There was a lot of rejoicing at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Fargo when members celebrated their 65th anniversary and a mortgage burning on Oct. 18, 2015. Their paid-in-full expansion project included the purchase of adjacent properties, demolition, a new parking lot, Celebration Center, Welcome Hall, commercial kitchen, offices, classrooms, and bathrooms.
"On our anniversary day, we had 450 people in worship and served a catered meal to about 325 in the new Celebration Center! It was a great day in Immanuel's history," said Pam Sommer, Chair of the 65th Anniversary Committee. Immanuel members raised nearly $2 million for property purchases and other needs before they broke ground in May 2004. The entire project cost was $2.5 million. The addition was completed in January 2005 and was paid off just 10 years later. "Immanuel is a special place and our members recognize the many blessings that the Lord has bestowed on the congregation. Praise be to God!" said Sommer.
Immanuel leverages their church building to serve others. For example, Immanuel has been one of the host sites for an overflow homeless shelter and more. Leading the congregation is Senior Pastor Bernie Worral, Associate Pastor and NDSU Campus Pastor Steve Schulz, and Immanuel’s Director of Christian Education (DCE) Ryan Avery.
“It’s been great to use our addition of the Celebration Center and Welcome Hall in various ways to meet the needs of our members and the community,” said Immanuel member and North Dakota District LCEF Vice President Bill Sharpe. “During my own family’s nearly 25 years at Immanuel, I’ve noticed an ebb and flow of children in our membership. 25 years ago, our friends at Immanuel were all raising kids. Then, we had a lull so our membership reflected a lot of middle-aged and elderly. All of our kids were now adults and lived elsewhere for the most part. More recently, we have a lot of young families with kids again. The campus ministry certainly helps. Students who get married tend to stay with Immanuel even after graduation. We also had a number of students who moved away after graduation, then they moved back to Fargo and rejoined Immanuel. In fact, Pastor Schulz met his wife while a student at NDSU many years ago. They got married at Immanuel and now he is the campus pastor."