Immanuel Lutheran Church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. The church was formed in the early part of the 20th century in an area that was as raw as any frontier town in the Old West. The Rio Grande Valley, at that time was an unsettled land with the potential for those who could see the fortunes to be won and lost in the rich soil. The whole of the valley had a rough history of the conflicts between the nations of Mexico and the United States. The Valley had briefly been its own country before it was absorbed back into the two nations that dominate its southern and northern frontiers.
The city that grew out of the brush land was destined to bloom with the scent of citrus blossoms, corn stalks, sugar cane and cotton came to known as Mercedes, the Queen of the Valley. As that city grew there also grew a need for the new immigrant poppulation from the Midwest to join together in worship. There were families of German heritage who moved south with the promise of land and a rich future in agriculture. As the Valley grew, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod sent a missionary to the area to build a church that would in time become the mother church for all of the Lutheran churches in the Valley.
Reverend Eric Moebus came to the city as a missinary-at-large in the fall of 1910 to aid the settlers to find a mission that would grow to become Immanuel Lutheran.
Reverend Moebus chartered the congregation with 13 voting members. The names of the founders revealed the deep German heritage along with the German language that was used during the services. Moebus then used Mercedes as his base of operations to go on to found preaching stations throughout the Valley.
The church's first official building was a modest structure, 26x40 feet located on land purchased from the America Land & Irrigation company. The lot was on the north side of Highway 83 between the streets of Missouri and Virginia. The cost of the original building was $1,439.31. For a brief time the church received a commission from the land company for each new Lutheran resident who came to the Valley and purchased land for farming.
The church, like the people who were its members, has proven too tough and adapted for survival. There have been many set-backs in the history of the City of Mercedes that caused the church to weather through it together. The Depression caused a great deal of hardship on the area. The church survived those hard years, but not without struggle. The school which was part of the original vision of the founders was forced to close for a number of years. Then due to declining enrollment the school closed in 1939 for a period of six years. It reopened in 1945 and became a landmark in the city educating children throughout the community until circumstances forced it to close again in 1990.
Today, Immanual is growing once again. The prospects for the city and church look favorable. The school reopened in 1995 and enjoys growth and ministry to children in the area. The church is also experiencing new growth with the return of young families. The community and the church both see an optimistic future. By God's gracious good will, His flock at Immanuel will continue to shine the light of Jesus Christ's love and salvation for all people.
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