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The History of
Washington, Missouri

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The Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Church

Rev. Daniel Oberdieck

In 1861, Pastor W. Matuschka received permission to preach in the small German Protestant Church on Lafayette street.  A part of this congregation had definite leanings towards the teachings of the Lutheran Church, and under the leadership of Pastor Matuschka, they withdrew to form their own orthodox congregation.

On April 21, 1862, this small group met in the home of Henry Walkenhorst.   The Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Congregation, U. A. C., was organized, a constitution adopted, and Pastor Matuschka was called as pastor.  The nine charter members were:  Henry Walkenhorst, Christian Wehmueller, W. Bohle, H. Langenberg, Casper Gehner, Fr. Nierdirk, Sr., Henry Klingsick, Frederick Fricke, and William Fricke.

For a short time services were held in the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, but in January, 1863, the first church was dedicated.  A Christian day school was soon established by the pastor.  There were fifteen scholars, and the school was held on the first floor of a house on Jefferson street.  The upper story served as the pastor's dwelling.  In 1868, a spacious brick parsonage was erected behind the church, and is in use at the present time.

The congregation grew rapidly, and in 1882, a stately new church was built, and the old church was thereafter used as a school building.  In the summer of 1894, a second story was added to the school, to be used as a meeting place.

In April, 1912, the congregation was privileged to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary.  The interior of the church was artistically decorated for the occasion, and a new two-manual Kilgen organ installed.  An elaborate two-day program was held on April 25 and 26, 1937, on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee.  A complete and interesting history of the church was published at that time.  The Rev. Daniel Oberdieck has been pastor of the church since 1934.  Emil F. Roschke has been teacher of the school since 1925, and his assistant is Leonard C. Schnell.

And now more than three-quarters of a century has passed into eternity since the founding of the congregation.  The trust in God on the part of the first members has not been put to shame.  Immanuel means "God With Us."  God indeed has been with this congregation with His grace and has blessed it, -- nine voting members in the beginning; today there are one hundred and fifty-seven.  At the time the congregation was organized, there were but fifty souls.  The number has now grown to 643 souls.  The school was opened with 15 children.  At present the school counts 79 pupils.

In this, Washington's Centennial year, the congregation has made arrangements to erect a new school hall and a new parsonage.  We can truly say that the Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Congregation has progressed and grown with the advancement and growth of the town of Washington.


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