Immanuel United Church of Christ was organized as the First German Reformed Church of Bromley on March 11, 1894 by Rev. J. G. Kuhl, Pastor of the First Evangelical Reformed Church in Covington, Ky. The initial parish was formed with thirty members, the majority of whom were members of the First Evangelical Reformed Church. Most of the members were of German birth or ancestry. At their first meeting in March, the Sunday School was organized and two weeks later they held their first Sunday School classes.
The charter member families included the Armentrout, Beil, Eggloff, Heilemann, Maegly, Reinhart, Rauh, Rushke, Schirmer, Schultheis, Thiers and Twachtman families. Many of the early members were farmers. Some lived in Bromley, however, many lived in the rolling countryside to the south and west of the town. Many members came to services by horse and wagon. To accommodate these families, the congregation built a barn to the rear of the church to protect their horses from harsh weather.
The new congregation acquired property at the northeast corner of Boone and Harris Streets in Bromley. On this site, a small frame church was constructed. The cornerstone of the building was set in place on July 15, 1894 and the building was dedicated on September 30, 1894. The congregation drew membership from the German Protestant population of Bromley and vicinity. In 1922, the adjoining parcel of land was purchased and our existing church stands on that lot today.
A fine Reed pipe organ was installed in the church in 1902. During this era, a Young Peoples Society was established to provide wholesome entertainment and worship opportunities for the youth of the congregation.
The anti-German hysteria of the First World War era brought about several changes. At the July 2, 1918 trustee meeting, the board decided to eliminate all German Language services. Also a new constitution was written in English and the name of the congregation was changed to “Immanuel Reformed Church.” In 1919, the congregation celebrated the silver jubilee of the parish. At that time, membership totaled 95.
During the 1937 flood, the church was used to house victims and to store furnishings. The Bromley Drug Store, which was located in the flooded district, operated from the church building during this time. One year later, the interior of the little church was completely renovated and included the installation of a new pipe organ.
Many of the members of the parish served in the armed forces during the Second World War. During this era the congregation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1944. Collections during this time were donated to war relief projects.
The decade of the 1950s was a busy one for Immanuel. Post war growth resulted in increased attendance. The old church could no longer take care of the needs of the congregation. The board of trustees began planning for a new church that would be built in stages. In 1952, the basement level of the new structure was completed. This area was officially dedicated on October 12, 1952.
The growing congregation also needed the services of a full-time minister. Immanuel had been sharing a pastor with Grace Reformed Church. In 1956, the board purchased a home at 1429 Amsterdam Road in Park Hills to be used as a parsonage. In 1957, Rev. Raymond C. Kuhlenschmidt was hired as the first full-time minister of Immanuel.
In 1957, the Evangelical and Reformed Church merged with the Congregational Christian Church to form the United Church of Christ. At this time, the official name of the congregation was changed to Immanuel United Church of Christ.
Immanuel’s existing upper level sanctuary was completed in 1959. Architect William Robert Roeding designed the new edifice. The old 1894 church was razed. The first service in the new sanctuary was on December 13, 1959. An educational wing was built in 1984, funded by a generous donation from Mrs. Bernice Kinnaird.
In 1983, construction on a new educational wing began. This new structure houses a pastor’s office, classrooms, choir room, kitchen, nursery and restrooms. In 2016, the sanctuary was remodeled with a generous gift from Bill and La Jean Creutzinger. The choir section was removed from the sanctuary and the platform steps were rounded and widened. The original wooden altar table from the old church was located, refinished and reinstalled for service in the church. New pews, carpet, side lighting and railings were also installed. The parlor was transformed into a refreshment area (Holy Grounds Café) later in the year.
The congregation continued to develop and grow. In 2019, the congregation celebrated its 125th Anniversary with a year-long celebration, including special music, congregational dinners, history presentations and more.
References: News Enterprise, 03/12/1964, p. 1 and 05/10/1989, p. 3; Kentucky Times-Star, 11/25/1902, p. 7, and the 07/13/1918 Immanuel Reformed Church, Bromley, Kentucky 1894-1919 Silver Jubilee Booklet
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