Fellowship in the Great Tradition

Greetings from Pastor Fryer

The Liturgy at Immanuel
Pastor Gregory P. Fryer

I recall with joy a comment made by a visiting theologian to our church. He had been a member of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship which produced the worship book we use here at Immanuel, the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) On the way out of church that morning, the theologian greeted me, smiled, and said, "You do the liturgy here the way the writers of the LBW intended." Satisfying praise, indeed, yet not somehow over-the-top. We do not claim to have the highest liturgy around, not even compared to some of our sister Lutheran congregations here in Manhattan. But we do claim to join all churches in caring deeply about the liturgy and seeking to do it with love and integrity.

We remain a Lutheran Book of Worship congregation, which means that we remain committed to traditional liturgical language. We have not abandoned the Biblical pronoun "he" when referring to the triune God, and so we do not hesitate to say such things as "he maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth beside still waters." Nor do we hesitate to offer an offertory prayer.

Our liturgy is graced by the gifts of our Music Director, Dr. Gwendolyn Toth, and our Immanuel Choir. It is a choir with both professional and lay singers. Dr. Toth is the founder and director of an early music ensemble here in New York City called Artek. A fun thing about that is that our Sunday liturgies sometimes feature medieval and renaissance instruments from Artek, like sacbut and lute.

We have at least two services of Holy Communion each week. The main liturgy is at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings. We also have a simple, spoken liturgy of Holy Communion on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.

During Holy Week, we have lots of liturgies, including Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, and the great Easter Morning liturgy. We are carving out a niche for ourselves for an early evening Christmas Eve liturgy. It is early enough in the evening that we hope families and children can attend, as well as guests and visitors from out of town. Our Christmas morning liturgy is also a favorite here at Immanuel.

Our average Sunday morning attendance last year (2013) was 110 people. So, we are not yet a big congregation. We certainly want to be. We have a beautiful church, with a beautiful mix of people and ages, a beautiful liturgy and choir, and your presence would make things even better!

Joining Immanuel Lutheran Church

If you are already baptized, then we would receive you via "Affirmation of Baptism," which is a short, but moving rite during the Sunday Holy Communion service. Basically, it permits you to say that you are baptized and glad of it! And it permits the congregation to greet and pray for a new brother or sister in the Lord.

If you are a member of a Lutheran congregation then we can ask for a letter of transfer from your home congregation. If you are not yet baptized, that is perhaps most moving of all. That is part of why I have my rocking chair in my Pastor's Study. I love to introduce people to the faith of the church or to review it with them. I have a large supply of Luther's Large Catechism for that purpose. That catechism is a spiritual masterpiece for preparing people for Baptism or reminding even seasoned Christians of the essentials of the faith.

Volunteer Opportunities at Immanuel

There are lots of liturgical and Christian Education volunteer slots here at Immanuel, and they are very important, for a congregation's chief contribution to the city will always be its people living their lives of integrity and faith on the job and in the neighborhood.

But let us also lift up a particular neighborhood ministry important to us: For probably twenty years now, our congregation has helped feed frail elderly folk in our neighborhood through our program called "Meals on Heels." It supplements the city "Meal on Wheels" program by providing meals on Saturdays. We tend to walk around in the community delivering our meals, hence "Meals on Heels." So we need two kinds of volunteers: people to prepare the meals and people to distribute them. The program serves the elderly and the very sick, without regard to race or religious faith. Many of the people we serve live off City Meals, and we very much want for them to have something at least as nice on the weekend, like pot roast, chicken breast, green beans, rice, etc.

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Immanuel Lutheran Church
122 E. 88th Street
New York, NY 10128