Our Beliefs & History

Who We Are

Immanuel Lutheran is both a church and a school serving the Wisconsin Rapids and surrounding communities for over 140 years! We are a member congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and a part of the North Wisconsin District.

Our Mission

Immanuel Lutheran Church and School exists to share the love of Jesus, grow in faith, and serve community.

Share the Love of Jesus
Share the Love of Jesus

God commands all believers—us—to share the love that he gave us. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” Any love we have is a gift we have received, and we can joyfully give it away. The amazing thing about love is that we give it away, yet we never run out of it when Jesus is our source. Sharing the Good News of what Jesus Christ has done for us—forgiving us and securing our home in heaven—is the greatest expression of love there is!

Grow in Faith
Grow in Faith

We are also encouraged to be continually growing in our faith! Just as a professional sports player must attend practices and keep his or her body in shape, or just as a teacher or professional must keep their education and training current to be of the best use, so the Christian must keep up to date in their faith too. God’s Word never changes. He is the same, today, tomorrow, and forever, but how he touches our hearts and our lives changes from day to day, sometimes even hour to hour. Our challenge and joy is to be faithful in worship, Bible study, and service! Our salvation is secure through Jesus Christ, but our relationship with God does not end there. James 4:8 tells us to “draw near to God and he will draw near to us.” God also tells us in 2 Peter 3:18 to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” so that we won’t fall into habits and teachings that aren’t God-pleasing.

Serve Community
Serve Community

Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave us the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:19–20, and at Immanuel we believe that commission is for all believers. We seek to serve community in our town, in our county, in our state, in our nation, and throughout the world. We seek to find ways to help people where they have needs and then share the Good News of Jesus with them.

Our Beliefs

The Trinity

Although Scripture never uses the terms “triune” or “trinity,” all three persons of the godhead are mentioned throughout the Bible. God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three simultaneous persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are coequal and are one God.

God the Father

Jesus speaks of God the Father, and even states that his mission is to reconcile us to the Father. The Father is the Maker of Heaven and Earth, of all things visible and invisible. Genesis 1 describes his work of creation, and even delighting in it being “very good.” He gave mankind the mandate to care for the earth. We messed it up instead, but that’s why he sent Jesus to restore it and make it new again. As the earth awaits its restoration, God still continues his creative and sustaining work. It’s our job to care for it!

Genesis 1–3 | John 20:17 | John 3:16


The only begotten son of God, Jesus was born but not made. He is coeternal with God the Father and is the embodiment of God, who in order to redeem you from your sins, put on the flesh and made his home on earth. Jesus was killed on a cross, and he rose from the dead. It’s the basis of everything we believe. Because he rose from the dead, we have to take seriously what he claimed, what he taught, and what he believed. Jesus came to the earth as a fellow human being, 100% man. But he lived a sinless life. He taught disciples, healed the hurting, loved the outcasts, and raised the dead. He was also 100% divine. In perfect love, he offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to atone for the sins of all people by dying on a cross. He rose from the dead after three days to demonstrate his power over sin and death. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father as loving Lord over all. He promises to return again to raise the dead and renew all things in the resurrection to come. Then, he will usher in a new age: a new creation where all things are made new.

Matthew 1:22–23 | Isaiah 9:6 | John 1:1–5, 14:10–30 | Hebrews 4:14–15 | 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 | Romans 1:3–4 | Acts 1:9–11 | 1 Timothy 6:14–15 | Ephesians 4:4–6 | Revelation 21:5

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is God, equal with the Father and with Jesus. He makes us aware of our need for Jesus Christ. He is responsible for bringing us to faith in Jesus; apart from him we are only enemies of God. He provides believers with power for living, understanding spiritual truth, and guidance in doing what is right. As Christians, we seek to live joyfully under his daily control.

2 Corinthians 3:17 | John 16:7–13, 14:16–17 | Acts 1:8 | 1 Corinthians 2:12, 3:16 | Ephesians 1:13 | Galatians 5:25 | Ephesians 5:18

The Bible

Simply put, the Bible is how God intervened in our human history. We don’t believe the Bible because it fell down from Heaven. It was written by imperfect people. But we trust the Bible as the absolute word from God because Jesus (who rose from the dead and has such authority) said it was true. The Holy Spirit was active in the authors’ writings, both Old and New Testaments. Throughout his ministry, Jesus affirmed the writings of the Old Testament as trustworthy and true. At the end of his earthly ministry, he commissioned his disciples to speak the word of God and proclaim the Gospel (which includes their writing of the New Testament) by breathing the Holy Spirit upon them. Thus we claim that like Jesus, the Bible is 100% human and 100% divine.

The Bible is God’s word to us, but by recognizing that the Bible came to us through human means over a period of thousands of years, God’s word is “bigger” than the Bible. The Bible is the standard and primary authority on God’s word, but knowledge of the Messiah and Jesus predated the Bible. God’s word is God’s promises and purposes for us. That means we can go out and speak the word in our own words, as long as it is in agreement with the teachings of the apostles via the Scriptures.

2 Timothy 3:16 | 2 Peter 1:20–21 | 2 Timothy 1:13 | Psalm 119:105, 160, 12:6 | Proverbs 30:5


People are made in the image of God. That means that we were made to be like God in taking care of his creation. He made us the crown of creation in order to care for the rest of it. But after sin entered the world through humans, every person is conceived and born with the spiritual condition called original sin. It’s a curse. It’s why we do bad stuff. It’s why bad stuff happens to us. It’s the sickness of the world. It’s why death happens. Worse yet, our disobedience toward God—our sin—is what separates us from God. Our sin and the sins of others cause life’s problems. Our sin is why we need forgiveness. It’s why God is doing something about it in Jesus.

Genesis 1:27 | Psalm 8:3–6 | Isaiah 53:6 | Romans 3:23 | Isaiah 59:1–2


Salvation is God’s free gift to us in Jesus Christ. We can never make up for our sin by self-improvement or good works. It’s only by trusting in Jesus Christ that we are saved from sin—and we can’t even do that apart from the Holy Spirit intervening in our life! We trust in Jesus’s death and resurrection as the act of salvation that offers the forgiveness of our sins and our adoption into God’s family.

Romans 6:23 | Ephesians 2:8–9 | John 14:6 | John 1:12 | Titus 3:5 | Galatians 3:26 | Romans 5:1


People were created to exist forever. That makes death bad—and the enemy. We will either exist eternally separated from God because of sin, or eternally with God through forgiveness and salvation because of Jesus. Hell is simply the eternal separation from God and all the life that he offers. But to be in union with him is eternal life because he is the Life-Giver! We look forward not to just a heavenly existence with clouds, sunshine, rainbows, and strumming harps, but an eternal home. We look forward to Earth, our home, being made new and perfected. In that New Creation, Jesus will bring Heaven on Earth, and we will dwell with him on this planet forever.

John 3:16, 2:25 | John 5:11–13 | Romans 6:23 | Revelation 20–21 | Matthew 1:8, 2:44, 46

Our Story

In 1881, God inspired a group of his people, under the guidance of Pastor F. Leyhe, to start Immanuel Lutheran in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin. The first constitution, dated December 1881, along with subsequent constitutions in 1897 and 1913, were written in German. In 1883, the first church building was erected on the corner 8th Street and Prospect. In March of 1884, Immanuel Lutheran School was started, with classes taught in the balcony of the church by the pastor. In 1886, a school building was constructed at the back of the church.

By 1889, there were 65 children enrolled in the school and a teacher was hired to assist the pastor. The next year, Mr. F. Schaefer became the first called teacher to serve Immanuel Lutheran School, as enrollment continued to rise.

As Immanuel continued to grow both in church membership and school enrollment, they found themselves outgrowing their current building, and in 1909, they built the present building we still worship in today. Classes for the day school continued to be held in the church basement until church purchased property at the corner of 11th Street and Oak, where school continues to operate.

"Reimagining Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, we focus on the spiritual growth of God's people in order to bring the gospel to as many people as possible."
Our Vision