Immanuel Lutheran Church
Baltimore, MD   |   Worship every Sunday at 10am

The History of Immanuel Lutheran Church

Immanuel Lutheran Church, ILC, 150th anniversary, lcms, baltimore, md, maryland, church, christian worship

On October 3, 1864, Immanuel Lutheran Church was founded by a group of devout Christians, many of whom had just arrived in the United States from Germany. The organizational meeting was held in “Depford Hall” located at Gough and Dallas Streets in Baltimore.  The first resident pastor, The Rev. Claus Stuercken, was installed on December 18, 1864, and served until 1888.  Eleven days after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the congregation resolved to build an impressive church structure on Caroline Street.  The building was completed and dedicated on May 6, 1866, with services for that day being offered in both German and, for the first time, in English.

From the beginning, the people of Immanuel had a strong desire for Christian Education for children of the congregation.  Having initiated a school ministry even before the congregation was formed, in 1867, the congregation firmly resolved to build a two story school to provide a place for Immanuel Lutheran School at the rear of the church.


In March 1874, six acres of property were purchased on Grindon Avenue to provide for a congregational cemetery. Eight years later, in 1882, a chapel was constructed at the site.  A caretaker’s home was also added in 1890.  The operation of Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery continues at this site today with grave lots still available.


Pastor Timothy Stiemke was installed as Immanuel’s second pastor on September 3, 1888, and served until his death on March 14, 1908.  Pastor Henry Stiemke was installed in May 1908 to continue the pastoral work of his father.  He became the first pastor at Immanuel to regularly conduct Sunday services in English, a change that was met with resistance by some members. He accepted a call to serve a congregation in Geneva, NY in 1913.


Pastor Otto Burhenn became Immanuel’s pastor on June 8, 1913, and served through the challenges of World War I, the changing community around the church, and the Great Depression. In 1934, the church spire was struck by lightning and the damage that resulted caused a great discussion about the continued existence of the congregation. However, the members came together and refurbished the damaged church and organ. After providing strong leadership through this period, Pastor Burhenn died suddenly on October 28, 1938.


Pastor Eldor Cassens, who had been serving as Assistant Pastor, was installed as the pastor of Immanuel on November 20, 1938.  Pastor Cassens led a fruitful ministry at Immanuel that ended suddenly with his retirement and death in 1973 at age 59.  During his tenure, the congregation made a major decision to relocate leading to the 1944 resolution to move from Caroline Street and to construct a new church and school at the property to be purchased at Loch Raven and Belvedere.  The congregation worshiped on the upper floor of a Sears store located on North Avenue until the new Parish Hall was completed and dedicated on September 28, 1947.  The upper structure and the church sanctuary were then completed through a generous gift from Ms. Emma Wolpman Momberger and with other sacrificial gifts from many members.  It was dedicated on January 28, 1951.


Also in 1947, Richard Wegner was called to Immanuel serving during portions of this time as teacher, organist, and choir director.  He has contributed significantly to the tradition of music excellence.  Dr. Wegner continues to serve the congregation as organist.

Pastor Raymond Huddle then served from 1973-1976 with Assistant Pastor Les Stano also serving with him from 1974-1975.  From 1977 until 1988, The Rev. Hubert Temme served as Immanuel’s Pastor with The Rev. Herbert D. Mitchell being called as Assistant Pastor.   During this period, the upper parking lot was constructed and the cemetery chapel was renovated. Pastor Temme accepted a call to the Wheat Ridge Foundation in June 1988.  Immanuel was then served through a two year vacancy by The Rev. Otto Reinbacher.  The Rev. Paul Nelson was installed as Immanuel’s new pastor in June 1990, serving until his retirement in 2002.  Rev. Nelson provided strong leadership during a period where the demographics within and around Immanuel continued to change.


During a vacancy of over three years, Immanuel was served by a number of vacancy and interim pastors that included The Rev. Gil Croll and The Rev. Richard Izzard. During this period, the congregation affirmed the continuation of its ministry at the current site, declining to pursue a potential relocation to the campus of Baltimore Lutheran School.   However, continued challenges with school enrollment in the face of changing trends and populations lead the congregation to reluctantly close Immanuel Lutheran School in June 2005 following 142 years of elementary education for children.


In November 2005, Immanuel celebrated the installation of The Rev. Charles Minetree as pastor.  During Pastor Minetree’s tenure, Immanuel has become increasingly involved in community activities.  In April 2008, through a partnership with the Lutheran Mission Society, Immanuel opened its Compassion Center Ministry and continues to serve up to 30 guests from our community each week during its 10 AM until Noon Saturday operations.  

The Pastors of Immanuel

Claus Stuercken   1864-1888
Bernhard Mohr    1884
Timothy Stiemke   1888-1908
Henry Stiemke      1908-1913
Otto Burhenn       1913-1938
Fred Pudsell          1935-1936
Eldor Cassens        1937-1973
Elmer Leonhardt   1961-1965
Raymond Huddle   1973-1976
Lester Stano          1974-1975
Hubert Temme     1977-1988
Godfrey Jaraback 1978-1980
H. D. Mitchell        1984-1990
D. Paul Nelson      1990-2002
Charles Minetree     2005 to Present
Immanuel Lutheran Church, ILC, Baltimore, MD, Maryland, LCMS, Christian worship, 150th Anniversary