What Makes Emmaus Special?
There is no shortage of churches in St. Louis. So what makes Emmaus Evangelical Lutheran Church so special? Many things.
1. At Emmaus we enjoy a small, family atmosphere, which encourages faith, hope, and love to grow among members in way that can often be difficult in churches where people are anonymous spectators.
- Besides being fed in public worship, there are many opportunities to participate in prayer and confession/forgiveness outside of divine worship.
2. We offer educational opportunities out of our Emmaus School building.
- Home school families are able to come together for group study. A Ph.D. is teaching history. A seasoned music teacher leads youth bells and choir. A drama production is in preparation on the stage in our gymnasium.
- We offer parenting education from a biblical perspective to strengthen the foundation of our churches and society.
3. As Missouri Synod Lutherans, we have stability in our faith. We don’t follow the trends of the culture or the whim of a pastor, but hold fast to scripture and the ancient confessions of faith. Our faith does not change with the fads.
4. Preaching at Emmaus sets forth Jesus Christ and him crucified for the salvation of the world in every service. Law and gospel are distinguished clearly. We are under the leadership and care of an ordained spiritual shepherd.
5. Our worship service delivers the blessings of Christ to those come to Him in faith.
- At Emmaus we are aware of over 2000 years of Christian history and we embrace it, allowing the experience of the church over two millenia to shape our words, prayers, and life as a community.
- Music conveys the sacredness of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ among us.
- The service is filled with holy words, words that the Holy Spirit has given to us, especially in the Psalms. The arrangement of Scripture in the service is not just by the preferences of the pastor, but has been handed down from the ancient church. It all fits together to highlight and emphasize holy truth.
- Through the course of the year we follow the life of Christ, from before His birth to His cross, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.
6. Holy Communion, the presence of our Lord Jesus, is central to our worship every Sunday.
- We receive communion in the ancient fashion, from a shared cup. This sets forth the unity of the congregation with Christ and each other in a way that the individualism of American culture may not understand but desperately needs.
Emmaus is the name of a town near Jerusalem where Jesus Christ appeared to two people on the evening after He rose from the dead (Luke 24:13-35). Our congregation is named after this biblical place because here, like there, Jesus opens the Scriptures to us (preaching and teaching), and is known in the breaking of the bread (Lord’s Supper).
“Ev.” in the church’s name stands for “Evangelical,” that is, Gospel-centered, centered on the good news of Jesus Christ. Lutherans are the original “evangelicals.” Our congregation is not evangelical protestant, nor evangelical Reformed, nor part of the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.” Yet every Lutheran congregation which treasures the Gospel can proudly bear the title “Evangelical.”
“U.A.C.” in the church’s name stands for “Unaltered Augsburg Confession.” The Augsburg Confession has been the foundational statement of faith for Lutherans since 1530. After Luther’s death (1546) and again in the 19th cent., some members of the Lutheran Church wanted to alter the Augsburg Confession to make it more agreeable to the spirit of the age. Congregations such as Emmaus proudly identified themselves as “U.A.C.” to show that their faith was the original faith of the Reformation, which itself was a return to the faith of the apostles and of the early Church. To read the Augsburg Confession, click here.
Emmaus Lutheran Church, which was an offshoot of Trinity Lutheran Church, was established as the “Jefferson Avenue Mission” in 1889, first serving schoolchildren in the Fox Park and McKinley Heights neighborhoods. Although worship services also began that year, the congregation was not founded until 1894. A small two-story building was erected there, with the lower floor used as a school and the upper one as a chapel. A tornado in 1896 unroofed the church and demolished an addition.
The rebuilt structure was used until the present church was dedicated in 1902 at Jefferson Avenue and Armand Place. A large school and parish building at 2617 Shenandoah Avenue was completed in 1926. It contains rooms for an eight grade school and an auditorium-gymnasium seating 1000 people. Soon after the dedication of this structure, the church was mysteriously damaged by fire and services were held in the school auditorium during reconstruction. The church established a cemetery called “Pilgrim’s Rest” on Lemay Ferry Road in 1929. By 1934, the church membership had become one of the largest in the city. Since 1891 the church had been under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Richard Kretschmar, a co-founder of KFUO radio in St. Louis.
Emmaus Lutheran School closed in 1974. However, Emmaus congregation still maintains a vibrant outreach to the community, actively sharing the Gospel and worshiping God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament.
We are a liturgical (traditional) worshiping congregation of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. For information about our beliefs please check out www.bookofconcord.com. View our congregation’s constitution here. See other Emmaus documents here. See the Emmaus fix-it list here, and let us know if you can help! Emmaus’ maintenance calendar can be viewed here.
Our mission statement
Enabled by His Spirit, Emmaus Lutheran Church proclaims God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ to all people through excellent liturgical worship, bold community outreach, and dedicated, caring service to our neighbor. (Adopted by voters’ assembly, 4/30/08)
Emmaus Ev. Lutheran Church, 2241 S. Jefferson Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri, 63104