The first services for a Lutheran gathering in Vienna were held in Copp’s Garden Room on Maple Avenue on Nov 27, 1955. Within six months, the congregation took the name “Emmanuel,” adopted a constitution, and—on May 27, 1956—–officially organized with 46 charter members. In the year that followed, a pastor was called, the land was purchased, and the first unit of Emmanuel’s present home was built and dedicated.
Six decades have passed since that Charter Sunday in 1956. Hundreds of pastors and members—many who moved on, some who joined the saints at rest—worshiped, learned and served at Emmanuel. The building was reshaped by additions and renovations and by mission needs, including a vibrant Christian education program, a respected preschool, and an annual Hypothermia Prevention Ministry.
In 2006, we rallied, “Emmanuel Is Turning 50—and We’re Giving Away the Gifts!” Well over $50,000 was raised to rebuild a Gulf Coast home damaged by Hurricane Katrina, to bring solar energy to the Village of Hope School in Haiti, and to help fund a start-up congregation in our Synod.
In the fall of 2015, as we anticipated Emmanuel’s 60th Birthday, another challenge went out. By the year’s end, $30,000 was contributed for the new van needed by our partners at Lutheran Social Services, National Capital Area. In Lent, Emmanuel set a second goal to raise $50,000 towards the new showers and laundry facilities needed at the Lamb Center’s new home. As of midApril, almost $38,000 had been donated. So we can safely say, “Emmanuel Is Turning 60, and We’re Giving Away Gifts Totaling More than $60,000!”
But that would only tell part of the story. We also need to lift the gifts of those who set the Communion Table, and those who clean up after fellowship dinners. Those who prepare FACET meals each month and those who prepare lesson plans each week. Those who chaperone youth on retreats and those who lend muscle on clean-up days; those who lead Worship with song, and those who work together on teams. Those who contribute money to worthy causes but also those who give regularly so our staff is paid and our building is maintained. The list goes on. Just as in 1956 when Emmanuel’s membership numbered in the 40’s, the health and growth of this congregation still depends on every member’s willingness to share as much as they can, as often as they can, in every way they can, all to God’s glory!
May 27, 2016, will find us on the brink of Memorial Day weekend. Take a moment to remember Emmanuel, the love of God shared through this congregation and the people who partnered in the Gospel through its history. But don’t simply look back. The best decade in Emmanuel’s life may just lie ahead. It’s ours to determine together with the power of Christ’s Spirit. Pray for
Emmanuel’s Happy Birthday. Pray we continue to prosper in what has been entrusted to us!
Yet, O Lord, you are our God;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Faith formation is at the heart of what the Christian life is all about. In many ways, we engage in the practices of our daily lives and the rituals of our faith communities—through worship, mission, working for justice and peace, evangelism, and education—so that our faith may be nurtured, enlivened, sustained, and formed. In this regard, the imagery offered by the prophet Isaiah of Potter God forming humanity, God’s created own, is an appropriate vision for how we might view the ministry of faith formation.
At Emmanuel faith formation is “an engaged process of learning and practice integrated throughout all aspects of congregational and daily life.” This definition highlights the initiative and action we must take in our own faith formation. In essence, we become clay so that we are formed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. Throughout all of our doing and being, we are reminded that God’s “hands” are continually present in our efforts to gain both “head” knowledge found in education and learning and “heart” wisdom discovered through prayer, ritual, and practice.
Faith formation is at the heart of what our living and being is all about; but without the hands that guide what we are continually becoming, the process is incomplete.
A team of three Emmanuel educators is going to Haiti soon to conduct workshops
for the Village of Hope educators. If you would like to contribute toward the
$600.00 per person cost, please place a check in the offering plate payable to ELC
and list Village of Hope on the memo line. Contact Kathy Uffelman with
Although Emmanuel is not “in mission” to win awards, we have again this year won the “Changing Lives” award from our mission partners at Shelter House (NoVACo). Thank you to the many members who have graciously volunteered their time and money. Emmanuel was recognized for the tremendous impact we had on the life of our friend, Caroline, who now has an apartment and is self-employed. The lovely glass award is on display in the church office.
People & Places Fairfax Times, September 4,2014 by Lorin Buck, Staff Writer Today’s column is a departure from the norm, as I take an opportunity to offer a firsthand account of the global reach of a few local volunteers. At the end of August, I had the privilege of accompanying a small group of Fairfax County educators to Haiti. There they led a three-day professional development workshop for 16 preschool and elementary teachers at the Village of Hope School in rural Ganthiers. The group included three teachers, a former principal, our group leader and me — a less-than-fluid francophone, who hoped to help our non-French speakers communicate. We flew to Port-au-Prince on Aug. 23, under the auspices of a program sponsored by Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Vienna. Read more.