Immanuel Lutheran Church is located in Escanaba, Michigan and easily accessible along Michigan State Highway 35. Our neighborhood includes the Escanaba High School, senior assisted living facilities, grade schools, nursing homes, medical facilities, several churches, and residential developments. In many ways Immanuel is here to help.
Christ’s love for us all was demonstrated through His life, death, and resurrection. The connections He made with people during His ministry and the stories told about those connections is a demonstration to us about caring for each other in all of life’s circumstances.
Our website is the well of information we have built to serve visitors and members alike who need to stop their busy life and take a “drink”. Come with us to explore the many ways the church community at Immanuel continues to learn about sharing Christ’s love. Consider joining this ministry.
May 24, 2020
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June newsletter is now available – click to view
May 22, 2020
Good Morning Immanuel Family & Friends…
With the continued relaxation of some of the governor’s executive orders allowing more businesses to reopen we, too, look to reopen in-person worship. Though there still are stay at home restrictions, the governor is letting many businesses move forward in reopening under some restrictions. The gathering restrictions will be the same for churches as well.
So… we’ve come to the long-awaited day for re-opening in-person worship. I want to inform you of the conversations and decisions the leadership team (council) have made. On May 12 at the leadership meeting (council), and after considerable conversation, your leaders have decided, pending any further restrictions, to re-open in-person worship on Sunday June 7 @ 10:30am. To do this safely, we will be following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in AMERICA (ELCA). These guidelines have been documented over the past 8 weeks in various forms so I am not going to spell out each of them, but I will be highlighting the guidelines that are specific to us for gathering as a church. We are not going to be overly legalistic about this…but we are hoping and praying you will abide by these guidelines, not only for your safety… but for the safety of all our fellow worship participants, many for whom are in the at-risk group, including your pastor and his wife. See the following attachments from the CDC and ELCA from which we formed the below guidelines for returning to worship.
In addition, these guidelines and our restart date are tentative and could change pending circumstances beyond our control: such as an uptick in infections within our area. I want you to know that we (council) are being cautious because ¾ of the membership of Immanuel Lutheran are in the age category of MOST AT RISK and we don’t want you to get sick or heaven forbid… die. So… I implore you to be responsible to one another and to follow the protocols listed. We believe we will get through this in fine order.
Furthermore… You need to know that worship will be much different, at least in the short term. How short of term? I do not know. It could be a month or two… perhaps even more. As you will see in the protocols below, worship as per normal will be much different. We are likely going to be moving into a new normal as we proceed into the future.
Therefore… I want to be clear… If you DO NOT feel comfortable coming to worship for whatever reason it is okay. Some are anxious for a variety of reasons and some because of underlying health concerns to risk venturing out. If you are one of these folks… Please Stay Home… Stay Safe… We Love You… God Loves You no matter where you are. If you are feeling sick to any degree… even if that is just a runny nose… PLEASE STAY HOME… STAY SAFE… For those of you who are comfortable coming we look forward to seeing you and worshipping with you.
We will continue to worship via FaceBook Live each week, even after we return to in-person gatherings just as we have been for now about a year. Just go to the Immanuel FB page and you will find us for worship. For those who do join us via FB Live we will still offer Holy Communion to you as well. You will need to prepare for your family your own bread and wine/juice as well as a lighted candle like we have been doing for the past 10 weeks.
For those of you who are comfortable coming to in-person worship we will strictly adhere to the following guidelines…
- Wear a Mask when we gather for worship. Since you may go to businesses and restaurants that will be opening, you will be exposed to other people. Though you may not have any symptoms or feel sick, you may still be infected so we will need to be concerned about not spreading any kind of virus to others. Studies show wearing a mask helps prevent spreading… so please wear a mask when you come in. We will provide masks if you forget to bring one. Please put on the mask in your car prior to getting out making sure your mouth and nose are covered. If you forgot your mask… we will have some by the door before you come in. Perhaps we can make this fun by seeing what kind of personalized mask you make and are wearing.
- We will Social Distance by Families. If you live together you will sit together. We will be marking the pews and balcony as to where you can sit. The distances will be at least 6 feet and the distance between every other pew. This may mean you will not sit in your favorite pew. If that is the case… you will learn to like a new pew. Smile and chuckle as you get used to a new seating arrangement. It might be fun as you will be sitting in a new place where I will have to look for you. 😊
- Cleaning and Sanitizing… we will sanitize (see attachment) based on the CDC recommendations each week. This will involve the worship space (sanctuary), fellowship/ gathering areas, bathrooms, doors handles and adjacent hallways. The nursery and all classrooms will be closed and off limits. We want to minimize our costs of cleaning to just those spaces that are currently most critical to us. We will consider opening the nursery as we move further into the reopening process.
- NO Paper Worship Guides (Bulletins). We will be using the screens and the TV in the gathering space for ads and announcements. We will continue to use FB Live each week. All the hymnals, Bibles and paper have been removed from the pews. Please do not bring paper or books into the worship space.
- NO Singing… unfortunately this is one of the ways most viruses spread. After seeing a demonstration of singers singing and the aerosol spray per person… I was astounded at what happens. For some… this will be very difficult, but we WILL NOT be singing in the short term. To start and for the first two weeks of June we will only play music and follow the same liturgy we have been doing with online worship. So… NO SINGING. We hope to have two or three of our song leaders on each side of the altar only on week’s 3-4… then, hopefully, depending on conditions, we will move to full congregational singing maybe in July. Again, this will depend on several factors at the time. So… for the month of June we will be learning new tunes as we listen to the music, which will limit our singing because we will not know the songs thus lessening the urge to sing.
- NO Sharing the Peace… we will acknowledge sharing the peace but will only turn to those sitting near us and give the PEACE SIGN …. NO SHAKING HANDS or HUGS…
- Holy Communion will still take place each week. Distancing will take place and Pastor will reach out, drop a piece of bread into your outreached, cupped hands, then you will pick up a small cup of wine or juice, and then deposit the empty cup in a basket as you return to your seat. One person will prepare the elements after washing and sanitizing their hands before they prepare the elements. The cups of wine will be spaced apart on a tray as to not be able to touch another cup.
- Offering will be on a stationary stand at the baptismal font. Put your offering in the basket as you come up for communion. An alternative would be to continue to mail or drop off your offering to the church office or electronically at the square pay donation center in the gathering area (be sure to write your name on the receipt). You can also direct pay through your financial institution via banking online.
- Greeters will stand outdoors (weather permitting) with doors open, wearing masks and off to the side to create distance to Welcome You as you come in, also wearing masks. We want to maintain as best we can a welcoming atmosphere. NO SHAKING HANDS OR EMBRACING… Say, “GOOD MORNING or WELCOME.” We hope you will feel comfortable doing this. Our friendliness and welcoming attitude are two of the many reasons new people come to Immanuel.
- NO Fellowship Time or Meals following worship. This saddens me the most… but for now we will not do this until such time it is safe. If you come early, please DO NOT sit on the couches or soft chairs. We would have to sanitize them each week. Again, we are trying to minimize our costs. If you linger after worship… please practice six-foot distancing and weather permitting, consider lingering outside since it will be safer.
Lastly… as you can see… gathering for worship will be different and feel different. We will miss some things we like doing. I ask for your patience and prayers as we move forward. We want you to be safe… not just be safe… but feel safe… as you feel comfortable to return. Not everyone will feel comfortable coming back right away. That is OKAY… We Love You, we are still here for you and want to serve and love you in any way we can. We will continue to worship via FaceBook Live each Sunday as we have been doing all along. I am in continual conversation with the bishop’s office and with colleagues as to the best practices and ideas that help keep people safe. Again… things may change in the coming weeks as we lean into this new worship reality. We will continue to monitor and communicate with you as we proceed. If you have further suggestions or ideas, please let us know. Thank You for your patience and understanding during this time.
The “Mo’s Group” continues to meet via ZOOM… you are invited to join us as we continue to read and reflect on the book “Loving Jesus” by Pr. Mark Powell
Sunday June 28 is still planned to be our Annual Meeting following worship. A decision will be made at the June council meeting to proceed.
I’d love to hear your stories of how God is at work in your lives during this time. I invite you to share with me how you are helping others during this time of disruption. Where do you see God during your day? How is God helping you to get through your day? Please send me an email and share your story with me. I look forward to hearing your stories and how God is moving in your life during this time. Please email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org
So… we continue to walk the road trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance while being open to the opportunities God presents us.
“I am creating something new, there it is! Do You See It?” Isa. 43:19
Blessings for a GREAT day my friends. God Loves You, and So Do I.
Linda Mason-Council President
This Week at Immanuel
Immanuel Lutheran Church
600 South Lincoln Road
Escanaba MI 49829