Let Us Go to the House of the LORD!

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” (Psalm 122:1)

Brothers & Sisters in Christ:

In my lifetime, our current circumstances are unprecedented: 11 weeks in a row where we could not “go to the house of the LORD” as His people to hear His Word and eat from His Table. It gives me great joy to say that this time of fasting appears to be coming to an end! We are making plans to gather again at Immanuel for Divine Service on Sunday, June 7, at 8 AM and 10:30 AM.

Immanuel’s Elders have met many times during the quarantine to discuss the challenges of caring for the flock during this pandemic. Perhaps the most challenging question we have faced is the one before us now: when and how to resume in-person gatherings (how to maintain social distance and limit crowd size, whether or not to require masks, to sing or not to sing, commune or not commune, how to protect children and those at risk, etc.). Opinions about these topics vary widely, so they are all potentially divisive.

What follows are some guidelines according to which we are planning to resume our gatherings. These we offer out of a desire to see God’s people again in His house around His Word & Gifts, in the safest way we know how at the moment. These guidelines are not perfect, but were conceived in the spirit of what St. Paul urges the Ephesian church: “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1 – 3)

If you desire to come, please allow these guidelines to inform your behavior and decisions. If you will continue to remain home, please continue to reach out to me (864.607.3496 or revjvan29681@yahoo.com) with any pastoral care needs. God continues to be with us (“Immanuel”) wherever we may be. Thanks be to God.

Pastor VanOsdol

General considerations:

  • Request that anyone with fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, or other symptoms of illness stay home and continue to watch online
  • Recommend that “high-risk” individuals such as the elderly, the immunosuppressed, and those with pulmonary disease stay home and continue to watch online
  • Encourage the use of masks (except during Communion Distribution, when servers will be masked)
  • Continue to make the entire Service available online, being aware of changes to that experience when there are people in the room
  • Recommend that families bring their own hand sanitizer to use
  • Remove Busy Bags; parents should bring their own “busy supplies” from home
  • No Sunday School or Adult Bible Class will be offered at this time

Before & After Services:

  • Encourage people to talk/visit outside (at an appropriate distance) rather than inside the building
  • No coffee hour food or beverages
  • No nametags
  • Print all hymns and liturgy in the Bulletin
  • Greeters open doors for people or prop open (to limit door handle touching)
  • Open doors to Sanctuary with fans turned on to circulate fresh air and disperse potential aerosols
  • Sanitize common surfaces (chairs, door handles, bathrooms)

Service changes:

  • Remove attendance books and hymnals
  • Place Bulletins on a table in the Narthex
  • Place Offering Plate in Narthex
  • Nursery will not be staffed
  • No Sharing of the Peace
  • Chairs will be arranged in the Sanctuary in groups of 2, 4 and more to create space between family units (Ushers/Elders will be available to add a chair or two in appropriate locations to accommodate larger family units)

Behind the Camera

Christ is risen!

As I sit and write this it is Day 36 of our exile; that is the number of days since the schools were closed and Immanuel followed suit by suspending in-person activities. So, it has now been more than a month since the heady days when we could have more than 100 people in the same room and hug and shake hands with reckless abandon!

In those 36 days we have held 10 Services, usually with only a handful of people in the Sanctuary and only me in front of the camera. I have joked that if this keeps up much longer I’ll be asking for someone to do hair and makeup (especially hair). I also beseech you all to remember that the camera adds 15 pounds (allegedly).

But the real purpose of this note is to thank the many of you who are working Behind the Camera to keep up the good work of Immanuel Lutheran Church & School. (And, yes, I am going to attempt a list. There is a risk in that, of course, that I will forget to mention somebody: that is certainly not my intention.) With the following people I have continued to have a good deal of contact over the past 36 days:

Jonathan Anderson, our primary Videographer (and my wife, Jennifer, who has run the camera once); our Musicians: Linda Dzuris, Linda Nichols and Dave Pugh; the Congregation/Choir assembled for our recorded Services: Paul Wagenknecht, Dave Houghton and Jean Kleis; the Altar Guild (I have seen Carol Stowell, Pam Nelson, Ruth Lukemire and Jim Nelson).

Anna Wyss has produced videos and the Sunday School staff continues instruction; the Communications Team has kept us connected with the weekly email Digest and updates; Kristal Kemppainen has come in many times to count Offerings; Jan Taylor has kept the Office open and functioning.

The Teachers and Staff of Immanuel Lutheran School have kept instruction flowing to the more than 120 children enrolled in our School; a team of Dan & Bev Thelen, Rick Danielson, Dana Emberton and Jennifer VanOsdol have been working diligently to expedite the availability of online giving; and the Elders (especially Dr. Brandon Wyss) and Paul Mabrey have been meeting regularly to adapt congregational life to our current circumstances and help keep tabs on all of you.

And then there is you, the ones I haven’t mentioned. You continue to give generously to support Immanuel’s ministries and operations; you are sending encouraging emails and texts about our online Services; you are keeping in touch with and serving fellow Immanuel members, family members, neighbors and friends; and all while some of you have added homeschooling to your vocations!

I mentioned in my Maundy Thursday sermon that there are lessons to be learned while we are in this exile. To what I mentioned that night I will add this: we are learning to be Christ for others and to see Christ in others.

The body of Christ in exile is the body of Christ in each of its members, a royal priesthood of believers. As Martin Luther put it, we are to be Christ for one another and our neighbor, particularly our neighbor in need. And in our neighbor, we will also find Christ there to be served.

Jesus said: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me….Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35 36, 40)

Immanuel Lutheran Church & School may be a bit scattered these days, but is still alive and well! I hope to see you all again soon, in the same place and at the same time!

Pastor VanOsdol

Introducing: Online Giving

Our team has been working with the company who provides our church data management software (CDM+) to offer an online giving option to the members of the congregation. The online giving tool is called Engage. A small group has tested this process and we are now ready to offer it to the Immanuel membership.

Use the buttons below to find the instructions for setting up online giving and the link to take you to Engage. You may make one-time gifts or set up recurring gifts. Please contact Treasurer Dan Thelen with questions. Thank you for your faithful support of the ministries of Immanuel Lutheran Church & School!

Financial Officers & Stewardship Board

How Jesus Treats His Friends - Fifth Sunday in Lent 2020 - Immanuel Lutheran Church Five Forks Simpsonville SC

Online Service: Fifth Sunday in Lent

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)

Members and friends of Immanuel:

What we call uncertain times can cause us to become afraid, but we need to remember our salvation is in the LORD. Our life is a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14) There is only certainty in the salvation Jesus has accomplished for us on the cross and in His resurrection. Trust Him.

Pre-recorded audio and video of the Fifth Sunday in Lent Service will be available by Sunday morning on the same websites as before. Use the links below for your preferred method of streaming.

If you would like to follow a Service outline, a PDF of the Service Bulletin is again viewable on Immanuel’s Podcast page while you watch or listen to the Service. And if you have a Lutheran Service Book at home, please speak and sing along.

Online Service Instructions

May God richly bless His Word into your hearts for the strengthening of your faith in Him.

2020 Lent - Speech -Unwrapping God's Good Gifts

Online Service: Midweek Lent 5

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-8)

Members and friends of Immanuel:

Have you ever seen and heard a small bird flit by your window chirping happily and considered these words of our Lord? His words bring peace. We are not promised health or wealth in this life, but Jesus promises to care for us. “Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Pre-recorded audio and video of the Midweek Lent 5 Service will be available by Wednesday evening on the same websites as before. Use the links below for your preferred method of streaming.

Watch Video

Listen via Podcast

View Service Bulletin

If you would like to follow a Service outline, a PDF of the Service Bulletin is again viewable on Immanuel’s Podcast page while you watch or listen to the Service. And if you have a Lutheran Service Book at home, please speak and sing along.

Online Service Instructions

May God richly bless His Word into your hearts for the strengthening of your faith in Him.

Online Matins Service: Fourth Sunday in Lent

“My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Ezekiel 37:27)

Members and friends of Immanuel:

While the current circumstances have given us more time to spend in our own dwellings, let us remember God’s dwelling place is with us: Immanuel, God With Us. He washes us with His Word and opens in us springs of Living Water which will sustain us to eternal life with Him. We can trust in the words of our LORD when He says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Pre-recorded audio and video of the Fourth Sunday in Lent Service will be available by Sunday morning on the same websites as before:

Immanuel’s Podcast
Immanuel’s Sermon Video
YouTube
Facebook

If you would like to follow a Service outline, a PDF of the Service Bulletin is again viewable on Immanuel’s Podcast page while you watch or listen to the Service. And if you have a Lutheran Service Book at home, please speak and sing along.

It was reported after the Midweek Lent 4 Service there was an issue viewing the PDF on iPads. We believe that issue to be fixed. Please note you may need to tap within the embedded PDF box to get it to scroll.

Online Service Instructions

May God richly bless His Word into your hearts for the strengthening of your faith in Him.

Online Service Instructions

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”” (Psalms 122:1)

Members and friends of Immanuel:

Going to the house of the LORD online is a blessing when we are not able to gather with the body of Christ in a church building. Our LORD is not limited by time or space when He says,
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Pre-recorded video and audio of services is available on the following websites:

If you would like to follow a Service outline, a PDF of the most recent Service Bulletins is viewable on Immanuel’s Podcast page while you watch or listen to the Service. And if you have a Lutheran Service Book at home, please speak and sing along.

To listen to the audio while following along in the Service Bulletin:

  1. Select the podcast you would like to hear. The top one is selected by default.
  2. Press play on the podcast player. If you select one below, it should play automatically.
  3. Scroll down to the embedded Service Bulletin PDF.
  4. View and scroll the Service Bulletin in the embedded box or click to make the PDF full screen. The audio should still play in the background. Please note you may need to tap within the embedded PDF box to get it to scroll if you are on a tablet or iPad.

The instructions for viewing the video on Immanuel’s Sermon Video page are similar except on mobile the video will automatically go full screen once you begin to play. It may not be possible to view a Service Bulletin while watching on the Sermon Video page, YouTube, or Facebook unless you have more than one browser window open on a desktop to access the bulletin on Immanuel’s podcast page. Viewing experiences will vary depending on the device you use and whether on desktop or mobile.

May God richly bless His Word into your hearts for the strengthening of your faith in Him.

2020 Lent - Property-Unwrapping God's Good Gifts

Midweek Lent 4 Service

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”” (Psalms 122:1)

Members and friends of Immanuel:

Going to the house of the LORD will for us in this time be quite different than to what we are accustomed. However, our LORD is not limited by time or space when He says,
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

Pre-recorded video and audio of the Midweek Lent 4 Service will be available by 7pm this evening on the following websites:

If you would like to follow a Service outline, a PDF of the Service Bulletin is viewable on Immanuel’s Podcast page while you watch or listen to the Service. And if you have a Lutheran Service Book at home, please speak and sing along.

To listen to the audio while following along in the Service Bulletin:

  1. Select the podcast you would like to hear. The top one is selected by default.
  2. Press play on the podcast player. If you select one below, it should play automatically.
  3. Scroll down to the embedded Service Bulletin PDF.
  4. View and scroll the Service Bulletin in the embedded box or click to make the PDF full screen. The audio should still play in the background.

The instructions for viewing the video on Immanuel’s Sermon Video page are similar except on mobile the video will automatically go full screen once you begin to play. It may not be possible to view a Service Bulletin while watching on the Sermon Video page, YouTube, or Facebook unless you have more than one browser window open on a desktop to access the bulletin on Immanuel’s podcast page. Viewing experiences will vary depending on the device you use and whether on desktop or mobile.

May God richly bless His Word into your hearts for the strengthening of your faith in Him.

Immanuel Lutheran Church Five Forks COVID-19 Update Cross

Statement Regarding Closure

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

Brothers & Sisters in Christ:

As I am sure you know by now, on Sunday Governor Henry McMaster closed the state’s schools through the end of March and limited public gatherings to 100 people or fewer (and the CDC has since recommended 50 or fewer).

Out of love for our neighbor and respect toward those God has given the office of governing, church leadership today has moved to suspend all Immanuel Lutheran Church & School activities through March 31. We will continue to monitor the situation each day and keep you updated, especially as the end of the month approaches.

We are currently working to coordinate an online Service ministry, so that God’s true and life-giving Word may continue to be shared with you on the Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings of Lent. The exact format of this ministry is still being determined.

Please check on your fellow members in the Immanuel family, especially those who are homebound and can receive no visitors. Remember in your prayers the medical professionals on the frontlines of this pandemic. And please call, text or email me with any critical pastoral care needs (864) 607-3496 and
revjvan29681@yahoo.com.

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and (+) give you peace.

Pastor VanOsdol

Immanuel Lutheran Church Five Forks Update

Church Schedule Sunday, March 15

Worship Services, Adult Bible Class, and Sunday School at Immanuel Lutheran Church will take place tomorrow as scheduled. Church leadership continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and would like to remind you to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and avoid touching your hands to your face. Good hand hygiene is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses. We would love for you to join us tomorrow, but if you are feeling at all sick, are at high-risk of respiratory infections, or are in any doubt about attending, please stay home. You will be able to view tomorrow’s sermon (along with many previous sermons) on our youtube channel which can be accessed via our website. We will continue to monitor DHEC recommendations and update you with any further changes.