Pictured above is the mosaic from the Immanuel sanctuary—the women who visited the tomb of Jesus on the first Easter morning. When we gather for worship, we are reminded of the good news of the resurrection of Jesus which they first heard and first told.
The story of the Church begins with the story of these women. They refused to remain silent about the good news they heard. Because of their witness and testimony, the good news flourished, and the Church was born. We are grateful for their witness millennia ago.
In September of 1879, Mrs. Thomas Morrison, a resident of Clifton, heard a sermon at Cincinnati’s downtown Second Church in which the minister challenged those listening to “to do something yourself—don’t wait for others to do it.” Mrs. Morrison took that challenge to heart. Along with her husband, she gathered two other couples from Clifton in one of their homes on an October evening. They decided to organize an afternoon Sunday School in Clifton. On November 2nd thirty-five children gathered in the Town Council Chamber of the Clifton School for the first meeting.
Almost immediately, adults began to attend as well. Soon thereafter they outgrew the Council Chamber and moved to a large hall on the second floor of the school. Sunday evening services started followed by midweek prayer gatherings. Conversations about forming a Presbyterian congregation began.
A meeting in June of 1882 led to the purchase of land for a church building. On August 25th Immanuel Presbyterian Church was legally incorporated. Construction began and the church dedicated on the afternoon of Easter in 1885.
In 1929, Margaret Benton began the Immanuel Nursery School, the forerunner of the Child Development Center. She lovingly administered the School for forty years. She would say, “Never underestimate the mind of a child.” Her vision, work and dedication continue to this day with Immanuel Child Development Center.
During the ensuing decades Immanuel continued to flourish and expand. The church building underwent several expansions. The church remained committed to education with its active Sunday School program and interactions with the University of Cincinnati—including its ongoing relationship with the College-Conservatory of Music.
Throughout its history, men and women of Immanuel worked together to support various mission efforts. From the Women’s Foreign and Home Missionary Societies of the 1890s to the churchwide efforts of today, Immanuel has kept a focus on the needs of others.
As Immanuel moves forward in the 21st century, we pray for the same boldness, initiative and courage as those who worked so diligently to share the good news before us.