Calling a congregation “first” implies there must be a “second” as well. Such is the case for First Lutheran in Suttons Bay, MI. The congregation began at an organizational meeting on August 24, 1874, in a home in Suttons Bay, at which a number of Norwegian immigrants had gathered to find a solution for the lack of pastoral care in their midst. The early founders of the congregation determined at that meeting to join the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Conference, which was operating in that area of Michigan. It wasn’t until the congregation first called a pastor to serve its needs four times per year that they heard of the [old] Norwegian synod. Finding it to be more faithful to God’s Word than the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Conference, they joined the Norwegian synod. But with a pastoral vacancy during the momentous times of 1917, First Lutheran joined the merger church at first, not coming back to what is now the ELS until 1922. At that time, the congregation split, and a “second” Lutheran church was formed in Suttons Bay, known as Immanuel, which is an ELCA congregation today.
With its beautiful scenery, the bay on one side and Lake Michigan only eight miles away to the west, Suttons Bay is becoming more and more of a tourist and resort area, which brings with it increased attendance at worship in the late spring and summer months.
Rev. Paul Zager
First Lutheran Church
Suttons Bay, MI