Our History

Our History

We honor our past as a gift of God's love.
We look forward in faith to a history yet to be written.


The history of First German Evangelical Lutheran Church is a history of God’s grace in action. From the mission work of an immigrant pastor in 1848, to our founding in 1855, to the present day - God has been our Rock, our Refuge, and our Redeemer. First German was organized as a mission congregation of German Lutherans who had come to the Wisconsin frontier for a better life. These German immigrants quickly realized the need to have God’s Word and Sacraments in their life. They gathered in Manitowoc and held services in German, and opened a formal Lutheran elementary school in 1864.

The present church building was constructed in 1873, the same year the Lakeshore Railroad connected Manitowoc with the bustling city of Milwaukee. Mission work in those days consisted of gathering Lutherans who had already come to America and were looking for a church. Confessional Lutherans found a home at First German under the staunch leadership of several different pastors.

Over the next one hundred years First German was served by exceptional pastors and helped daughter or start three different congregations in Manitowoc: Bethany Lutheran Church, Immanuel Lutheran Church, and Grace Lutheran Church. All three congregations are thriving to this day. First German continued to adapt and change over the years in other ways. By 1922, English and German services were held together on Sunday mornings. By 1967 weekly German language services came to an end, as the need for such ministry vanished.

Soon, by the grace of God, another language was heard at First German - Hmong. In 1983, contacts were made in the Hmong community and the first Hmong children came to Vacation Bible School. God blessed the ministry and has continued to grant an increase according to his wisdom. Today we have a full-time pastor serving our Hmong members and we have daughtered this gathering of Christians. Trinity Hmong Lutheran Church still works closely with First German, and our mission of sharing the Gospel fo Jesus Christ remains our goal together. We have a vision for the future: "Growing God's Family in Christ!"  Come and be a part of the future history of God's grace on 8th and Marshall Streets in Manitowoc!

Our School's 150th Anniversary
We thank God for the 150 years (and counting!) of blessings to our elementary school. For a century and a half the Lord has allowed us to train children in the knowledge and instruction of the Lord, so that they might believe in him and serve him here AND forever in heaven. Thanks be to God!