“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

“The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing: All things are mine since I am His
—How can I keep from singing?”
–Robert Lowry, hymn (1860)

Worship and Music Ministry

ELC Interior Panorama by Don Heckelmiller image
Photo by Don Heckelmiller
Emmanuel has a part-time position available for a keyboard accompanist. Being able to sight read music is required, and experience as an organist would be a plus. Must be available to play for the 10:15 a.m. service on the first and third Sundays, and every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. for choir rehearsal. Salary is competitive. For more information, contact Pastor TroyAnn by e-mail, or call the church office, 815-963-4815, during normal business hours.

Worship and Music Ministry strives to create worship experiences where all are welcome, “regardless of economic conditions, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or spiritual struggle.”

Emmanuel offers three services that provide very different worship experiences through which we endeavor to feed each person's individual Spiritual needs.

  • A Christ-centered Emerging Worship Service with a liturgy that is grounded in the Lutheran tradition. This service honors God through song, instrumental music, dance, chant, poetry, and art. It is a time and space where we gather to reflect, pray, and celebrate the light of Christ, encouraging people to enter into a sacred spiritual journey that follows the spiritual practices of Jesus which enable us to become light and leaven for the world.

  • A Traditional Worship Service

  • Our Breathe Meditation Service

Everyone is welcome to experience our Liturgical Services as well as the other offerings on Emmanuel's Sunday schedule.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church also hosts a 24-hour Prayer Vigil on the second Friday/Saturday in January, as well as other sacred and spiritual events throughout the year. See the Worship Calendar for details, dates, and times.

The basic goals of the Worship and Music Ministry are to help deepen the faith of the members of the Emmanuel congregation through their worship experience. Two of the experiences they provide are the weekly Worship Service and Bible Study.

Emerging Worship Service

At Emmanuel there is a longing for sacred energy that engages the Spirit and pulls us into worship:
  • We strive to reflect on and embrace a broader view of Jesus and his life teachings. Jesus’ spiritual practices model the path of transformation that enables us to live in the world in a new way, guiding us on our individual journeys for a deep inner life that leads us to our calling: our soul work.
  • The kingdom of God is not something that belongs to a special chosen group, nor is it something obtained only after death, but the understanding that the ‘Kingdom of God’ is here and now and all are welcome.
  • We are not evil and born of sin, but just like Jesus, we are all sons and daughters of God. We are made in the image and likeness of our beloved Creator and are called to be co-creators, serving one another, our communities and the world around us.
  • We honor Old and New Testament readings, but also embrace, and reflect on other sacred texts and writings and how they coincide with Jesus’ teachings. God speaks to us through scripture and sacred writings, our relationships, and our experiences in the world around us.
  • Understanding that boxing God into an only a male form does not speak to everyone, but recognizing the many names of God. God is Father, Mother, Beloved, Divine Mystery, Creator, Holy One...etc. Therefore our liturgies strive to use inclusive language in prayer and song.

See Emmanuel's Sunday schedule for the time.

Traditional Lutheran Worship Service

Emmanuel has a traditional Lutheran worship service held in the Chapel, which is a more intimate setting than the Sanctuary. This service follows the traditional seasonal liturgy found in the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW), sometimes called the “green book.” See Emmanuel's Sunday schedule for the time.

Breathe Meditation Service

At Emmanuel's Breathe Meditation Service we gather together for one hour to enter a sacred time—the “thin place” between the worlds—and Breathe. We listen to sacred scriptures and poetry from many traditions, we chant, and we sit in silence as we open ourselves to the Great Mystery.

The Breathe Meditation Service is held in the Sanctuary on the second Saturday of the month, September through May. Check the Community Calendar online, or call the church office, 815-963-4815, for more information and to join the e-mail list.

by checking the Breathe Meditation boxthrough our website.

24-hour Prayer Vigil

Emmanuel Lutheran Church hosts a 24-hour Prayer Vigil the second Friday/Saturday in January sponsored by the Membership Committee and Art@Emmanuel. It begins on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening with the Breathe Service. The Vigil includes an art space where participants experience visual art as a form of meditation. You are invited to engage in a variety of projects to stir the Creative Spirit, and pray at the many stations located throughout the church, each offering a different way to experience the Divine.

There is no charge for the Vigil or the Art-As-Meditation space, and everyone is welcome.

Check the Worship Calendar online, or call the church office, 815-963-4815, for more information.

Sacred Arts

Emmanuel's Vision Statement says, “We are called to [encourage] healing of the soul and the community through Sacred Arts (chant, ritual, dance, poetry, visual arts, music).”


Music has always been an important aspect of worship services at Emmanuel, and we believe it enhances each parishioner’s unique spiritual journey. High regard is given to the integrity of the music we use for worship, and humor is often displayed in our rehearsal time. We enjoy working on our musical selections together. We also greatly enjoy our fellowship time afterward.

Emmanuel Choir

The Emmanuel Choir is a group of musicians comprised of people from three generations coming together to make choral music. We pull from a variety of choral genres, and often incorporate other instruments in the accompaniments. 

The choir performs every other Sunday, September through June. On some Sundays during the summer months we have guest soloists.

Everyone interested in joining the Emmanuel Choir is welcome.

Choir Director:Tim Fenelon
Keyboards:Kristen Nelson
Rehearsal:7:00 p.m. every Wednesday, September through June
To join:Call the church office, 815-963-4815, or email the director.

Earthen Vessels

Earthen Vessels is a festive and fun choir which uses guitars, acoustic bass, and percussion to lead Emmanuel’s parishioners in singing spiritual music from a variety of diverse genre (World Music, Jazz, Folk, and Chant) during the worship service.

The choir performs every other Sunday, September through June. 

Anyone interested in singing in the Earthen Vessels is welcome to join.

Director:Jim Roberts
Rehearsal:Scheduled by the director.
To join:Call the church office, 815-963-4815, or email the director.

Liturgical Dance

Emmanuel’s Sanctuary is a wonderful space to dance in. The awe inspiring beauty of our worship space provides the energy and artistry that is such an integral part of the spirit of Emmanuel. With the backdrop of intricate hand carved wood graced by the sacred light of its Tiffany windows, there is no need for additional scenery.

Sacred Spiral Dancers

People describe the Sacred Spiral Dancers as illustrating Beauty, Elegance, and Inner Peace through music and movement. When we rehearse a dance piece, we not only work on the physical body, the movement (feeling your body in space), but also the spiritual dimension. The exhilaration of dancing in such a Sacred place takes each dancer, and each parishioner, on his or her own Spiritual journey with relationship to the dance.

The Sacred Spiral Dancers perform approximately four times per year, and on special occasions.

Director:Tim Fenelon
Rehearsal:7:30 p.m. every Thursday, September through June
To join:Call the church office, 815-963-4815, or email the director.

Sacred Chant and Meditation

Sacred Chant is familiar to Lutherans; it is the liturgy that has been sung for centuries. Sacred Chant involves simple phrases in Greek, Latin, English, etc., that are devotional and directed at God. Because they are simple and can be memorized, it is possible for one to allow them to go into the heart and become an actual sung prayer/interaction with the Divine.    Being repetitive—like a mantra used for meditation— they slow the brainwave, heartrate, and breathing.  The Taize Chants, like “O Lord Hear my Prayer,” and “Eat This Bread,” have become part of the many chants in the Lutheran hymnals.  Occasionally Mishkan, the chant group from Emmanuel, will lead a chant night that includes sacred chant from many traditions. That's where we discover the common ground of devotion that we share with all humanity.

Emmanuel also holds a Breathe Meditation Service where we all gather into a Sacred space and breathe.

Four Winds Center for Spiritual Ecology sponsors evenings of devotional chant and kirtans with artists like Kirtans with Ragani, Shantala, and Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band.

Sacred Poetry

Having writings from many cultures and spiritual traditions is an important part of Worship Service at Emmanuel. We believe that all wisdom comes from God, so wisdom is to be valued wherever we find it. If we can learn from each other, and appreciate and respect the spiritual paths of others, it will connect us to the world and the humanity of other people. Then we will be able to open our hearts and learn how to live together instead of struggling as strangers or enemies.

Important poets for Emmanuel have been David Whyte, Mary Oliver, Tagore, Joy Harjo, Robert Bly, Machado, Jimmy Baca Santiago, Thomas Merton, Anna Akhmatova , Walt Whitman, D.H. Lawrence, Neruda, and, especially, Rilke.

And some books and collections that we use:

  • Daniel Landinsky has a nice anthology: Love Poems from God which includes many of the ancient great poets of the East and West: Rabia, St. Francis of Assisi, Rumi, Meister Eckhart, St. Thomas Aquinas, Hafiz, St. Catherine of Siena, Kabir, Mira, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Tukaram.
  • Robert Bly has a great collection for men: The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart.
  • Mary Ford-Grabowsky has a poetry/prose collection for women: Sacred Voices.
  • Mary Ford-Grabowsky also did a beautiful collection for men and women: Sacred Poems and Prayers of Love.

Sacred Visual Arts

The purpose of Art@Emmanuel is to promote and educate the Emmanuel congregation and the wider community about the Sacred through the use of Visual Arts and church architecture, and to provide a venue for Emmanuel artists and others to exhibit the talents and gifts that they have received from God.  We always hope to inspire—and sometimes challenge—those who view the artwork exhibited.