Immanuel Lutheran Church is a vibrant worshipping body which has served the Bellevue community since 1943. This church held its first worship service on March 7, 1943 at the Presbyterian Church with 45 people attending. The next month the USO Club at the corner of Mission and Franklin in Bellevue was rented and the first service was held there on April 11. Lots were purchased at the corner of 24th and Franklin and groundbreaking for the new facility was held on September 19 with dedication services on November 14, 1943. When Articles of Incorporation were filed on October 9, 1944, Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church became official.
Looking ahead to the future area of expansion in Bellevue, the church building was sold in 1968 and land was purchased on Childs Road for relocation. In the interim, the congregation moved to the basement of the Southroads Shopping Center where they stayed for 12 years. Attendance declined, but eventually rebounded and by 1978 membership passed the 300 mark. Property was purchased at 104 Galvin Road North and groundbreaking took place on April 15, 1979 and the congregation moved into the new facility on December 4, 1979. The building was dedicated on January 13, 1980. Membership continued to grow and a fellowship hall with classrooms in the basement was added in 1989.
Through the years, we were pleased to have had several members of our congregation go on to seminary, including Rita Gardner, Pam Ciulla, Sandra Birchmeier, Theresa Garrison, Nicholas Clark and Joanna Kathol. Former Pastor David deFreese went on to serve as Bishop of the Nebraska Synod ELCA for twelve years. We have been involved with the Nebraska Synod’s Vicar Training program; Vicar Caleb Jeffers served from August 2014 through May 2015, Vicar David Bjorklund served here from August 2014 through July 2015, and Vicar Cara Jensen served from August 17, 2015 through November 2017.
In 2005, Pastor Terry Nielsen was privileged to travel to Moshi, Tanzania as part of a synod sponsored pastor exchange program and we were privileged to host Pastor James Nkya, an effort that formed a relationship with the Northern Diocese and Karanga Parish in Moshi that continues to this day. In 2015 Pastor Lowell Nelson participated in this same program and Pastor Fred Njama came to Bellevue for six weeks.
With the blessing of a new addition to our church in 2009, we have been able to reach out to the community to provide meeting spaces for several local groups, including regular meetings of AA, Al-Anon, the Bellevue Housing Authority, and other groups who meet periodically. We host the American Red Cross Blood Drive four times a year, hosted by our Parish Nurses who also provide monthly blood pressure screenings, timely CPR training, and a variety of other educational programs.
We have an active youth program including Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Confirmation classes for 7th & 8th graders, and camping at Camp Carol Joy Holling in Ashland, Nebraska. Our Jr. and Sr. High youth are involved in activities throughout the Synod and the Sr. High Mission Trips every summer are a highlight of their year. FUEL (Filling Up Every Life) is our Wednesday night program beginning with a meal, a variety of classes for youth and adults, and a brief worship service.
Our music program includes an Inspiration Choir at our traditional service and Praise Teams at our contemporary services, as well as a Men’s Choir, Chimes and Orff Instruments, brass ensembles, and special music by many of our members.
Many Bible studies and adult classes are offered during the week and on Sunday mornings led by Pastor, and lay leaders. We are a welcoming community of over 700 baptized and 550 confirmed members. We pray that God will guide us so that we will be a blessing to the Bellevue area for many years to come.