LODA — The Immanuel Lutheran Church in Loda will celebrate its 70th anniversary with a special 10:30 a.m. worship service officiated by the Rev. Earl Kinnee on Sunday, Oct. 13.
During the service, many hymns that were sung at past anniversary services will be sung. A special anthem will also be sung by Sherry Janowski and her daughter, Grace Howes, who are both past members of the church. The church’s choir will also sing a special anthem. A catered, old-fashioned Sunday chicken dinner will be served, as well.
The church was formed after the Rev. E.M. Goltermann of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Buckley conducted a survey in Loda in 1948 to determine whether people were interested in starting a mission church. It soon became evident that there was a desire and need for a Lutheran church in Loda.
The first service was conducted on Nov. 7, 1948, at the local funeral home, Kelly Memorial Chapel. There were 63 people in attendance with the Rev. Goltermann leading the service.
Over the past 70 years, the church has been served by 25 pastors and vicars — some serving as many as 21 years and others as few as one. Of the original 17 charter members, Gwen Ennen of Paxton is the only one still living. She still worships at the church.
Services continued every Sunday evening until February 1949, when the members of the disbanded Merriam Congregational Church offered the use of their vacant building for services. The trustees soon made an offer to buy the building, and the offer was accepted. The mission was organized on Oct. 11, 1949, into a congregation named the Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church. The congregation still worships in this building, although many upgrades and improvements have been made over the past 70 years. In addition to the basement being dug, a kitchen and restrooms were installed and Sunday school rooms, a meeting room and an office addition were added. Also, the building now is air conditioned and has an elevator.
The church’s members have always been very busy in their church and community. For 45 consecutive years, the church hosted a complete turkey dinner open to the public. The first was served in November 1959 and the last in November 2004. At one time, the church was serving 650 meals in a four-hour period, including 450 meals served as a family-style, sit-down dinner and 200 meals as carryouts.
Today, the congregation is small in number but is still worshipping on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. with coffee, snacks and Bible study following the service.