Immanuel Lutheran Church was established in 1885, which makes it one of the oldest Lutheran churches in the state of Florida. After an initial service at the First Presbyterian Church in February 1885, subsequent organizational meetings and services were held at the Germania Fire Hall (now Quayside Art Gallery) on Zarragossa Street across from Plaza Ferdinand. On March 22, Trustees were elected with Eduard Sexauer as President. The first church on the Northeast corner of Garden and Baylen was completed in the fall of 1885. Seminary candidate, Arthur Michel, was ordained and installed on Oct. 4, and the new church was dedicated.
What came to be known as Immanuel Lutheran Church was originally named, "The First German-English Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel's Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of Pensacola, Florida." This lengthy name caused many to refer to Immanuel as “The German Lutheran Church” in order to distinguish it from the Norwegian Seaman’s Church. By 1969, the name eventually evolved into Immanuel Lutheran Church.
A school attended by German and Norwegian children was built in 1886 at a cost of $391. The school was heated with a potbellied stove and had the “necessary rooms” located outside. A 5-foot ditch down the center of Garden Street was a challenge for the older boys who frequently got wet going home for lunch.
By 1912, a new church had been constructed on West Wright Street which is still in use and where a new education building was completed in 2003. The present church was built in 1912. The photos with spires were made close to that time. Lightning hit some of the spires in 1924, and a hurricane damaged them in 1926. They were removed following the hurricane because of safety concerns. Recently, Immanuel suffered damage from Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and a lightning strike in 2005. It is a good thing that the spires were not present during these events. Fortunately, most of the damage has been repaired.
Originally, the men sat on the east side of the church and the women and children on the west side. Men went to communion before the women until 1933. Morning services were in German; evening services were in English. They, gradually, went to more English services, but some German services continued until 1941.
Immanuel helped found many other congregations for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in Pensacola and northwest Florida. These congregations include Redeemer, Resurrection, Grace, Jehovah, and St. Matthew. Immanuel is certainly rich in history, but we remain most proud that we are rich in the Word! Visitors who have joined us during Sunday morning worship have enjoyed worshipping with one of the oldest Lutheran churches in Florida in our historic, beautiful, and inspiring sanctuary.
Note: Many thanks to Mrs. Cynthia Dean for contributing information for this web page
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