A Brief History
The Immanuel Woden Valley Lutheran Church celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2007. It was established on 23 July 1967, as Canberra’s population spread into the Woden Valley, when 17 adults and about twice as many children met in the Chifley school hall and formed a congregation under the guidance of Pastor Bruce Adams. A women’s group began shortly afterwards, and continues to this day.
From its inception the congregation has been blest in having very capable lay-leadership as well as gifted and caring clergy. A multi-purpose church hall was soon built in Lyons at the corner of Burnie and Corinna Street, and was dedicated in August 1968. At the end of that year Pastor John Grosse became pastor, serving the congregation from Turner (along with the Holy Trinity congregation in Turner) until 1972, when a new manse was built next to the hall, and he and his family lived there until 1979.
By the mid-1970s the active Sunday School had grown to 90 and the building was struggling to provide enough room for the children and the 80 or so adult worshippers. The main church building in use today was completed in 1977. Pastor Malcolm Bartsch was the congregation’s next pastor for three years from the beginning of 1980, before taking up a position as lecturer in the seminary in Adelaide.
Rapid growth continued under the ministry of Pastor Fred Veerhuis, who remained at Woden for 16 years. During this time the congregation established a ‘daughter congregation’, the Church of the Good Shepherd in Tuggeranong, as Canberra’s suburbs continued to spread southwards. This congregation has had its own pastor from 1985.
In 1986 a second more contemporary worship service was introduced at Immanuel. From the same year we also began to employ other staff part-time, including office secretary/manager, and counselling, visiting, youth and small groups ministry and music staff.
Pastor Rolly Stahl became our pastor in 2000 and led us in study and worship until the beginning of 2010. Pastor Robert Bartholomaeus has been our pastor since May 2012.
A more extensive history of the congregation can be found in the 2007 anniversary publication ‘Forty years of connecting and growing at Immanuel Woden Valley’, compiled and edited by Lois Grosse and Heather Briggs.