Online Service Instructions

“I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!â€â€ (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.

Update written in white color and black background

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.

Unwrapping god good gifts' poster with a white background

Unwrapping God’s Good Gifts

On the last two Sundays of Epiphany—the last two Sundays before Lent begins—the Sunday Readings feature the Ten Commandments: the giving of them to Moses and Jesus expounding a few of them. This unfolded at the same time I was pondering a theme for our midweek Services of Lent, so I decided to make those Commandments the theme.

Doing so means that this year our theme will emphasize the original focus of the Season of Lent, as Lent began in the Early Christian Church as a time of instruction for those who were preparing for Baptism at Easter. The instruction of those “catechumens†focused more on Christian living than the Passion of Jesus. That will be our emphasis this year.

The wisdom of the Commandments—while Divine—can be known in part by simple human reason and should be heeded by any community, society or civilization that wishes to survive and flourish. But we see the Commandments also in the context of God’s grace in Christ, finding newer and richer meaning in them when viewed that way.

Thanks to Martin Luther and his Explanation of the Commandments in his Small Catechism, we see in the Commandments not just negative prohibitions—things we’re supposed to keep from doing—but works of love urged upon us. We can even see in the Commandments gifts God gives, wrapped in commands for their protection.

That will be my approach to the Ten Commandments on the Wednesday evenings of Lent: the gifts God gives, complete with instructions for their proper use. And the gifts are these: Family, Marriage, Life, Property, Speech and God Himself.

Please plan to gather with your Immanuel Family each of the Wednesdays in Lent—beginning Ash Wednesday, February 26—as we unwrap these good gifts God has given us and talk about their place in the Christian life. Meals will be served each Wednesday at 6:00 PM, followed by a Service at 7:00 PM.

Pastor VanOsdol

This little child, lowly birth shall be the joy of all the earth.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel


December is a very busy month, filled with so many things to do by Christmas Eve. That
the Church would have additional Services during the month of December would seem
to add to the busyness. But that is not the intention of our Midweek Advent Services:
they are designed to be a refuge and to help us keep some perspective on the Season.

At 7:00 PM on the Wednesday evenings of Advent we will gather for Evening Prayer and
direct our thoughts to the message in the music: what we pray and proclaim when we sing
the beloved Christmas carol, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.â€

This carol is 900 years old and its use in the Early Church and origin in the Scriptures is
even older. The carol has not only a glorious message but a long history as a way
Christian pilgrims on the Advent journey have prepared their hearts and minds to
celebrate Christ aright, by contemplating the work of the One who is hymned by us as:

Lord of Might
Branch of Jesse’s Tree
Key of David
Dayspring from on High
Desire of Nations

Journey with us each Wednesday evening in Advent (December 4, 11, and 18) as we
prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Christmas aright, praying:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Pastor VanOsdol

Poster of so many faces of people looking towards upward

What Do Lutherans Believe?


Have you ever wondered what Lutherans really believe? Or, what does it mean to be “Lutheran?”

What is a Confessional Lutheran? What are the Lutheran Confessions anyway?

What is the Reformation and why is it so important to Lutherans?

How is the Lutheran Church different from American Evangelicalism, the Roman Catholic Church, or Orthodox Church bodies? What is The Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod?

Whether you are new to exploring the Christian faith in the Lutheran tradition or are already a Lutheran, it is good to step back and ask the basic questions. Fortunately, there are answers. You can find a lot of good resources about what Lutherans believe at, on the beliefs page, in the Frequently Asked Questions about the Bible, Doctrine, and Lutheran Confessions. You can even get a good primer on the history of the Reformation at

Once you’ve done all that, there may still be some things you ponder on and question. This is where Pastor Will Weedon comes in. He is formerly the Director of Worship and Chaplain of the International Center of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Pastor Weedon gave Matt Whitman of  YouTube channel The Ten Minute Bible Hour a wonderful and informative introduction to the Lutheran Church at Saint Paul Lutheran Church and School in Hamel, IL where Pr. Weedon serves as Assistant Pastor and Catechist. Pr. Weedon sat for a detailed theological Question & Answer session with Matt, and probably answered some of your questions too. Whether you are new to Lutheran beliefs or have been a life-long Lutheran, you may learn something. Watch and listen:

Part 1:  An Outsider Visits a Lutheran Church

Part 2:  An Outsider Talks With a Lutheran Theologian (What do Lutherans Believe?)

Part 3:  Is Lutheranism the True Catholic Church? (and other stuff with a Lutheran Theologian)

If you want to hear more of Pastor Weedon teaching about Jesus, check out his daily podcast The Word of the Lord Endures Forever on Lutheran Public Radio or at

Matt Whitman shared thoughts about his visit with Andy Bates and Sarah Gulseth during The Coffee Hour on KFUO Radio. Check it out.

Matt demonstrated the best way to learn about Lutherans is to visit a Lutheran church. So, if you are in the greater Greenville-Spartanburg area of South Carolina, please stop by Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Five Forks, a part of Simpsonville, SC, and visit us. You can get directions here, or just type 2820 Woodruff Road, Simpsonville, SC into your GPS. Be sure to subscribe to Immanuel’s YouTube Channel and Pod With Us Podcast to listen to the latest sermons.

Trust in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ when He says:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

Peace be with you.


A cross with the words ministry plan in the background.

Ministry Plan, Again


September brings with it the end of Summer and the beginning of a new school year and resumption of many other things that occupy our church and family calendars most of the year. This Fall at Immanuel, September also signals the beginning of a new chapter of congregational life as we consider a plan for our ministries into the future.

The Ministry Plan is a document I have been working on this Summer that is the product of the first two Steps of our planning process and will be used to guide our decision-making in the future. The Ministry Plan is where our conversations, meetings, prayers and ideas find a tangible result: a list of prioritized goals for Immanuel Lutheran Church & School.

The Immanuel Church Council will get a first look at the Plan at its September meeting. I will have a presentation on it at the September 29 Voters’ Assembly. But here’s a preview:

Our discussions over much of the last year have produced many ideas for evaluating, enhancing and adding to our ministries. These ideas have been grouped into six general themes called
Ministry Targets . The six Ministry Targets are these:

  1. We receive from God to empower our service to others
  2. We equip disciples of Christ to serve others
  3. We care for each other as a family
  4. We welcome the community to our campus
  5. We serve children and young families with God’s love and forgiveness
  6. We enhance and strengthen our ministries

Into these six categories our ideas have been organized, and out of these six categories have come both Staffing Needs (the people resources needed to carry out the Ministry Plan) and Campus Needs (the facilities needed to carry out the Ministry Plan ).

That’s a preview. For more, I invite you to attend the September 29 Voters’ Assembly. And as we get ever closer to taking the next step into our future as a congregation and school, I thank you again for your prayers and faithful presence and stewardship. Please continue to lend your time, talents and treasures to shaping the future of Immanuel Lutheran Church & School!

Pastor VanOsdol

Blog Note: New to Immanuel? Catch up on the entire VisionPath and Ministry Planning process to date, in chronological order, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Stewardship poster with an open book image

Stewardship: How much should I give?


Whenever the topic of stewardship and giving comes up, the conversation inevitably turns to the question: “How much should I give?†Answers will vary because the motive behind such questions also vary.

Sometimes the motive behind asking this question is for self-justification. Even though, as Lutherans, we know we are not saved by our works but by grace through faith because of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement, the natural religion of fallen man is to earn God’s favor by what we do.

Take, for example, the response of our Lord to the rich young ruler who asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?†Jesus first tells him to keep the commandments. The rich young ruler responds by indicating that all this he has kept from his youth. But Jesus tells him that he lacks one thing: He must sell all he has and give it to the poor and then follow Him.

This rich young ruler went away sad because he was quite wealthy and could not part with his possessions. Here we see that those who seek to justify themselves by their giving will hear a response that intensifies the duty that God places upon them. Indeed, they will hear a response that makes it impossible to win God’s favor by their works.

But to those who genuinely desire to know their duty as Christians in the arena of giving, we look to the Bible for our answer. We believe the Bible is the Word of God. And we know that the Word of God has been “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work†(2 Tim. 3:16–17).

So, we begin to answer the question, “What should I give?†with the question, “What does the Bible say about how much we should give and to whom?â€

The Old Testament is explicit. The expectation is that the people of God would give a tithe – 10 percent – of the first fruits of their labor to support the full-time ministry of the Levites. This is what the Lord gave Moses to teach the people:

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.

“And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire – oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves.

“And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.

“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.†(Deut. 14:22–29)

This principle of tithing is carried over into the New Testament, though not explicitly by calling it a tithe. St. Paul teaches the Church at Corinth the following:

We are to give to the church regularly (1 Cor. 16:1–2), proportionally (1 Cor. 16:1–2; 2 Cor. 8:12), and generously (2 Cor. 8:20) of our first fruits (1 Cor. 16:1–2; Gen. 4:4; Prov. 3:9; Lev. 27:30) with a spirit of eagerness (2 Cor. 9:2), earnestness (2 Cor. 8:7), cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9:7), and love (2 Cor. 8:23). And all of this is because the “Lord has ordained that those who preach the Gospel should make their living by the Gospel†(1 Cor. 9:14), just as the Levites did.

This is our New Testament standard. Since Christ became poor for us in order to make us rich in Him – blessing us with the riches of heaven – so we have also been so blessed to follow the example of our Lord and Savior and give of ourselves and the work of our hands to bless others with the same.

If we have been lax in this, let us, like our Lord, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross and scorned its shame, likewise begin to work toward this goal of regular giving of a generous proportion of the first fruits of God’s giving to us.

And let us do so not begrudgingly, but for the joy set before us – with a spirit of eagerness, cheerfulness, and love – to share the blessings of God with those placed into our care.

LCMS Stewardship Ministry

A cross with the words ministry plan in the background.

Ministry Plan


Because our Planning Process has one name—and the various Steps in the Process have other names—for the sake of clarity the only name I will use in this update is the Ministry Plan. The Ministry Plan is a document that will be the product of the first two Steps of our Planning Process and will be used to guide our decision-making in the future.

The Ministry Plan is where our conversations, meetings, prayers and ideas find a tangible result: a list of prioritized Goals for Immanuel. I am working on this Plan with Pastor Brath and a few members of the congregation. The Immanuel Church Council viewed the work to-date at its May meeting.

While still a work-in-progress, the Plan is organized into various Goals: Campus, Christian Education, Fellowship, Financial, Human Care, Ministry, Outreach, School, Staffing and Worship. Each Goal has one or more Strategies to accomplish the Goal: these are activities and projects assigned to groups in the congregation. Some of the Strategies are in the future; some are already in process, like exploring Online Giving, Adding a Worship Service, Sunday Hospitality and School Connections. My goal is to have the Ministry Plan ready to present to the Congregation in June.

One Strategy already in process is work on a Master Site Plan for Immanuel Lutheran Church & School, to give us a glimpse of what the Immanuel campus could look like in the future and to determine the best usage of our property and resources. Immanuel’s Campus Team was set up as a subset of the Council to help ensure that a variety of viewpoints are considered as we move forward in this process. This Team consists of:

Dana Emberton, President
Dave Houghton, Vice President
Catherine Benecke, Christian Education
Dan Thelen, Finance
Dick Sunderman, Facilities
Jeff VanUffelen, Immanuel Lutheran School

After several meetings with local firm McMillan Pazdan Smith, the Campus Team has shared the latest with the Council and has invited the Lead Architect for our project to present the Site Plan to the congregation, fielding comments and answering questions. You are invited to be part of this Informational Meeting that will take place following the Divine Service on Sunday, June 2. (No votes will be taken at this meeting.)

The school year is about to end and Summer is set to begin, but there is still plenty going on around Immanuel as we step into our future. Thank you for your prayers and faithful presence and stewardship. Please continue to lend your time, talents and treasures to the shaping the future of Immanuel Lutheran Church & School!

Pastor VanOsdol

Blog Note: New to Immanuel? Catch up on the entire VisionPath and Ministry Planning process to date here, here, here, here, here, and here.

A picture of the miraculous mission logo.

Register Now! VBS 2019 is Miraculous Mission

Vacation Bible School 2019 Miraculous Mission: Jesus Saves The World takes off in Five Forks on Sunday, June 9th and returns from orbit on Thursday, June 13th. Dinner is at 5:30pm and VBS is 6pm to 8pm each day. Your kids (age 3 through 5th grade) will have fun learning about Jesus through games, crafts, songs, and more!

Register now!

See promo video on Immanuel’s VBS page.

A hand pointing to the word ministry mapping.

Planning Process Update


“Immanuel, God With Us, serving our neighbor
and one another with His love and

Here is the latest on the steps taken in our Planning Process during the month of April and what is to come in the month of May:

1) Rev. Billy Brath (LCEF Planning Facilitator) was onsite Tuesday, April 2, to work with us on Step Two (Ministry Mapping) of our Planning Process. More than 40 members of Immanuel’s Church Council and various Boards participated in a Ministry Mapping Workshop; Pastor Brath leading us through a creative process of examining and enhancing some of our ministries. Three groups began work on 3 Goals:

a. Expansion of Worship opportunities (an additional weekly Service and/or expanded worship space)
b. Hospitality (enhancing the Church & School visitor experience through improved traffic flow, signage, fellowship and facilities)
c. Creating ministry opportunities to Immanuel Lutheran School families (strengthening the Church/School connection)

2) After Easter, portions of the same 3 teams will be invited to get together again for further planning toward these Goals. Also after Easter, other Goals will be identified and teams assembled/assigned to address the Goals.

3 ) The Goals identified will become part of a Ministry Plan that will be presented to the congregation. Rev. Brath’s timelime calls for the Ministry Plan to be in place by the end of May.

4) An important piece of the Planning Process puzzle is an evaluation of our current resources, including land and facilities. As the last Master Plan for Immanuel is nearly 20 years old and many changes have come to the Church & School, Five Forks and our Woodruff Road corridor in the last two decades, it is important to have a current update to guide future growth and development. At the March 31 Voters’ Assembly a motion was passed to enlist the services of an outside firm to help us put together an updated Master Plan and resource assessment: a planning document and conceptualization of how Immanuel Lutheran Church & School might exist in the future. The firm of McMillan Pazdan Smith has been retained for this work and Immanuel’s Campus Team (Dana Emberton, Dave Houghton, Dan Thelen, Dick Sunderman, Doug Eggert, Catherine Benecke, Jeff VanUffelen, Pastor) had an initial meeting with this firm during Holy Week.

New to Immanuel? Catch up on the entire VisionPath and Ministry Mapping process to date here, here, here, here, and here.

Pastor VanOsdol