Edited from the 1990 Dedication Service Bulletin

Emmanuel Lutheran Church was established in 1961 as a mission of the Augustana Lutheran Church, Washington, D.C., (Swedish in origin). In December of 1960, the Rev. Dr. Frederick Reissig was called by the Board of American Missions to develop Emmanuel. 

A parcel of land consisting of three acres was purchased at the corner of Bradley Boulevard and Seven Locks Road in July of that year. On December 10, 1960 Emmanuel was organized as a congregation at Burning Tree Elementary School. The charter members were:

Mrs. Elfrida Albrecht
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Bradson, Sr.
Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Cannon
Mr. and Mrs. Dean Conger
Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Crichton
Miss Judy Crichton
Mr. and Mrs. Jesse J. Cook
Mr. and Mrs. Scudder Georgia
Mrs. Henrietta Gordon

Mr. and Mrs. Gene W. Lindauere
Mr. and Mrs. Harris W. Magnusson
Mr. Kenneth Magnusson
Miss Lois Maria Magnusson
Mr. and Mrs. William E. Potter
Mrs. Frederick Reissig
Mr. Gordon Selby, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur H. Simonson

Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Sonnabend
Mr. and Mrs. Leonard D. Sullivan
Mr. and Mrs. Peter Swenson
Mr. and Mrs. Harold A. Timkin, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Weise, Jr.
Mrs. Lillian Weise
Mr. and Mrs. Samuel W. Wilks
Mrs. Donna Wiser

In April, 1962, a Building Committee was appointed:

  • Leonard D. Sullivan, Chairman
  • John D. Bradeson
  • Harris W. Magnusson
  • Mrs. L. Edward Pamphilon
  • Harold A. Timkin, Jr.
  • Mrs. Robert W. Weise, Jr.
  • W. Samuel Wilks
  • Kenneth Magnusson, associate member representing the youth

The ground-breaking service for the first building was held on December 9, 1962, the first anniversary date of Emmanuel’s organization. This building consisted of the chapel, offices, kitchen and activity room. The building was completed in July, 1963, when the first service was held in the new chapel. The dedication service was held September 8, 1963.  Greetings were brought by the President of the Maryland Synod, the Rev. Dr. J. Frank Fife, and the Dedicatory Message was delivered by the Rev. Dr. E. Raymond Shaheen, Dean of the Washington District.

The August 12, 1964 issue of The Lutheran featured the article, “A Congregation Talks-it-over,” with Emmanuel’s Talk-it-over committee pictured on the cover. The article noted that “Talk-it-over” grew out of a need to bring the congregation closer together when the church was organized. It gave the group a common meeting ground, taking the place of adult Sunday school classes which could not be held because of the lack of space in the small church.

Dr. Reissig remained pastor until his retirement on June 30, 1965. The Rev. Dr. Harry Yeide served as interim pastor until the appointment of the church’s second pastor, the Rev. William B. Schaeffer, on November 1, 1965.

An education wing was completed in 1969, representing the second expansion of the building. From 1972 until his death in 1974, The Rev. Milan Delany served as Associate Pastor.  The Rev. Dulany served the Swahili speaking people as well as the Czechoslovakian Christian Community.

During the late sixties and early seventies, Emmanuel had part-time assistance with music, youth, and secretarial service. In 1977, the church began partial support of Dr. Allan Gottneid, a lay missionary in Tanzania. Other outreach programs included support of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area, the National Lutheran Home, Community Family Life Services of the First Trinity Lutheran Church, in Washington, D.C., Southeast Asian Refugees, and the World Hunger Appeal, under the auspices of the Lutheran Church of America.

The Rev. Richard Summer was named as interim pastor to fill the vacancy following the retirement of Pastor Schaeffer in 1978. The call for Emmanuel’s third pastor went to Rev. Jan P. Lookingbill, who serves currently. His ministry began on May 16, 1979.

On May 15, 1983, the members of Emmanuel voted to adopt the church council’s recommendation that a new sanctuary and ancillary facilities be constructed.

The name of the church, Emmanuel, bespeaks the mission of its congregation: “God with us.” Active in a number of outreach programs, the church endeavors to provide Christian worship and Christian services in the Bethesda community. As a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod, Emmanuel Church ministers throughout the world.