Who We Are

Dear prospective candidate for our full-time rector,

 Maria duPont, Senior Warden

We are Immanuel Church Highlands, an Episcopal parish in the Episcopal Church in Delaware, where everyone is welcome. Immanuel is a community of faith, dedicated to carrying the message of Jesus to our neighbors. The Holy Eucharist is at the center of our worship.  Our parishioners value our liturgy, in praise of God.  We show love and compassion in our pastoral care ministry. Our outreach ministry offers support to the needy as a reflection of our concern for social justice in our community.  We work to engage our children, youth and adults in Christian education and activities.

Immanuel has a history spanning one hundred thirty-five years. We are blessed with a beautiful church with exquisite stained glass windows, and a magnificent organ.  We are fortunate to have parishioners who enrich our music with vocal and instrumental talents. Our sanctuary, with its excellent acoustics, is an attractive venue for outside musical group performances. Our classrooms and social spaces facilitate the private preschool, and organizations such as Al-Anon, Girl Scouts and the League of Women Voters.

In this time of transition, we are guided by our interim rector, the Rev. Paul W. Gennett, and the Rev. Deacon Sheila Sharpe, in partnership with the vestry. Our lay leadership is dedicated and energized to strengthen our ministries and grow our congregation.

We are searching for a full-time rector to work in in partnership with us as we Invite Welcome Connect with our neighbors and community; to inspire and challenge us with spirit-filled sermons; to help grow our children and youth Christian formation program; and work with lay leaders to build our adult education program.  We want a priest to guide, inspire, and to aid us as we witness to the power of God’s love and bring Christ’s light to the world.

We have included the vestry’s 7-point, Strategic Plan (outlined in the Strengths and Challenges tab)  with our key areas of focus and identified goals. We are addressing our challenges and opportunities.

We invite you to prayerfully consider partnering with us as we seek to love and serve Christ.

God bless you,

Maria du Pont, Senior Warden

Demographics

We are an aging congregation, but all ages attend and are involved.

  • 60% female 40% male
  • 40% 50 or older
  • We want more young families
    • About 30% of the congregation has children at home
  • Well educated
  • Most are involved in 1-2 ministries or groups
  • Faithful in attendance

Worship

We value our worship experience. Answers to the question “What three things do you particularly like about worshipping at Immanuel?” are depicted in this word cloud:

One respondent wrote, ”It was the uniqueness and feeling of a family gathering that first attracted me to Immanuel”. Most respondents said they feel spiritually nurtured after attending a worship service. Including children is very important, and we want sermons that give us something to think about, preferably informal in style and delivered with some humor. We are open to different liturgies.

Music is important to our worship experience. 76% of respondents said music is very important to our worship service. 79% said it is very important or somewhat important to be able to participate in the music, and 20% said not important. (This may reflect the preferences of those who attend the 8:00 Eucharist service on Sundays.) 58% said it is not very important that our next rector chant the liturgy.

Congregational Life

We are a caring Christian community. Answers to the question “What do you value about the Immanuel community?”, are depicted in this word cloud:

Respondents characterized the Immanuel community in the following ways:

  • Warm
  • More closed than open to change
  • Neither cliquish nor unified
  • More earnest than joyous
  • More tight-knit than disconnected
  • Relatively intellectual
  • Neither formal nor informal
  • Neither profound nor superficial
  • More religious than social
  • More judging than accepting
  • Tend more toward ideas than feeling
  • More egalitarian than status-conscious

We want to grow. The top changes chosen to foster growth in numbers were:

  • Outreach in our neighborhood
  • Social media advertising
  • Youth education
  • Inclusiveness, welcoming
  • Fellowship gatherings

We recognize that we need to improve in several areas:

  • Incorporation of new or prospective members
  • Maintenance and care of the buildings
  • External communications
  • Website
  • Social media

There is some overlap with changes identified, and we have begun to work in many of these areas.

Very few parishioners are actively engaged in education at Immanuel. None of Immanuel’s educational programs was rated as outstanding. People agree somewhat or are neutral about whether there are meaningful programs for children or adolescents. Responses to the statement “There are meaningful opportunities for enhancing our spiritual journey in addition to traditional worship on Sunday” were not decisive, with answers ranging from strongly agree to agree to neutral. However, we believe strongly that we should support the following ministries:

  • Christian formation
  • Young families
  • Youth
  • Music

Outreach

Most responses indicated that outreach to the community and support of outreach was important. However, participation in outreach activities varies. Seven % participate in outreach weekly; 38% monthly; 55% less frequently than monthly.

“In-reach” and pastoral care to our members is important. Respondents said that we should get more people involved in pastoral care; put more focus on needs of young families; provide better communication on activities of church committees; and ask for input and listen.

Spiritual Life

When asked, “Where do you find passion, energy, and fervor in your spiritual life?”, the most common responses were:

  • Personal prayer
  • Sunday worship – Eucharist
  • Singing, praising God in music
  • Hearing inspiring preaching

Close behind were the following responses:

  • Serving with a parish ministry
  • Service to the needy
  • Hearing good Christian teaching

We are a congregation that can hold different views within our community. Some of the dominant views:

  • Tradition and modernity are equally important.
  • Our task is to seek and serve Christ in all persons.
  • Most of us do not interpret the Bible literally.
  • We should celebrate what we have in common with other faith traditions.
  • We are made in the image of God, and are of worth and value just as we are.
  • The Episcopal Church should continue its work toward full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Episcopalians.

Leadership at Immanuel – Our Next Rector

We favor placing responsibility for change on

  • A strong rector
  • A strong rector-vestry partnership
  • Teams of parishioners

We want a rector who will enable change – put us to work, not do the work for us.

Respondents said that the most important traits of our rector would be:

  • Inspirer, energizer, motivator
  • Strong preacher
  • Relates Gospel to everyday life
  • Leads through profound faith
  • Recognizes and enables the gifts of lay people
  • Active in pastoral care and visitation
  • Organizer, leader of the parish
  • Spirit-directed

Our Strengths –

  • Warm and loving parishioners who gather for Holy Eucharist every week
  • A tradition of outreach and caring for others within the congregation and in the larger community
  • Members who bring a variety of gifts and interests to our congregation and community
  • A place where music is an important expression of worship, service, and joy
  • Dedication to marking the seasons and celebrations of the church year
  • An egalitarian congregation, where different points of view can be included and honored
  • A congregation that values social justice and works to care for others in need
  • A tradition of lay leadership working in concert with clergy
  • A beautiful and historic church building that has been part of the community for more than 100 years

Our Challenges –

To continue as an independent, growing parish, our vestry has proposed parish-wide actions in a strategic plan for the following areas:

  • Worship – Seek to broaden our practices (alternative worship structures, music, prayers, etc.) and consider re-scheduling some worship times in order to meet our present and future members’ needs
  • Stewardship – Reestablish education for giving, foster pledge growth, investigate methods for supporting giving, and care for our facilities
  • Church Growth – Fully implement Invite Welcome Connect and re-establish ties with our neighborhood
  • Christian Formation – Reinvigorate our education ministry for children, youth, and adults
  • Fiscal Responsibility – Address our financial challenges posed by declining pledge and plate income, reduce expenditures, and reduce reliance on the endowment
  • Communication – Conduct a coordinated and systemic update of our internal and external communications
  • Service to the Community – Reinforce and re-energize our commitment to local charities with whom we are already in relationship
7-point, Strategic Plan

Like many churches, Immanuel faces the challenges of an aging congregation, stagnant membership growth, and resulting reduction in our pledge and plate income. The information below represents our best understanding of our current financial situation. We recognize that our past thoughts and plan for our income and expenditures are no longer working (see fig. 1a and 1b). We are intentionally and prayerfully examining where we spend, and how we could increase our giving.

Immanuel is blessed with an endowment, held in a Wilmington Trust investment account (see fig. 2). The account is structured to provide interest income, to allow withdrawal of funds for emergencies, or to support the ongoing operation of the church. In recent years, it has been necessary to draw from the principal in order to meet the parish’s financial obligations (see fig.3).  We recognize that this is not sustainable. The vestry’s Strategic Plan is part of our solution. Our renewed Stewardship campaign is set to launch in the Fall, 2019.

(fig. 2)

Opening Market Value w/Accrued Income - 12/1/2017$3,130,410.35
Closing Market Value w/Accrued Income - 12/31/2018$2,991,191.30
Income
Contributions$82,068.62
Dividend Income$23,136.58
Total Gain/Loss$68,395.25
Withdrawals
Cash Disbursements-$252,000.00
Wilmington Trust Fees-$5,848.34
(fig. 3)

 20172018
Revenue
Offerings & Contributions$152,137.25$146,936.84
Other Revenue$49,595.89$61,191.05
Interfund Transfers In$260,069.77$275,000.00
Total Revenues$461,802.91$483,127.89
Expenses
Episcopal Functions$53,344.56$54,100.64
Outreach$33,350.00$21,275.21
Education$1,287.47$1,561.16
Liturgy$8,286.77$8,495.98
Communications$933.62$3,759.94
Fellowship$1,869.59$2,582.33
Property$70,132.21$99,729.00
Administration$22,276.87$39,773.90
Personnel$272,689.95$295,856.53
Total Expenses$464,171.04$527,134.69