Founded in 1901, First English is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is at the forefront of the global Emerging Church movement in the United States to understand cultural changes in societies and religious communities.
We are a baptized Community of God's holy people. God has forgiven us our sins, healed our brokenness, and made us one body in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are called and empowered to proclaim the good news of our salvation through Jesus Christ to all through regular and joyful gathering in worship around Word and Sacrament; in service to neighbor and those in need, following the example of our Lord Jesus; and by sharing the good news with those who have never heard.
Our name derives from the fact that we were the first Lutheran church in Mishawaka to have its services spoken in English. In the early 20th century many Lutheran parishes had their services in German since the many German immigrants were Lutheran.
Martin Luther, 1529, portrait by Lucas Cranach
First English worships, teaches, and lives as a community of faith grounded in the 16th Century Church renewal movement known as the Lutheran Reformation. The name "Lutheran" refers to Martin Luther, a 16th Century Catholic monk and theologian who criticized, among other things, the issuing of "indulgences", payments that laypeople could pay the Church in order to be forgiven their sins. This money was then, at the time, being used to finance the building of St. Peter's in Rome. Luther maintained that God's people were saved by His grace alone and a fracture developed beginning with the posting of Luther's 95 Theses on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Thus began the Reformation, a movement within the Christian Church.
Lutheran and Papal authorities met in Augsburg, Germany to reconcile differences, leading to the Lutheran party to come out with a document known as the Augsburg Confession, presented on June 25, 1530. Because agreement was not realized, Lutherans formed a tradition parallel in doctrine and ritual to what eventually became known as the Roman Catholic Church.
Lutherans continue in Christendom to be called the reforming tradition. But change or reform does not mean altering the tradition. Instead, Lutherans change only what are called conventions, i.e., language, inclusion of the laity, or the ordination of women to leadership (which the ELCA strongly supports).
We are a baptized community of God's People. First English was organized on November 19, 1901 when the first service of worship was held in the Zion Evangelical Association Church at the corner of Mill and First Streets in Mishawaka. Sunday School was commenced on that day as well.
First English's original home was at the corner of Seventh and Main in Mishawaka. The building was dedicated on April 19, 1903. In the 1990s the building was demolished. The parish moved to its present location on May 8, 1961. First English Lutheran Nursery School was established twenty years later, and, in 1986, became the first nursery school of its kind to be accredited in Indiana and among the first 20 in the nation to achieve this honor.
First English as a congregation has primary identity in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) headquartered in Chicago under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. We are also part of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod, one of 65 in the church body. There are 78,000 parishioners, 223 congregations, 3 camps, 5 campus ministries, 10 conferences, and 390 church leaders in our synod.
First English continues to be profoundly blessed with academics, musicians, and artistic resources. This congregation extends a welcome to all people, for in so many ways in this place God's children hear the living word, see God enfleshed, and by hearing, eating, and drinking are mysteriously incorporated into the life of