Build UP the Body:  Share Your Story

Thanks to the friends of Immanuel who shared their stories of how Immanuel has Built up their Faith.

Share Your Story- Nancy Wheeler

Kermit & Nancy Wheeler

Kermit & Nancy Wheeler

From the day of our wedding faith has guided Kermit and me. We were married Immanuel Lutheran in 1962. Our infant children were baptized there. When life got so hectic we could not attend we still relied heavily on our faith. During our children’s growing up years we attended Our Savior’s Lutheran in Bonner because it was closer to where we lived. After an absence when work, life and other things that kept us away we went back to Our Saviors for Easter service.

The following Sunday morning we attended Immanuel Lutheran. It was the beginning of our new family in Christ. Everyone made us feel so welcome and loved like they had known us all our lives. We had come home. Soon after that we decided to become members. It was hard to wait but the day we became members was our proudest ever. Kermit and I had been of two faiths. Regardless, we agreed the children would be brought up Lutheran. When he decided to become a member of Immanuel it was a lifetime dream come true for me. We were finally, and forever, of one faith.

This last two years brought on health issues we hadn’t dealt with before. Kermit had several heart attacks leaving him unsteady when walking. His last year was a steady deluge of hospital stays and recovering. Through it all Kermit held fast to his belief. Our brother in Christ, Greg Karlsgodt, brought communion to the hospital so he wouldn’t have to miss having it. Kermit’s last stroke was a few days before Christmas last year. When he returned home he insisted on returning to church services, even though we could have watched it streamed live. Only twice was he too ill to attend. Pastor Greg Karlsgodt sat long hours with my family the day of Kermit’s surgery, giving us strength through prayer. Pastor Molly Sasser-Goehner arrived early the next morning. She was present when we received the news of Kermit’s passing.

Kermit’s favorite holidays were Easter and Christmas. How fitting it was that he would pass away during Easter week.

Kermit & Nancy Wheeler

Kermit & Nancy Wheeler

Our church family helped us plan for Kermit’s memorial service. It was a splendid job. I was told later it was the most moving and beautiful service some had ever attended which I attribute to our wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ. (Those that could not attend were grateful for the live stream that made it possible for them to watch.)

One problem I was not aware of personally was persons with greater handicaps than Kermit and I. I had requested the luncheon be held downstairs at Immanuel. Even though Kermit and I had difficulty in navigating the stairs for soup suppers it hadn’t entered my thought that others couldn’t. Several family members and friends had to leave before the memorial luncheon for lack of elevators. This shows just how important it is for our church to put the accessibility elevators in place. All areas of our beautiful church need to be available for all attendees, members or not.


 

Share your Story:  Greg Karlsgodt  

Pastor Greg Karlsgodt

Pastor Greg Karlsgodt

I was blessed to serve as the pastor of Immanuel from 1991 to 2001; and then I filled in while Pastor Aprille Jordan was on medical leave in the fall of 2012 to the middle of January of 2013.  Pastor Jordan had graciously welcomed Carrol and me back after we returned to Missoula in 2011.  

What a joy it has been to once again be part of such a welcoming, mission-minded, and generous congregation!  Pastor Molly Sasser-Goehner has become a vital leader and partner in Immanuel’s ministry; and we are blessed to have her along with Allen and Luke.  She welcomed me to help out with visitation and in other facets of ministry as needed.  I was honored to serve on the Accessibility Committee and was pleased with the recommendations it subsequently made to the congregation.  It was even more gratifying when the members of Immanuel accepted the final recommendations and agreed to support them financially!

This congregation has shown over the years that it wants to continue to reach out to others and welcome them into the family of Christ.  Making our facility more accessible will make it possible to accommodate those who would otherwise be excluded.  As we see these improvements come to fruition, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit will surprise us and lead us into even more exciting possibilities for future ministry.  I’m so grateful to be able to take part in this caring community of faith.  May we all remember the meaning of our name, Immanuel, because God is surely with us!

 Your Brother in Christ,

Greg Karlsgodt


 

Share your Story by Bob Seim

Bob and Carol Seim

I have been a part of Immanuel congregation since 1973.  My early days were at St. Paul’s Lutheran.  After a 16 year absence, I returned to Missoula and began attending Immanuel.  In my absence I was deeply involved in the trauma surgery for our Vietnam casualties.  One such soldier, Harry, had open fractures and was a real challenge orthopedically, medically and psychologically.  His lack of cooperation and noncompliance made it difficult to treat him and to keep one’s cool with this young man and many more just like him.

I remember my dad as our 6th grade Sunday School teacher, and how he emphasized Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before me, and glorify your father in Heaven”.  He stressed this on the athletic field and in our everyday life.  This is the charge when we are baptized and become part of the Lord’s work force.  It has been the focus that has helped me in many tense situations.

 This last spring Harry walked into the veteran’s clinic for another problem but recognized me some 40 years later.  He was very thankful that we had been patient and understanding.  He dropped in to say hello a couple times and sent a Christmas card.


 

Share your Story by Celia (Cy) Linsted

CY LINSTEDI have been a part of Immanuel’s congregation since moving to Missoula in 1975.

Theme verse:  In Christ, we, though many, form one body, and we belong to each other (Romans 12:5)  How has being a part of Immanuel helped BUILD UP YOUR FAITH?

We have had a varied religious life.  My husband Bob, was raised Lutheran, until a junior in high school, he left the Church and attended the Presbyterian Church.  Some very dear friends were the head of the youth group and so rewarding in all the events and sessions they held.  I grew up in a Community Church (Presbyterian, Congregational, and Methodist). I taught Sunday School at my Church from 7th grade to 12th The Lutheran Church was on the same block, and was attended by all my friends, which invited me to their Youth Group, which I attended weekly through High School, and also took part in my Church’s group.  We attended some Church’s in the different towns we lived in.  I took our children to Sunday School and helped with Bible School in the summer.  When the time came for our children’s confirmation, we started them in Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Helena, with Pastor Wahlen.  I signed up for a two-year Adult confirmation, and Church membership.  My confirmation studies were difficult, but very rewarding.

Our move to Missoula took us to St. Paul’s with our former pastor.   We never felt welcome at that Church, or the other Lutheran ones here in town, but always were very comfortable and well received by the members when attending Immanuel.  

Busy with children in school, working, and school activities, our time “flew by.”  Then at one of our Swedish Midsommer Celebrations held at Benson’s Gardens, we met Immanuel’s temporary replacement, Pastor Oliver.  We soon learned that he and Bob had family ties to Miles City, MT.  A friendship was soon formed, and that Sunday Bob said “lets go to Church,” and that we did every Sunday from that day forward.

Theme Verse:  Love one another with mutual affection and delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:10).  How has Immanuel helped you to connect with others at church and/or with our people in need? When Pastor Aprille came, we were a part of her first New Member Gathering.  They were always from early afternoon till early evening, and included dinner, and a very effective way of introducing us to the Church History, and the workings of the Church.  We had fruit juice, coffee, and cookies for snacks.  We developed special friendships with the folks that were with us that day, and from that point on we helped Pastor Aprille with each New Member Gathering.  We got in touch with the last group, and arranged for them to bring the dinner for the new group ( a way of getting acquainted)  plus we invited the Church Council to come to eat with us.  We always has a pretty flower (violets with their happy sunshine faces were my favorite), and when available we had the Church Cook Books for each family.  Pastor Aprille liked giving a loaf of bread (her favorite Wheat Montana).  So as we had guests at Church we would donate and try to deliver bread and Church Information, and we had pictorial Bible Books for the children to welcome them.

Soon after becoming members the Witness Committee was without a chairperson. Bob had mentioned he felt he would be comfortable and helping with it, He talked to Pastor Aprille, and she was very thankful for his offer.  Our committee members were excellent, and very profound in their feelings for the needs of the Church.  We had many rewarding discussions.  We implemented the Phone Tree/Prayer Chain which has been a tremendous help in keeping our members informed, and prayers for those in need. We started the Prayer Shawl Ministry, which was a wonderful blessing for the Church and the receivers of the soft, comforting shawls, each with a prayer for peace and recovery.  A lot of the yarn was donated through the years.  We received a discount at Joann’s Fabric and Michaels Craft Store, as it was a Church related expense.  We had a member from the Bitterroot Valley, Toni Keel offer to send cards she would make to one’s that were ill, needing a prayers, or comforting words.  We have other members who do that as well, it has meant so much to so many.  What a blessing we have with our caring, kind, and faithful members of our Church.

Cy and Bob Linsted 2013 smorgasbord

Cy and Bob Linsted

We served on the Church Council, Bob as Chair of the Witness Committee, and  I served as secretary. I felt very privileged to be able to keep the congregation informed to the workings and implementations of each committee.   We felt very rewarded with each Council Meeting with each member being so profound with their feelings for the needs of the Church, their various inputs, suggestions, decisions, and approvals.  Bob also served on the Endowment Committee.  It has been a great asset to our Church, very deserving of praise for their work and considerations,  with the appreciation of the recipients of the funds given out.

OUR CHURCH IS A BLESSED PLACE TO BE, IT HAS ENHANCED AND ENRICHED US !


Share your Story by Mick & Sharon Hanson

Mick and Sharon Hanson

As we approach this Capital Appeal, it is a time for us to reflect on over 45 years as members of Immanuel and its ministry in this community.  Using Romans 12:5 “In Christ, we, though many, form one body, and we belong to each other” is a fitting way for us to view Immanuel.  

No, we have not experienced any earthquakes or lightning strikes with our faith!  Or that is at least how we see it.   In fact, some may say our life is too normal or routine, or is it because we have been taught to take life’s offerings in view of the greater picture?  To better understand us, it may be best if we share a brief history.  Our parents were quite similar in many ways.  They were not unlike other North Dakota first generation children of seven Norwegian and one Swedish immigrant.  It included among other things, a strong work ethic, a positive outlook and a raising a family within the church atmosphere.  It was a blessing for us to meet as adults in Sharon’s church on a warm August morning.  Our marriage, occurring in that same building a year later, was a God moment as we reflect on those days.

It is with this background that we came to Immanuel in 1970 intending to be in Missoula for just a brief time while we finished degrees at the University of Montana.  We never left and this church became an integral part of our daily life helping us with those moments over the years when faith is necessary to accept and respond to events that occur.  This is not to say we have not had our share of challenges.  We have experienced the deaths of grandparents, parents, brothers and many other close family members, many too young to die.  Our first child was born pre-maturely and with little hope to survive, but she did, and it was in these early days the family of Immanuel came into our hearts and carried us along in a city where we had no relatives.  As the years have come and gone, we shared in the joy of two more children and saw them grow in a healthy environment making them the children they are today.  Now with seven grandchildren and one with special needs, we see the love and concern of this statement in Romans “we belong to each other” magnified by the family we share at Immanuel.  No earthquakes or lightning strikes?  Some may consider them as such, but we believe that our family values and foundation in Christianity allowed us to look at the greater picture in life and respond knowing that God is here to care for us and we can place our trust in Him.  It has helped us view potential roadblocks as merely speedbumps on our journey through life.

Perhaps this message is simply a testament to the value of sharing life with other dedicated, caring Christians who are present to support one another.  Taking a journey with others on a weekly basis and listening to God’s word helps build a strong, steady foundation on which to find solace when life presents challenges.   We are blessed to be a part of a compassionate congregation and welcome the opportunities we have to support one another.  There are many people who demonstrate the love of God to each one of us and we know that it is “God’s Work and Our Hands” that can often make the difference in another person’s life.  

It has been a generation since there has been a major capital appeal for improvements at Immanuel and, with thanks to our elected leadership and Pastor Molly, we have made progress with this opportunity.  It is now our turn to “Build up the Body” so that we can continue to minister to others in a space that is welcoming to all.   We encourage each and every one in this membership to examine how we have been blessed in this life with God’s gifts and challenge yourself to see how “Our Hands” can make this dream become a reality.  Thank God for Immanuel; the past, the present and the future.


Share your Story By Swede Gustafson

Betty Ann & Swede Gustafson

My mother and father were married on Christmas Eve 1935 at the church on West Alder Street. I was born on the day after Christmas in 1936.  So my Dad always told people he was married the day before Christmas and a son was born the day after Christmas.  It got quite a few odd looks in those days until Dad said I was born 1 year later.  My baptism was in March of 1937 and later I became part of the boiler room church school classes during my childhood. I was confirmed in May of 1951 by Pastor Warmanen.  When Immanuel ‘s membership started to build the new structure on South Avenue,  my father and I became part of the volunteer building crews working on weekends. Since I was too young to work on the building itself, one of my jobs was to keep the grounds neat and tidy. Once in a while I did get to pack a few boards from the lumber pile to the carpenters’ location which became an enjoyable break from cleaning up.

When the Sanctuary building was completed in 1955, the congregation had a wonderful day of services and dedication ceremonies. The presiding Pastor for the Northwest Synod came to dedicate our new church.  I was selected as an usher at all these services, therefore, had the wonderful pleasure of being part of the greeting committee welcoming him. It is one on my best memories as a youngster.  

As life went on, I went away to attend college at Montana State College in Bozeman, then following graduation, on to serving my country in the Army on active duty for 2 years followed by 2 years of active reserves duty which met every other weekend so my life at Immanuel was on hold for a few years.  When I met Elizabeth Ann Livesey in the fall of 1962, she turned my life upside down and it has been a wonderful and busy time. We were married at Immanuel on March 14, 1964.  Immanuel became a part of our ever changing lives in 1971 when Dick and Connie Lindborg visited us on a September Sunday afternoon asking us to assist with the building of a Camp Imlu Lodge building.  This building took four years to complete which became a source of great joy and relaxation to all who participated at Camps.  Unfortunately, Immanuel had to sell the buildings when it became far too expensive to pay the annual state property lease fees and do the maintenance work.  These funds garnered from the sale assisted in establishing the Immanuel Lutheran Church Endowment Fund in the early 1990s.    

I became involved with maintaining Immanuel ‘s building beginning in 1965 when Pastor

Ground breaking for Hemgren Room

Rod Johnson asked me to do some electrical work in the education room. I did minor repairs off and on for several years until I was asked to become a member of the Property and Grounds Committee in the 1970’s. Since then I have accomplished some task in almost every corner and nook of the building. The days have gone by really quickly when I look back at the renovations and repairs, but it has been a truly enjoyable time and I give Thanks to God for giving me the knowledge to complete these projects.  Some of these projects I have renovated more than once as the demographics for the space changed over the years.  

I have had two major surgeries on my left ankle which required the use of wheelchairs and crutches  for many weeks so I do realize the struggles of those who are unable to or have had trouble negotiating the five levels of our building.  I remember those past and present members of our congregation who supported all the renovations to our building and of members who especially desired an elevator. Therefore, it is my sincere desire to see the proposed changes to our building take place so ALL can enjoy the activities which occur in our building.  I urge all to contribute in some way to this endeavor towards the future of Immanuel and what our church can contribute to the Missoula Community.

         BUILD UP!     PREPARE THE WAY!    REMOVE THE OBSTRUCTIONS!