1853 – Services begin, conducted by “Circuit Pastor” Friedrick Schmid, of Scio Township, who rode a horse around south-central Michigan, holding services in homes of people interested in starting churches

1855 – Emanuel First Evangelical Lutheran Church is formally founded – the same year as the Lansing State Journal and Michigan State University

Early congregational meetings are conducted (and minutes recorded) in German, because the members were almost all German immigrants. Another result of this heritage is that the original church bylaws stated that worship services “Shall forever be conducted in the German.”

1857 – first church building dedicated on December 6 – Emanuel has been located on the same city block ever since; prior to that, the congregation met in member’s homes and later in the “North Lansing School” building

1868 – First Christian day school established, and one-room school building constructed

1872 – First pipe organ installed in the church

1886 – First teacher called (the pastor had taught, up to this point)

1888 – Second room added to the school building

1899 – New school building constructed and dedicated

1907 – New pipe organ installed in the church

1909 – Fredrick M. Krauss installed as Emanuel’s 9th pastor

The original and new church buildings, side by side, ca 1917

Between the two churches, you can see the front of the second school building

1910 – Emanuel becomes a member of the Wisconsin Synod (this later became the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, or WELS), having previously been a member of the Ohio Synod and later the Michigan Synod

1912 – Property acquired for the new (present) church building

1915 – Ground-breaking ceremony held for present church building

1916 – Present church building dedicated on November 26

1921 – First associate pastor called (Pastor Karl F. Krauss, the son of Frederick and Emanuel’s 10th pastor)

1921 – First English language service held; German language services continued every week, in addition to English services

1922 – Two new parsonages built and dedicated

1926 – Pipe organ (moved from original church building) rebuilt and enlarged

1927 – Christian Day School closed

1941 – Pastor Frederick M. Krauss retired after 50 years in the ministry – 32 at Emanuel

1941 – Mr. V. J. Schulz installed as Director of Education and Music

1953 – Pastor Leonard Koeninger installed as co-pastor (11th pastor)

1953 – Centennial Hall for Parish Education dedicated

1964 – Three main stained-glass windows installed, church redecorated, and carpet replaced

1965 – Lutheran Collegians organized at MSU under the leadership of Emanuel’s co-pastor

1968 – Reformation Chapel built and dedicated, between the church proper and Centennial Hall

1968 – Pastor Koeninger accepted a call to serve sister congregation in the Pontiac/Livonia area

1968 – Pastor Daniel M. Buske installed as co-pastor (12th pastor)

1979 – Pastor Karl F. Krauss retired after 58 years in the ministry – all served at Emanuel

1979 – Pastor John F. Vogt installed as co-pastor, in June (13th pastor)

1983 – April 28, Reopening and dedication of Lutheran Elementary School with 33 students in grades 1 – 8, one teacher and a teacher/principal, each teaching 4 grades

1983 – April 28, Robert Kugler installed as first principal/teacher of reopened school – served until accepting another call in 1987

1985 – October 20 barrier-free access ramps to church sanctuary and basement dedicated

1987  Kindergarten added to the school, with a dedicated teacher

1988 – David Jacobs installed as principal, served until 1991

1989 – Day care center opened in former janitor’s house

1989 – A small group of volunteers undertake a complete rebuild of the church pipe organ, section by section; this project takes several years to complete. Multiple ranks of pipes from previous installations were repurposed and used in the rebuilt instrument, including one rank discovered to have a note written in pencil by Karl F. Krauss when he was a boy, stating that “I sometimes pump the organ for Sunday worship services”

1991 – Ronald Zahn installed as principal, served until 2001

1994 – November 20 – dedication of new building project after $2.5 million investment to renovate major portions of Centennial Hall and build eight new classrooms, new gymnasium, new kitchen and reconfigured church office complex – this project also included construction of a new parsonage across the road from the new classroom wing of the building

1999 – Pastor Vogt accepted a call to serve as the “WELS Friendly Counselor” to churches in Scandinavia

1999 – Pastor Paul J. Lindloff installed as co-pastor (14th pastor) and continues to serve

2002 – Pastor Buske retired as full-time pastor after serving Emanuel for 34 years; continued to assist with writing occasional special services, teaching special Bible Classes and serving in many other ways through approximately 2014

2002 – June 16, last weekly German language service held

2002 – Pastor Timothy H. Buelow installed as co-pastor (15th pastor)

2004 – Daniel Hosbach installed as principal and continues to serve

2009 – Pastor Buelow accepted a call to serve a church in Missouri

2010 — Maundy Thursday service held in German; German services held once a month.  Advent theme “How lovely shines the Morning Star” was used for services December 1, 12 (choir service) and 19 (carol service).

2011– Mission Festival held February 27 featured Pastor Carl Otto from St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Saginaw, MI.  Emanuel began live streaming its worship services in the spring of the year.  

2012 — The Pastoral Staff Study Committee made its first presentation on calling a second pastor; fund raising for this purpose was approved.  The WELS School of Worship Enrichment held a weekend retreat at Emanuel, with attendees from many congregations around the state.

2013 — Sanctuary refurbishments and plans included roof repairs to the church and a new rendering of sanctuary repairs.  The school roof was also repaired.

2014 — Pastor Emeritus Daniel Buske prepared special services in anticipation of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of our present sanctuary.  The theme: “Your church is talking to you.”  A “Celebration of Ministry” Sunday was held September 14, recognizing the 25th anniversary in ministry of Mr. Joel Pankow and Pastor Paul Lindloff.

2015 — Special services commemorating the 160th anniversary of the congregation focused on our stained glass windows.  These services were held in February, May, September and November.

2016 — The first outdoor worship service was held on Emanuel’s campus September 11.

2017 — Emanuel voted to begin the calling an associate pastor.

2018 — In September, Pastor Joel A. Voss was installed as Emanuel’s 16th pastor.

2019 — The Covid 19 pandemic prevented members from worshipping in our sanctuary for eleven weeks (March – May).  Principal Daniel Hosbach retired.

2020 – Mr. Joel Pankow accepts the call to serve as principal of Emanuel Lutheran School.

2021 — Easter Sunday worship included an Easter breakfast consisting of individually wrapped items and social distancing.  Time for fellowship continues to be extremely important and needed.  An activity for children was also held in the sanctuary taking a look at the cricifixion and resurrection stained glass windows.

2022 — Mr. Pankow accepts the call to serve as teacher/principal at St. John Ev. Lutheran Church, Goodhue, MN.  Mr. Matthias Borgwardt accepted Emanuel’s call for an emergency instructor of grades 6-8 for the 2022-2023 school year.  In October, the congregation began calling for a principal for the school.

Emanuel still has current members that are descendants of some of the founding members and many other members whose parent(s) were or are lifelong members

During the first 50 years, Emanuel was served by eight pastors and since 1909, only eight pastors have served: Frederick M. Krauss, Karl F. Krauss, Leonard Koeniger, Daniel Buske, John Vogt, Paul Lindloff, Timothy Buelow and Joel Voss. For most of that time Emanuel has had two co-pastors

For information on the stained glass windows of Emanuel, please go to: and enter data in the search fields provided to find Emanuel Lutheran, Lansing, MI. These photos and information were provided by a member of Emanuel and are used with permission.

The original and new church buildings, side by side, ca 1917

Between the two churches, you can see the front of the second school building

History Body

The original and new church buildings, side by side, ca 1917

Between the two churches, you can see the front of the second school building