It’s important to remember your roots.
Local Lutheran congregations are doing just that as they pay homage to Old Immanuel Lutheran Church during a memorial service to be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the historic church on Lime Bluff Road in Muncy.
Old Immanuel is considered the mother church of Lutheranism in Lycoming County. The church was founded in 1791 and served local parishioners until it shut its doors permanently in 1920. During that time, Old Immanuel gave rise to 19 other Lutheran congregations.
The Rev. Cinda Brucker, pastor of the Trinity and Mount Zion Lutheran churches, will officiate the service, with a theme of “Connected through Baptism.” Brucker’s service will be conducted inside the church and partly in the cemetery connected to the church.
Brucker was thrilled to be invited to do the service as she has a particular interest in history after majoring in the subject in college.
The service reminds churchgoers of the inheritance passed down throughout the churches of the ages.
“It’s important to remember the faith of our ancestors and how they worked so hard to hand it down to us,” Brucker said. “And it’s not just the Lutherans that have that inheritance because of all the good things that all of those churches have done for everybody in the area. It was influential. It flavored the life in every part of this entire county.”
Brucker will focus on the connection of the past to the present during her sermon, and how those buried in the cemetery are the spiritual brothers and sisters of today’s flock. She elected to finish the service in the cemetery, a move that hasn’t been done for the past several memorial services, to drive her message home.
“I’m going to do a little remembrance of baptism out there and just remind people that even though they might not have any of their direct ancestors buried there in the cemetery, that we’re all brothers and sisters through our baptism, so it’s a family graveyard for all of us,” Brucker said.
A portion of the service will honor John L. Bruch, who served on the board of directors for Old Immanuel from 1959 until his passing last year.
For Brucker, the history of the church is a presence that makes itself known.
“You know when you stand in a historic spot, you kind of feel the presence of those people around you. It’s just nice to be a part of that chain of believers. You can almost imagine their hands linked down through the centuries trying to keep up the witness of the people alive in that spot,” she said.
In addition to its religious importance, Old Immanuel has a rich historic background.
The building where the service is being held is the third iteration of Old Immanuel, and is celebrating its 145th anniversary this year. The first version of the church building was a log structure, while the second and current buildings were made of brick.
In the attached cemetery, at least 10 Revolutionary War soldiers are buried along with many early settlers of the area.
A tour of the church will be given and refreshments will be served after the service.
More information can be found on the Old Immanuel Lutheran Church Facebook page.