In Service to A Mission for 133 Years

It’s founders day at Immanuel and we’re celebrating. 

Since 1887—133 years—Immanuel has been in service to a mission of supporting our community. And though the recipients of our service have evolved over the decades, what’s remained true is our commitment to doing the right thing. 

Our story began with Pastor E.A. Fogelstrom, a Sweedish immigrant led by faith and mission, and five Deaconesses of the Omaha area. In the late nineteenth century, life was hard yet hopeful for the people of Omaha. The Omaha Stockyards, newly opened, gave hope to a booming economy, but for the hardworking Midwestern farmers, a bad crop or tragic accident meant the difference between thriving and surviving. 

Pastor Fogelstrom and the Deaconesses saw the great needs of those around them and did everything they could to help their parishioners. In 1887, a terrible tragedy orphaned one family of children and the Pastor Fogelstrom saw it as a sign to serve even more. After much prayer and guidance, The Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Association for Works of Mercy was incorporated on Oct. 8, 1887. Immanuel was born. 

Over the course of our history, we’ve served in many ways. Pastor Fogelstrom’s selfless mission helped create the Immanuel Hospital; the Immanuel Deaconess Association; homes for orphaned children, the elderly and the mentally ill; a school of nursing; and a chapel. The work was not without hardships. In his personal journal, Pastor Fogelstrom wrote of the financial struggles the organization faced. Folklore stories tell of him selling his prized pocket watch to pay for programming, then buying it back when times got easier, only to sell it again and again through many more financial struggles. Throughout it all, Immanuel survived. 

In 1996, Immanuel became a founding sponsor of Alegent Health and in 2012, stepped aside to focus on expanding senior ministries. Today, we serve more than 2,000 seniors through innovative retirement communities and Pathways centers. And through our Vision Foundation, we support countless mission-driven organizations as we continue to follow in Pastor Fogelstrom’s footsteps. 

Immanuel’s not for profit mission has evolved over the decades but we remain guided in service to seniors, each other and the community as well as our Christ Promises of Compassion, Honor, Relationships, Integrity, Service and Teamwork. 

In service to a mission means we’re called to do the right thing. For our team, for residents, for participants - we’ll always put people above profits. In 2020, a year of uncertainty, we remained certain in our survival. Because Immanuel has been through much worse. We’ve been through great depressions, world wars and throughout it all, our faith has provided guidance in the dark. 

On Sunday, August 10, 1879, Pastor E.A. Fogelstrom preached his first sermon in Omaha. He wrote that his first impressions were mixed with fear and hope. Then, he saw a large field and knew that “God was here.” 

Pastor Fogelstrom placed his trust in faith, in this Midwestern land where he felt a higher presence, and no one could have predicted the impact he would have—the amazing people who would follow his lead, and the hundreds of thousands of lives Immanuel has served.