From 1848 to 1852, the Pioneer families of Jann Buss and Gerd Franken held regular worship services in their homes before the organization of the first church. These services consisted of reading the scripture lessons and sermons, singing hymns, and prayers. Albert Hildebrandt taught Sunday school. They enjoyed the visits and preaching of Peter Hinners and C.Bonn, German Methodist preachers but remained loyal to their Lutheran teachings. On October 1, 1850 a Lutheran traveling minister Pastor Kuhl from Peoria came and baptized five children, Johann Heinecke, Anna Heinecke, Adalina Heinecke, Hannah Hildebrandt and Jann Buss.

By the year of 1852 there were 14 families from Germany on the South Prairie farmland. Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church of South Prairie was organized in June of 1852. The first church building was a block house (log cabin) for a cost of $22.00. This was erected on five acres donated by John Kurk in the south west corner of the southeast 1/4 of section 4 of Clayton Twp. Adams county, Illinois. There was also a block house erected for the parsonage. Pastor John Geitz was the first pastor who served for one year. Between 1853 to 1855 Worship services were held by the members of the congregation without a pastor. Several Methodist ministers visited and gave sermons for them during this time. In 1855 Pastor Kopmann from Peoria came. Thirty two more families had arrived from East Friesland by 1855. It was decided to erect a new frame church and the block house served as a school house. Some members had been buried in a cemetery one mile south of the church. This plot of ground was purchased in 1862 to provide a burial place for their loved ones. More families were immigrating from East Friesland and settled west and north of Keokuk Junction (Golden, Illinois). A new Immanuel church was built in the town as it was difficult for these members to attend services due to poor roads and distance. Even with fire and tornadoes, Old Immanuel continued to have worship services east of Golden until 1951 when a new church was built in the town of Golden. Since there would now be two Immanuels in the same town, the name was changed at this time to Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church. Nearly 150 years have passed since the first worship service and the descendants of those early pioneers still gather together every Sunday to worship our God.

These words of our Lord that have been taught to us provide the inspiration for our coming together to worship our God.

Immanuel Lutheran Church of South Prairie Charter Members June 1852

  • Hinrich Buss
  • Jann Buss
  • Hinrich Emminga
  • Gerd Flesner
  • Hinrich Flesner
  • Gerd Franken
  • Harm Franzen
  • Hinrich Franzen
  • Carl Heinecke
  • Albert T. Hildebrandt
  • Hinrich Ihmken
  • John Kurk
  • Oltman Schoene
  • Christian Wilhelms