Chapter 18 of the Book: Out Of Necessity
A History of the Church of the Lutheran Confession
Dear Friends in Christ,
The summer of 1963 was a very busy
one on this campus. There were volunteers from many CLC congregations on the scene, trying to prepare the former Ingram Estate for the fifth school year of Immanuel Lutheran College. For the first four years Mankato, Minnesota, was the home of our school.
There were two major projects underway in 1963: the remodeling of the big barn and the remodeling of the little barn. Two Albrecht brothers were in charge of the remodeling crews: Pastor Christian Albrecht of Watertown, South Dakota, and Pastor Paul G. Albrecht of Bowdle, South Dakota. If these brothers were here with us today, what would make them the most happy?
I am sure they would be pleased to see the new Academic Center. Already in 1963 they had hoped to build a structure for classrooms, but our church body could not afford it. That is why the two barns had to be remodeled. It is true that the two buildings they worked on are no longer on campus, but they would be happy to know that the big barn, to be known as Northwest Hall, served for many years as boys’ dormitory, classroom building, and administration center. They would be happy that the little barn served for many years as the Sem House.
But I believe the two Albrecht brothers would be even more happy to know that some of their great grandchildren are students on this campus today, together with the descendants of many of the other volunteers who contributed their talents in 1963.
But I believe that what would make the Albrecht brothers the happiest today is the blessing from God that in the past fifty years the doctrinal basis of Immanuel Lutheran College has not changed. For this certainly was the main reason that the volunteers gathered on this campus in 1963. They wanted to establish and maintain a school where the Word of God would hold sway, where the Word of God would prevail not only in religion classes but in history classes and science classes and sociology classes and psychology classes, where the Word of God would be the guide and norm in all campus life, in the dormitories, and in all extra-curricular activities.
Anyone who has studied American history knows that many of the schools begun by Christians on sound Christian principles in this country are no longer guided by Christian teaching. They have become secular institutions, and in some cases have become anti-Christian in their teaching and practice. Three of the oldest schools in our country are Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, all of them founded as Christian schools to be guided by the Word of God. But that certainly is not the case in these schools today. So it is a very special blessing of God that throughout the history of Immanuel Lutheran College there has never been a teacher who denied the inspiration of the Bible or the six-day creation of the world or the teaching that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world, or the fellowship principles taught in the Bible. This is not a blessing to be taken for granted, but a blessing to be thankful for every day of our lives, and something that we need to keep on praying for and striving for continually.
There were eight full-time teachers at this school in 1963, and there are twelve full-time teachers today. None of the original eight teachers is still teaching today. But Prof. Ron Roehl was here in 1963, and he still has an office as registrar in the new Academic Center, and he is still living on campus.
In the fall of 1963 the total enrollment was less than 100, but in six years it was up to 137 and, of these, 47 were in the college department. We would like to have that many college students today. By the 1974-1975 school year the total enrollment was 179, which, I believe, was the highest enrollment in ILC history. But the enrollment did not remain at that level. In fact, by the 1982-1983 school year the high school enrollment was down to 74.
But the teachers kept teaching, and soon the Lord gave us the gift of more students. Even as every child is a gift from God, so also every student is a gift from God, a gift to be guided and molded by the Word of God. The enrollment began to climb again in the 1980s. By 1988 there were 105 in high school, 38 in college, and 7 in seminary. But by 1993 the total enrollment was down to 125, with only 12 beginning ninth-graders. Was the school going to die for lack of students? No, the very next year there were 30 ninth-graders, and by the year 2000 there were 132 high school students, and the total enrollment was 176, close to the all-time high.
We pray that the Lord will give us this many students again, not for the glory of this school, but so that our teachers have the opportunity to teach God’s Word and ways to the next generation, so that they in turn can pass this on to their children and grandchildren.
For this is the will of God, as recorded in Psalm 78: “He established a testimony in Jacob, …which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God.” We sing TLH #629.