Churches | Immanuel Lutheran Church
131 West Main St. | (585) 872-5180 | immanuelwebster.org
By Jon Anderson and Marguerite Manning
In 1860, twenty families from the German community in Webster decided to form a church based upon the United Church or the Evangelical Church doctrines. In 1868, the congregation adopted a new constitution declaring itself as following the doctrine of the Lutheran church and designated the congregation as the German Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church was first located on the corner of Five Mile Line and Ridge Rds. Rev. J. U. Hoffman was the first pastor. The church purchased its present location on 131 West Main St. in 1885 from Robert Cary. Over the years, many changes and improvements have occurred under the leadership of twelve different pastors.
As we continue the story of Immanuel Lutheran Church from 1970, Rev. Franklin Blank is the pastor. Pastor Blank, who had served as pastor for 24 years, retired in December of 1974 and was named Pastor Emeritus. The Rev. Dr. John F. Beeg was called by the congregation and was installed on April 6, 1975 as Immanuel’s 10th pastor. Pastor John, his wife Mary Jane, and their two daughters purchased their own home; the parsonage next to the church became a “Gathering Place” for several years, used for meetings, Sunday School, and breakfast between worship services. In 1982, the building was razed. During Pastor John’s more than 25 years as pastor, the congregation developed many new programs including: Deacons, Handbell Choirs, Endowment Fund, Director of Education Ministries, Youth Ministry Director, and online financial. Changes in the worship practices which included a weekly children’s message during worship, a new hymnal [With One Voice] and liturgy [Now the Feast and Celebration] , weekly continuous communion at both services, and first communion held in the home. Easter Sunrise at 6:30 AM, Thanksgiving Eve and 5PM Christmas Eve services were added. Confirmation was changed to occur on Pentecost for 9th graders and they attended Confirmation Camp for a week. Bethel Bible Study was held.
Community outreach involved the Webster Cooperative Nursery School, sponsorship of a Laotian family with help in resettlement, and work at several Habitat for Humanity homes. Immanuel Lutheran Church also provided space for Scout troops, Toastmasters, AA, Al-Anon, and Tough Love. It supported Webster Food Cupboard, Williamson Come-Unity Center, and Rochester Food Cupboard. Members volunteered at the Open Door Mission and established a Prayer Chain and a Shepherding program.
Major renovations to the church property brought handicap-accessible bathrooms, vinyl siding, a free-standing altar and sanctuary cross, oak front doors, the newly-designed and rebuilt organ and choir loft moved from the front of the church to the enlarged balcony. Changes were made to the Fellowship Hall and the downstairs rooms, including the kitchen, choir room and offices. A library was created and filled with books. The total cost of the renovations was $73,956 with the members doing much of the labor. A carillon with chimes and public address system was added to the bell tower. The sanctuary was air-conditioned. A new addition to the north side of the building housed a Dover elevator and was dedicated in April 1997. The addition and elevator cost $83,426.
In March of 1991, a portion of the church property on the northside [140’ x 281’] was sold for $42,0000 to Grace Community Services for construction of a group home for developmentally disabled adults.
Shortly after the church celebrated with Pastor John the 15th anniversary of his ordination on May 15, 1984, he became ill with cancer. He had extensive surgery and a long recovery. During that time [Sept, 1986 – June, 1987] Pastor Lorraine Frampton, who had been ordained at Immanuel on July 20,1980, served as Interim Pastor.
The church celebrated together 12 decades of service to the community in 1988. The congregation called Pastor Paul Klett, a retired Army chaplain, as part-time pastor form April, 1989 – May, 1991.
August 15, 1993 was Archives Sunday and the church celebrated 125 years of heritage and history. On June 25, 1994 the congregation celebrated with Pastor John again, this time his 25th anniversary of ordination. Pastor John and Mary Jane retired to Winston-Salem, NC in September, 2001 after leading the congregation for over 26 years. At the time of his retirement active membership stood at 492. Pastor John was named Pastor Emeritus after he moved.
Pastor David Roppel was appointed by the Synod as the Intentional Interim Pastor. He served from November, 2001 – June, 2003. Under his leadership, the congregation continued its active involvement and developed ideas for future growth. Pastor Dave celebrated his 30 year anniversary of ordination with the congregation before he left.
The Rev. Dr. Paul E. Shoop was installed as the 12th pastor of Immanuel on September 21, 2003. Pastor Shoop and his family [wife Joan and sons Joel and Jeremy] purchased a home in Webster and became part of the church family. During Pastor Shoop’s pastorate a new hymnal [Evangelical Lutheran Worship] was introduced and new programs were developed including Lenten soup suppers, use of Holden Evening
Prayer liturgy for midweek Lenten service, Music at Immanuel series, Milestone Ministries [recognition of milestones in faith life], Triennial National Youth Gatherings in New Orleans, San Antonio, and Detroit, WOW! [Wellness on Wednesdays!], and LIfetree Cafe, interaction with its sister synod on Zambia, God’s Work Our Hand. The church established the ”Celebrate, Grow, Serve” fund started by a generous bequest, constructed a Memorial Garden and buried a time capsule in the garden during the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the church. The capsule will be opened on the 150th anniversary of the congregation’s founding in 2018. During this time the church also saw the implementation of the Back Pack program which provides food weekly to the needy elementary school children in Webster, the creation of two booklets for congregational use, “52 Great Bible Verses” and “52 Songs of Faith”, a 5 PM Sunday service as an alternative worship, support for the Shortz Scholarship Fund, Webster Council of Churches, People Pushing at St John’s Home and RIT Campus Ministry, to name a few along with the establishment of a website. Additional improvements were made in technology, sanctuary refreshing and refurbishment including support bars for the walls and broadcasting worship services over local cable channel and recording DVDs for homebound members. Social statements by the national church [Lutheran Church in America] led to discussion groups grappling with Genetics and Sexuality issues. Pastor Paul took a three-month sabbatical in 2013 to study worship practices at other churches. He retired form full-time ministry in 2015 when active membership was 459.
Pastor Joanne Groman-Stewart was called to Immanuel in October, 2015 and installed as pastor on January 17, 2016. In the time that Pastor Joanne has been at Immanuel, the church has begun Dinner Church the first Sunday evening of the month, Blessing of Animals service, Advent and Lenten videos, Advent breakfast Bible study, and a Women’s Retreat. The congregation is in the midst of a Visioning Study, concentration on Hunger ministry and Youth and Family Ministry, looking toward the future.
|Rev. J. H. Huffman||1869-1870|
|Rev. G. H. Schoemperlen||1870-1872|
|Rev. C. R. Gerndt||1872-1884|
|Rev. H. Walbaum||1885-1888|
|Rev. John H. Kirsch||1888-1889|
|Rev. G. T. Arndt||1889-1939|
|Rev. Erich O. Brandt||1939-1950|
|Rev. Franklin K. Blank||1950-1974|
|Rev. John Beeg||1974-2001|
|Rev. David Roppel||2001-2003|
|Rev. Paul Shoop||2003-2015|
|Rev Joanne Groman-Stewart||2015-|
- Dunn, Esther, Webster Through the Years, Webster, NY Webster Town Board, 1971, p 87-89.
- Anderson, Jon, Manning, Marguerite, Immanuel Lutheran Church, history of Immanuel Lutheran Church, February, 2018.
- “Open House to Honor Pastor, Wife”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, December 23, 1974, p 28.
- Picture of organ dedication, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, October 28, 1987.
- 125 years Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church 1868-1993”, Webster, NY, 1993.
- “Village church celebrates 125th anniversary Oct.3”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, September 28, 1993, p 7.
- “Mementos highlight church’s anniversary”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, September 28, 1993, p 2.
- “Immanuel Lutheran pastor retires after 25 years”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, August 22, 2001, p 8B.
- Webster Church box, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Webster Historian Office, Webster Museum, 2017.
- Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2018, https://immanuelwebster.org/