Welcome to Emanuel Lutheran Church
Our History

November 1893 - Organization

On November 11, 1893, the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Emanuel Church of the old Augustana Synod was organized. This resulted when a small devoted group of Scandinavians, who had come primarily from Sweden, settled in Pleasantville and felt the need to meet and have religious services. They met in a meeting hall over a grocery store known as Washburn's, located next to the old train station. During this first year, 32 services were held and 3 infants baptized.

December 1894 - First Congregational Meeting

The first congregational meeting was held December 26, 1894. Alfred Larson was elected chairman. The income for the first year was $421 and expenses were $333. Balance in the account at this first meeting was $88. During 1895, the group held 38 services and baptized 7 infants. They paid J.C. Westglund the sum of $153.50 as their "preacher."

October 1896 - Dedication

A member of the church named Mrs. Earle promised that if the Swedes would build a church, she would donate the building lot. A mortgage of $1,000 was obtained from J.R. Tankens of Pleasantville (he was not a member of the church), and the church was built. The cornerstone was laid in October of 1895 and it was dedicated on October 22, 1896.

This church on Lincoln Avenue was the home of Emanuel for the next 60 years. It was a large one-room building seating 90 people. It had a semi-circular alter, a large and high pulpit built against the wall. It was heated by a large stove. Kerosene lamps were used for light and water had to be carried to the building. People came by horse and buggy and thus a large horse shed was built in the back of the building.

1911-1912 - Improvements and Expansion

In 1911 electricity was added and by 1920 the mortgage was paid. The congregation decided to complete the basement and build a fellowship hall. The services were held in Swedish and there was no regular pastor or Sunday School. Occasionally, student pastors would come from Upsala College. Families would gather with their children and plan Christmas and Easter programs, under the guidance of the Deacons.

In the fall of 1911, Pastor John Johnson from the Bronx conducted the first confirmation class of 7 girls and 3 boys. These ten were confirmed on March 31st, 1912. Ida Brown was a member of that class.

1916-1917 - First Ordained Pastor

On September 1, 1916, the first ordained pastor arrived to serve the combined White Plains / Pleasantville parishes. Pastor William Frindberg used English as the language of the services once each month. The services were at Trinity in White Plains in the morning and at 3:45 Sunday afternoon in Pleasantville.

Sunday school was started and the second confirmation class began. In 1917, the first Luther League began and the Ladies Aid Society and men's clubs were organized.

1918-1949 - Split Decisions

This arrangement with Trinity continued until 1949 when it became evident that one person could not serve both congregations effectively. Emanuel had 47 adult members and 23 children, and George Nelson, a seminary student intern, came to Pleasantville to serve the congregation. The Board of American Missions sponsored his work. Membership increase by 50% and he made the congregation believe that someday they would have a large church. At the end of that year, it was decided that Emanuel should continue alone and that they should hire a full time pastor and seek a new site.

1950-1956 - Pastor Roulette

In 1950 Pastor Theodore Lundquist served as Vice-Pastor. Student pastors Kenneth Dale (1951) and Joseph Anderson (1952) served the congregation until 1952. The first full-time resident pastor, Roger Boraas, served from August 1, 1952 until December of 1954. Rev. Dr. Arnold Carlson served as interim Pastor from 1955 to 1956 while completing his Doctoral studies at Union Seminary in New York. In July of 1956 Pastor John R. Pearson began his ministry at Emanuel.

1952-1955 - the Move to Manville

In 1952 the site for a new church on Manville Road was purchased and plans were underway. This site was the only land big enough for a church left in Pleasantville. The price was $7,000. Messers Stromer and Tichenor met with the seller, Mr. Doherty and after several meetings, they shook hands, one on top of another, and that made a binding contract.

The first step was to build a parsonage, which was completed on Arthur Avenue in Thornwood. This was accomplished with volunteer work and donations. Breaking of the ground for the church took place on May 9th, 1954 and the structure was completed on March 1955. The first service in the new structure was conducted by Dr. Evald B. Lawson, President of Upsal College. Membership was at 175. It wasn't long until the congregation felt the need to expand.

In July of 1955 purchased a house on Manville Road, not far from the church as the parsonage. The house had been built in 1924 by Oscar Bergmark, son of a member of the congregation. The Thornwood parsonage was then sold.

1956-1968 - Expansions

In 1956 Pastor John Pearson began his ministry at Emanuel, membership was 205. In 1959 and 1960 plans were made to expand the building. The building committee under Mr. Domenico Annese drew up plans and in June 1964 ground breaking services were conducted. The service of dedication for the present worship area, offices and educational units was in September of 1965.

By 1968, parish statistics numbered 644 confirmed and 300 baptized members.

The 1970s

In 1975 the numbers had swelled to 700 confirmed and 300 additional baptized members. There was a carol choir and a children's choir. The senior choir of more than 40 members under the direction of Ron Dunn sang regularly. The Emanuel band performed several times a year with more than 35 members. The bell choirs started in 1973.

The Katy Club for singles and couples met once a month for social and other types of programs. The Senior Luther League of High School and Post High School age students was very active, as well as the Junior Luther league. A group of retired men organized the GOTHEM "Get Out To Help Emanuel Men." Sunday School directed by Eleanor Swanson involved more than 200 children and 20 men and women who were teachers and helpers.