Pastor's Update

Pastor's Update

Occasional updates from Pastor Paul Nelson, Senior Pastor

October, 2021

THANK YOU!  

God’s promise to make all things new has inspired Immanuel’s fall theme for ministry, “MADE NEW”. Thank you for helping to renew ministry at Immanuel through your faithful and generous giving. The past year and a half of the Coronavirus pandemic has been an especially challenging time for ministry. Thank you for rising to this challenge. From the very the beginning of Covid restrictions in March of 2020, giving at Immanuel has mirrored giving at other healthy congregations around the country. The people of Immanuel responded generously to this crisis, increasing giving in the first months of the pandemic, and continuing with strong giving through December of 2020. This faithful giving enabled Immanuel to end the 2020 year well, and fully support our ministry partners. Faithful giving, as noted, has been a shared story among healthy congregations, so again, thank you for helping Immanuel be part of this positive story of giving.

BENEVOLENCE:  Because of your faithful giving Immanuel was able to give away 18% of our general offering giving in 2020 to support our partner ministries like the Minneapolis Area Synod, the ELCA, PROP, Onward EP, Lutheran World Relief, Cornerstone, Habitat for Humanity, Amextra, and many more. Churches like Immanuel, who were able to fulfill their gifts of support, were godsends during this time for these ministries.

BUILDING UP CAPITAL CAMPAIGN:  Immanuel has also been blessed with strong giving to begin 2021, and while there was a bit of a dip in a couple of the summer months, a strong September has enabled us to remain on course to meet our budget for 2021. Giving to our Building Up Capital Campaign has been especially generous as we have already received almost 95% of our pledged giving total. It appears that when this campaign ends in April 2022 we may have received gifts of over 100% of the total pledged, making your response to the Building Up Capital Campaign the most faithful in Immanuel’s history.

FALL STEWARDSHIP THEME:  Our Stewardship theme this fall is “God makes us new through faithful giving!” God brings about this renewal in three ways:

  1. Our faithful giving blesses and renews our neighbors as we reach out with support and care in practical, tangible ways.
  2. Our faithful giving changes our priorities and renews our faith as we arrange our budget to be more generous and less self-serving. When we do this we place our lives and finances in God’s hands.
  3. Our faithful giving renews the live-giving, faith-growing ministry of Immanuel as we support God’s good work here and in the world.

ONLINE GIVING INCREASES:  While generous giving has not changed, one thing that has changed is how people give. More people than ever are using online giving as a safe and convenient way to make their offering. Our online giving option has changed names from Give+ to Vanco and you can find out all about your online giving options: www.immanuel.us/about/giving

ENDING THE YEAR GENEROUSLY: The most generous months of giving at Immanuel are typically October, November, and December. We encourage you to help this trend continue this fall as we all respond to God’s blessings with our gifts and offerings. Please join us in praying that God renew us, our church, and our community, through our faithful and generous giving!

Blessings,

Laura Crosby, Stewardship Chairperson                           Pastor Paul Nelson


COVID Protocol Update: September 17, 2021

Masks Beginning Sept. 19

Immanuel’s Reopening Task Force continues to meet on a regular basis to chart our best course thoughtfully and carefully through the Covid pandemic. At our latest meeting we looked at the latest data on transmission and positivity rates, as well CDC and Minnesota Department of Health recommendations, for our area. This latest spike of the virus has not relented yet and is placing severe strain on hospitals. There is also concern that transmission rates could rise with kids being back at school, many of whom are too young to have received the vaccine.

Until both transmission and positivity rates return to safer levels, we are again requiring masks to be worn by everyone while inside the church building beginning this Sunday, September 19th.

The Immanuel Staff will be leading this push in keeping others safe and healthy, the exception being when worship and Confirmation leaders are distanced from others while leading. The Reopening Task Force will be weekly monitoring transmission and positivity rates and will adjust our Covid protocol as conditions change. We have appreciated the understanding and patience of all during this time of pandemic as we continually adjust our practices to the changing conditions of the virus. Thank you again for helping Immanuel keep everyone safe and healthy, and hopefully shortening the duration of this pandemic. 

I would also ask that you keep our Reopening Task Force in your prayers. It has been a challenge to sort through an abundance of data, differing recommendations, and rapidly changing conditions, all with the goal of making the most healthy and helpful recommendations for Immanuel’s Covid policies. I am grateful for the wisdom, diligence, and faithfulness each member of the task force has brought to this work. While we know that there are no perfect answers to how we meet the changing challenges of Covid, we will continue to do our best in keeping each other and our community safe while ministering to one another’s needs.

Again, thank you for your patience and understanding in this continuingly difficult and rapidly changing pandemic. May God guide us through this time to a new day.

Blessings,

Pastor Paul


 

COVID Protocol Update

August 12, 2021

As Immanuel continues to respond to the changing realities of the COVID-19 pandemic we seek to do two things:

To be guided by CDC guidelines and the best advice of medical science to inform our practices and policies,

To care for the well being of all as we live out Jesus’ call to “love one another”, especially those most vulnerable, including our children under 12 who are not yet able to be vaccinated.

In response to the spike in COVID infection rates due to the Delta variant, we ask that masks be worn once again inside the church building.

I am so grateful that the people of Immanuel have responded to the changing realties of the Coronavirus and adapted this past year with wearing masks, with virtual worship, outside worship, social distancing, and more. While these changes can be frustrating, we have gracefully and faithfully embraced them to keep people as safe as possible, especially those who have not yet been able to be vaccinated, including children under 12. As transmission rates have spiked in the past few weeks, the layers of protection we put in place including vaccinations, masks, and social distancing, will help us get through this spike as quickly as possible. Please join me in praying that this Delta variant spike be short lived, as medical experts are predicting.

Our Reopening Task Force will continue to monitor CDC guidelines and especially County transmission rates. When rates go down, we will once again be able to gather without masks. We ask again that everyone stay at home if you are feeling ill, and that if you have been here at church and subsequently test positive for COVID-19 you inform the church immediately so that we can do contact tracing.

While we are adding a layer of protection in masks during this time, Immanuel is not shutting down. I look forward to safely gathering with you in worship and fellowship!

OUTDOOR WORSHIP CONTINUES

We have made the decision to continue our popular outdoor worship at 10:30 a.m. into the Fall, especially for families with children under 12.

WELCOME WEEKEND

We are also taking steps to ensure our Welcome Weekend, September 11 and 12, is safely accessible for all by asking that people wear masks as we gather in the tent for worship and Bingo, and by holding our after-worship picnic outside (Rather than our usual buffet style potluck we will pass out plated food).

Thank you for helping us keep each other safe and healthy. God’s blessings to you all!

Sincerely,

Pastor Paul


Looking Forward

May 27, 2021

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

You have been especially in my prayers this past year (past year and two months if we want to be technically accurate). This pandemic has been a challenge for all of us in so many ways. Some of us may have struggled financially because of economic and employment changes, some have struggled with health issues. We have all worried about, or cared for, or even grieved the loss of family members. We have missed family and friends because we could not gather together. Kids have suffered, missing out on school, activities, and caring relationships with family and friends. We have experienced more stress leading to less patience and shorter tempers and frayed relationships. People have faced more difficulties resulting in more division. I can share with you that this has been the most challenging year I have experienced in 36 years of ministry.

But these challenges and difficulties have also inspired me; I have been inspired to pray. Throughout this I have prayed that God would guide you and me, that God would comfort us, protect us, lift us up with renewed hope when we have felt despair, to have faith when we have doubts, and inspired us to love when tempted to division.

I have also been inspired with gratitude, giving thanks for the hope, faith, and love I have seen in the people of Immanuel. Thank you for so many kind and encouraging messages of support for the ministry we have been able to share this past year, together and online. When we were unable to worship in person, online worship gathered us in greater numbers that when we were in person. Faithful financial support has especially been a blessing in a year when there were so many unknowns, so many things we could not count on. Your faithful gifts empowered ministry at Immanuel and beyond. I am grateful that the work of church, the body of Christ at Immanuel, has become more creative, carried on in homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and online in new ways. Yes, this year has been challenging, but there is so much to celebrate as well.

LOOKING FORWARD: MADE NEW

There is even more to celebrate as life is beginning to return to something like normal and we look ahead to serving God as we gather again, meet needs, renew relationships, and reengage in ministry. Our fall ministry theme, MADE NEW, raises up our need for renewed life, renewed relationships, and renewed ministry. MADE NEW also proclaims God’s promise to continually be at work in our church and in our lives making all things new.

Here are some highlights of upcoming ministry to get excited about:

There is much more ministry being made new at Immanuel as we come out of the pandemic and I ask you to join in how God is working to MAKE THINGS NEW at Immanuel.

Please join me in:

After a long year, I am excited about what God has in store for us and I invite you to share in that excitement as we are MADE NEW in ministry at Immanuel.

Your fellow servant in Christ,

Pastor Paul

In-Person Worship Resumes March 7

February 2021 Update

Welcome back to in-person worship! Immanuel is beginning a careful reopening of in-person worship and gathering. After a long, cold, dark winter late fall and winter where a spike in Covid 19 cases caused us to close down in-person gathering at church, we are in a place where we can begin to come together again. Praise the Lord!

In-person Sunday Worship Beginning March 7

Beginning March 7th we will welcome people to worship in person at 9 and 10:30 a.m. We expect around 45 people in attendance given our in-person numbers last fall, but we can accommodate up to 75 people/service.

Registration is required for in-person worship so we know how many people to prepare for and in the event of the need for contact tracing. We hope to welcome more to worship as containment of the virus progresses, and we hope that we do not have to "dial back" our in-person worship attendance.

Following safety protocols to reduce the risk of infection, we require all people who come to worship to:

Holy Week Worship

Easter Sunday

Reducing Touch

We know that the virus is primarily spread via aerosols, tiny airborne particles, however, to be cautious:

Humming rather than singing

As the virus is most readily shared via aerosols, singing, the forcing of air from the body, is a high-risk activity that we will be avoiding. Our music staff will lead from safe distances and other musicians will be pre-recorded and shared via video.


End of Year Giving

December 2020

As 2020 comes to a close, I give thanks to God for the faithfulness of this congregation in this difficult year. 2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges, especially regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, but you have remained connected to and supportive of the ministry of Immanuel.

Thanks for all the ways you care for and encourage the staff at Immanuel. Your prayers and kind words keep us going. And thanks for your generous gifts which I pray continue to bless our community, change your heart, and support the ministry of Immanuel.

I invite you to join me in ending this year and faithfully and generously as we began.

Why give? Because God first gave to us! As we celebrate God’s generous gift of our savior Jesus this Christmas, we are inspired to live generously.

Why give? Because lives are changed! Our gifts and offerings change lives as the good news of Jesus is proclaimed, the love of God is shared, and those in need are cared for. We ourselves are changed when we give because generosity inspires contentment and thanks for God’s blessings. Generosity also helps us resist the joy-stealing temptation of always wanting what we don’t have.

Fulfill your pledge or make an end of the year gift and help your church close the year in a healthy financial position.

December is always the big month of giving that helps us meet our budget for the year. Your end of year giving is an important part of that. We know that people give as part of their overall financial and tax planning. 

Thank you for your faithfulness and generosity!

May the blessing of Christ be renewed in you and your family this Christmas season, and may God bless Immanuel’s ministry of celebrating, growing, and serving in the love of Jesus. 

Your fellow servant in Christ,

Pastor Paul Nelson 

 

Church in the time of Coronavirus: Chapter 2

April 2020

Dear friends in Christ, Everyday Faith has been Immanuel’s theme for ministry since our Tent Meeting Kick off last fall (doesn’t that seem like a long time ago now, almost a different era?). We have raised up aspects of our Everyday Faith each season, beginning with “Everyday Worship”, then “Everyday Generosity” during our stewardship season. Our Advent theme was appropriately “Everyday Immanuel.” Lent brought us “Everyday Discipleship”. Each season has connected our relationship with God to everyday life.

Our Easter theme, EVERYDAY RESURRECTION, is more relevant than we ever imagined it would be when we planned it a year ago!

EVERYDAY RESURRECTION

Everyday Resurrection describes the new life, new grace, and new hope God gives us every day. When Christ rose from the tomb, death and evil were defeated, and our future was made secure in Christ’s love. That sure and certain hope faith brings is especially comforting right now, when so much in life is uncertain. Hope can be hard to hold onto in these times, but that’s why gathering to worship is such a blessing. We gather to hear the good news of God’s love proclaimed and have our hope renewed, we join in prayers seeking God’s love and mercy, and we are renewed in grace as we share communion.

Your giving enables our ministry of worship, comfort, fellowship, and service to endure! 900 households tuned in to our worship on Palm Sunday, about 700 more than an average service just one month earlier. On Easter Sunday just under 2000 households joined in worship. People are hungry for the Good News of God’s love, and I am so grateful that we can provide that through our worship, and for the great team we have putting that livestream worship together! Please like and share our Facebook worship announcements about our livestreamed worship and invite others to join our Immanuel online worship.

WHAT YOU CAN DO!

Thank you for your generous and faithful giving during this challenging time and supporting Immanuel’s ongoing ministry. Faithful giving is an act of worship connecting us to God and funding ministry that feeds the hungry, comforts the afflicted, and proclaims good news to all. Over 200 Immanuel households have embraced electronic giving through the Give + app, enabling them to give their offering through bank accounts or credit cards. If you are not signed up for electronic giving, simply download the Give + app and in a few easy and secure steps you can share your offering. Contact Church Administrator Tammy Vergeront with any questions.

BUILDING UP

Thank you also for faithful giving to the Building Up Capital Appeal. We’ve received $352,000 out of $634,000 pledged, %55 of the total amount pledged, in the first year of our campaign. Thanks be to God.

MATCHING GIFT

In the days ahead, you will be hearing details regarding how your generosity can have even more impact – through both our involvement in statewide giving campaigns and a generous matching gift from an Immanuel family. This family wants Immanuel’s ministry to stay strong during this challenging time and will be inviting any households who are able to join them in giving a special offering. The family will match your gifts given to this matching appeal. This is a challenging time, but the love of God that is ours in Jesus Christ our savior unites us, comforts us, and give us new life and hope, because in Jesus, every day is resurrection!

March 24

Church in the Time of Coronavirus Dear church, A team of callers from Immanuel has been reaching out to every congregational household these past few days. People have appreciated the care and connection and have shared prayer requests, many about family members, health, and worry about the future, but most expressing hope that this pandemic might pass over us quickly. Please include your Immanuel family in your prayers, and if there is any need you have please call me at 952-240-4275. Church leadership is meeting weekly (virtually) to address the impact of not being able to meet face to face as the body of Christ. We will continue to livestream worship each Sunday at 9:15 and 10:45, and for the remaining Wednesday’s in Lent as well as Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. We are continually updating how we practice social distancing as we attend to this vital ministry. We are also taking steps to “tighten our belt” at Immanuel, as so many of you are doing in the face of economic change. As groups are no longer meeting, Children’s choir directors, Holy Commotion Director, Nursery assistant, and Sunday Custodial services are suspended starting April 1. We will resume these positions as soon as we are able to do so. Immanuel’s Executive Committee will continue to track giving and expenses to keep you informed and help us make it through this challenge together. We are also continuing to develop new ways to connect and care for one another including:

You will be receiving more details about these opportunities in the days ahead. My prayers are with you every day, but especially in these challenging times. Again, if there is any help you need, please reach out to your church who cares about you and is here to give help, blessing, and encouragement. God’s peace be with you. Pastor Paul

March 12, 2020

Building Up Capital Campaign Update Thanks for Faithful and Generous Support! Thank you to all who stepped up and supported our Building Up Capital Campaign with your prayers and your pledges. Your faithful generosity has helped us get off to a great start. We are over halfway to our pledged goal of $633,663 before we have even finished the first year of this three-year campaign. In the first ten months Immanuel has received $340,000 in gifts, 54% of the total amount pledged. We have already completed the building updates and repairs that were part of our Building Up campaign, including the following projects:

Again, thank you for your generous support of Immanuel, and for helping us faithfully care for this facility and the ongoing ministry of Immanuel. May the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit continue to be shared in and through us! Blessings, Pastor Paul

March 10, 2020

In light of concerns about the coronavirus, COVID-19… For the sake of care for our neighbors, especially those most vulnerable to communicable disease, here are some precautions we will be taking at Immanuel. While you are here at Immanuel:

Welcome and hospitality are vital as we are: Called to care. Sent to serve.

NOTE: any of these might change as events unfold around us. Our staff is constantly evaluating our procedures and as we learn more, we'll do more. Our team is committed to it. We are all in this together. If you have questions or concerns about any of these, please don't hesitate to contact the church office. If you can’t attend worship, please stay connected:

Please let us know how we can support you! Blessings! Pastor Paul

September 2019

Dear friends, What a blessing it was to gather together and kick off our new year of ministry together at our Welcome Weekend Tent Worship. It was especially exciting to introduce our ministry theme for this next year, EVERYDAY FAITH. Is faith like church clothes? Church clothes were your good clothes, formal clothes, uncomfortable clothes, and often ugly clothes. Church clothes were clothes you could not wait to get out of once you got back home from church. The worst of my church clothes outfits included a burgundy velvet blazer with plaid pants, and at a particularly low point in fashion, a polyester leisure suit. Power blue. Church clothes, the clothes you could not wait to change out of. It’s easy to treat faith like church clothes, something we take out, put on for Sunday, for church, then take it off so we can to be comfortable. Is that what faith is, like a suit of clothes we wear for special occasions, when we have to be good, but clothes can’t wait to get out of? Or can faith be something more, something we don’t simply wear on the outside but something we take to heart, a faith that is part of us, to guide, our inspire, comfort, and challenge us every day? EVERYDAY FAITH throughout the year We will explore how our faith can guide, inspire, comfort and challenge us every day:

We begin this fall raising up Everyday Worship, unpacking the elements of worship we can easily take for granted and making them a living part of each day. I hope, as we unpack the different elements of worship that you gain new insight to the deep meaning the parts of worship have and how they are meant to purposefully shape our everyday lives. To enrich your faith through our Everyday Worship series please consider:

I look forward to sharing this journey of EVERYDAY FAITH with you. May God bless us as we bless each other living out our faith every day. Pastor Paul

May 2019

Dear friends, OPENING DOORS UPDATE The story of Immanuel is one of generosity, and you are part of it. Thank you to all whose faithfulness and generosity supported our Opening Doors Capital Campaign, which began three years ago and comes to an end this month. Immanuel members supported our Opening Doors Campaign with $719,000 in pledges, which allowed us to transform our facility and enhance our ministry. Our Opening Doors Campaign has received $671,000 to date. Thank you to all who have supported the enhancement of our facility, and our ministry here at Immanuel and in our community. There is still time to fulfill your pledge.

BUILDING UP UPDATE God continues to open doors and help us build up our ministry at Immanuel. This month we kicked off our new Building Up Capital Campaign, which will continue the work of upkeep and the remodeling of our facility, helping us to be good stewards of our facility and attend to the ministry of hospitality at Immanuel. And, as we do with all giving to Immanuel, a porting of funds given to the Building Up Campaign, $50,000, will support the work of partner ministries. To date we have received over $615,000 in pledges for our Building Up Capital Campaign. Thank you to all who have stepped up and supported this endeavor. You can still make a pledge to the Building Up Campaign. I believe that God created us to be at our best when we are faithful and generous, and God is faithful and generous with us. As you live into generosity, may God build up your faith and fill you with joy as together we build up the body of Christ. Blessings, Pastor Paul

April 25, 2019

Dear sisters and brothers of Immanuel, Last month I shared an update with you regarding an important aspect of our ongoing ministry, our faithful giving. At the end of February Immanuel’s year-to-date giving was behind budget by 13%. This winter’s weather certainly played it’s part, as snow storms seemed to hit on weekends, keeping people from attending worship. Thank you for responding to this information with faithful giving in March that not only helped us meet our year-to-date budgeted giving, but end the month of March 26% ahead of budget. This March was the biggest non-December giving month in Immanuel’s history. We anticipate that April will be a strong giving month as well with the inclusion of Easter Sunday, where we were blessed with over 200 more people attending worship and celebrating that Christ is risen than in 2018. Our financial giving is one aspect of our discipleship, but an important one as it helps each of us prioritize what is important in our lives, and it makes possible the life change ministry of Immanuel here at church, in our community, and around the world. May you be blessed through your faithful and generous giving, and may we continue to be faithful participants in God’s work in the world. Blessings, Pastor Paul

April 22, 2019

Our Building Up Capital Campaign includes "caring" and "preparing" aspects to the campaign. Watch this video to learn more.

 

 

April 2019

As we are about to launch our 2019-2021 Building Up Capital Campaign we look back to see how God used Immanuel to help launch Onward Eden Prairie. I, and Immanuel's Kim Rathjen (the Onward Eden Prairie Board President), reflect on how this new non-profit grew from our vision and mission.

 

 

March 2019

Why do we have capital campaigns every 3 - 5 years?




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