Immanuel Lutheran is a congregation founded 133 years ago by Norwegian immigrants who wanted to maintain their Norwegian and Lutheran identities that they brought with them from the Old World. The congregation grew in membership from the post-World War II baby boom through the 1980s. The Norwegian identity receded into the background during this time and we are now, although still strongly Norwegian, of many backgrounds. In 1949, a new church structure was built which now includes three additions. ILC became a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 1988 when its former church body, the American Lutheran Church, merged with two other Lutheran bodies. Today we are a smaller membership church whose members continue to actively reach out in the community, especially in helping those who are economically disadvantaged.
Immanuel has members who live throughout the Wausau community and serves the area-wide community. Situated in the downtown area, it is bounded on three sides by lower income areas and on the east side by moderate to higher income housing. The congregation has always been outreach oriented, especially in terms of membership involvement, playing key parts in the creation of local organizations. These include the United Way, Faith in Action, Habitat for Humanity, and Greater Wausau Christian Association. The congregation supports community wide services for those in need. In recent years this has meant collecting food for the Neighbor's Place, supporting Thrivent Builds (a Habitat for Humanity project), supporting a neighborhood preschool, supporting community ministry programs, and participating in serving community suppers. Our benevolent efforts have extended worldwide with support of Lutheran World Relief projects, connecting personally with our sister congregation in South Africa, and participating on teams doing flood relief and building projects. Benevolence support has always been a central mission of Immanuel Lutheran. The service efforts of the past are a living history that projects potential mission sites for the congregation and its mission going forward.