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The History of Good Shepherd in Lena

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church of Lena, Illinois, is a merger of two congregations (Amity and Immanuel) which organized on the same date, March 14, 1857. They built and used the same building for eleven years, then went separate paths for ninety-seven years, and united to form Good Shepherd on February 27,1966


Amity and Immanuel 1857-1966

Stephenson County was the last county in Illinois to be settled, waiting until after the close of the Blackhawk War of 1832 for the influx of settlers. The first came largely from New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, followed closely by the large German immigration. These two groups of people, many Lutherans among them, provided the background for organizing the two Lutheran congregations in Lena on the 14th of March, 1857.


The Rev. George Donmeyer, who had been sent from Pennsylvania in 1850 as missionary to the Lutherans in Stephenson County, served the spiritual needs of those early settlers. Services were held in various homes and in an old stone village school located at the corner of Lena and Franklin Streets. He organized Immanuel Lutheran congregation.



The Rev. Eli Fair came to Lena in the spring of 1856 in a typical immigrant wagon, settling on a farm one and one-half miles northwest of Lena. He began preaching and farming to pay expenses. He was the spiritual father of Amity, organizing it with twenty-seven charter members.


During 109 years, from 1857 to 1956, twenty-two pastors served Amity. One was elected president of Carthage College; another president of the Synod. In 1912, during the pastorate of the Rev. Edward Derr, extensive expansion and remodeling doubled the size of the church building. A 16-room Parish Building addition was built h 1964.



Also from 1857 to 1956, thirteen pastors served Immanuel. Two of these pastors, Bahr and Pieper, served 58 years. Four men have entered the pastoral ministry: Richard Keplinger (Immanuel), William Heidenreich (Immanuel), Paul Pieper (Immanuel) and Dennis Wenzel (Good Shepherd).


Church and Parsonage, 1908


Three Pastors

Three former pastors are buried in the Lena cemetery.

Rev. Christian Pieper



Rev. Eugene Schmidt


Rev. Robert Schmidt


Good Shepherd 1966-Present

In 1975 a major remodeling of the sanctuary was completed. In 1978 the elevator was installed. In 1993 a ramp and restroom with handicap accessibility was added, a new floor was laid in the basement and new carpeting was installed in the sanctuary.



Over the years, the congregation provided strong support for the mission of the whole church through benevolence giving. For many years Amity Church gave 50% of its offering to benevolence. At one time members of Immanuel Church worked on a farm and used the income for the work of the church. Today, Good Shepherd still designates a portion of all regular offerings for benevolence ministries through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


As the congregation celebrates many years with thanksgiving to God, it continues to pray for God's guidance and blessing in its present and future mission to proclaim and serve the Lord Jesus Christ in this community and throughout the world.


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