Community History – Bromley – Immanuel United Church of Christ

Immanuel United Church of Christ

Emmanuel United Church of Christ, opens a new window was organized as the First German Reformed Church of Bromley on March 11, 1894. The initial parish consisted of 30 charter members. All of these members were of German birth or ancestry. The first officers of the congregation were: Henry Schultheis, Fred Reinhardt, Helwig Beil, George Eggloff, and Louis Beil. The Bromley congregation was a daughter parish of Grace Reformed Church in Covington.

Many of the early members of Immanuel 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. 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. The Rev. J.G. Kuhl, pastor of Grace Reformed in Covington, also took care of Bromley Reformed Church. He ministered to the congregation until his death in 1897.

The next pastor, the Rev. John H. Rettig, oversaw the installation of a fine Reed pipe organ in the church in 1902. Rev. Rettig gave a stirring address in the German Language on the occasion. 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 Bromley Reformed. At the July 2, 1918 trustee meeting, the board decided to eliminate all German Language services. Also at this time, 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 same time. One year later, the interior of the little church was completely renovated. This renovation 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. It was during this era that the congregation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1944. The collection from these festivities was 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 had been completed. This area was officially dedicated on October 12, 1952. The growing congregation also needed the services of a full-time minister. In 1956, the board purchased a home at 1429 Amsterdam Road in Park Hills to be used as a parsonage. In the following year, Rev. Kuhlenschmidt was hired as the first full-time minister of Immanuel. Construction work on the upper level of the new church was completed in 1959. The first worship service was held in the new auditorium on December 13, 1959. Architect William Robert Roeding designed the new edifice. The old 1894 church was razed.

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 UCC additionThe congregation took on an international flare in 1964 with the arrival of the Reverend Stephen T. Szilagyi as pastor. The new minister was a native of Czechoslovakia and had previously been an interpreter with the U.S. State Department and an assistant pastor at a Hungarian Reformed Church in Trenton, New Jersey. Szilagyi spoke Hungarian, Slovak and Russian.

The congregation continued to develop and grow. In 1983, construction on a new educational wing began. This new structure housed: A pastor’s office, classrooms, choir room, kitchen, nursery and restrooms.

News Enterprise, March 12, 1964, p. 1 and May 10, 1989, p. 3; Kentucky Times-Star, November 25, 1902, p. 7 and July 13, 1918; Immanuel Reformed Church, Bromley, Kentucky 1894-1919 Silver Jubilee Booklet.

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