President's Post

President's Post

Occasional updates from our Church Council President. Tony Szczepaniak began his term as president in February 2020.

Community, Communication & Commission

May 11, 2020

Shortly after I took over the role of President, attention was shifted to the impact of COVID-19 on members, staff, and church operations so I deferred my initial President communication. While we will continue to feel the impact, it is time to share. While these thoughts are mine, they are ultimately shaped by your acceptance and engagement. We at Immanuel Lutheran are blessed with an engaged congregation and committed staff. We need only look to the calendar of events to understand what is going on inside and outside of our walls. This would suggest that nothing much is needed. While potentially true, we do need to consider the long term and what church and our community looks like 10-15 years from now. We have a solid mission and values so rather than start there, I’d like focus on three themes over the next two years – community, communication, and commission. These themes are areas to begin to look forward and channel efforts to ensure that we continue our strong traditions of connectivity and engagement amongst ourselves and the extended community.


We have a great community and so why focus on this? Indeed, we do much with our internal and external community, so the focus is not about changing something that is in need of repair, rather continue to remind us of the need to be ready to respond, as Christ calls us, to the needs our community – both internal and external. Worship habits are shifting and COVID-19 may have accelerated this, thus we need to be thinking ahead about how the community may change. Beyond the needs we should be discussing who is not represented within our community that should be.


Here again, we have a great staff and receive communications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our digital focus has enabled us to deliver regular communications and even engagement. Still, we need to look forward to how we ensure that the digital approach keeps things open in both directions. How can we continue to open dialogue to ensure that we are understanding how people connect in our community? How can we continue to understand the needs of our community? While surveys are good, are there other ways we can connect personally to better understand the evolving needs of various groups?


It is tempting to think that spreading the gospel is someone else’s role, maybe the pastors and other ministerial roles. In Matthew 28:16-20, we are given the great commission to go out and bring forward the gospel and Christ’s teachings. As such, we need to challenge ourselves to be in the word so we are prepared when God sends an opportunity to witness and offer testimony of His greatness. This is not about standing on the street corner, rather being prepared to communicate what we believe as followers of Christ. Over the coming months, I will be working with Pastors Paul and Angela, the Executive Committee, the Council, and anyone else in the congregation who is willing to engage in a dialogue about the future. To achieve this, we will be conducting a strategic planning retreat sometime this year (via Zoom if needed) and I will be seeking ways to connect with small groups that are willing to have me join one of their meetings or gatherings. If you have a small group and are open to a visit, please let me know! I would enjoy hearing from you so feel free to drop me a line at Thank you. In Christ’s Love, Tony Szczepaniak

March 31, 2020

Dear members and friends of the Immanuel Lutheran family:

In recent weeks our community, in fact our world, has been wrestling with the COVID-19 virus and experienced its impact in extreme ways barely imaginable 30-days ago. We have been asked to shelter in place, seen store shelves depleted, and witnessed a stock market plunge. Congregations across our synod have experienced dramatic changes in how we worship, support one another, and serve our communities. Across our synod, some congregations are wrestling with very difficult decisions that include staff reductions, adjustments, and furloughs, benevolence cuts, and program eliminations. Now more than ever, we need our community of faith for strength and comfort.

We cling to this community during this time of uncertainty and have an even deeper need to remind each other that God is with us and will guide us through this crisis. We can and should draw on our Lord for guidance, and the direction given in his commands, during these challenging times. With this in mind, I am writing to provide you with information about the conversations and decisions being made by Council at a special meeting on March 30th. The Immanuel Church Council, in consultation with staff, has reviewed our financial situation which includes quarter 1 results and quarter 2 forecasts through June 30th. Our March giving was higher than our forecast and solidifies a strong quarter of giving. Thank you to those who have given online or mailed in offering. If this trend continues drastic expense cuts will not be necessary through at least April 30th. However, as we are not gathering for worship for the foreseeable future, it is more difficult for people to contribute their offering. We will be monitoring giving and should our income be reduced in the weeks ahead we will be taking another look at responsible cutbacks in spending. Still, we have taken or will be taking the following actions:

Thank you for your continued support of Immanuel Lutheran’s community and ministry. We are the body of Christ inside and outside our building and we look forward to the next time we can be together enjoying the loving embraces that are a part of our community. Peace today to you and your family. Stay safe and God bless. In Christ’s Love, Tony Szczepaniak Council President – or 952-250-6937

December 2019

Immanuel's Council and Executive Committee held their final meeting of the year on Tuesday, January 14th. Our agenda was consumed with finalization of the church's 2019 year-end financial statement and its 2020 budget. It was a long meeting, but extremely fruitful. This work was made easier with the benefit of having December giving and expense totals available. Thankfully, annual giving in 2019 exceeded budget by 3%! Finance and attendance through year-end is posted here. With almost all members in attendance, we were able to reach a consensus regarding the 2020 budget after considering many different viewpoints regarding both income and expenditures. The budget that Council approved will be presented to the congregation for approval at the annual meeting on January 26th. I hope to see you there! Council's next session will start in February after new members are voted in at the annual meeting. I'm thankful for both the Council members who have served over the past several years, as well as those who have stepped up to serve starting in February. My tenure as President ends after the annual meeting as well. It has been a privilege to serve in this capacity for the last 4 years and I will miss it. I will miss working with caring members of our staff and congregation - members I might not otherwise have known. I will miss first-hand accounts of the many amazing things that are happening at Immanuel. I will even miss discussing issues and concerns, because problem-solving is actually rewarding when done respectfully with caring people of a shared faith. Thanks to those of you who have offered me so much encouragement and support over these last 4 years. It has truly been a blessing. Notes:

Beth Hansen

November 2019

At Immanuel’s Council and Executive Committee meetings this month our agendas were largely consumed with the exciting process of BUDGETING! I don't know anyone who enjoys preparing a budget. I'm not much of a planner on any given week, so the task of projecting expenses and income over 12-months that don't even start for another 2 months is particularly exhausting to me. Nevertheless, Council is charged with signing off on the budget to be presented to the congregation. We’re responsible for planning and spending within our means, even when our "means" are a large unknown part of this equation each year. Immanuel typically receives almost 20% of its annual income from offerings during the last month of the year. How does a group come together to budget for expenses and project income when we don't even know what this year's income will be? Thankfully, we’ve received almost 75% of our 2019 budgeted income through October, which is on track with recent years’ progress (see updated income and attendance summaries). Still, each year we go through the same stress: we need to finish the year strong! Furthermore, if we somehow exceed expectations for the year, there will be an opportunity to increase benevolence allocated from the general offering/envelope account to be above the budgeted 17%. Let’s do it! At the November meeting, each committee chair provided their usual update, but then also went over their proposed plans for 2020. Thankfully, our work of haggling over each committee's needs and wants for next year, and account of 2019 expenditures, is made easier by the work we've been doing all year. This Council is now seasoned: we're used to each other's challenges and successes. As a result, instead of each member trying to cling to a piece of the pie, the room is filled with support for each other and advocacy of the greater mission. Furthermore, it's exciting to hear how each area approaches their outlook for 2020. I'm so thankful for our leaders, their committees and their abundance of great ideas! In addition to committee expenses, Council is also charged with recommending adjustments to salaries and benefits, staffing, or other churchwide needs. These discussions are important, and each Council member takes ownership of understanding Immanuel’s financial picture throughout the budgeting process. The culmination of this hard work will be presented to the congregation at our annual meeting on January 26th. At that time, we will present the budget for approval and also provide the 2019 financial summary and report. Your prayers and input are always appreciated! Finally, if this sounds like a process you’d like to be involved in on a personal level, watch your Gold Grow insert for any Council positions that will open in January as a few terms are due to expire. Feel free to contact me with any questions at Beth Hansen Notes:

September 2019

Immanuel's Council and Executive Committee held their monthly meetings on Tuesday, September 10th. Our agenda was light, following the busy weekend that included the Bingo for PROP event and our opening weekend service under the tent. Council expressed its appreciation for the organizers and the many volunteers that participated in the weekend events. Attendance was high for both events, despite the weather being slightly cold and rainy. Funds raised for PROP were consistent with last year, although the final tally was not available yet at the meeting. Some council members gave brief updates on programming that will resume in September. The Sunday School rooms are ready for the start of classes with fresh paint and flooring. The remaining list of projects on our Building Up campaign were discussed and should be finished within the next few weeks. Full reports from all committees will be given in October. Minutes from the August meeting were approved and are now posted on-line. Finances and attendance through August month-end were also reviewed and are posted here. Consistent with last month, our year-to-date income is on track, but attendance is lagging behind the prior two years. Beth Hansen

August 2019

Council had a productive meeting on August 13th! We do not meet in July, so there were several committee updates that covered summer activities (such as mission trips and VBS) and plans for fall programming (such as Confirmation, Tables of Eight, adult faith formation, etc.). Immanuel sure is a busy place! We reviewed the Building Up campaign project list, including budget adjustments and also progress made to date. It sounds like most of the work will be completed prior to the first weekend of Sunday School. Many of the committees are preparing for either the Prop bingo event, Tent meeting, or programming, with all-hands pitching in! A highlight of our meeting was a visit from Judy Miller and Bev Osekowsky. Judy and Bev are two of the eight Immanuel delegates that attended the Minneapolis Synod meeting in May. They provided Council with a nice summary of the events and speakers at the meeting, and summarized the resolutions that were voted on. I particularly appreciated hearing from them and am thankful for their caring service on behalf of Immanuel. Finally, meeting minutes were approved for our June meetings and financial results were discussed. Attendance and income results are posted here. Summer attendance has been lower than recent years. Giving remains slightly above budget on a year-to-date basis, which is still benefiting from March results. June's approved Exec and Council minutes are available online. Beth Hansen

June 2019

We've held two Council & Exec meetings since my last update. At our May meeting, we celebrated Immanuel's programming highlights over Holy Week and our Easter services. Attendance for Easter Sunday worship was 270 greater than the prior year and the music, in particular, was lifted up as a highlight. Council members provided committee updates, which included programs that wrapped up in May and special summer offerings that are planned (VBS, camps, mission trips, etc.). At both meetings, council reviewed the list of capital projects included in the Building Up capital campaign, as well as financing alternatives as we close out our Opening Doors campaign in June. At our June meeting, Immanuel's parish nurse, Kari Totall, met with Council to educate us on her role and the many ways she ministers to members of our congregation, both personally and through her ministry teams. We are so grateful for her talents and her commitment. Minutes from April and May meetings have been approved and are now online. Attendance and giving summaries through May are also online.

April 2019

This is my first update following Immanuel's Council and Executive Committee meetings, which I now plan to provide each month. We meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, except July. I'll try to:

Approved meeting minutes, which are more thorough, will be posted on the web site as they have always been. We are striving to provide helpful information as timely as possible. Your feedback and requests are welcome! Please email me at April Council & Exec Highlights Immanuel's Council and Executive Committee met on April 9th. At both meetings, a considerable amount of time was devoted to the upcoming Building Up Capital Campaign, including the new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document which Pastor Paul presented. In addition, Jeff Kjellberg from Kairos presented feedback from the recent MAP survey, including feedback from one-on-one interviews. Council will dig deeper into these results at our upcoming council retreat on April 27th, which will be held at the Luther Seminary. Lastly, we celebrated a great month of giving in March, which made up for a decline in February when weather interrupted worship schedules for many members. Giving and attendance comparisons through March can be accessed here. Additional items discussed at our April meetings will be posted in secretary Pat Hammer's minutes when they are approved in May. Minutes from February and March are now online. Beth Hansen Council President

Immanuel Annual Meeting Recap

Thanks to all who attended the annual meeting on January 27th. We were blessed with a quorum of members in attendance (well over the 60 required), and wonderful food. We are grateful to have a caring congregation that was engaged in dialogue throughout the agenda. Two key highlights of the meeting are as follows:

Documents and links

Beth Hansen

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