteen people
and was affiliated with the Hauge Synod. The congregation’s faith in God and vision for
the future inspired them to erect a church at a cost of $1,719.20. On July 8, 1894, they
dedicated Emmanuel Lutheran Church, a name chosen because it means “God with us.”
In its early years, Emmanuel Lutheran Church faced many challenges, including
initiating and maintaining Sunday School classes. Having the lessons entirely in the
Norwegian language made it difficult for more “Americanized” church members, so
English was added. Another challenge was finding pastors to serve the parish, which also
included at different times: Bethesda Children’s Home, Romsdal Lutheran, and Skrefsrud
The church’s affiliation changed over time. Although originally affiliated with the
Hauge Synod, the 1917 merger of the Hauge Synod, the Synodenskirke and Forenede
Kirke changed Emmanuel Lutheran Church to a congregation of the Norwegian Lutheran
Church in America. However, in 1946, the congregation upheld the proposed change of the
name to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Today, Emmanuel Lutheran Church is
affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
The original church building was expanded in 1907 and 1910. The congregation dug
the basement by hand at a cost of $1.50 per day. The new space provided room for both a
kitchen and dining room. In 1915, the first parsonage was purchased on West Cedar Street.
The Ladies Aid had been organized in 1891, two years before the church began. Ironically,
despite the women’s hard work and involvement in the church, they had no voice at the
congregation’s meetings. This finally changed in 1915, when women were invited to attend
the congregation’s business meetings and permitted to vote.
In 1944, the congregation proposed a new building, as their baptized membership
now totaled 225 members. In 1945, the congregation selected a building site on Main
Avenue, between 5 th and 6 th Streets for the construction of the new church. In 1946, the
Ladies Aid purchased the property adjacent to the new church site, to be used as a
parsonage and a parish house. Later in 1946, ground was broken for the new church. On
April 25, 1948, the cornerstone of Emmanuel Lutheran Church was laid. The baptized
membership now totaled 376. In 1953, the congregation celebrated their 60 th anniversary.
In 1956, the pipe organ was purchased, rebuilt, installed, and dedicated. In 1960, the
stained glass windows were installed, and in 1962, the mortgage on the new church
building was retired. In 1964, the congregation added additional pipes for a total of 13
ranks to the organ. On July 17, 1966, Emmanuel Lutheran church broke ground for the
Parish Education Unit, which includes seventeen classrooms, church offices, and a library.
On June 23, 1968 the congregation celebrated the 75 th anniversary with 733 baptized
members, 504 confirmed members, and 241 children enrolled in Sunday School. In 1974,
Nazareth Lutheran Church of Beresford closed and merged with Emmanuel Lutheran. In
1974, the church parsonage beside Nazareth Lutheran at 205 W. Spruce was purchased
and later sold in 1995. The mortgage for the Emmanuel Parish Education unit was burned
on January 24, 1978.
In 1987, two lots north of the church were purchased and the houses were removed
to become the Emmanuel Lutheran church parking lot. In 1988, Contemporary Worship
services began twice a month. In 1994, a Narthex was added and dedicated to accommodate
a street level church entrance. In 1997, a Bell Choir began because three octaves of bells
and chimes were given to Emmanuel. In 2002, Emmanuel began the Parish Health
ministry. In 2003, the old church parsonage at 311 W. Main Street was sold and moved. In
2003, an Emmanuel Praise Team began leading worship services on the third Sunday of
each month. In 2008, Unlimited Audio upgraded the sound system as a wonderful addition
to the worship services. Later, a new CD player and docking station was added.
In 2010, the church purchased a 6’ 1” Yamaha Grand piano and dedicated it on
December 20, 2010. The cost was $27,876.94, paid fully by congregational donations. In
2012, the beautiful new parsonage was completed, dedicated, and Pastor Greg and Janice
Myrmoe moved in. In 2015, the church began a $100,000 capital campaign entitled
“Forward in Faith, Securing Our Future.” The congregation used the funds for retiring
the $12,000 Narthex debt, providing a new roof and new basement windows, re-plastering
the Bell Tower, and installing the Parish Education Unit flooring.
On September 16, 2018, the Emmanuel Lutheran church’s 125 th celebration was a
special time to thank God for blessing this congregation. At that service led by Pastor
Myrmoe, the congregation was reminded, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice
and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24.).
In 2020, Emmanuel Lutheran Church began using FACEBOOK Live to keep the
congregation together in worship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, one year later,
Emmanuel has many followers on FACEBOOK. In 2021, Emmanuel updated to a new
church website, using the services of Church Spring.