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 Earl Berndtson

Pastor Earl H. Berndtson served Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church from 1970 to 1980.

Born in Minneapolis on October 11, 1920, to Aron and Mabel Berndtson, he grew up in Hastings, Minnesota.

Pastor Berndtson served in the U.S. Coast Guard for five years and attended the University of Minnesota and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College and then Agustana Lutheran Seminary.

He also served other churches in Wisconsin, North Dakota, Michigan and Minnesota.

Pastor Berndtson passed away at the age of 85 in 2006.

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-present)

Class of 2019
From left, Will Fortier, Pastor Tammy Barthels, Lily Fortier, Brittany Landphier (youth rep.), Tyler Morrison.
Class of 2018
Front row, from left, Mariah McCue, Anna Wood and Brock Snyder. Back row, from left, Pastor Tammy Barthels and Brittany Landphier (youth leader).
Class of 2017
From left, Kathryn Borski, Gabby Dennis, Pastor Tammy Barthels, Alex Fortier and Jeremiah Bellow.
Class of 2016
From left, Pastor Tammy Barthels and Lexi Morrison
Class of 2015
Front, from left, Eric Grulke, Ethan Snyder and Jake Wilmot. With Pastor Tammy Barthels.
Class of 2014
From left, Joe Schmitz, Lay Minister Jill Kusek, Clint McCue
Class of 2013
From left, Seth Hargraves, Kristina Jacobson, Lay Minister Jill Kusek and Madison Gregory.
Class of 2010
Pastor Norm Peterson, Tara Mann, Ryan Dart, Lay Minister Jill Kusek.
Class of 2009
Front row, Katie Rogalla, Brad Siede, Emily Fortier. Back row, Lay Minister Jill Kusek, Pastor Norm Peterson.
Class of 2008
Front row, Nathan Schmitz, Taylor Payne, Andrew Kroll. Back row, Pastor Norm Peterson, Adam Schmits, Lay Minister Jill Kusek.
Class of 2007
Front row, Kelsey Hargraves, Brittany Borski, Oliva Esqueda. Back row, Pastor Norm Peterson, Jenna Dart, Megan Wallace, Lauren Biscobing.
Class of 2006
Front row, Brittany Kircher, Megan Piehl. Back row, Matthew Shruck, Pastor Norm Peterson, Kaden Oldenburg.
Class of 2005
Front row, Alyssa Brinkman, Megan Biscobing, Allison Fortier, Taylor Pilat, Samantha Dart. Middle row, Derek Shimeck, Kevin Laspa, Jonathan Kroll, Ethan Rawlsky. Back row, Pastor Norm Peterson.
Class of 2004
Front row, Megan Dorion, Erin Piehl, Carol Meyer, Jenna VandenHeuvel. Back row, Cody Oldenburg, Pastor Norm Peterson.
Class of 2003
Front row, Nicole Hansen, Megan Shruck, Kaitlin Rawlsky, Kasi Blumreich, Lauren Wallace, Jessica Brinkman. Middle row, Marcus Kral, Jonathon Allen, Nicolas Diel, Brian Meyer, Daniel Kroll, Steven Chrisinger. Back row, Pastor Norm Peters.
Class of 2002
Front row, Amber Claflin, Alexander Dart, Rachel Cornelius. Back row, Michael Zahn, Pastor Norm Peterson, Joseph Dorion.
Class of 2001
Front row, Jacob Schultz, Jonathan Cork. Middle row, Brittany Meyer, Andrew Rawlsky, Christopher Uttech. Back row, Bishop Thomas Skrenes, David Chrisinger, Pastor Norm Peterson.
Class of 2000
Front row, Shauna Vanden Heuvel, Annette Jacobson, Angela Kusek, Bristel Fitzgerald, Danielle Hittle, Johanna Cable. Back row, Brian Johnson, Adam Winkler, Nick Janssen, Jeff Dillenberg, Mike Claflin, Pastor Norm Peterson.
Class of 1999
Andrea Sackett, Savannah Peterson, Ashley Eggman, Susanna Ehlers. Middle row, Ray Mode, Kellen Smith, Scott Kirby, Scott Scholtes. Back row, Pastor Norm Peterson.
Class of 1998
Front row, Charlie Strong, Heather Pilat, Brodee Ewert, Emily Briar, Beth Wetzel. Back row, Jason Kral, Alex Diel, Pastor Norm Peterson, Kristen Olcikas, Bobby Jo Paugel.
Class of 1997
Front row, Shannon Kirby, Rebecca Cornelius. Middle row, Emily Ehlers, Cassandra Smith, Tricia Dillenberg, Megan Hoffman. Back row, Paul Peterson, Daniel Wetzel, Robert Williams, Ryan Wetzel, Pastor Norm Peterson.
Class of 1996
Front row, Nick Olcikas, Michelle Scholtes, Kristi Johnson, Josh Kral. Back row, Andrew Hicks, Pastor Norm Peterson, Jesse Nett.
Class of 1995
Front row, Brandee Dunday, Sara Anderson, Amanda Briar, Dana Apfelbeck. Middle row, Lindsey Riemenschneider, Abbey Dall, Alina Janssen. Back row, Jeremy White, Kevin Brost, Daniel Cable, Pastor Norm Peterson.
Class of 1994
Front row, Jacob Hoover, Peter Wetzel, Todd Lehne, Dawn Ebert, Eric Johnson, Doug Strid. Back row, Pastor Norm Peterson, Aaron Peterson, Bishop Dale Skogman.
Class of 1993
Front row, Andy Brehm, Pastor Norm Peterson, Vicar Nancy Richmond, Joel Janssen. Second row, Mike Cheslock, Scott Hyovalti, Mark Riemenschneider.
Class of 1992
Front row, Holly Gregory, Mollie Gane, Suzanne Johnson, Sarah Peterson, Pastor Norm Peterson. Back row, Vicar Nancy Richmond, Jasmine Claflin, Kevin Groskopf, Amy Levijoki, Kari Grant.
Class of 1991
Front row, Sarah Harmon, Tricia Suess, Tara, Gregory. Middle row, Jeremy Sackett. Back row, Scott Shepherd, Jay Cheslock, Pastor Norm Peterson, Jason Buckmaster, Dan Brekke.
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We are an energetic community of faith located in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. We are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in the Northern Great Lakes Synod.



21 W. Timber Dr.

Rhinelander, WI 54501


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