By Kevin Kindelin
Immanuel Lutheran turns 150 years old next year. She looks pretty good for that many years. I’m not blind to her wrinkles and sagging, but she sure is beautiful on the inside where it counts. That’s because the inside is us, you, me, that goofy pastor. ..(both of them are probably thinking I’m talking about the other guy). Sure, the “inside” can mean the internal structures of our building (s), but I’m trying not to be so literal but instead, paint a metaphorical picture. We embody the spirit of Immanuel, literally God with us.
I’m inspired to write about this spirit because I’m a recent witness to it and beneficiary of it. I’ve had it a little rough lately and haven’t been able to regularly attend church. I’ve missed the spirit of all of you gathering where He is with us. But His power and love are so great, that even though I could not be there, He came to me through you! Meal Ministry provided meal upon delicious meal during my “down time.” Thank you so much to all of you who took the time and trouble to prepare and deliver those meals so chocked full o’love. Thank you for the calls, texts, emails, cards, prayers, and well wishes. In addition to all that, both pastors and the vicar came to my humble dwelling to visit. These instances were not the first time in my almost 13-year history at Immanuel that I’ve been blessed with such agape love. It’s been my thorn to have this situation strike me down time after time, but the love I’ve received from then until now, has filled me with an uplifted spirit that gives me the strength to get up…time after time.
You might be thinking to yourself, “that’s all very nice, but what does this have to do with Immanuel’s history?” Everything, I tell you! Our history is who we’ve become. This moment we occupy in time is “now.” Now is the intersection between our past (history) and our future. You may have heard me prattle on about our future in past articles, and that remains true, but what we do now in our history is going to indelibly define who we’ll be in our future.
In February of 1869, 11 families in this undeveloped community met on the railroad platform to discuss the establishment of a Lutheran church in Palatine. The following month, those families organized our first congregation. Our cemetery was purchased soon after. Next we added our school. To those OCD sticklers such as myself, I’m sorry for the lack of precise dates, but the scrolls from Immanuel’s historical archives don’t always agree…close, but not precise. An interesting note…one of our first places of worship, even before the congregation was formally organized, was at the corner of Wilson and Bothwell…the same location currently occupied by Lamplighters. (Hmm…raised eyebrow.) Our building locations and configurations have changed throughout the years, but our spirit has remained the same. Immanuel has endeavored to serve an evolving, growing, diverse, burgeoning community for lo’ these many years.
We’ve administered to the spiritual need for Christianity to an ever-changing population from farmers to executives to doctors, to anybody and everybody who seek Him. We have always reached out into the community, and continue to share the Word with those who might not know Him, through our various outreach efforts. Our history shows that the love of God will flourish in the hearts of those who yearn for Him, whether it be a century and a half ago, or now.
Here we are back at “now.” I’m really not shy to say, if I may, that I’m proud of the things we do at Immanuel, and also what we have done. I’m hesitant to say “accomplished,” because that connotes to me something that has fulfilled its purpose. Our missions and ministries operate on a continual basis with, hopefully and prayerfully, no end in sight. Three years ago, we carved a little niche in our history by launching our Stronger Together campaign. It was a bold undertaking, to say the least. Heck no…it was a BOLD UNDERTAKING!!! Imagine our gall…asking ourselves to step up financially and support this initiative. Ah, but the spirit of Immanuel, God with us, was with us when we voted to move forward with this crazy idea!
The results of this “crazy idea?” Our connection to this thriving community has been further established and strengthened by bringing faith to them and inviting them to us.
• At 12:00 noon on Sundays, a discussion based, pastor driven, music filled, non-traditional “service” is held in downtown Palatine at the Gathering Place.
• We invite not only church members, but also anyone else who might desire a good meal with good company, to the Community Meal, where good food and Christian fellowship are served up.
• Vicar Bill Harder takes his act on the road and dishes up a healthy Christian serving of worship through the Word, a dedicated message, and music to residents and visitors at Rosewood Care Center on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m.
• Funds have gone into infrastructure and building repairs.
• A clearly determined mandate was cast to reach out to our youth. We hired a youth director in the name of Pastor Donald Antor and tasked him with shoring up and modernizing our youth ministry by utilizing technology and engaging those families with youth. There’s much more to what we are doing and more can be learned by contacting the church office or by gettng your hands on the same informative, glossy brochure I picked up in the narthex.
I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I can read the writing on the wall. Jesus will out. That’s kind of a fancy, Shakespearean way of saying, “Jesus will win.” We’ve been around long enough to know that we must continue planting His seeds. Don’t doubt that they will grow. Look around at what’s sprouted and flourished since 1869. Imagine what your children can reap of what you sow, and their children…and so on, and so on. Happy 150th birthday Immanuel! That’s 150 years of God with us. 2069 seems far away, but 200 years of Christian love, service, worship, and outreach is just around the corner!