|Emanuel United Church of Christ||
When the thirteen men who founded Emanuel Church met in 1862 to formally organize a congregation, they presented a microcosm of the wave of German immigrants that poured into Washtenaw County Michigan in the 1840’s and 1850’s. Having fled famine and the political and economic uncertainties that followed the Franco-Prussian War, they were determined to find a better life and brighter future for their children in the “New World”.
They were devoutly religious and whether they considered themselves Evangelical or Lutheran, they shared a strong desire to preserve and perpetuate the language and customs of the “Old Country”.
They ranged in age from 27 to 60 years and were considered well-established and fairly prosperous. Among their number were a wagon-maker/blacksmith, a shoemaker, a miller, a carpenter, two merchants and seven full-time farmers.
The founders of Emanuel and those who came after them were very diligent and systematic in their determination to guide their church to a successful future. Within four years the congregation had purchased an unused building in Soulesville [East Manchester] and moved it to the southwest corner of Wolverine and Vernon Streets in the village where it was subsequently enlarged and utilized by the ever-growing fellowship until December 1881. Within five years of formation, the congregation had developed a written constitution complete with by-laws governing every aspect of church life. The founders were especially determined to preserve their language and customs. For example, the constitution specifically decreed that “the language is and shall remain for all time, the German”.
After thirteen years, the congregation could afford to hire and support their own pastor instead of relying on supply pastors from Bethel Church in Freedom Township and in twenty years, the congregation had purchased an entire block on the main street of the town and had erected a large brick house of worship. By 1882, Emanuel was the largest church in the Village of Manchester. No longer an immigrant congregation, Emanuel Church had become a formidable force in the life of the community.
Established in 1862 by German immigrants, Emanuel Church has been a force for good in Manchester for over 150 years. Through the years, Emanuel has become a center of community activity. Her kitchen and meeting rooms are used by many and varied organizations and her Sanctuary is open to all. Her towering steeple with its chiming bells is an inspiration and a beacon of hope and faith. Just as Emanuel’s founders met the challenges of a changing language and culture, the people of Emanuel Church United Church of Christ today look forward to the future with courage and determination to serve God and all humankind.
God is still speaking. God is still with us.