THE YEAR IN REVIEW
In this world that has been overcome by sin and trouble, it is beneficial to take note of the many blessings that God has bestowed on us this year in spite of what we sometimes see and hear. As God has promised, so He has fulfilled His Word that even in the face of our own wickedness, “the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.” (Matthew 16:18) Though we are a small and, in the scope of things, a very insignificant congregation, we see God’s kindness and mercy to us. Though the devil has wished to destroy us, our Father in Heaven has sent His Son to save us. God has opened the very coffers of heaven pouring down His abundant riches upon us. As we begin the New Year in His grace we look back considering the blessings given from above.
- 6030 souls received God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament at Emmanuel in 2012. Were you one of them?
- A Midweek Divine Service is again offered in the chapel each Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m.
- Monday through Friday Matins was offered daily in our chapel praying for the needs of the world, the church, and our congregation.
- 13 individuals became members of Emmanuel (3 transfers/confessions of faith, 6 baptisms, 1 adult confirmation, and 3 youth confirmations). Thanks be to God!!!
- Various congregational service opportunities were offered to the congregation including those through the Adult Choir, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, the Fundraising Committee, and the Ladies’ Aid.
- Bibles were purchased for the children entering Level 2 of our Sunday School, and large Sunday School maps were purchased for two classrooms.
- A new Level 4 Sunday School Class on the Reformation was begun by Mr. Jim Naumann (previously Sunday School classes only went up to Level 3).
- A Youth Group was started by Pastor Seifferlein for those who have been confirmed. The Youth Group meets the first and third Friday’s of the month. The children read and discuss Lutheran theology and participate in fellowship activities.
- Various activities were held including several lock-ins for the confirmands, a trip to the Kaiser Cabin for the confirmation students, as well as numerous Family Nites for the families of our congregation.
- A Junior Altar Guild Program was begun, training the young girls in our congregation in the behind-the-scenes preparation of the altar area.
- Sunday Morning and Thursday Morning Bible Classes were held on topics such as the Song of Songs, the Red Sea, the Table of Duties in the Small Catechism, How to be a Peacemaker, the Truth of the Bible, as well as a series on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We now offer a Thursday morning class that meets exclusively at our congregation.
- Projects around the church were completed including new landscaping by the church sign, and the remodeling of the chapel vestibule (two new stained glass windows, new lighting, and the plastering of the walls). Congregants stepped forward in volunteering for many other projects including our annual in-depth church cleaning, church maintenance projects, and church repairs.
- The positions on all of the elected boards of the congregation were filled.
- $13,819.55 in additional monies were raised for the Centennial Fund (debt reduction) which results in over $50,000 in final savings over the course of the loan.
- Through Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, the congregation applied for and procured a $10,000 grant for the Food Pantry that exists on our church property. This money will assist the food pantry during a climate of increased need.
- The refinancing of the church loan in 2012 saves the congregation $65.00 per month.
- The congregation was visited by numerous dignitaries in 2012 including sponsoring the visit of former pastor, Rev. Michael Frese, who served as the guest preacher and speaker over Memorial Day Weekend. The congregation also was visited by African Missionary Rev. James May and his family. Our congregational picnic was held the weekend of their visit.
- Mission projects received support in 2012 including Audio New Testaments for soldiers, Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne and Concordia Seminary in St. Loius and Seminarians Joshua Baumann, Tim Anas, and Kyle Verage, District and Synod Mission, Lutheran Student Center in Milwaukee, Lutheran Malaria Initiative in Africa, Hispanic Missions in Milwaukee, the Wittenberg Germany Lutheran Center, the work of the Rev. Thomas Fleischmann in the Sheboygan County Chaplaincy, the Siberian Lutheran Missionary Society, and the Hurricane Sandy victims. In total over $8,000 was raised for missions here and around the world by our congregation in 2012!
- Pastor Seifferlein was elected to a second term as circuit counselor by Circuit #10 of the South Wisconsin District of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.
- And last, but certainly not least, January 1, 2013 marks the 10 Year Anniversary of the ending of the dual parish agreement with St. John, Sherman Center. While this was a large step for our congregation, and some thought that we would not make it, ten years later the decision continues to be a blessing to us. Since the ending of the dual parish arrangement the following major projects have been completed at our congregation: the complete renovation of Memorial Hall, the remodeling of the Youth and Family Room, the building of a church chapel, the renovation of the church offices, the renovation of the chapel vestibule, the renovation of the Sunday School classrooms, and the renovation of the Wilk Building (Food Pantry). In addition (and most importantly), due to the blessing of our congregation being again on our own, we have been blessed by the services of two pastors, Rev. Michael Frese and Rev. Christopher Seifferlein. We have seen a large increase in the number of services offered, as well as Bible Class and fellowship opportunities. The congregation was blessed to procure the service of Rev. Dennis Boettcher as our quarter time organist and church musician. Due to his work after many years a choir has again returned to the “choir loft” of our congregation.
The task before us:
- The challenge of bringing the Gospel in intentional ways to the people of our own congregation and community. How can we be salt and light not merely by sending money to missions around the country and overseas but to needs right here in our own backyard?
- Fighting our enemy the devil which seeks to destroy us and the work of the gospel.
- Funding the growing mission of our congregation in uncertain fiscal times.
In conclusion, we may consider the witness of the apostle Paul who was a recipient of the generosity of the church in Philippi. In his time of need they aided him again and again, and there was no other church that had shared with him in that way. The generosity of the members of this congregation is also a testimony to the loving work of Christ that He is accomplishing in our midst. As we reflect on the blessings of 2012 and as look ahead to the difficult challenges that face us in 2013, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. Looking to His promises to us, there is always hope. A blessed New Year to you and your family!