In the mid 19th century, thousands of European immigrants poured into Texas. In our area many of them were German, and many were Lutheran. They brought their customs, their work ethic, their emphasis on Christian education, and their faith. Today Emanuel's Lutheran Church is a reflection of those valued principles and the blessings of God.
The earliest known Lutheran missionary work in Texas dates back to 1850 when the Lutheran Synod of South Carolina sent two pastors from Basle, Switzerland, to this fertile mission field. Within a year, Pastor Theobald Kleis established a congregation and built St. Martin's, a small church in Neighborsville, a community near New Braunfels. Pastor Kleis conducted his first sermon in Seguin on November 23, 1851. The seed was planted.
Due to ill health, Pastor Kleis left Texas. In 1869 his replacement, Pastor Johannes Wohlslagel, a free-time missionary, made great progress in Seguin. A small group of 19 families was gathered and a constitution was written and adopted on January 30, 1870, the 4th Sunday after Epiphany. "Deutsche Evangelist Lutheran Emanuels Gemeinde" was the chosen name for this congregation. All early church records are in the German language. All sermons were in German until the 1940's.
New names immediately appeared on the church rolls, some families that to this day continue to provide strength and leadership to the church. On January 15, 1870, this block of land was purchased for $400. The membership agreed to contribute money and /or labor for the construction of a church building. Six months later, on August 4, 1870, the building was dedicated with a grand ceremony.
The new building was used for both worship and free public education five days a week. Pastors had the heavy burden of serving as both preachers and teachers. Emanuel's became the "Cradle of Public Education" in Seguin, being established prior to the public education system in 1892. It became a parish school for a short time but was forced to close due to decreasing enrollment. It was not until the late 1940's that Emanuel's again established a parish kindergarten and shortly afterward added a first grade. Today we point with pride to Emanuel's Lutheran Day School.
With the arrival of the Lutheran College in 1912, increased enrollment at Emanuel's required the construction of a larger house of worship. It was dedicated in 1913 and served us until our present building was erected in 1956. Interestingly enough, the first two buildings each served us for 43 years and all three have been located on the exact same site.
The early years of the 20th century saw the enrollment of the Sunday School, women's societies, our music program, the Luther League, and the Boy Scouts grow to such an extent that a parish hall became a necessity by 1928. With its seating capacity of 900 it became the largest auditorium in Seguin. It served not only the needs of Emanuel's, but also those of Texas Lutheran College and the entire community.
In spite of tumultuous times in the early years of Emanuel's, the guiding hand of God helped us endure. From those hard-working dedicated pioneers has emerged our present congregation of approximately 500 baptized members. Through the leadership of the many dedicated, effective pastors over the years, our congregation has been nurtured and strengthened.
In 1997 the Parish House was replaced with the current structure that includes classrooms and office space.
Over the years Emanuel’s has been served by many dedicated pastors and in early 2016 the congregation prepared itself for another pastoral change. In the second half of 2016 we formed a team that will lead us in the search for our next permanent pastor. This is a time of transition, but it is an exciting time. You are invited to come and be a part of what God is doing in and through Emanuel’s Lutheran Church!