Emmanuel Communities and Emmanuel Academies are flourishing because of your generosity!
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...."
Charles Dickens, 1859
One year ago we never would have imagined what 2020 had in store for us! I am sure this is as true for your families as it is for Emmanuel Communities and Emmanuel Academies!
The year 2020 started extremely well! Emmanuel Communities contracted for the installation of the new playground at Emmanuel Community Park. We were to celebrate its ribbon cutting the same week as the 2020 Celebration of Progress. If you do not recall either of these events, it is because neither happened because of Covid-19.
The 2020 Celebration of Progress, the single annual fund raising event for Emmanuel Lutheran Church's separate not-for-profit (501(c)(3) ministries, was cancelled the week before out of an abundance of caution. This put both Emmanuel Communities and Emmanuel Academies in a major financial bind. Thankfully some donors generously stepped up without solicitation to encourage us and ensure we continued our programs! You know who you are and WE THANK YOU!!!!
Though the pandemic slowed us down, it far from stopped us! The playground had a soft opening in June and has been used by hundreds (if not more) kids since then! Emmanuel Communities is now planning for the new heavy timber pavilion at Emmanuel Community Park. More than shade, the pavilion will provide a sheltered place for worship, gathering, and community building. Plans also include a “well” or fountain surrounded by a brick paver square.
You have heard of the other great happenings at the Park, including weekly drive in worship, collaboration with Meals of Hope and the feeding of more than 2,000 people each week, joint events with the Collier County Sheriff's Office, farmers markets, food trucks, and much more! Emmanuel Community Park is where Golden Gate Estates seeing Christ and God's work.
Emmanuel Academies has gained strength and is thriving even in these challenging times. Last year at this time we had four students. Today, we have 21 students, all of whom are studying to become Pastors for the Church. None of whom would have considered a pastoral vocation if their only educational option was traditional seminary.
Academies' growth is not a one time happening! We added four seminarians in the winter of 2020 and twelve new students in September 2020. In January, we likely will have six additional future pastors begin our program.
Academies' pastoral formation work is not only benefitting Emmanuel Lutheran Church with its seminarians learning and practicing and growing, while they serve, Academies' work and seminarians are changing congregations in Hernando, Ft. Myers, Lehigh Acres, plus the national churches in El Salvador and Rwanda. We have only just begun!
Complementing your gifts, recent external grants from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity and the Zimmer Family Foundation are enhancing our capacity and capabilities, while significantly benefiting congregations and communities. These grants are on top of the Kern Family Foundation grants we have received for our 5-Year BA+MDiv program, which was the first offered in the ELCA!
I want to say a loud and bold THANK YOU to those donors who have and continue to contribute and support the difficult but essential work of:
Emmanuel Communities: continuing to improve Emmanuel Community Park and ensuring it is a welcoming and safe site promoting Christ and His Kingdom.
Emmanuel Academies: striving to increase the numbers and skills of pastors to serve Lutheran churches into the future, ensuring a Church for our children and grand children.
This coming Tuesday, the day after Cyber Monday and four days after Black Friday, is Giving Tuesday. This is a national event that inspires millions of Americans to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Due to the cancellation of our Celebration of Progress, we are continuing to ask for gifts to ensure Academies has the funding to continue to serve and form future pastors, as well as Communities continuing to improve Emmanuel Community Park and its emerging role within the community. Neither Emmanuel Communities nor Emmanuel Academies receives funding from the operating budget of Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Thus, your intentional gifts to support these ministries are essential.
You can make a one-time or monthly gift to Emmanuel Academies through the following link: NaplesEmmanuel.org/Donate or by sending a check to the church with Emmanuel Academies or Emmanuel Communities in the memo section.
If you are considering a gift of stock, a multiyear commitment or a planned gift, please contact me directly for details at 239.206.3082. As both Emmanuel Communities and Emmanuel Academies are 501(1)(3) entities, your gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
As the CEO of both Emmanuel Academies and Emmanuel Communities, thank you for your support of these two very important entities and the work our teams are doing for Christ's Kingdom!
I wish you and your families a blessed and healthy Thanksgiving Day!
Soli Deo gloria,