September 8, 2022

Dear Immanuel Friends,

“An occasion of good fellowship at the beginning of this season” is the way a September 11th welcome back Sunday was described in a 1955 Immanuel Church bulletin that surfaced recently in a pile of old books. The announcement page (one page!) gave notice of time-honored September beginnings – church school and choir – and invited members to “something new and different” on that September 11th, “a Church Tea featuring a Peach Festival.” 

Our 2022 version of Sunday, September 11th celebrates the beginning of a season that will feel “new and different” because it renews some of the things that were paused or altered since the onset of the pandemic two and a half years ago. The Peaceable Kingdom will again welcome our children to its vibrant learning spaces and we will welcome three infants at the font in the grace of Baptism. The Chancel Choir will return for the first fall since 2019. We hope to pair “social” with ice cream and not distancing! 

Return, reconnect, renew, restart, regroup … We look forward to doing again those things that edify our life together. This will be a time of continuity and change as we reflect on the impact of the pandemic and rethink and rediscover who we are as a church. We look forward to persons in the pews, again and for the first time in a long time – and as you are comfortable, unmasked.

At a meeting earlier this week the Session accepted the recommendation of its Covid-19 Advisory Team to move forward on a mask-optional basis, beginning this Sunday, September 11. The city and community health metrics that have guided our mitigations are now at levels of diminished risk (less than 200 cases per 100,000) and vaccines are available for all ages. Masking preferences will vary and we will apply the “love your neighbor” ethic to those who make choices different from our own. Masks are optional and continued masking is welcome.

The Covid Advisory Team will continue to monitor and advise. We continue to encourage vaccinations and the latest boosters; if you are experiencing symptoms, please test and isolate as necessary. All members of the Immanuel staff, church school teachers, choir members and other Sunday morning volunteers who interact with you are fully vaccinated. If you have comments, concerns, or questions about any of this, please contact one of the ministers or a member of the advisory team.

One of the frequently asked questions is whether live streaming the worship services will continue. Yes! What was an emergency pandemic measure has become an ongoing option. We hope the healthier climate will bring some of those in the “virtual balcony” back to the pews and we will continue to offer this option for faraway friends and those who cannot physically participate in onsite worship.

Reconnecting is an important emphasis of this fall. The pandemic experience has worked many changes. Let’s make this our mutual work. The elders and ministers are reaching out to those we haven’t seen for awhile and we ask you to reach out, as well. We’re learning about new addresses and new awarenesses, new jobs, new babies, new health challenges … We hope to not only see you in church but to hear about what’s happening in your life, what you’re thinking, what you’re hoping. 


Deborah Block
Rob Ater and Teresa Larson
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