Posts in Category: Church News

ELCA Church Council Appoints Rev. Sarras to Task Force

The ELCA Church Council has appointed Rev. Dr. Niveen Sarras to the ELCA task force charged with the development of a social statement on government, church, and civic participation. Eighty clergy and lay leaders applied to serve on this task force, but the ELCA Church Council selected 15 persons. Pastor Sarras will be part of an outstanding task force of knowledgeable, diverse, and dedicated church people. Each member brings unique gifts to the challenging responsibility the task force faces. The responsibility is to prepare a social statement that addresses significant theological, ethical, public, and pastoral challenges surrounding the social institution of government. The task force will serve until February 2025, when it delivers a Proposed Social Statement to the ELCA Church Council.

Martin Luther's Letter On Whether One May Flee From The Coronavirus of 2020

by Martin Luther

It was not coronavirus. It was bubonic plague (or black death), a much more deadly disease. It was 1527, and a case of the black death was found in the university of Wittenberg. The university was closed, and the students sent home, but Luther remained in the city and was busy with the pastoral and practical care of the sick. He was urged by correspondents from various places to give advice on what a Christian’s responsibility is at such a time.


In response, he wrote a letter called “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.” In it, he emphasized the duty to care for the neighbor, the responsibility of government to protect and provide services to its citizens, a caution about recklessness, and the importance of science, medicine, and common sense. The letter is addressed to Johann Hess, a pastor in Breslau, and it was published as an open letter to all Christians. Luther begins by looking at how Christians were responding to the plague. Some had a strong faith in the face of death, others not.


I invite you to read Luther’s letter as it is addressed to you personally. Luther’s Letter will be mailed to each homebound member of our church.


My prayer that this letter will comfort you and assure you of God’s presence in your life.


Pastor Niveen


Click here to read the letter.

Letters to Jewish Neighbors

Bishop Gerald L. Mansholt

Dear Pastors and Conference Deans,

I am sending this e-mail and attachments to all Conference Deans and to selected pastors.

The attached documents are copies of letters that I sent to 5 Jewish synagogues located within the East Central Synod of Wisconsin.  With the rise of anti-Semitism, bigotry and violence across the country our Presiding Bishop encouraged us to care, love, support and reach out to our Jewish brothers and sisters.  I tried to identify the synagogues the best I could, knowing a couple are quite small.  Some synagogues have closed in places like Manitowc and elsewhere.  If I’ve missed any, please let me know.

I would assume come of you already have relationships with some Jewish neighbors.  If not, I enourage you to reach out and personally express our support in these days and offer whatever we might do to build stronger relationships of understanding and respect.  I have enclosed copies of both Bishop Eaton’s statement of December 30th and the 1994 Declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community.

In many respects I’m a novice in these Lutheran-Jewish relationships.  So anything you can do to assist your bishop will be appreciated.  J  I tried to identify those pastors nearest to the synagogues to receive this e-mail.  If I’ve missed someone pass this e-mail along.  The letters to the Jewish congregations went in the mail this afternoon.

Blessings and peace,


Bishop Gerald L  Mansholt
East Central Synod of Wisconsin
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
16 Tri-Park Way
Appleton, Wisconsin   54914
Office phone:  920-734-5381
Cell:  920-809-9231


Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land Outcomes

Opportunity Palestine

Featuring high school students speaking in their own voice, the outcomes of the Lutheran Schools in the Holy Land are shared. The 4 schools start with preschool and continue to Grade 12 with co-educational classrooms and curriculum designed to support inquiry, creativity, leadership with inter-faith dialog and peace resolution.

Honor Veterans Sunday

November 10, 2019

On November 10, 2019, ILC recognized and gave thanks for the service of the men and women of ILC who have served in the armed forces.

Veterans Day 2019

Veterans Day 2019

Veterans Day 2019

Veterans Day 2019

Veterans Day 2019

Lefse Making - November 2, 2019

Immanuel Lutheran Church of Wausau

Lefse making has been an important project for most of Immanuel’s 135-year history. It was an important complement to the fall lutefisk dinners that were made available to the community as a fundraiser and an event that firmly stamped Immanuel as the Norwegian congregation in Wausau. The last lutefisk dinner was held in 1965, and thereafter, lefse was sold to the community as part of the fall bazaar, a tradition that ended almost a decade ago. The eight-week schedule of turning 800 lbs. of potatoes into lefse for the bazaar has now been reduced to two Saturdays of lefse rolling and baking in November for selling to members of the congregation. We are no longer an ethnic congregation, but this Norwegian tradition continues.

Lefse was made on Friday, November 1st (peeling) and Saturday November 2nd (baking).

Lefse will be sold on November 10, 2019. The cost is $7 per bag.

Click here to view a video filmed during Lefse making this year.



1st Annual Soup & Suds Gathering

October 8, 2019

It was the 1st Annual Soup & Suds Gathering at Immanuel Lutheran Church. All that attended had a wonderful time learning about the soap making process and enjoying a wonderful meal. Thank you Pastor Niveen for your inspiration to live a little greener. And thank you, Janci for the awesome soup and bread. It was so scrumptious. A special thank you to the ladies who attended the class. It was truly a great time of fellowship.

Can't wait to see that soap. It takes several weeks for it to cure. However, the dishwashing soap is ready to use in the kitchen.



Statement Regarding ELCA Declaration of Sanctuary Church

Bishop Mansholt

August 14, 2019

Dear Pastors, Deacons and Lay Leaders in East Central Wisconsin,

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.

The ELCA Churchwide Assembly concluded a few days ago in Milwaukee. Seventeen voting members from this synod gathered with 950 voting members from all across the United States and the Caribbean. Our time together was centered in prayer and worship as we sought to do the will of God. We commend all our work to the mercy of God. In whatever way we were in the right, we pray God will strengthen our resolve. In whatever way we were amiss, we pray God will continue to shape us.

There was a lot accomplished at the assembly and a summary of those actions will be forthcoming. Among those many actions taken by the assembly one has been making the headlines around the country. The ELCA declared itself to be a sanctuary church body and then directed the ELCA Church Council to provide guidance to all three expressions of the church (churchwide, synods and congregations) about what this means. I want to offer my reflections as bishop of this synod and suggest what this means for us as Church.

The action of the assembly grows out of this Church’s 80-year history of ministry with immigrants and refugees. The Gospel of Jesus Christ compels us through love of neighbor to welcome the stranger and care for the neighbor in need. Thus in response to human need in World War II Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services was founded. Through decades of service throughout the world LIRS has become a leader among nine refugee resettlement agencies.

People migrate for a lot of different reasons. Some are desperate for jobs or food. Climate change is forcing some to leave their homeland. Others are fleeing violence and persecution. Most people do not want to leave their homeland. So when they do flee, migration is most often a matter of life and death. We live at a time when 69.5 million people worlwide have been displaced from their homelands, a historic level. The suffering is real and people’s lives are at stake.

As the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world the United States has the capacity to be a leader in addressing this humanitarian crisis. But our immigration system is broken with antiquated laws that no longer serve the country or human need. In more recent years politics has been a divisive force instead of helping to find a solution. In this quagmire the Church has said we are here for the sake of people, to keep families united, to address human need, to care for the stranger, to witness to Christ’s love.

At the 2016 Churchwide Assembly the ELCA committed itself to walk alongside Central American families fleeing violence. Our pastors and lay leaders in Central America give us firsthand accounts of the violence people are fleeing. The AMMPARO Strategy (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy and Opportunities) has brought help, hope and healing to children and youth through the work of our churches and ministries.

Now in the 2019 Assembly the ELCA has declared itself to be a sanctuary church body. What this means, first and foremost, is that we will continue to advocate for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. It means we will continue to provide concrete resources in ministering to human need. We want to do whatever we can to
assist the most vulnerable.

This commitment led me and many others to take part in a prayer vigil outside the offices of the Department of Homeland Security in Milwaukee during the assembly. We did so as a protest against current policies, especially those that lead to the separation of children from their parents and the expulsion of those who work hard and long to be lawful citizens of this land.
I readily recognize there are many viewpoints related to immigrants and refuges and the extent to which this country provides asylum and opens its borders to others. Good people can disagree while working toward a just and humane solution.

I also recognize there will be disagreements among us in the Church. I hope and pray we will stay connected and talk about these important matters. The United States of America needs us to have civil and respectful conversation about these urgent issues. This goes to the very soul of who we are as a people in this land.
What does it mean to be a sanctuary church body? I expect we will discover there are many different ways that congregations and synods will live into this decision. I think it begins with taking to heart the action of the assembly and listening to the voice of others. Love of God leads to love of neighbor. Loving the neighbor begins with listening to their story, be that the story of the refugee at our border or our neighbor in the pew.

The assembly is not asking any congregation or individual to do anything illegal. It is our right to advocate, our lawful right to participate in the democracy. It is our right to do acts of mercy and extend arms of hospitality. Those actions may rub up against the law of the land when your neighbor is a DACA recipient or an immigrant who lives and works in the shadows.

Congregations need to know that sanctuary has no legal standing. While the local congregation was perhaps once thought of as a sanctuary, a place of freedom from the long arm of the law, sanctuary has no legal standing in this country.

I believe it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said it is the call of every Christian to seek to know and to do the will of God. These are days for discernment, for seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in these present times.

As seek to live out our baptismal call and witness to God’s love for all, I offer this prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may move every heart; that the barriers dividing us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; and that, with our divisions healed, we might live in justice and peace; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 79)

In the love and peace of Christ,

Gerald L Mansholt

Make School Kits and Personal Care Kits

Lutheran World Relief

Collections for Lutheran World Relief:
The collection boxes for items for School Kits and Personal Care Kits are located on the bench near the church office.  It would be appreciated if you could bring items for the kits.  
SCHOOL KITS:  notebooks (70 sheet), ballpoint pens, crayons (16 or 24 count packages), #2 pencils, eraser (2 1/2 inch) scissors (blunt), ruler, pencil sharpener
PERSONAL CARE KITS: bath towel  (dark colored), bath size bars of soap, adult size toothbrush, sturdy combs, metal nail clippers
Please have the items there by September 15th.  Thank you for your support.