On a winter day in 1886, at a farmhouse east of Kyle, 16 German settlers gathered to form a church.
The body established by that long-ago meeting, now called Immanuel Baptist, celebrated its 125th anniversary this past Sunday. The church’s longevity is a testament to the enduring power of faith and family, but also of a willingness to evolve with the changing face of East Kyle.
That hasn’t always been the case. The Rev. Dennis Koger tells a story that shows just how small Immanuel Baptist Church used to be.
“Up until 10 years ago,” says Koger, who became the full-time pastor in 1999, “this really was a family church. Almost everybody was related to one another in some way.”
One day, Koger was talking to church Deacon Morris Schmeltekopf when – to his pastor’s surprise – the deacon addressed a fellow congregant not as uncle, aunt or cousin, but as mister.
“Hold it,” Koger recalls saying. “You mean there’s somebody in this church that you aren’t related to?”
The deacon thought for a moment.
“Yes,” he replied. “There is one man that I’m not kin to.”