Pastor's Update

Pastor's Update

Occasional updates from Pastor Paul Nelson, Senior Pastor

Martin's Retirement

March 23, 2023

A church is especially blessed when a faithful and gifted person comes along and blesses and shapes that congregation, and the lives of those in the congregation, over a generation. For 20 years Martin Rathjen has blessed and shaped lives in this congregation through his amazing leadership and organization, his deep care for the people of Immanuel, and his profound faith in Jesus that is evident in all he does. Martin’s technical abilities helped Immanuel to not just survive, but thrive during the pandemic, as challenging as that was. For the last year Martin has led our communication efforts enabling people to reconnect to Immanuel and keeping the church moving forward with energy and direction. I know you join me in thanking God for Martin, and for all he has meant to Immanuel. As Martin’s time of staff at Immanuel comes to a close, I share his words with you:

“It has been an honor, privilege, and blessing to serve Immanuel over these last 20+ years and now it feels like the right time to retire. As I have worked part-time for the last 12 months, I have received a small taste of what retirement can include: time with our granddaughter, traveling to be with my Australian family (especially as my mother’s health continues to decline), a flexible schedule, camping and backpacking, and opportunities to travel and explore the world. In retirement I look forward to much more of these activities and to explore ways that I can serve as a volunteer.”

Martin’s resignation will be effective Easter Sunday, April 9. Martin has expressed his gratitude to the congregation for recognizing him last Spring for his long service as a Deacon and his transition from full time Faith Formation Ministry to part time communications work.

We will recognize Martin’s long service to Immanuel and send him off with our blessings in worship on Sunday, April 16th. If you have a card or note of appreciation and gratitude you would like to share with Martin, please bring it on that Sunday.

Again, thanks be to God for the gift of Martin, and God bless him and us as we continue to live and serve in faith, hope, and love!

In Christ,

Pastor Paul Nelson 

Associate Pastor Call Committee Formed

January 24, 2023

Immanuel voted to call an Associate Pastor at 25 hours a week at our Annual Meeting this past Sunday, January 22.  The Associate Pastor will assume responsibilities for Adult Faith Formation and Fellowship, as well as sharing worship, preaching, and caring ministry duties with Pastor Paul and Deacon Savannah.

A call committee including Monte Johnson, Kim Rathjen, Sharon Peterson, Blake Sipek, Allison Ranallo, Wendy Wurscher, Kari Totall, as well as Pastor Paul and Church Council representative Paul Savereide, will begin the process of calling a new Associate Pastor. Working with the Minneapolis Area Synod, the Call Committee has a three step process it will tackle in the coming months:

  1. Go over our Ministry Site Profile to share with potential candidates.
  2. Consider and screen resumes of candidates whose gifts, talents, and interest fit our needs.
  3. Conduct interviews with leading candidates.

Our hope is that we will have identified a candidate to recommend to the congregation for call in the next four months. Please keep the Call Committee in your prayers as our work commences.

Learn more about our staffing strategy.

Contact me with any questions:


Staff Change - Pastor Angela Resigns

October 25, 2022

The season of Fall is a time of transition. The leaves change and fall, the winds blow colder, the days grow short. Transition, or change, is said to be the one constant in life, and that includes the life of the church. 

It is with a mix of gratitude and sadness that I share with you Pastor Angela’s resignation letter. I thank God for our time serving together, for our blessed partnership in the Gospel, and for all the gifts Pastor Angela has shared with me, with this congregation, with our community. 

I also know that Pastor Angela wants to attend to the needs of family, especially those of her beloved husband Karl. We will be celebrating Pastor Angela throughout this next month, and I look forward to her final sermon at our Thanksgiving Eve Worship, 7pm, Wednesday, November 23. 

You can read Pastor Angela’s letter of resignation below. 

Please keep Pastor Angela and her family in your prayers, and lift up Immanuel as we faithfully live into this time of transition and invite God’s Spirit to lead us! 

Pastor Paul


October 24, 2022
Dear Friends in Christ at Immanuel,
During this season of harvest, during this season of thanksgiving, I am filled with gratitude for these past 7 years at Immanuel, for the communion of saints, for the fellowship and growing in faith together, for being stretched together in ways we couldn’t have imagined, for partnering together as the hands and feet of Christ that have poured out into the community and the world for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.
While I am also so very grateful for Immanuel’s lifting me and my family up this past year while my husband has wrestled with leukemia and through his bone marrow transplant, and while the gift of the sabbatical last winter gave me sufficient reserves for my sudden return to be by my husband’s hospital bedside and beyond, those reserves have now been spent. My body, mind, and spirit need another rest.
I trust that For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)… and for beginnings and endings. Now it’s time to take a leap of faith, to resign my call at Immanuel (effective end of the day Thanksgiving Eve, November 23rd), and in general to be “on leave from call” for perhaps a season, or longer - to further tend to my soul/wellness, my family, and the Spirit’s calling. 
As a mother at Immanuel, I would also like to thank you for caring for my daughters Nora and Claire throughout these years - especially with two pastor-parents otherwise occupied - especially through every corner of faith formation, Sunday school, and Confirmation, Stepping Stones, etc. - it takes a village to raise a child! 
One last time, I close with my GPS prayer - May God go before you, to prepare and provide, and sustain and surprise you with the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.  
Peace and grace,

Pastor Angela Fairbanks Jacobson

New Staff: Airam Olvera

September 13, 2022

Immanuel is pleased to announce the hiring of our new Nursery Attendant, Airam Olvera. Airam, as a mother of 4, is passionate about providing excellent care for children and families, and with a new baby of her own is excited to get back to work in this affirming way. Airam has worked as a director at the Jardin Spanish Immersion Academy and in many other childcare/instruction positions. She is also an instructor for the American Red Cross and has as educational background in the psychology of infants and toddlers. Airam also brings her passion for working with children, especially singing and dancing with kids!

We are grateful to have someone with expertise and experience to fill this important role! Airam begins her work in Immanuel’s nursery on Wednesday, September 14th, and will provide nursery care:

Please stop by the nursery to welcome Airam to Immanuel.


Pastor Paul

Pastor Angela's Sabbatical

“Behold, I make all things new!” Revelation 21:5

Our Minneapolis Synod recommends sabbatical time for Pastors every 6 years providing an opportunity for pastors to step away briefly from daily parish life and engage in a period of renewal and reflection. Renewal periods are not vacation but intentional exploration and contemplation that renews enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.


The church council has approved 9 weeks of sabbatical for Pastor Angela from December 28 - March 2, during which time she will focus on the following:

PROPOSED CONTINUING EDUCATION includes engagement with the Sojourners Institute, Restoration Ministries, Wisdomways, which will focus on writing the Sacred Journey, and a retreat month at Holden Village for reading, writing, prayer, and sharing in community life.

RESOURCES have been put in place that will ensure Immanuel’s ministry is well attended to during Pastor Angela’s sabbatical including:

May this time of renewal be a blessing for Immanuel and for Pastor Angela.


Pastor Paul

November 29, 2021

I give thanks to God as 2021 comes to a close, for the faithfulness of this congregation throughout another difficult year. 2021 has been a year of continued challenges, especially regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, but you have remained connected to and supportive of the ministry of Immanuel. Our Christ the King Sunday celebration in worship on November 21 was one of the most joyful worship services we have had in-person since the pandemic began. And I am so glad that people continue to connect online as well.

Thank you for your generous gifts which continue to bless our community, change our hearts, and support the ministry of Immanuel. Please join me in ending this year as faithfully and generously as we began.

Why give? Because God first gave to us! As we celebrate God’s generous gift of our savior Jesus this Christmas, we are inspired to live generously.

Why give? Because lives are changed! Our gifts and offerings change lives as the good news of Jesus is proclaimed, the love of God is shared, and those in need are cared for. We ourselves are changed when we give because generosity inspires contentment and thanks for God’s blessings. Generosity also helps us resist the joy-stealing temptation of always wanting what we don’t have.

Fulfill your pledge or make an end of the year gift and help your church close the year in a healthy financial position. December is always our big month of giving. Your end of year giving is an important part of helping Immanuel end the year well. We know that overall financial and tax planning are considerations as people give at year-end. 

Ways to Give:

Thank you for your faithfulness and generosity!

May the blessing of Christ be renewed in you and your family this Christmas season, and may God bless Immanuel’s ministry of celebrating, growing, and serving in the love of Jesus. 

Your fellow servant in Christ,

Pastor Paul Nelson  

October, 2021


God’s promise to make all things new has inspired Immanuel’s fall theme for ministry, “MADE NEW”. Thank you for helping to renew ministry at Immanuel through your faithful and generous giving. The past year and a half of the Coronavirus pandemic has been an especially challenging time for ministry. Thank you for rising to this challenge. From the very the beginning of Covid restrictions in March of 2020, giving at Immanuel has mirrored giving at other healthy congregations around the country. The people of Immanuel responded generously to this crisis, increasing giving in the first months of the pandemic, and continuing with strong giving through December of 2020. This faithful giving enabled Immanuel to end the 2020 year well, and fully support our ministry partners. Faithful giving, as noted, has been a shared story among healthy congregations, so again, thank you for helping Immanuel be part of this positive story of giving.

BENEVOLENCE:  Because of your faithful giving Immanuel was able to give away 18% of our general offering giving in 2020 to support our partner ministries like the Minneapolis Area Synod, the ELCA, PROP, Onward EP, Lutheran World Relief, Cornerstone, Habitat for Humanity, Amextra, and many more. Churches like Immanuel, who were able to fulfill their gifts of support, were godsends during this time for these ministries.

BUILDING UP CAPITAL CAMPAIGN:  Immanuel has also been blessed with strong giving to begin 2021, and while there was a bit of a dip in a couple of the summer months, a strong September has enabled us to remain on course to meet our budget for 2021. Giving to our Building Up Capital Campaign has been especially generous as we have already received almost 95% of our pledged giving total. It appears that when this campaign ends in April 2022 we may have received gifts of over 100% of the total pledged, making your response to the Building Up Capital Campaign the most faithful in Immanuel’s history.

FALL STEWARDSHIP THEME:  Our Stewardship theme this fall is “God makes us new through faithful giving!” God brings about this renewal in three ways:

  1. Our faithful giving blesses and renews our neighbors as we reach out with support and care in practical, tangible ways.
  2. Our faithful giving changes our priorities and renews our faith as we arrange our budget to be more generous and less self-serving. When we do this we place our lives and finances in God’s hands.
  3. Our faithful giving renews the live-giving, faith-growing ministry of Immanuel as we support God’s good work here and in the world.

ONLINE GIVING INCREASES:  While generous giving has not changed, one thing that has changed is how people give. More people than ever are using online giving as a safe and convenient way to make their offering. Our online giving option has changed names from Give+ to Vanco and you can find out all about your online giving options:

ENDING THE YEAR GENEROUSLY: The most generous months of giving at Immanuel are typically October, November, and December. We encourage you to help this trend continue this fall as we all respond to God’s blessings with our gifts and offerings. Please join us in praying that God renew us, our church, and our community, through our faithful and generous giving!


Laura Crosby, Stewardship Chairperson                           Pastor Paul Nelson

I’m new



Immanuel Lutheran Church © 2023

A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America