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In 1852 two German families, immigrants from Austria in search of religious freedom, purchased land in this community and began to carve their existence from the wilderness. In 1853, six additional immigrant families from Austria arrived in the community, which at the time was referred to as Austria by the locals.

In the midst of their hard beginnings, these Lutheran pioneers did not forget the Lord and their soul’s welfare. They were intent on attending public worship and having their children receive religious instruction and Christian training. They were separated from the nearest Lutheran church in Altenburg by six miles of unimproved roads that were nearly impassable during the wintry and wet seasons, and Apple Creek, which was difficult to cross at best, but utterly impassible for weeks at a time during flooding.

In 1853 they decided to organize their own congregation under the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church. During the first year they called a Christian day school teacher and were provided one service a month by Pastor G. Schieferdecker from the Altenburg Congregation. The members were not satisfied with one service a month and attended worship services in Altenburg on the other Sundays when possible. In 1855, they called Pastor A. Lehmann to become their first full time pastor. During this same year, the members decided to begin the process of building a church on four acres of land donated by Gottlieb Starzinger, one of the founding members. Services were held in the local public school building until 1856, when the congregation built a parsonage that housed the pastor and was also used for worship services. At this time the place where the parsonage was located was named for the Austrian town of Wels, and the town still bears the name of New Wells today.

After several delays in construction, their first church building was completed in 1859. The congregation rapidly outgrew this building, and in 1870 the membership voted to build a larger and more modern church building. In 1873 the congregation adopted their current name “Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Congregation.” After four years of hardships and delays, the second church building was completed in 1874.

On January 29, 1957, their membership decided to build a new house of worship. The beautiful sanctuary currently in use was dedicated on May 18, 1958.


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