When Tom and Ellie Jackson moved to town 10 years ago, they spent more than a year looking for a church home. Communion each Sunday, preaching and the Lutheran liturgy were important to them. Choir, a strong music program, and a warm community were also on their list of criteria. “We felt like Emmanuel was saying choose us, so we did,” they shared.


While Tom and Ellie had a strong history of church participation prior to arriving in Naples and finding Emmanuel, once they found their favorite pew and their favorite service, their participation stopped. “We sat on the sidelines for our first three or four years at Emmanuel,” they said. “Perhaps our retirement status might have carried over to our church involvement.”

“We felt like Emmanuel was saying choose us, so we did,”

This began to change when the Gronlund’s, also Emmanuel members, invited them to join a small group with some outstanding leaders. The opportunities to deepen their faith and connection increased as God continued to tug at their hearts. Tom was invited to be a lector and then an assisting minister. They learned more about Emmanuel Academies and Communities. Invitations to serve, both subtle and overt, continued to introduce them to new components of God’s work through Emmanuel. At present, Tom serves on Church Council as President.


Through invitations from those in the community, Tom and Ellie moved from a retired church status to involvement in God’s work being the focal point in their daily lives. “When people make you feel needed, that makes a huge impact on participation and commitment.” Seeing all the excitement and outreach in the community, and being part of making that a reality, felt like an investment opportunity to Tom and Ellie. “This environment is growth oriented with a positive vision for the future. We want to be a part of that experience.”

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