In March 2014, the congregation of Immanuel Lutheran Church stepped out in faith. As they closed the doors of their own church and joined the congregation at St. Philip’s just one mile away, they made a crucial decision: although Sunday worship services were ceasing at Immanuel, their mission and service to the community would never stop.
For over 5 years, Immanuel had opened their doors for the weeks during Lent to invite children and families from the community to participate in meals, activities, and lessons from scripture on Saturdays. As the congregation closed and joined with St. Philip’s, the outreach didn’t cease. This year, 20 children and families are already signed up to participate in lessons about Holy Week on March 16th, 23rd, and 30th.
As a part of their outreach, Immanuel/St. Philip’s Neighborhood Outreach provides new Easter dresses and formals for every child in the program. But the service – and the relationship with the community – doesn’t stop there.
Janis Hutchinson, the Immanuel/St. Philip’s Outreach Coordinator, recalls the 6 years of Lent/Easter outreach with joy. Of the many kids and families touched by the Easter celebrations, 20 children continue to participate in St. Philip’s church & neighborhood outreach activities on a regular basis. And the kids are quick to give back to the church.
On Easter Sunday, the children are an integral part of the service. Standing in front of the congregation, they share their lessons from scripture, teaching the story of Jesus back to those who taught it to them.
In addition to their Easter outreach, Immanuel/St. Phillip’s Neighborhood Outreach also serves hot breakfast every Sunday to an average of 80 individuals from the surrounding community and provides personal hygiene items once a month. With the help of their partners they also offer a helping hand to the community throughout the year with clothing giveaways, school supplies, holiday assistance, and culture outing to the Symphony and the Opera eiyh yhr goal of helping to expand children’s minds by exploring new activities within the city, and finding resources for families in need. As the community needs increase, Immanuel/St. Philip’s Neighborhood Outreach hopes to expand services to reach as many families a possible.
In spite of moves, change, and uncertainty, Immanuel/St. Philip’s Neighborhood Outreach has made it a priority to bless their community. In return, their community continues to bless them in smiling faces and young voices, teaching back the lessons they’ve learned from Jesus.