Monday, October 3, 2011

100th Anniversary Weekend at Immanuel

We had a wonderful time celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hodgkins, Illinois this weekend. Rev. Dr. Wallace Schulz of the Lutheran Heritage Foundation preached at the Centennial Jubilee Vespers Service on Sunday, October 2, 2011. Dr. Schulz's stirring sermon reminded those in attendance that all of mankind is infected with the deadly disease of Sin, and that the only treatment for this illness is where God’s people are gathered around Word and Sacrament. This is a message all people are in desperate need of hearing, and Dr. Schulz delivered it with power and authority. We praise the Lord that he was able to be with us to share the Gospel on this special occasion.

Following the Jubilee service there was a banquet at Park Place of Countryside. The food was good and the band, Upscale, was fantastic. The church also raffled off a television set, an Amazon Kindle, digital camera, an iPod nano, as well as gift certificates from Salerno Pincente Ristorante and Buck’s Pit Stop.

Pastor Adam Dietrich near the organ before the service.

Ken Howes at the organ.

Caitlyn at a different organ.

Acolyte lighting the candles at the beginning of the service.

Pastor Dietrich and Rev. Dr. Schulz chat before the procession.

Matt Struve rings the bell.

Rev. Dr. Schulz preaches Law and Gospel.

At the banquet.

Thoughts of organizing a congregation at Hodgkins, Illinois, were entertained as far back as the 1880s. At that time there were several Lutheran families living in what would later be the village of Hodgkins who were members of the Lutheran churches of LaGrange and Willow Springs, Illinois. A local merchant named John Witsan organized a Sunday school in Hodgkins about this same time. The development of the Sunday school amplified, for the Lutheran families, the inconvenience of sending their children to the Lutheran day schools and Sunday schools in LaGrange and Willow Springs, and thoughts of a stand-alone congregation in Hodgkins began to materialize. Two representatives from the Lutheran churches in LaGrange and Willow Springs, Reinhardt Leu and Henry Bloedorn, approached Rev. Alex Ullrich of LaGrange with the proposition of establishing a Lutheran congregation in Hodgkins.

A conference was held after this meeting with Rev. Herman Meyer of Willow Springs. Rev. Meyer was strongly in favor of the movement and immediately set about to conduct the first Lutheran worship services in Hodgkins, in the old Village Hall in the spring of 1911. On Sunday, April 23, 1911, twenty-six men gathered together in the same hall, along with Rev. Ullrich and Rev. Meyer, and formally organized Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hodgkins, Illinois. The newly formed congregation adopted a constitution and called Rev. Meyer as it's pastor. Rev. Ullrich was called as the assistant pastor.

Services, Sunday school, and Bible studies, continued to be held at the Hodgkins Village Hall. In later years it was also used for a Saturday Bible school conducted by Rev. Ullrich. An opportunity arose for the congregation in 1911 to purchase the old Lutheran school house building from St. John's, LaGrange. The building was disassembled, transferred to the building site in Hodgkins on Kimball Avenue, and reassembled. All the work was completed by members of the two congregations. In the Fall of 1911, the cornerstone was laid. On March 10, 1912, Immanuel was dedicated.

Rev. Ullrich became the sole pastor at Immanuel after Rev. Meyer was called to Bellewood, Illinois. Rev. Ullrich, who was also the president of the Northern Illinois District of the LCMS, as well as pastor at St. John's, LaGrange, served Immanuel until October 1930. At that time Rev. H. C. Seitz, who was the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Western Springs, accepted the call to Immanuel.

Originally Immanuel numbered 26 voters and 106 souls. In 1937 (the congregation's 25th anniversary), the congregation numbered 150 souls, 110 communicants, and 123 voters, with a Sunday school of 43 children, and four teachers.

In 1951 the Kimball Avenue property was sold and a new church was built at the present Kane Avenue location. The following is an entry from the "Village of Hodgkins - 100 Years of Progress" historical booklet on Immanuel.
The Immanuel Lutheran church on Kimball Avenue as originally the schoolhouse of St. John's Lutheran Church, LaGrange, Illinois. Reinhardt Leu was general contractor and the men of the congregation worked with him. The schoolhouse was dismantled in LaGrange and brought to Hodgkins. the men built the church and added a steeple and a room at the rear to be used for German School. Reinhardt Leu climed [sic] to the top of the steeple and attached a cross to it. The first minister of the church was Rev. Alex Ullrich. The church remained in use until 1951. It was then sold to the Eisermans who later demolished it. At this time, a new church was built on Kane Avenue on two lots. One of these lots was donated by Otto Hopp. Dedication of the new church as in 1953.
As of 2006, Immanuel reported having 152 baptized members, and 122 confirmed members. Rev. Adam A. Dietrich has been the interim pastor since 1976. Rev. Walter D. Otten, formerly of St. Paul's Brookfield, IL, has accepted a call from Immanuel and will be installed on December 4, 2011.