Our History

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Read the longer history published in our centennial directory.

In July of 1898, 46 men met to take the first steps towards organizing a new congregation in Story City called Immanuel Lutheran Church. Because of certain doctrinal disputes, these men and their families had separated themselves from St. Petri Lutheran Church which had been established years earlier. During these early years Immanuel was linked as a parish to the South St. Petri congregation (now Gilbert Lutheran) and St. Paul's congregation (NW of Story City). 

The need for a permanent church home resulted in the building of a frame church that was dedicated September 10, 1899. This church was just east of the present Story City Clinic parking lot. After some short-term pastoral help, the congregation voted in 1900, to extend a call to Pastor Thor T. Heimarck who served the congregation until his retirement in 1945.  

After only 15 years the first church building was considered too small for the growing congregation. In October 1915, the vote was taken to build a new church with costs not to exceed $25,000. When the church was dedicated on July 1, 1917, the press reported, "The new Immanuel Church will undoubtedly take its rank as one of the fine pieces of architecture in Central Iowa." 

In 1946 and again in 1951, congregational votes were taken as to whether St. Petri and Immanuel would again join together. The vote for unity was defeated but only by a narrow margin in 1951. During the early 50's a new organ was installed, women were granted the right to vote and plans were made for a new parsonage which was ready in 1954.  

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A dream of the congregation during these years had been the addition of a new educational unit. This dream became a reality in 1962, when an addition was completed at a cost of $127,838.  

During the years from 1968-72, the sanctuary and social hall were refurbished. Also at this time the congregation began the effort to support directly several missionaries. An annual evangelism series of special services was a high point each year for several decades. 

In recent years, the congregation has experienced substantial membership growth, including an influx of young families. In 1983, Stephen Anenson became Immanuel's first associate pastor, joining Orville Sanderson in Immanuel's first team ministry. 

Since the 1980’s there has been expansion of youth and educational programming. In 1988 our first full time youth director was hired and soon after the congregation purchased the parish house for the youth director to live in. In 1991 & 1992 the congregation undertook a $250,000 restoration of our bell towers and stained glass windows. The new $360,000 narthex addition was dedicated in 1993.  

In March 2010 the congregation made the decision to join Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). During 2011-2012 major repair work was done on the educational unit. In the Spring of 2013 the church’s electrical system was extensively overhauled to help make the building safe and functional for years to come.  

Pastor Kurt Jensen came on staff at Immanuel in October 2011. In June 2013, the congregation voted to restore a full-time youth ministry position: a Youth and Education Ministry Coordinator (YEMC). Zachary Bauknecht served in that role from 2013 to 2017. Pastor Anenson retired in 2016 after 34 years of ministry with Immanuel. In 2018 the congregation voted to make Pastor Jensen the congregation’s lead pastor and called Pastor Andrew Potratz as their new associate pastor. 

Pastors Who Have Served Immanuel

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1898-1899 Baard Mikkelson

1899-1901 J.H.T Lee

1901-1945, 1947-1948 Thor Heimarck

1945-1947 Samuel Carlson

1848-1952 Alvin O. Skibsrud

1952-1957 T.J. Alvestad

1957-1968 Harold T. Masted

1968-1979 C.A. Gisselquist

1980-1988 Orville Sanderson

1988-1999 Thomas Hunt

2001-2008 John Engelstad

1983-2016 Stephen Anenson

2011-present Kurt Jensen

2018-present Andrew Potratz