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History of Immanuel Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, is a congregation of the Northern Great Lakes Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

The congregation was originally organized on June 4, 1890, as the Scandinavian Lutheran Church Society of Rhinelander. On October 6, 1890, they purchased property to build the church building. They held their first service in a half-completed building November 19, 1890. Members of the congregation had done much of the work.

There was a continual conflict concerning which language, Norwegian or Swedish, should be used for worship. This led to the development of two congregations organizing

September 7, 1891, Immanuel's official starting date.

In 1922, the congregation voted to have half of the worship services in English and half in Swedish. This practice continued well into the 1930's.

The church also purchased the property where Immanuel currently stands in 1922. In 1929, the congregation built the orginal building on this site at a cost of slightly more than $17,000. Members added an addition in 1960. In 1981, Immanuel purchased two more lots for further expansion. The old buildings on these lots were torn down, and in 1997 Immanuel constructed its latest addition.

The mortgage for that addition in 1997 was paid off in June 2018, with a mortgage burning party held on July 29, 2018.

Throughout its history, the congregation of Immanuel has served the community proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Rhinelander grew from a small logging community in the late 1800's to a town of almost 8,000 in 2016. Immanuel has seen many changes, but remains faithful to the ministry to which we are called. 

Currently, the congregation has a membership of 212, and an average Sunday attendance at two services of 110.

Previous Pastors

Confirmation Classes

Pastor Norman Peterson

Pastor Norm Peterson served Immanuel from 1980 to 2013. He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and attended Augustana


Lutheran College in Rock Island, Illinois. He graduated in 1972. Peterson then attended Northwestern Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, earning a Masters of Divinity degree in 1976, with his ordination into the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) on May 23, 1976.

Pastor Norm's first parish was at a small rural church, Bone Lake Lutheran, in Luck, Wisconsin. Four years later he moved his young family to Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and began serving Immanuel on June 1, 1980.

Pastor Tammy Barthels

Pastor Tammy Barthels served Immanuel from 2015 to 2022. She was born and raised in the Wausau, Wis. area, and attended Wartburg


Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, and was an intern pastor at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Wausau from June 2013 to June 2014. Immanuel was her first, and only, call as pastor. 

She did a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education in 197 and worked with Hospice form 1997 to 2001. She completed a 3-year Spiritual Direction Program through the Franciscan Spirituality Center in LaCrosse, Wis., in 2005.

Pastor Tammy and her husband, Randy, have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Past Pastors

C.A. Rosander (1896-1898)

J.W. Johnson (1901-1904)

O.A. Landell (1908-1909)

Carl Silfversten (1915-1917)

Walter Lindberg (1920-1921)

Eben J. Alstatt (1922-1925)

Gunnard R. Grahn (1927-1938)

Albin Olson (1938-1942)

J.W. Raymond (1944-1947)

Chester I. Johnson (1948-1953)

Conrad L. Lindberg (1954-1969)

Earl Berndtson (1969-1980)

Norman C. Peterson (1980-2013)

Maxine Gray (Interim) (2013-1014)

Devon Barrix (Interim) (2014-2015)

Tammy K. Barthels (2015-2022)

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