“There is a place…”
Emmanuel Lutheran Church
815-963-4815 Emergency: 815-980-8993 EmmanuelLutheranRockford.org
Emmanuel Lutheran Church 920 Third Avenue Rockford, Illinois 61104

“Truly I tell you, just as you [showed kindness] to one of the least of these who are members of my family,
you did it to me.”
–Matthew 25:40

Social Justice

Emmanuel Lutheran Church believes that our Vision of a Christ-centered world impels us to reach out and serve the people of the MidTown neighborhood and the greater Rockford area. Leaders in the Emmanuel family have a long history of Social Justice in action that began with Pastor Wilbert Benson (pastor: 1945 to 1970), and it is still going strong today. We are always open to new suggestions.


  • June, July, and August, 2015

    “The Sacred Brotherhood: A Men's Council,” led by Jim Roberts was an open gathering held for men exploring spirituality, relationships, and vocation through music, story, dreams, and friendship.
  • January 8th, 2015

    Lesbian Conversation Group, which is open to all Lesbians and women who are questioning their sexuality in the Rockford area, held their first meeting.
  • May 7th, 2013

    Gay Men Gathering, which is open to all gay men in the Rockford area, held their first meeting.
  • March 7th, 2013

    Emmanuel was officially recognized by ReconcilingWorks (ReconcilingWorks.org) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) (elca.org) as a Reconciling in Christ (ReconcilingWorks.org/ric/) (RIC) congregation. Emmanuel has an RIC Task Force to educate the congregation on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues that relate to the life of the church.
  • February 3rd, 2013

    Emmanuel hosted special guest speaker Judith Roberts at its Sunday morning worship service. Ms. Roberts is Director for Racial Justice Ministries for the ELCA, and represented it in the promotion of the movie The House I Live In (TheHouseILiveIn.org) which is about the failure of the United States' “War on Drugs,” and the need for massive changes in our criminal justice system.
  • January 27th, 2013

    Emmanuel had its Annual Meeting of the Congregation, where, among other items, the congregation voted to become a Reconciling in Christ (ReconcilingWorks.org/ric/) (RIC) church. The Rockford Register Star reported it online, and mentioned it on the front page of their February 5th print edition.
  • October 21st, 2012

    Storyteller Susan O’Halloran (SusanOHalloran.com) appeared at Emmanuel and told stories of relating to “the other” in America. She pointed out both what is universal and unique in the different faith traditions, and the confusion and fears that result when cultures mix. Her stories and interactive discussion brought alive various religions’ distinct histories and our common humanity to illuminate the experience of being an American in a time of religious tension and change.
  • 2006

    • Pastor Jim Roberts (pastor: 1973 to 2009) helps found the Green Communities Coalition (GreenCommunitiesCoalition.org).
    • The ELB (Emmanuel Lutheran Basement) is conceived of by Lucio Aldana for the purpose of making a safe haven for all of Rockford's young people.
    • The Children Of Abraham Trialogue series was first held in 2006. They were led by Rabbi Binah Wing of Temple Beth-El, Pastor Jim Roberts of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and Imam Shpendim Nadzaku of the Muslim Community Center, and discussed the common roots of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each of the three clerics chose a topic that he or she presented at their own house of worship. The evenings began with a vegetarian dinner followed by the program. The event was repeated annually through 2010.

      To arrange to bring the Trialogue series to your community, place of worship, or school, please email Pastor Emeritus Jim Robertscontact Pastor Emeritus Jim Roberts through the church office, 815-963-4815.

  • 2003

    The Jericho Project was born out of Emmanuel's Outreach Ministry, and a gift from a member of Emmanuel's congregation. The house on 8th Avenue was purchased by the Jericho Project as a half-way house for recovering addicts and alcoholics.
  • 1998

    Bishop Fuduta of the Lutheran church in Boga, Nigeria, was assigned to Emmanuel as a Wartburg Theological Seminary (WartburgSeminary.edu) graduate studies student. He gave a sermon one Sunday that spoke of the lack of clean water in his village, and how in order to get water the women had to walk approximately 11 miles in the rainy season, and up to 21 miles during the times of drought. This sermon opened the hearts of the congregation, which resulted in Dick and Eunice Blomberg, and other parishioners donating the money to build three community wells there. This project was overseen by Bishop Fuduta.

    Boga is in northern Nigeria, and is predominantly Muslim. However these wells were open to All who were thirsty, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or Yoruban tribes people. Bishop Fuduta came back to Emmanuel with gifts for Pastor Jim Roberts and the members of the Outreach Committee. The most precious gift was a photo of four women carrying water from one of our wells: one Christian, two Muslim, and one Yoruban tribes woman.

  • 1996

    As part of its graduate studies program, Wartburg Theological Seminary (WartburgSeminary.edu), an ELCA seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, assigned each of its seminary students to an ELCA church for one month over their January break. Beginning in 1996 Emmanuel hosted men and women seminarian's from all over the world, though they were mostly from Africa where the Lutheran faith is very strong. The program ended when the Dean of the International Students Program retired in 2006.
  • November 25th, 1982

    Emmanuel's Soup Kitchen was established with a Thanksgiving dinner provided by members of the Emmanuel congregation. As of 2013 it feeds 1,200 to 1,500 people per month.
  • 1980

    Emmanuel purchased and began renovating the Mission House next to Emmanuel's parking lot. The upstairs apartments are used for emergency housing. Promised Land Employment Service once rented there. Since then this ministry has had a positive impact in changing many lives.
  • 1977

    The Food Pantry was started. It is located on Emmanuel's first floor in the Sunday School wing. Donations of food and funds are gratefully accepted from anyone, even those who are not members of Emmanuel's congregation.
  • 1975

    As the Vietnam War was coming to an end the Emmanuel congregation opened its hearts and home to a Vietnamese refugee family, and helped settle them in a rented house on Adams Street in Rockford, Illinois.
  • March 25th, 1965

    Seminary student Jim Roberts participated in the Selma to Montgomery March where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) led thousands including local African Americans, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in a nonviolent demonstration campaigning for voting rights. Dr. King told the assembled crowd, “There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes.”
  • August 28th, 1963

    Pastor Wilbert Benson participated in the March on Washington, which was a peaceful demonstration to promote Civil Rights and economic equality for African Americans. He heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., give his historic I Have A Dream speech which advocated for racial harmony.