When John Gottfried Arndt, by arrangement with King George III, began to offer tracts of land at reasonable prices to German speaking people in the colony of North Carolina in 1745, a migration which included the hardworking God-fearing folk who came into the area which is now Lincolnton County began. Bringing Bibles, Catechisms and worship books they conducted services as they were able, but they sorely missed their teachers and pastors. In 1775, the newly-ordained Gottfried Arndt of Rowan County began to meet with and preach to the folk who were to comprise Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
It is not known when the first building was built, but the deed, recorded January 10, 1788, states that a house of worship was then on the property (the southeast of Aspen and Church Streets). In 1819 the original log church was carried up a second story, a gallery built, and the exterior weather boarded. In 1827 a steeple and bell was added, and three years later the exterior painted white; hence its name: Old White Church.
Though no regular pastor served Emmanuel from about 1830 until 1890, records show the laymen kept the building and attended services when a pastor was available. Some joined other denominations, which were organized or met in the Old White Church.
When this venerable building burned in December 1893, the Lutherans rallied and in 1895 built a large and beautiful brick church on the same site. Membership grew rapidly in the early years of the 20th century, giving rise to the present classic gothic structure in 1920, the education building in 1942 and the Chapel in 1954.