Our History


In April, 6 young people were confirmed. In May we recognized 4 graduates. Emanuel participated in the community Vacation Bible School, which was held at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

Emanuel continues with its many service oriented programs. Wednesday evening Soul Food continues with its community dinner.

Emanuel participates in the community Thanksgiving dinner and in the Christmas Salvation Army Bell Ringers, and is host to an annual Red Cross Blood Drive.

Replaced all sidewalks on the north and east side of the church. Re-blacktopped the parking lot; expanded the handicapped parking; striped the new lot and replaced the parking stops.


In April, 3 young people were confirmed. In May we recognized 3 graduates. Emanuel participated in the community Vacation Bible School, which was held at Crossroads Church.

In June, Pastor Castello retired after 14 years of service to Emanuel Lutheran Church. A Call Committee was formed to work with the Synod office to identify candidates who may be interested in our vacancy at Emanuel.

Emanuel continues with its many service oriented programs. Wednesday evening Soul Food continues with its community dinner.

Emanuel participates in the community Thanksgiving dinner and in the Christmas Salvation Army Bell Ringers, and is host to an annual Red Cross Blood Drive.

W.R. Meyers Company was hired to work on the exterior of the church – sealing the brick, along with tuck pointing of the brick, fixing the sandstone and crosses, exterior painting, front steps and other various projects.


Nine young people confirmed their faith in April, and 3 young people were confirmed in October after completing catechism instruction. In May we recognized 5 graduates. The end of June the National Youth Gathering was held in Houston, TX.

Emanuel continues with its many service oriented programs. Wednesday evening Soul Food continues with its community dinner.

Emanuel participates in the community Thanksgiving dinner and in the Christmas Salvation Army Bell Ringers, and is host to an annual Red Cross Blood Drive.


The catechism students attended their annual retreat in April. This year’s retreat was held at Camp Palmer in Fayette. Confirmation was held in April with 4 young men and women affirming their faith. In May, 5 graduates were recognized and brunch was served in their honor. Sunday School Rally Day was held in September, to kick off the Sunday School year with a “hole” lot of fun. Emanuel once again participated in the community Vacation Bible School at The First Presbyterian Church in Napoleon.

Emanuel continues with its many service oriented programs. Wednesday evening Soul Food continues with its community dinner.

Emanuel participates in the community Thanksgiving dinner and in the Christmas Salvation Army Bell Ringers, and is host to an annual Red Cross Blood Drive.


In April, 7 confirmands stepped to the altar to participate in their first communion. In May we recognized 6 graduates. Emanuel hosted the community Vacation Bible School.

Emanuel continues with its many service oriented programs. Wednesday evening Soul Food continues with its community dinner.

Emanuel participates in the community Thanksgiving dinner and in the Christmas Salvation Army Bell Ringers, and is host to an annual Red Cross Blood Drive.


In March the catechism kids went to Camp Mowana with Pastor where they had Bible studies, games, a hike, and free time.

In April, 4 young people were confirmed after they completed catechism instruction. In May we had 5 young people graduate from High School, and we honored them with small gifts and a breakfast for them and their families.

Emanuel continues with its many service oriented programs. Wednesday evening Soul Food continues with its community dinner.

Emanuel participates in the community Thanksgiving dinner and in the Christmas Salvation Army Bell Ringers, and is host to an annual Red Cross Blood Drive.

Purchased new digital sound board (funded through a memorial). Purchased a new water heater. New stoves for the kitchen (donated through Soul Food).


Five young people confirmed their faith in April after successfully completing catechism instruction. In May we honored 4 graduates with small gifts and a breakfast for them and their families.

Emanuel continues with its many service oriented programs. Wednesday evening Soul Food continues with its community dinner.

Emanuel participates in the community Thanksgiving dinner and in the Christmas Salvation Army Bell Ringers, and is host to an annual Red Cross Blood Drive.

We had snow stops installed on the roof above the handicap doors on the side of the new entrance.


Emanuel continues with its many service oriented programs. Wednesday evening Soul Food continues with its community dinner.

    Emanuel participates in the community Thanksgiving dinner and in the Christmas Salvation Army Bell Ringers, and is host to an annual Red Cross Blood Drive.

    The Napoleon Community Band has their Christmas concert in Emanuel’s sanctuary.

    The 8th annual Henry County Crop Walk raised $1,660 with $415 being returned to Henry County and divided between the five congregations who sponsor a community meal in Napoleon.


 At the January 2011 Annual meeting ratification of previously approved Constitution and By Laws amendments were approved. Namely, creation of an Endowment Fund and Endowment Committee and to make the position of Treasurer an appointed position.

    In the July congregational meeting by 81% majority vote, the congregation authorized church council to move forward with the more extensive renovation Elevator/Restroom project. The Mel Lanzer Co. was awarded this project at a total cost of $328,000.

    The Congregation also authorized church council to arrange for financing of the project by loans from members rather than bank financing. Loans will be a minimum of $10,000 and are interest rate of 3% for a 10-year term.

    In October chruch council reported members responded to make loans for the renovation project and there are sufficient loans to complete the project. Construction is scheduled to begin November 1, 2011.


As of September 2010, the 2005 $185,000.00 Roof Loan has been paid off.

    At the October 2010 Congregational Meeting a proposed change to the Constitution was presented and approved to make the Treasurer’s position an appointed position rather than an elected position.

    The 6th Annual Crop Walk netted $1,920.00. Of this $480.00 will be returned to Henry County for Christmas Cheer and other food pantries.

    The Women of Emanuel continue their support to Lutheran World Relief. In 2010, 74 quilts, 33 school kits, 22 sewing kits, and 7 health kits were delivered to New Rochester, Ohio.

    Plans for the elevator repair and other additions and alterations are being discussed by the newly formed Elevator/Restroom Renovation Project Committee. A copy of the proposed drawing was sent to each member.


In February 2009 church council formed a committee to study the status of the elevator.

    A boiler computer control and outside thermometer were installed.

    In July 2009, five youths and two adults attended the ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans.

    At the October 2009 congregational Meeting a Constitutional and By Laws ammendment was approved to create the Mission Endowment Fund and the Endowment Committee. Presently approximately $43,000.00 will be deposited to this fund. This fund must reach $100,000.00 before any dispersments are made.

    The grand piano was refurbished in 2009. A harp was purchased to enhance the music program.


Emanuel continues to support various charities and community projects.

    “Soul Food” has been a Wednesday evening event for many years. There was discussion at August council meeting to expand this to reach community people in need of food and fellowships. Some time later it was decided to do this and it has been a great success.

    Every month Emanuel’s members donate to a “Giving/Donation Corner”. Each month is designated for a certain charity.

    The “Angel Tree” at Christmas has been a rewarding program. We adopt several families from the community and donate clothing and gifts, especially for the children.

    In 2008, the Mel Lanzer Co. donated the new fence, curb, and guardrail along the alley behind the church parking lot.

    Special offerings in 2008 were used toward the retirement of the roof loan.


On April 22, 2007 Emanuel Celebrated it’s 125th anniversary with special services at both 8am and 10:30am. Special offerings were designated toward the Renovation Loan. Another anniversary celebration was also held in October.

    By recommendation of synod, Emanuel Church Council voted to create and post a written policy for internet use.

    Emanuel participates in WNDH Radio broadcasting Sunday services several times a year. Emanuel also sponsors a devotion with “Good Word for Today!”


In January of 2006, “God’s Praying People Club” was formed. This kids prayer chain includes Sunday School children in grades 1- 5 and grade 8. The mission is “Linking our hearts to God through Prayer.”

In January 2006, cookbooks were compiled and sold. Delicious recipes were submitted by congregational members.

In July of 2006, five youth and two advisors attended the ELCA National Youth Gathering in San Antonio, TX.

In July of 2006, our supported missionary, Pastor John LeMond from Hong Kong, led the Thursday evening worship service. The service was followed by an ice cream social and fellowship.


Effective February 1, 2005, Angela Tonjes began her duties as our Organist/Music & Worship coordinator. She started two new musical groups, The Cherub Choir and the Rainbow Ringers, for children ages 6 years and up.

At a special congregational meeting on June 12, 2005, the congregation voted to replace the existing slate roof on the church and educational unit with a copper roof at a cost of $185,000. To fund this project, $100,000 was to come from the Martha Gebers estate and the rest was to be funded by an $85,000 loan. The roof was replaced during the summer of 2005 and the project was completed just before winter.

In 2005, Congregational Life board established a monthly “Giving/Donation Center” outreach ministry to help charitable organizations fulfill their wish lists.

In October of 2005, Emanuel assisted two families under the “Operation Christmas Care” program.

In November of 2005, the first annual Henry County CROP Walk took place under the leadership of Carol Castello. Proceeds support the Henry County Christmas Cheer and 6 food pantries in the county as well as World Hunger Relief.


In April of 2004, “Sharing Our Gifts” seminar was led by Pastor Alan Schwochow. This seminar provided an opportunity for us to learn more about the gifts the Holy Spirit has given to each of us through our baptism into Christ and how these gifts are to be used more fully.

In May of 2004, “Simply Giving,” a direct deposit form of giving to Emanuel was started.

During the summer of 2004, all the old shrubs were removed from the west side of the west side of the church and new drainage for the downspouts was put in so the water will run into the storm sewer on Scott Street. After the drainage project had been completed, the entire west side was landscaped by building a wall with landscape blocks and flowers and perrenials were planted in the raised portion of the bed. This work was all done by volunteers from the congregation.

At a special congregational meeting on September 26, 2004, the congregation voted to extend a call to Pastor James L. Castello who was currently serving a two point parish near Arcanum, Ohio. Pastor Castello accepted the call and was installed as pastor of Emanuel on November 28, 2004.


Pastor James E. Updegraff resigned his ministry at Emanuel in May of 2003 and then retired from the ministry later that year. During the time that Emanuel was without a pastor, substitute pastors were made available by the synod.

In 2003, Health Ministry Committee hosted “Active Parenting” classes.

In August of 2003, twelve youth and 4 advisors attended the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Atlanta.

During the summer of 2003, a project was completed to landscape the area around the front of the church and the bulletin board sign.

On September 1, 2003, Pastor Alan Schwochow began serving Emanuel as interim pastor. Pastor Alan completed his ministry on November 14, 2004 after having served Emanual for 1 year, 2 months, and 14 days. A farewell potluck was held for Pastor Alan on November 10, 2004.

In November of 2003, many members of Emanuel Lutheran Church helped with Napoleon’s 1st Community Thanksgiving Day dinner.


Jim Stadtlander of Mantua, Ohio, had been commissioned to carve the Risen Christ and the Means of Grace wood carvings for the archways at the front of the newly renovated sanctuary. The Risen Christ carving was delivered in time for our Easter Service on March 31, 2002 but the Means of Grace carvings were not delivered until July 27, 2002. The Means of Grace carvings were dedicated on Reformation Day, October 27, 2002.

Pastor Linda Rahe was installed as an associate minister on July 22, 2002. She resigned in May of 2003 and later accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran Church in Findlay, Ohio.

In June of 2002, our sponsored missionary, Pastor John LeMond from Hong Kong preached at both services, made a special presentation to the Sunday School children and was our guest at a potluck following the services.

In 2002, the Health Ministry Committee hosted a day trip to Frankenmuth, MI.

In 2002, Congregational Life Board published a tri-fold brochure outlining various programs at Emanuel Lutheran Church.


On Easter Sunday, April 15, 2001, the congregation held their first services in the newly renovated sanctuary.

Pastor Joy Miller left Emanuel to accept a call to Trinity Lutheran Church, Moulton, Ohio. Emanuel congregation held a farewell dinner for her on May 27, 2001. She had served Emanuel almost 5 1/2 years as associate pastor.

In May of 2001, a call committee was appointed to select and recommend a second pastor for Emanuel.

In May of 2001, the WELCA women hosted a Daughter Luncheon.

In July of 2001, members took an exciting canoe trip from Independence Dam to Napoleon.

Two youth choirs were formed in 2001 with Peg Snyder directing the Youth Choir (Grades 1-5) and Barb Hoffman directing the High School “Living Spirit” choir.

The Health Ministry started a “library” of health related books and information rack in 2001.

The Paschal Candle was our first oil filled candle purchased in 2001.

In 2001, white grape juice as well as wine became available during the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

On September 15, 2001, a Landscape work day was held where volunteers from the church landscaped the area on the east side of the church and educational unit. This is the area where the ground had been torn up to install the new drainage system for the church and educational unit.

On September 30, 2001 the congregation held its organ dedication service with Robert Hobby as our guest organist.

In October of 2001, Pastor Robert Mix, a member of Emanuel, was called to serve as interim pastor, assisting Pastor Updegraff during the vacancy. Pastor Mix started his ministry with Emanuel congregation on October 1, 2001 and concluded his service during July of 2002.

In the year 2001, Emanuel developed its own website. This website is maintained by a website committee which reports to the Congregational Life Board. The website contains information about our church, our newsletter, our history, and many photographs of our activities. Our web address is: http://www.emanuelnapoleon.org/


In February of 2000, Emanuel celebrated with Pastor Updegraff his 30th year in the ministry.

At the October 29, 2000 congregational meeting, the congregation moved “that the officers of Emanuel Lutheran Church of Napoleon, Ohio, Inc., be, and they hereby are, authorized to borrow upon such terms as they may deem proper such sum of money as may be necessary to pay the cost of the organ and building project, to execute such promissory notes and other documents that may be necessary to accomplish same, to mortgage the church property as may be necessary to serve the payments of any such loan, and to execute all instruments that may be required by any lender for such purpose.” The total estimate of the project was now at $736,534.00.

After the regular congregational meeting on October 29, 2000, members of Emanuel started dismantling the sanctuary of our church to get it ready for the renovation. All the woodwork was removed and all pews taken up and moved to a building on North Scott Street for refinishing. Arrangements were made to conduct services in the basement of the church until the renovation was completed.


In July of 1999, a new computer was purchased for the church office and a complete new phone system was installed. Toward the end of that year, the women’s restroom was spruced up by putting in new stalls and painting the walls. A new roof was put on the elevator building.


In 1998, to create a larger opening at the back door, double doors were installed. A time lock was also added so the door would automatically lock at the same time every day. At that same time, new stairway lighting was added.

On March 8, 1998, at a special congregational meeting, the congregation voted “that the congregation proceed with the proposed organ/sanctuary renovation project by authorizing church council to expend monies from the existing organ fund for the preparation of final plans and cost estimates for presentation to the congregation and further request council to initiate a fund raising campaign to determine the financial commitment of proceeding with the project.” Estimated costs of the project at that time were around $350,000 to $400,000.

Also in 1998, Emanuel’s Prayer Chain was formed, we added an inspirational bibly study led by Deb Weirauch and the Fit For The King exercise classes began with Judi Fortier as our instructor.


During the installation service for Pastor Joy Miller on January 21, 1996, word was received that Pat Bowsher had collapsed that morning at her home in Lima and she died later during the day.

The supplemental hymnal, “With One Voice” was introduced at Emanuel in 1996.

The Lutheran Home at Napoleon asked if they could make a presentation to our congregation on a proposed assisted living quarters, an addition to the Lutheran Home. A special meeting was called for May 5, 1996 and Mel Zehnder presented their plans for this addition. By recommendation of church council, the congregation voted to contribute $5,000 over a three year period.


On January 22, 1995, a special celebration was held to honor and thank Pastor Ritterling for his many years of faithful service to the members of Emanuel Lutheran Church.

In March of 1995, the congregation celebrated with our Pastor Jim Updegraff, the 25th anniversary of his ordination into the holy ministry.

At the April 30, 1995 congregational meeting, the congregation voted to change Pastor Updegraff’s call from Co-Pastor to Senior Pastor.

In the spring of 1995, a call was sent to, and accepted by, Patricia Bowsher of Lima to serve as a part time Associate in Minstry to assist Pastor Updegraff during the time that Emanuel is seeking a second pastor.

At the October 29, 1995 annual congregational meeting, Emanuel voted to call Pastor Joy Miller as Associate Pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church. Pastor Miller accepted that call and was installed on January 21, 1996.

After serving faithfully as interim minister at Emanuel from February 1995 to January 1996, Patricia Bowsher said her farewells at a special dinner in her honor.


In August 1994, Pastor Norman Ritterling announced that effective January 1, 1995, he would retire from the active ministry at Emanuel.


On February 25, 1993, Ron Schink died. Mr. Schink was the organist/music director at Emanuel for over 30 years and was the founder of the Men’s Bell Choir in 1962.

After Ron Schink’s death, Mrs. Pat Updegraff became our primary organist. To keep other organists in the area familiar with our organ and with the services at Emanuel, she invited a guest organist on the average of once a month. Pat also directed the Adult Choir and assisted in many other endeavors. The directing of the Adult and Catechism Bell Choirs was taken over by Hugh Schink and the Catechism Chime Choir was taken over by Bill Panning.

In August of 1993, the congregation observed Pastor Ritterling’s 25th anniversary as pastor at Emanuel Lutheran Church.


In both 1991 and 1992, our Men’s Bell Choir was invited to perform at the White House Christmas Progam by President and Mrs. Barbara Bush.

In June of 1992, the three large windows on the west side, the balcony windows, and the rose window were removed by Botti Studios of Illlinois. They were repaired at a cost of $48,000 and were replaced in September 1992.

In November of 1992, Emanuel celebrated its 110th anniversary and took this occasion as a special rededication for the newly restored stained glass windows.


At a special congregational meeting on February, 17, 1991, the congregation decided to call Pastor James Updegraff as Co-Pastor of Emanuel. Pastor Updegraff accepted the call and was installed on April 21, 1991. Pastor Updegraff, his wife Pat, and their 3 children moved into the Napoleon area in May of 1991.

In June of 1991, the congregation celebrated with Pastor Norman Ritterling his 35 years of service since his ordination into the holy ministry.

At the October 27, 1991 congregational meeting, Emanuel voted to undertake the restoration of its stained glass windows.


At a special congregational meeting On August 26, 1990, the congregation decided to issue a call to Pastor Roger McQuistion by a vote of 125-Yes, 11-No, and 3 no-votes. That call was subsequently returned.

In November of 1990, the Men’s Bell Choir travelled to Vienna for the Advent Sing. They were the first bell choir to ever take part in their Advent program.


In April of 1989, Emanuel’s women hosted the Spring Convention, Maumee Valley Conference. One hundred fifty women, representing 32 congregations, attended this event.

On August 13, 1989, Jeff Bischoff, a son of the congregation, was ordained into the holy ministry at Emanuel and was called to serve at Zion Lutheran Church in Huron, Ohio.

Emanuel continues its support of missionaries. The Maurers, after 5 years of mission work in New Guinea, returned to the United States in 1989. The Byrums, after 7 years in Senegal, Africa, returned in 2000. Emanuel is currently contributing toward the support of the LeMond’s in Hong Kong.

At the October 29, 1989 congregational meeting, church council recommended that Emanuel call a second pastor to further Christ’s work at Emanuel. A vote was taken and the resolution to call a second pastor passed by a vote of 104-Yes, 20-No, and 1-Abstained.


January,1988, the new Evangelical Lutheran Chuch in America was formed, and since no action to withdraw was taken by Emanuel, it automatically became a part of the ELCA.


In 1987, church council approved for women to assist in serving Holy Communion.

In 1987, a new electronic sound system was installed at a cost of $6,500. A new copy machine was purchased for the church office. Also, the women of Emanuel purchased a new Advent wreath for the church.

On March 8,1987, Emanuel called a special meeting to determine, by ballot vote, whether or not Emanuel favors the formation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Majority vote did not favor the formation of this new church. The vote was 116 – No and – 93 yes.


In 1986 the pastor’s office was relocated to the south east corner of the educational unit. The secretary’s office was then rearranged and redecorated. Also, a new office phone system was installed and put into use. Parking lot gates were also made and installed.

In May of 1986, new pew cushions were ordered with approximately $7,500 Building Fund monies being used for this improvement.


During April, 1985, Emanuel Lutheran hosted a meeting of the Maumee Valley Conference churches to discuss the formation of a new Lutheran Church. This new Lutheran Church to be formed by merging the American Lutheran Church, Lutheran Church of America, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Church. All congregations that would be effected by this merger would have the opportunity to decide if they want this merger to take place.


At the August 1983 congregational meeting, a renovation project was approved by the congregation. The project called for painting the ceilings and walls, redesigning the coves on both sides of the chancel, and the addition of paneling and vinyl wallcovering in the chancel. The hardwood floors were also sanded, sealed and varnished. The congregation gathered in the basement for services while this work was being completed and on Sunday, October 30th, a rededication service was held.

Groundbreaking for the new Lutheran Home at Napoleon was held in December, 1983. On April 28, 1985, the Lutheran Home had their dedication service.


At the January 1982 congregational meeting, the congregation voted to have an elevator installed. The Mel Lanzer Company installed the unit at a cost of $30,124 and in May this elevator was dedicated.

On August 1, 1982, at a special congregational meeting, approval was given to replace the old conversion furnace in the church with three new gas furnaces from Standard Heating and Plumbing at a low bid of $4,228. The furnaces were installed and operational in October of that same year.

Emanuel Lutheran Church celebrated its Centennial in 1982. This special event was observed throughout the year with 7 special Sunday services and dinners. Confirmation class reunions were celebrated on 2 separate Sundays; prior to 1956, and 1956 to 1982. Special offerings were received which were used to paint and decorate the nave and chancel of the church building.


In June of 1981, Emanuel celebrated with our pastor, Norman Ritterling, the 25th anniversary of his ordination


At the January 1980 congregational meeting, it was voted to donate $7,500 to the Lutheran Orphan’s & Old Folks Home for a complex to be built in Napoleon. This complex, a 100 bed facility for the elderly, was to be built on South Perry Street in Napoleon.

The chapel organ was sold in March of 1980.

At the October 1980 congregational meeting, it was voted to budget $5,000 for L.O.O.F. Home at Napoleon.


The Lutheran Book of Worship (The Green Book) was introduced at Emanuel in 1979. It replaced the Service Book & Hymnal (The Red Book) which had been used since 1960.


The Abdon Course was first taught at Emanuel in 1978. This course helped to gain a systemized approach to Holy Scriptures. Again, many members took advantage of this adult study course.

Emanuel Lutheran Church was the recipient of a $25,000.00 bequest from the Ferdinand Oberhaus estate, and this gift was used in 1978 to remodel the kitchen facilities and to make other general repairs.


Rev. Michael Rothgery, a son of the congregation, was ordained at Emanuel on June 8, 1975 by Pastors Norman Ritterling, Pastor Theodore Dockter, and Pastor C. A. Steinert. His first call was to Golden Valley, North Dakota.

Under the guidance of Duane Miller a Christian Nursery School program was initiated at Emanuel in 1975. The school is open to the community and is self supporting. Originally enrollment was confined to four year old children, but in 1979 it was expanded to include children at the age of three.

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him”. Ephesians 1:17. God’s people of Emanuel were offered many opportunities to study God’s Word.


The Internship Committee reported that Emanuel would not have an intern pastor for 1974-75; therefore in August of 1973 the Church Council presented for approval a job description for a Director of Christian Education.

In February 1974 the Parish Education Committee asked for approval to extend a call to Duane Miller from Cincinnati, Ohio, as Director of Christian Education. He accepted the call and was installed in July of 1974. He served in that position until his resignation in 1978, at which time he accepted a call to Williamsburg, Iowa.


In April 1973 the congregation voted to loan $6,000.00 to the Lutheran Orphans and Old Folks Home in Toledo. Emanuel had another loan to the L.O.O.F. in the amount of $30,000.00. Both loans were at five and one half percent interest and the monies were taken out of our Building Fund.

The Bethel Series, which was an in-depth Bible Study, had for its theme, “Blessed to be a Blessing”. This series was presented at Emanuel starting in 1973. Numerous members took advantage of this program. We, who had been so richly blessed, learned how we could be a blessing to others.


Mr. John Wheelock interned at Emanuel Lutheran Church for the 1971-72 year. Mr. Ernest Elzey interned at Emanual Lutheran Church for the 1972-73 year.

In February of 1972, Emanuel voted to extend our credit to Faith Lutheran Church, Utica, Michigan, a mission congregation, to the extent of $45,000.00 for a period of 15 years. This was to assist them in constructing a new educational building. In June of 1972, the Dave Kryder family, formerly of this congregation, accepted a special call of the Lord and moved to Ecuador to serve in the mission field. Emanuel responded and supported the Kryders both financially and spiritually, and purchased a used printing press to be used by the mission. The Kryders served there for approximately two years.

In September of 1972, a parking lot was constructed at the rear of the church building. C.F. Gerken & Sons, Co. constructed the lot at a cost of $6,000.00, including the six-foot high fence along Shelby Street.


In 1970, some members started proceedings for Emanuel to sponsor a missionary. In August of 1970, Mrs. Vivian Wells was adopted while she was serving in the Madagascar mission.


Pastor Waldo Egbert passed from this life quite suddenly on Tuesday, May 7, 1968 at 4:00 pm. Funeral services were held at Emanuel Lutheran Church on Saturday, May 11, a t 2:00 pm. The preacher was Pastor Robert L. Wietelmann, President, Michigan District of the A.L.C. Officiants were Rev. Robert Leppien, Chairman, Northwest Ohio Conference, Michigan District and Rev. Edgar G. Robison, Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Napoleon, Township. Burial was at Woodlawn Cemetery, Toledo, Ohio with Rev, James Fox, Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Wauseon, Ohio Officiating.

Mr. Robert Laughlin, a seminary student, served Emanuel during the summer while the pastorate was vacant.

Rev. William Winzeler, a son of the congregation, was ordained at Emanuel Lutheran Church on June 30, 1968.
Ordination – Pastor E. R. Moser – Former pastor at Emanuel
Liturgist – Robert R. Laughlin – Student pastor at Emanuel
Preacher – Rev. Robert Huff – Pastor that Rev. Winzeler interned with at Midland, Mich.
Rev. Winzeler’s first call was to Zion, Danville, Ohio. He was installed July 7, 1968.

A call was sent to Pastor Norman W. Ritterling, which he accepted and he was installed in August of 1968.


In October 1964, the worship schedule was again changed. There was simultaneous worship service and Sunday School at 8:45 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. However, in October 1965, the former schedule was again adopted.


A 1963 survey showed Emanuel Lutheran Church to be the third largest congregation in Napoleon with the third largest Sunday School enrollment, and the second largest Sunday School attendance.


In 1962 a Boy’s Bell Choir was formed by Music Director, Ronald Schink. Since its origination it has played for many area events, the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, Christmas at the White House, and they have taken many tours to carry their ministry. Those tours have taken them through 46 states of the United States, Hawaii, France, England, and Germany.


In June of 1961, the congregation purchased the Spangler property on Clinton Street., where the Egbert family had been residing for some time. The old parsonage on Scott Street was ultimately sold for $1.00 and removed from the property in 1964.


In October 1960, the worship schedule was changed from one to two services. The first service to be held at 8:00 a.m., the second at 10:30 a.m., and Sunday School to be held at 9:15 a.m.

Intern Robert Hartenfeld assisted in 1960, and intern Paul Bockelman served in 1961.

In June of 1960, at a special congregational meeting, it was decided to rid the church property of all the old remaining buildings, and to construct a parking lot at the east side of the Educational Unit.


Pastor Moser resigned in August of 1959 to accept the position of Superintendent at the Filling Memorial Home of Mercy near Napoleon. Pastor Waldo Egbert of Clawson, Michigan, accepted the call of Emanuel and was installed on January 10, 1960


The 75th Anniversary was celebrated in 1957 and to commemorate the occasion, the congregation pledged to gain seventy five new members


At a special meeting on March 10, 1954, the congregation voted to move the organ console up into the balcony and to also electrify the organ at that time. At the same time a corridor was constructed to connect the sanctuary to the new educational building. Cost of this project was estimated at $8,000.


At their January 1951 annual meeting, the congregation voted to join the American Lutheran Church. They were accepted into membership in the summer of 1951.


The large painting on the front wall of the sanctuary which shows Jesus walking on water and saving Peter from the water was removed in 1950


In 1949, the Bockelman property, which adjoined the church property was acquired and was given to the church as a gift from the Filling Brothers.


At the January 7th, 1945 annual meeting, the decision was made to build an educational unit on the newly acquired property. The total cost of the unit was estimated at approximately $90,000.00. The congregation resolved to raise $20,000.00 of this amount in fifteen months by free-will offerings. Later, a pledge system was set up to raise the balance of the $90,000.00. Ground breaking ceremonies for the new unit were held in July of 1949 and construction started at once. The dedication of the new unit was held on May 28th, 1950.


In September of 1943 the congregation voted to buy the Gathman property located on the east side of the church which was owned by Mrs. A. Enz of Lima. The purchase was completed in December of that year and the house located on that property was sold and removed from the property in April 1948.


The congregation celebrated its 60th Anniversary in July of 1942. In November of 1942, the Church Council decided to conduct an every-member canvas before gasoline rationing went into effect, and at the January 3, 1943 congregational meeting the survey showed a total of 487 baptized members.


On January 3, 1937, a resolution to give women the right to vote was brought before the congregation. The resolution was voted down.


On June 8th, 1936, Pastor E.R. Moser of Steele, North Dakota, was called. He was installed on August 2nd, 1936.


Pastor Born was serving in July 1932 when the congregation celebrated its 50th Anniversary. He resigned on July 1st, 1934 and the congregation called Pastor Bruno Brueckner. He was installed as pastor on December 16th, 1934 and served until October 27th, 1935, at which time he resigned to go to Capac, Michigan.


The records showed the budget for 1927, and was listed as follows:
Pastor’s Salary…..$1600.00
Church Cleaning…….150.00
Water and Light……….75.00



Pastor Haas resigned in 1919 and Pastor R.A. Born was called. He accepted and it was during his pastorate, in September of 1921, that a new organ which had been purchased for $3600.00, was dedicated.


The congregation used the facilities of the Evangelical Congregation until November 17th, 1918, at which time the present House of Worship was dedicated for the service of the Triune God.


The Church Council chose a building committee who then contacted Geo. B. Rheinfrank, Architect, from Toledo to come to Napoleon to work out a plan with them for the construction of the new church. He submitted his plans in May 1917 and they were approved.

The old church was dismantled by the able-bodied members and all usable material was cleaned and stored on Mary Gathman’s lot, which had been offered to the congregation for that purpose. This material was to be used again in building the new church.

Reliable contractors were invited to view the plans and to submit bids for the construction. G.F. Tuttle of Napoleon was awarded the contract with his bid of $18,287.00.

The construction started at once, but due to the conditions brought about by the War, as demands were placed upon the railroads and factories, the church building process was slowed down considerably.

The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, September 2nd, 1917. The following items were enclosed in the cornerstone: the history of the congregation, one Bible, one Catechism, a complete list of church members, names of all acting church officers, names of the building committee members, a copy of all newspapers of that date as the Northwest, Henry County Signal, and German Democrat (later named Henry County Democrat). It was an excellent day, and in addition to the members, there were many friends present. The speaker for the day was Professor A. Pflinger, who gave a wonderful sermon in English. The offering for the Building Fund that day amountted to $162.10.


The following is part of a special report taken from the old church records. “The evening of October 28th, 1916, about 5 p.m. the fire sirens and bells indicated that there was a fire someplace in Napoleon. Much to their sorrow the Emanuel congregation found out that it was their dear old brick church. For an unknown reason the fire started in the Northeast corner. The quick acting fire department and other helpers brought the fire under control in a short time. However, it looked very bad in the corner. Our good pipe organ was completely ruined by fire and water. The chairs of the choir loft and a number of benches were also destroyed. The Northeast wall was damaged to the point that it very likely had to be taken down and rebuilt. The next day, Sunday the 29th day of October 1916, the congregation intended to celebrate the Reformation Festival (as it was the custom in all Lutheran congregations). But alas, this did not happen. A number of members came to the realization of the loss by spending the Sunday without a worship service. Some of our members were invited to partake in the worship service in the sister congregation, Hanover Settlement, by friendly members of that congregation. Our members were gotten and returned to their homes by the friendly people with their automobiles. On Sunday, November 5th, 1916, a small group gathered at the church to discuss the future of the church building. A few members wondered about the possibility of building a new church, and to have the old one torn down. The next Sunday, November 12th, 1916 at 2:00 p.m. we had our first worship service in the Evangelical Church about 200 feet west of our church. The congregation and pastor were kind enough to offer their edifice for our use on Sunday afternoons or other times when the need arose. The rent for each use should be $2.50. The congregation decided to give 5 cents for the collection of every service instead of the customary 1 cent, to be able to pay the rent regularly.”

In November 1916, after pledges were received in excess of $10,000.00 and a fire insurance coverage settlement of $2,500.00, the congregation decided to build a new church and tear down the old building. In January of 1917 the congregation decided to move all furniture of value to suitable quarters in the old woolen mill warehouse between the canal and the river. These items were stored at a rental price of $3.00 per month.


A flood occured in Napoleon in 1913, and at the April 6th congregational meeting it was decided to have a special collection for the flood victims of the congregation.


In January 1911 Pastor Wuebben resigned, and Pastor George Haas accepted the call and served the Hanover Settlement Church and Emanuel Lutheran as a combined parish for eight years.


Pastor Damman served for sixteen years, and at the January 8th, 1898 meeting, he submitted his resignation. Pastor W.P. Wuebben was called to be the new pastor of the congregation with a salary of $500.00 per annum.

The congregation eventually bought the church building from Mr. Filling for $4450.00, and at the September 11th, 1898 meeting, decided to repair it.


In 1883, this congregation purchased their first organ at the price of $25.00. This amount was obtained by pledges and contributions.


Pastor Louis Damman, serving St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Hanover Settlement, first organized a Lutheran group in Napoleon, Ohio, and announced that a meeting be held on July 9th, 1882. At this meeting the first officers were elected and voted to organize the congregation permanently.

Some of the first members were Frederick Theek, Henry Rohrs, George Behrens, August Hirseland, Theodore Suhr, H.C. Groeschner, George H. Rohrs, Otto Kuntzner, Ferdinand Roessing, and Henry Holterman. These men and their families held the first services in their homes, in the court house, in the school house, and sometimes in the Episcopal Church. Later they rented the brick church building at the corner of West Clinton and Scott Streets, which had been built by an Evangelical group.

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