The first Lutheran service in Waterloo was held on Reformation Day in the year 1898 in the Courthouse by seminarian Edward Koehler. The congregation was officially organized on January 13, 1901, under the guidance of Rev. Franz J. Pieper with five charter members and the German name, “Die Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Immanuel’s Gemeinde, U.A.C., zu Waterloo, Illinois.” While Waterloo’s congregation was initially supported heavily by the Lutheran church in Warburg, Waterloo’s congregation became a parish itself as a part of a dual parish with Rev. Franz J. Pieper serving both the Lutheran church in Waterloo and Wartburg.
The Voters’ Assembly of ten members voted to build their first church in January 1907. The church was built on a plot of ground on the south edge of Waterloo donated by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Stickann. The cornerstone was laid in 1907, and the building was dedicated on December 8th, 1907. The first church bell to call people to worship was purchased and dedicated in June 1909. In 1916 Immanuel officially became a member of “The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States” (now the LCMS). The Lutheran church in Columbia had also been assisting the church in Waterloo, but in February of 1921, with the full support of surrounding congregations, the congregation in Waterloo resolved to continue independently from the Lutheran congregation in Columbia, with only some support from the district until 1929.
The current church building and parsonage (as well as a school house at one point before a fire and renovations) stand on a property which was purchased in 1922. The German congregation began conducting one English service per month starting in July 1923. The constitution was originally written in German but was rewritten in English in 1938 and meetings were conducted in English thereafter. The church’s name changed to “Immanuel Lutheran Church, Waterloo, Illinois” on September 3, 1944. That same year the property across the street from Immanuel’s church and school was purchased for a new education building and parking lot to be added. By the late 1940s, English services were being added with greater frequency and membership was increasing. The increase led to a new school building and additional teachers. The ed building was a welcome addition and was used starting in 1950.
With the growth in membership, the existing church building was also too small, so services were moved to the basement of the ed building and the old church building was converted into a teacherage in 1954. The original church building still stands and is now home to a Waterloo family. The congregation had established committees to move forward with the construction of a new church building, and broke ground on April 11, 1954. The cornerstone was laid on June 13, 1954, and there was a week long celebration of dedication (with five services) held from February 13-20, 1955. The building dedicated in 1955 still stands and has been renovated, as well as added onto, over the years as a place for God’s people in Waterloo to come praise God and to receive His good gifts.
After Seminarian Edward Koehler’s efforts from 1898-1901 to assist with Immanuel’s establishment, many pastors have accepted the Call to rightly proclaim God’s Word and administer the sacraments to God’s people.
Rev. Franz J. Pieper, Pastor 1901-1916
Rev. Herhardt Groerich, Pastor 1916-1921
Rev. W. H. Youssi, Pastor 1922-1951
Rev. E. E. Meseke, Pastor 1951-1956
Rev. Leland Lochhaas, Pastor 1957-1965
Rev. Keith Knippenberg, Pastor 1966-1967
Rev. Arthur Otto, Pastor 1968-1973
Rev. Robert C. Preece, Pastor 1973-1990
Rev. Herbert Mueller, Pastor 1990-1994
Rev. Robert Weise
Rev. Andrew Moore
Rev. Todd Wilken
Rev. Antonin (Tony) Troup, Administrative Pastor 1995-2019, Associate Pastor 2019-2022
Rev. Kyle Sandersfeld, Associate Pastor 1997-2005
Rev. Matthew Clark, Associate Pastor 2007-2013
Rev. Merritt Demski, Associate Pastor 2016-2019, Administrative Pastor 2019-Present
If you’d like to see more of our history, and to get to know us even more, please feel free to call, email, or visit.