Immanuel Lutheran Church,

School, and Child Care Center

Reaching out to all people, teaching and sharing God's gift of Jesus Christ,

empowering, equipping and encouraging all the saints.

Immanuel Lutheran Church, School, and Child Care Center

604 S Chestnut Ave, Marshfield, WI 54449

Phone: 715-384-5121     Fax: 715-389-2963     Email Us

Office Hours: Monday thru Friday (7:30 AM to 4:00 PM)

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Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.     Psalm 46:10

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Church

Beginnings - 1880's

As a result of a small gathering of Lutherans in the fall of 1880, a Lutheran congregation was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, eight years after the founding of Marshfield. The setting for the organizational meeting was the home of H. J. Pankow. The new congregation was named "The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Marshfield and vicinity." The first church officers elected were: H. Scharmann, president; H.J. Pankow, secretary and F. Zirbel, treasurer. The first church building was erected in 1881.

Marshfield was only a small village in 1880 surrounded by dense forest. Because the congregation grew very slowly, five years went by before a pastor was called. Until then, a number of pastors shared their time and leadership with the first congregation. Pastors who divided their time with their own congregations and the new Lutheran church in Marshfield were: M. Denninger, E. Meyerhoff, G. Thiele, Prof. A. Graebner, Wm. Rader and B. Ungrodt.

Reverend L. Th. Thom from the Lutheran church in Eldorado, WI was called to be resident pastor in 1885. By that time the congregation had grown to approximately 25 families.

Soon after the arrival of Rev. Thom, the training of the children in the elementary grades became a concern of the congregation. As a result, Immanuel Lutheran School officially started in 1886. The school met in the church and the pastor taught the classes until 1889 when Professor Otto Hellermann was called and served as the first principal. Early teachers in the school included Emma Kionka, Martha Perlowitz, Hattie Kehrberg, and Irmgard Hensel.

In its early days, the German immigrants that were coming to our community used the school as an alternative to the English speaking public schools. The newly arrived German families were very interested in preserving their cultural and religious heritage, and their church supported school was very important to them for maintaining their language and tradition. In 1892, the church building was moved to the corner of Chestnut Avenue and West Sixth Street and became the Christian Day School. A new church was built adjacent to the school in 1892 for a total cost of $10,000.00.

First School Building Built in 1906 for $7,000

Several lots south of this new church were purchased in 1905. A three-story school building was constructed in 1906 at a cost of $7,000.00. This school building was located on the corner of Seventh and Chestnut, and classes were held there after the dedication on Oct. 28, 1906. It had an impressive tower incorporated into its design, but the tower was destroyed by fire and not replaced. The teachers and students continued to speak German. It wasn't until the time of World War I (1914-1918) when America was at war with Germany that some English began to be spoken at Immanuel.

During the 36 year pastorate of Rev. Thom, services were conducted exclusively in the German language. Seeing the need for English services and regular instruction to meet the needs of the younger generation, Pastor Thom resigned in 1921, recommending a call be extended to a younger man than himself. His resignation was followed by an accepted call by Rev. Oswald Hensel, a missionary in Wausau, WI. Rev. Hensel was installed in October of 1921 and served the congregation until 1932.

In the fall of 1929, a ninth grade class was added to the school for interested students. Six students made up that class: Paul Hensel, William Korth, Regina Kiesling, Chester Seehafer, Anita Hintz and Martha Wendt. Grade nine was offered again in 1930, but discontinued after that school year due to increasing financial difficulties. The pastor at that time taught Latin while Rev. Gieschen served as principal and 7th and 8th grade teacher.

In 1932, Rev. G. M. Krueger (succeeding Rev. Hensel) became pastor of Immanuel. Economic conditions during the Depression forced the school to close in 1932.

Prior to 1932, the congregation was affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1932 Immanuel members voted to join The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. The church building was remodeled and redecorated in 1938.

School Closes, Reopens Again in Fall of 1941

In 1941, nine years after the school had closed, a decision was made to re-open the school. In the fall of 1941, Mr. Erich Albers was called as principal. He taught the upper grades, directed the choirs, and also served as the church organist. Miss Martha Wendt, a former student, taught the lower grades. Mr. Albers remained at Immanuel for three years and then resigned to accept a position as Director of Christian Education and Music at Sheboygan Falls, WI. Roy Knack who served just one year (1944) replaced him. Mr. George Pingel of Milwaukee arrived in 1945 and was the principal and a teacher for Immanuel until 1964 at which time he accepted a call to Clyman, WI.

In February of 1952 the gym, or "Parish Hall" as it was called then, was completed. It was not connected to the school, however, so students had to go outside to get from the school to the gym. The Zinthefer property, located west of the gym, was purchased, and in 1958 the tall, red school building was razed to make way for a new Christian Day School which was built around the existing gym.

Day School Adds First Kindergarten Class in 1964

Five classrooms were included in the new school building, and the building was completed and dedicated on January 24, 1960. To help fund the building, congregational members fulfilled pledges for "Building For Christ". While the new school was being built, Immanuel students attended classes at the old Lincoln School which was located where the current fire station is now located on East Fourth Street. By this time, enrollment was up to 83 students. The early 60's saw a number of changes at the school. A school lunch program was started under the direction of Mrs. Clarence Jacobson. The Parent-Teacher League was formed in 1961. In 1964, the first kindergarten was started with Jane Fohrman as the teacher. Eugene Brunow, then of St. Mark's, Wausau, WI, accepted the call to serve as principal of the Day School and Director of Christian Education. He replaced Mr. George Pingel, who had accepted a call to Clyman, WI. Mr. Brunow served as principal and teacher of grades 7 and 8 until June of 1971 when he accepted a call to Sheboygan, WI. He was succeeded by Mr. Franklin C. Martens of Janesville, MN in July of 1971.

Pastor Krueger retired in 1963 after 31 years of service. A former vicar of the congregation, Rev. Daniel Ahrens, accepted a call to fill the pastorate vacated by Pastor Krueger. Pastor Ahrens served the congregation from 1964 to 1966 when he accepted a call to St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Birnamwood, WI.

During this time Rev. Ronald Goetsch, chaplain at King Veteran's Home and St. Joseph's Hospital and also a member of Immanuel, was often called on to assist during pastoral vacancies and to relieve the pastor of the growing workload. A call was extended to Rev. Eldore Messerschmidt, then serving St. John's Lutheran Church in Ladysmith, WI. Pastor Messerschmidt accepted the call and was installed on November 6, 1966.

In the 1960's it appeared that the expanding Marshfield Clinic was going to purchase Immanuel's properties. To prepare for eventually vacating the downtown area, 20 acres of land on the northern outskirts of Marshfield near McMillan Road were obtained to carry on the congregation's ministry.

In 1966, a new position was added as Music Director for both the church and school. Mr. Paul H. Muehl of Lester Prairie, MN was the first one called to serve in this capacity. He served Immanuel until July of 1979 when he accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran Church of Danville, IL.

As duties and workload increased, Immanuel voted to call an associate pastor. Rev. Theodore Krueger, serving in Fall Creek, accepted the call and was installed on July 28, 1968. A new position of Youth/Sports Director was created in 1969. Mr. Daryle Behnke was called from Concordia College, St. Paul, MN and served until 1972 when he accepted a call to Readlyn, IA. Mr. James Henning of Detroit, MI then served in this position until June of 1978 when he accepted a call to Oshkosh, WI. Mr. Vern Wolff, of Seward, NE then filled this position.

During the late 1960's, Immanuel School experienced rapid growth in its enrollment. Due to a shortage of classroom space, a portion of the Purdy building was rented to house Immanuel's kindergarten. Kindergarten classes were held at that site for a total of seven years.

Congregation Feels Best to Stay at Midtown Location: Bible Study, Fellowship, Worship Participation Grows

The Marshfield Clinic made the decision to relocate adjacent to St. Joseph's Hospital in the late 1970's. Immanuel gradually came to the realization that it would be best to continue its ministry from its original midtown location.

Associate Pastors Messerschmidt and Krueger shared the pastorate until 1973 when the Kruegers moved to Westfield, WI to serve Immanuel Lutheran congregation. The associate pastor position was vacant until a call was extended to Rev. James Murray who was installed on June 2, 1974. Rev. and Mrs. Murray and family were with our congregation until January 31, 1977 when Pastor Murray accepted a call to Mt. Calvary at Red Oak, IA. Rev. Ronald A. Jansen, then serving Zion Lutheran in Albert Lea, MN, joined Immanuel to fill the vacancy as associate pastor. He was installed on May 28, 1978.

During the 1970's and 1980's, Immanuel grew in its ministries and became better organized in serving the mission of Christ. Participation in worship, Bible Study, and fellowship increased. Along with this growth, Immanuel School was gaining more recognition for excellence in education.

Mr. Bruce Jensema, replacing Mr. Paul H. Muehl, served as a teacher and Music Director until September of 1988. Mr. James Henning of Detroit, MI served as the Youth and Sports Director from 1972 until June of 1978 when he accepted a call to Oshkosh, WI. Mr. Vern Wolff of Seward, NE then filled this position. The addition of a pre-school program and active recruitment efforts in the lower grades significantly increased enrollment.

Rev. Messerschmidt Retires Due to Health Reasons "Let's Build Immanuel Together" Building Theme

On July 8, 1980, Rev. Messerschmidt retired for health reasons. A call was extended to Rev. Robert C. Reinhardt of Christ of the Bay, Green Bay, WI. He accepted the call and was installed on November 23, 1980.

In June of 1983, Mr. Martens, the school's principal, acceptaed a call to Rose of Sharon Lutheran Church, Cottage Grove, MN. He was replaced in the summer of 1983 when Mr. Gary Beyer became principal after serving at St. Peter-Immanuel, Milwaukee, WI. Mr. Beyer left Immanuel in July of 1987 to become the District Education Counselor for the North Wisconsin District located at Wausau, WI.

Mr. Kevin Greatens, from Christ Lutheran Church, Weyauwega, WI was called to replace Mr. Beyer. Mr. Greatens served Immanuel as principal and teacher until 1991 when he accepted a call to be principal at Immanuel Lutheran School, Colorado Springs, CO.

In 1981, the job of youth director and sports director was divided. Miss Robin Schultz was called as a teacher and accepted the position of youth director from 1981 to 1984. Mr. Karl Schmidt was called as a teacher and sports director from 1981 until 1991.

In 1984, Immanuel opened a pre-school with Mrs. Marlee Boson as the teacher. Certification by the North Wisconsin District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod was achieved for Immanuel in 1986 under the leadership of Mr. Gary Beyer, the principal at that time. A before and after school care program was started, providing supervision for students from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

In the late 1980's, plans to build a new church connected to the school began to be studied. The congregation realized that their facilities were not meeting their needs. On February 1, 1987, it was voted to remain at the present location, subdivide and sell the McMillan property, and engage the services of an architect and fundraiser to complete the building project. A building committee was formed and on September 26, 1988 a building resolution was passed that included plans for the McMillan property and the new facility. Plans then began for the fund raising drive under the theme of "Let's Build Immanuel Together."

Commitment Sunday was held April 16, 1989 for the fundraiser. By the end of the day, $552,282.25 was pledged for the project. By May 22, 1989, pledges had grown to $607,006.00.

Rev. Jansen served Immanuel from May of 1978 to April of 1989 when he accepted a call to Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Collinsville, IL. During the pastoral vacancy (July 1989 to 1990) Alan Montgomery, a trainee in the LCMS Professional Lay Ministry Program, assisted Rev. Reinhardt.

Realizing the importance in serving the youth of Immanuel, Miss Terri Fennern was called as a teacher and also served as youth director from 1988 to 1990. Miss Ruth Fick, replacing Mr. Bruce Jensema, accepted a call to be a teacher and Music Director at our school. She served from July of 1989 to July of 1991.

Immanuel Begins Decade With Many Staff Changes

In April of 1990, Rev. John Schenck of St. Paul Lutheran Church at Tomahawk, WI accepted the call to Immanuel. He was installed on April 29, 1990.

Miss Lori Potratz, also a former teacher at Immanuel, replaced Miss Fennern as youth director and served until 1991, when she was replaced by Miss Debra Bergdolt, who was also a teacher. Mr. Chris Baxter replaced Miss Bergdolt and served as youth director and a teacher from 1992 to 1994. His wife, Julie served as Music Director and a teacher at Immanuel from August of 1992 to June of 1996, when she accepted a call to Watertown, WI.

On May 10, 1990, the congregation voted approval of a $1 million building project. The McMillan Street property was subdivided into lots and offered for sale to help finance construction. Along with a new church, fellowship area, and offices, two new classrooms were added to the school. Ground breaking was held July 29, 1990 and the razing of the old church began August 21. The stained glass windows and chancel furnishings were used in the new church and chapel.

As the building continued, the cornerstone was laid March 24, 1991 and dedication was set for June 16, 1991.

In June of 1991, Mr. Karl Schmidt, then sports director and teacher, accepted the call of principal to replace Mr. Greatens. Mr. Jeff Damrau replaced Mr. Schmidt as sports director and also served as a teacher at Immanuel from 1991 to 1994.

Rev. Reinhardt served Immanuel until February 1992 when he accepted a call to Our Savior Lutheran Church at Mayfield Heights, OH.

In October of 1992, Rev. Gary Albert of Hope Lutheran Church at Land-O-Lakes, WI accepted a call to serve Immanuel. He served as a pastor until June of 1996 when he resigned as full-time pastor to also serve as a fifth and sixth grade teacher at Immanuel School. The following year Rev. Albert resigned his position as part-time pastor and devoted his gifts to full-time teaching.

In 1995, Immanuel School, under the dedicated leadership of Mr. Karl Schmidt, completed a strenuous two-year self-study and became one of a select number of Lutheran Schools to receive national accreditation. Mr. Schmidt served faithfully as principal until June of 1995 when he stepped down and continued to serve as a teacher at Immanuel.

In July of 1995, Mr. James Henning, serving at Trinity of Oshkosh, WI returned to Immanuel to serve as principal and teacher in our day school, replacing Mr. Schmidt. Mr. Henning's wife, Donna, was hired the following year as a teacher.

A canopy was added to the front of the church in the spring of 1995 thanks to the gifts and memorials of our members. The original church bells were incorporated in the tower design and can be rung by the ushers in the sanctuary. A sign was placed at the corner of Sixth and Chestnut in 1996 and a large stainless steel cross was erected on the canopy tower in May of 1998.

In January of 1996, the school remodeled the old school offices into a computer lab and installed the wiring to link each of the classrooms to a central file server. This was accomplished with a grant from the State of Wisconsin. The church and school web page went online on May 16, 1996 and a computer curriculum was added for grades K-8 in 1996.

Upon the departure of Julie Baxter in 1996, the Board of Lay Ministry decided not to hire a full-time music director and to divide the music responsibilities into three areas. Jolene Albert was hired as head organist and director of the hand bells; Edie Lauterbach was named choir director; and Phyllis Ann Huber was hired as music leader for the 5 p.m. Saturday contemporary service.

In the mid-1990's, the gym, hallways, and library were extensively remodeled. A new boiler was installed and the old office space was converted to a computer lab. New desks greeted the students at the start of the 1996 school year as a result of a $10,000 gift from a long-time Immanuel member. Mr. Schmidt and his wife, Frances, also a teacher at Immanuel, accepted a call in July of 1997 to serve at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE.

A Child Care Center, under the supervision and direction of Mrs. Pam Schmidt, opened for 3, 4 and 5-year olds in the fall of 1997. Curriculum and instruction were strengthened by the addition of specialized part-time teachers in the areas of computer, art, and physical education.

Rev. Schenck continued to serve as Administrative Pastor with the help of Rev. Steve Sutterer and the part-time services of Pastor Albert. In June of 1998, Rev. Schenck accepted a call to St. Luke's in New Richmond, WI. Rev. Robert Brandt was installed at Immanuel on August 2, 1998. Rev. Brandt had been serving as associate pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Merrill, WI.

In the Fall of 1999, new playground equipment was installed and the school kitchen was remodeled. A new networked 14-station school computer lab opened in the Spring of 2000.

Future Plans Include Developing Entire City Block; Immanuel Installs New Family Ministries Director

Beginning in the late 1990's Immanuel started purchasing houses on the block where it is located. Realizing that parking in the area as well as land for future expansion were both very limited, plans were set to purchase every house on the block when the parcel was listed for sale. By the end of 1999, all 7 houses on the entire block had been purchased and razed.

After years of planning, meetings and prayers, ground was broken on April 27, 2003 for a $600,000 construction project. Pastor Robert Brandt led the brief groundbreaking ceremony following the Sunday 10:30 a.m. traditional worship service.

Included in the project was a parking lot on the West side of the church and school for approximately 75 cars, the addition of a west entrance from the present Fellowship Hall to the new parking area, expansion of the Fellowship Hall, new storage rooms, and the addition of a new classroom to house an all-day kindergarten program at Immanuel's day school. The new addition was completed ahead of schedule and, to celebrate this building project, a special dedication ceremony, tours of the new facility and a potluck dinner were all held on Sunday, September 28, 2003.

The 2004-05 Immanuel Lutheran School year opened with many staff changes. Jim and Donna Henning resigned as principal and first grade teacher, respectively. Mr. Henning was replaced by Karen Bahn, who was our fourth grade teacher. Mrs. Bahn was hired as an interim principal for a one-year term. Elizabeth Marshall became our new first grade teacher and Katie Laubenstein was hired as our new fourth grade teacher. Pastor Gary Albert, former pastor at Immanuel and currently our fifth and sixth grades teacher, resigned to accept a call as the first full-time teacher at the new Wisconsin Valley Lutheran High School located near Mosinee, WI . Pastor Albert was replaced by Jonathan Bernau.

Midway through the 2004-05 school year, John Bernau resigned as the fifth and sixth grades teacher and was replaced by first grade teacher Elizabeth Marshall. Lori Tatkenhorst was called as the new first grade teacher starting in January of 2005.

In mid-2005, the church hand bells choir was re-organized under the direction of Lori Tatkenhorst.

For the 2005-06 school year, staff changes continued at the school. Due to a decrease in enrollment and the combination of grades three and four taught by Jolene Albert, the call of grade four teacher Katie Laubenstein was not renewed. Amanda Weil was called as the new preschool teacher to replace Joan Anderson who switched from the preschool teaching position to replace Kim Majerus who resigned as the kindergarten teacher to move with her family out of the area.

Uncertain enrollment numbers again forced more changes at the school for 2006-07. A new middle school concept of grades six, seven, and eight was introduced with Principal Karen Bahn as the teacher. As a result of this implementation of a middle school, Elizabeth Marshall was released from her call and the new lower grades teacher assignments were: Jolene Albert - grade one; Jill Helgerson - grades two and three, and Lori Tatkenhorst - grades four and five.