The early history of Immanuel Lutheran Church dates back to the years of 1869 and 1870 when a number of families with German ancestry settled northwest of the town of Spirit Lake. This was just 12 years after the Spirit Lake massacre when the area was opened once again to settlement. In those days there were circuit riding pastors who came to the area and held worship services in log cabin homes.
It was not until 1878 that the congregation really considers its date of origin, however, when it was recorded in the proceedings of the First Convention of the Iowa District of the Missouri Synod that Immanuel Lutheran Church had installed her first resident pastor. It had to be an incorporated congregation by that time to have issued a call for the pastor.
In 1879 the first building was built in Spirit Lake to house the worship and school area on the second floor and the parsonage for the pastor’s family on the main floor. Since that first building was constructed there have been four other building programs in the congregation, the most recent being concluded in 2003 in conjunction with the congregation’s 125th anniversary.
Since 1878 the congregation has grown from a mere handful of people to a congregation of over 850 members. In the early days of history, it was felt that the lakes area of Iowa would never draw residents. Today the area is the fastest growing rural area in the state of Iowa. What began as a small congregation of farmers has grown into a large congregation of people from all walks of life. Each year the congregation continues to find new and exciting ventures for ministry in the lakes region.
Today the congregation also serves as the host congregation for all of the Iowa District West Conventions providing a large worship facility to adequately facilitate all those attending the various conventions. The congregation also serves to facilitate many community needs as well and provides worship opportunities not only within the facility but also through local television and radio stations