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A brief history

In 1907 the Kansas District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod decided it was time that Wichita had its own LCMS congregation. In 1908 and for 18 months following, Lutheran services began to be offered in English and German in the basement of the Sedgwick County Court House by Pastor C. Hafner. Pastor Paul Pennekamp was installed by Pastor Hefner on August 1, 1909 where he served 12 families in that basement room until February 1, 1911. During that time, a parsonage at 1002 Ohio Street was purchased. This was the first property of the Missouri Synod in Wichita.


Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Wichita was organized in the evening of October 7, 1909 in the parsonage a 1002 Ohio Avenue, where six men including the Pastor held a meeting for the purpose of organizing a Lutheran congregation of the unaltered Augsburg Confession. A constitution and by laws were adopted. The name Immanuel, meaning “God with us”, was unanimously chosen. Officers were elected, subscriptions for the Pastor’s salary were made, and the meeting closed with the Lord’s prayer. The charter members of the congregation were: D. B. Meyer, A. H. Neas. F H Bock, Fred Bockelmann, and A. F. Beye. Mr. A. A. Cramer who later joined the congregation a1so attended the first meeting.

On March 5, 1911, Immanuel dedicated its first church building in the 300 block of Ellis Street (pictured to the left). At the time, this was the geographical center of Wichita. The original altar from this building was used in several other churches and was recently donated back to Immanuel. It is stored in the Immanuel Fellowship Hall. A parsonage and a small school room were built on the property.


In 1924 as the congregation grew, the church purchased the current property on South Market Street. The property on Ellis was originally retained as a Christian day school.

At first, the church only consisted of the covered basement sanctuary, a classroom space, and a parsonage next door. The cornerstone of the church was laid on December 6, 1925 and the structure was dedicated on May 16, 1926 in three services attended by 1,500 people. The pastor's family moved into the new parsonage on July 6, 1926.


The congregation worked for over 10 years to pay off the debt of the new church building and finally on April 5, 1936, the voting members unanimously resolved to erect the superstructure of the new church. A new cornerstone was laid on June 28, 1936, and further documents were added to its contents. The brick facade was replaced with Silverdale limestone from a quarry 65 miles south of Wichita. The stone superstructure sanctuary level was dedicated on December 20, 1936 with the bell tower, church organ, stained glass, new vestments, and furnishings. The educational wing was added in 1961. 


Eight Wichita-area LCMS sister congregations have risen from the mission of  Immanuel: Grace, Eldorado in 1929; Trinity, Wichita in 1934; Holy Cross, Wichita in 1942; Redeemer, Wichita in 1943; Grace, Wichita in 1953; Zion/St. Andrew, Wichita in 1954; Faith, Derby in 1956; Bethany, Wichita in 1957; and Ascension, Wichita in 1956.


Our tolling bell and carillon chimes

Immanuel's bell tower contains a beautiful choir of twelve bells mounted in the belfry. This chime of bells complete with all the mechanism was given to Immanuel by Mrs. A. C. Kreitzer upon the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the congregation. The purpose to which these bells were to serve was inscribed on the large tolling bell: "To The Glory of God, October 8, 1939." The maker of the bells are Gillett & Johnson, Ltd. who casted bells at Croydon, England from 1844 to 1957. Their bells are found in many of the noteworthy towers of the world.

The Carillon

The chime of 12 bells in the belfry together have a weight of 6,591 pounds. Together with the steel frame and mechanism, the combined weight is 12,600 pounds.  Beginning with G below middle C on the keyboard, the carillon bells are tuned to the following keys: G, A, B, C, C#, D, E, F, F#, G, A, and B.

Eleven bells are mounted in two tiers on a sturdy steel frame, the clappers being connected by cables to the keys on the hand clavier in the chimer's room directly beneath the belfry. The hand clavier is a steel keyboard mounted on a frame. The bells are struck when the chimer manipulates the aluminum keys of the hand clavier. Playing the chimes by hand rather than mechanically opens the way for proper shading and timing as the mood fits the hymn to be played.


The large bell weighing 1,401 pounds in mounted on a separate frame so it can swing and has two large clappers, the one serving as the lower "G" of the chime, the other for striking the bell on both sides when swinging.

The carillon is played each Sunday morning as before the Divine Service and the tolling bell rings out the petitions as the congregation prays the Lord's Prayer. You can also hear the bell toll each weekday morning and afternoon calling to attend Matins and Vespers.

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The church with the chimes

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Stained Glass

Our Stained Glass

One of the outstanding features of Immanuel are the stained glass windows set in Gothic arches and mullions of stone. The glass was created and installed by St. Joseph Art Glass Works in 1936 in time for dedication of the limestone superstructure. The windows of Immanuel’s sanctuary teach distinct messages. The three great portraits of Christ are based not on events of his life but on his teachings.

In the large east facing window, facing Market St, is the full length picture of our Lord with arms outstretched typifying His merciful invitation

“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." 

The Lectern Side south transept window depicts the words of Christ in Rev. 3:20 to the church of the Laodiceans, “I stand at the door and knock.”


The smaller windows on the south side then represent the life of the church: The Trinity symbol stands for the Church’s confession of the true God. The ship depicts the Church as God’s vessel of salvation. The grapevine and branches remind us that Christ is the vine, his disciples the branches, and that apart from him they can do nothing.


The three nave windows on this side represent Christianity. 1. The Holy Trinity symbolized by the triquetra.  In the center of the triquetra is an equilateral triangle, the most ancient of Trinity symbols, and each pair of arcs form a vesica, the symbol of glory. 2. The Church is symbolized by a ship with a cross-shaped mast, representing the Atonement. The ship of the Church sails thru the ages tossed by the stormy waves of persecution and heresy, threatened with destruction by rationalism, by indifference, by negative critics and by false teachers, but with the Captain of Salvation at the helm it sails safely to the haven of rest and peace. 3. The Vine and Branches have also been used as a symbol of the Christian Church, which is made up of true believers, who must abide in the true vine which is Jesus Christ. He is the vine and they are the branches. Thus, the vine conveys the idea of the union of the true Church with her Lord.


Summing up the symbols in the windows on the south side of the church we have: Christianity, confessing the Trinity, preaching the Atonement, following Christ as its head, knocks at the door of men’s hearts with the message of free salvation thru faith in the crucified Savior.

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Lectern Side Windows

Pulpit Side Windows

The Pulpit Side north transept window echoes the words of our Lord to his disciples in John 10, “I am the Good Shepherd…” On the north side of the nave, Ministry is to carry out this preaching and teaching (the open Scriptures) therefore, the smaller windows show how the Office of the Public Ministry is to carry out this shepherding of Christ. 

The three nave windows on the north side are represented the means of grace, namely: 1. The Word, open Bible; 2. Holy Baptism, the font; 3. The Lord’s Supper, the chalice.


The meaning of the emblems in the windows on this side where the pulpit stands may then be condensed in the sentence: With the Word and Holy Sacraments, the pastor shepherds his flock, always under the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.

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The David's Harp in the window of the sacristy represents hymnody and symbolizes the liturgical service of the Church. The Office of the Keys illuminates the vestry where the ministry prepares to serve.


The emblems in the four smaller windows on the corners of the building represent significant steps in the life of the Savior: 1. Nativity, Christmas rose (removed when the educational building was added in 1961); 2. Suffering and Death, Passion flower; 3. Resurrection, Easter Lily; 4. Reigning in Glory, the crown.

Dr. Martin Luther was the servant of God who so clearly taught and preached the central doctrine of Holy Scripture that we are justified by grace for Christ’s sake thru faith. The east tower window is therefore adored with Luther’s coat of arms. And since the Reformer patterned his teaching after the greatest of all apostles, the west tower window bears the emblem of St. Paul, the shield of faith. This is a simple Latin cross place upon a shield. It is the symbol of Christian faith for which the believer is to contend earnestly.

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The Parlor Window was given to Immanuel by member Dan and Karen Bitner in 2002.  The window was designed and built by Dan. Dan explains the meaning of the design as follows: The six panes together represent the Triune God. The four outside pieces, when viewed as one, is a beam of light from the clouds representing God the Father and creation. The top center panel represents God the Son, his death and resurrection.  The bottom pane represents God the Holy Ghost and baptism.

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