Immanuel Lutheran Church was originally constructed by Finnish immigrants who populated the Fairport Harbor area in the 1800’s. Conceived as early as 1889, the early church history is open to some discussion. However, it is known that by 1903 the church was chartered. Missionary preachers had visited in the mid 1880’s and plans for organizing a congregation were made in 1889. Mr. William Mackey (Maki) prepared a meeting hall adjacent to his store on High Street near Seventh. This hall was used until the church was built.
On May 13, 1895 a sum of $300.00 was paid for the land on the corner of Sixth and Plum Streets. The Church was built in the fall and winter of 1895-1896 by volunteer workers who were available once shipping and dock work ceased for the season. The original name of the church was “Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church”.
In 1900, sister congregations in Ashtabula, Fairport and Conneaut formed The Evangelical Lutheran Independent Synod. The first annual meeting was held in Ashtabula on February 2, 1901. On August 23, 1901, the Ashtabula and Fairport congregations joined The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran National Synod, headquartered in Ironwood, Michigan and an application for a charter was made on May 19, 1903. Charter was granted in Columbus, Ohio, on May 22, 1903 and the under-croft was built that same year. The church was to host the National synod’s annual meeting on June 6, 1907.
The word “Finnish” was dropped from the church’s name in 1941. Today, the church belongs to the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Ministers are graduates of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.
For some years before there was a Lutheran Church in Thompson, men of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Fairport Harbor, were on a committee to find a site to build a church on the south side of Painesville. So, in January 1955, the congregation of Immanuel Lutheran gave its approval to the people in the Leroy-Thompson area to start a mission church to be known as The Immanuel Lutheran Mission. That church is now known as “Grace Lutheran”.
On February 10th, 1958, a group of members from Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church of Fairport Harbor, Ohio met at the Arnold Ollila home under the guidance of their pastor, Rev. Paavo Frusti to discuss and set up a plan to organize a much-needed mission congregation on the east side of the fast-growing community of Painesville Township. From that beginning, the congregation of St. Paul’s was born.
Between 1960 and 1964 the entire church building was renovated at a cost of almost $50,000. Dedication services were held July 12, 1964.
Today, our congregation of about 35, is led by the “Rev. Daniel Skillman”. We are also one of the “Associate & Affiliate Churches” of “Our Shepherd Lutheran School”. “Our Shepherd Lutheran School” is part of the “Zion Lutheran Church” in Painesville.