Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship
Who We Are
Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship is a family-based, faith community centered in Hudson, Wisconsin, committed to following Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth, trusting in Him for salvation, and upholding the scriptures he taught and the religion he practiced. We practice Messianic Judaism in keeping with Jesus of Nazareth and the Apostolic-age community of believers. We are modern Sabbatarians. That means we honor the seventh day, biblical Sabbath and the biblical holy days as part of our effort to restore the practice of early Messianic Judaism (Jewish-Christianity).
The earliest form of Christianity—the Christianity of the apostolic era—was a messianic sectarian movement within greater, first-century Judaism. More than one hundred years after the life of Yeshua of Nazareth, the explosive growth of Gentile Christianity eclipsed the early, messianic, sect of Judaism he had founded. Many Jewish and Gentile Christians discarded the distinctively Jewish practices of the Torah (Law) as they assimilated into the evolving Gentile religious environment. The original, biblical faith and practice of Yeshua and his first disciples faded into obscurity.
At Beth Immanuel, we are restoring the practice of early Messianic Judaism. In the days of the New Testament, Jewish and God-fearing Gentile believers in Yeshua worshipped together as co-religionists, participating together in the prayers, rituals, expressions, and customs of daily Jewish life. They understood the person and teaching of Yeshua from within the context of Judaism and the Torah world-view. Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship exists to reconstruct and propagate that simple form of faith.
Our restoration of early Messianic Judaism does not mean we have anachronistically recreated the first-century expression of Judaism. Instead, we recognize that our Master and the apostles after him practiced a form of Jewish expression consistent with the larger, contemporary Jewish community of their day. Likewise, as we re-engage in a Jewish expression of faith in Yeshua of Nazareth, we do so in continuity with contemporary Judaism as it has evolved over the last two millennia.
Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship practices Messianic Judaism, but we are not primarily a Messianic Jewish community. The majority of community members and attendees are Gentile Christians who have taken hold of apostolic, Jewish expression in an attempt to reconcile their faith to the earliest form of Christianity. Our services are modeled after contemporary synagogue services, and our mode of worship can be described as Torah-observant.
We endeavor to restore the Torah of God to the all the disciples of Yeshua. At Beth Immanuel, we believe that God’s Law (Torah) is still the binding and unchanging standard for the Jewish people. Jesus taught His disciples to keep even the least of the commandments of the Torah (Matthew 5:19). According to the Apostles, Gentile believers are not held to the same Torah standard as Jewish believers, but the God-fearing Gentiles in fellowship with those Jewish believers naturally participated in the Sabbath, Synagogue, and Torah-life along with the Jewish community of faith (Acts 15:19-21).
The restoration of Early Messianic Judaism has implications for everything we do at Beth Immanuel. We keep the Sabbath and biblical festivals according to God's prescription in Leviticus 23. We keep the Bible's dietary laws in keeping with the instructions in Leviticus 11. More than that, we endeavor to preserve a basic form of Jewish practice and tradition within our community.
A Sabbath Fellowship
Beth Immanuel is a Sabbath fellowship.
The Sabbath day is a day of peace. It is a day for setting aside the troubles of our world. On the Sabbath, we close the doors to the troubles, stresses and anxieties of this present age and we enter into the calm spirit of peace that comes from the presence of Christ. "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful," (John 14:27) says the Master. On the Sabbath day, we quiet ourselves enough to feel the presence of His peace.
The prophets tell us that when Messiah comes, all mankind will keep the Sabbath. "'From Sabbath to Sabbath, all mankind will come to bow down before me,' says the LORD." (Isaiah 66:23) Every time we keep the Sabbath, we experience a small foretaste of the perfect Sabbath rest that will be ours in the Messianic Era and the World to Come.
A Family Congregation
Beth Immanuel is a family-oriented congregation, encouraging and embracing young families. Babies are a common sight and the ruckus of children spilling through the halls is a regular feature of our community. Every Sabbath sermon comes with a special story for the children. Over-flow, nursery and children's classes are all available to families during services. A shared (kosher) meal after Saturday Service contributes to the family atmosphere.
But don't get the idea that you need to be in a family to belong at Beth Immanuel. We are, in a spiritual and relational sense, all family in Messiah. The community at Beth Immanuel is as diverse as the Body of Messiah, yet we all find common identity in him. We are a congregation created for believers of all ethnicities to gather and celebrate our common Biblical heritage together.
A Real Community
Beth Immanuel is not a building, it is people. We are a community of disciples seeking to care for and nurture one another as our lives intersect on the common path of discipleship.
Because the Torah cannot be functionally lived outside of a community context, we are mutually dependent upon one another. This means learning to get along with each other even when we don't always agree on every point. Community means working through the difficulties and acknowledging that, in the end, we really are family.
At Beth Immanuel, we are dedicated to making community happen. Several families live within walking distance of the congregation building. We regularly host one another in our homes on Friday evenings to welcome the Sabbath. On Saturdays, we share a community meal after service. We keep the building open until after sunset so that we can enjoy common fellowship, prayer and study throughout the Sabbath day.
We desire to be known as disciples of Yeshua of Nazareth by our love for one another.
Shabbat Worship Services
At Beth Immanuel, our worship services are anything but innovative. Rather than trying to create a new, contemporary service, we have reached back to the Synagogue model, the matrix from which church worship was birthed, and reinstated the prayers of the sages, the disciples, and Yeshua Himself. In so doing, we boast "the oldest worship service of any church in town." In addition, we devote a significant portion of our service to the public reading of scripture. The public reading of the scripture is the original charge of the LORD's Assembly. We take time for reading from the weekly Synagogue lectionary of Torah, Prophets and (our own addition) the Gospel.
However, in today's world, many people are unfamiliar with the liturgical mode and find it difficult to worship in that form. That's why Beth Immanuel has two services every Saturday morning. The traditional, liturgical service begins at 9:00 AM. Our contemporary service begins at 11:30 AM with engaging, spirited worship music, followed by a children's story and sermon.
One of our highest priorities at Beth Immanuel is the teaching and studying of God's Word. In addition to the Shabbat sermons and after service commentaries and classes, we sponsor and encourage several ongoing large and small group Bible Studies in the congregation, in congregants homes and in other churches. Hebrew language classes are available through the congregation. Children's classes are available on Shabbat mornings during the service. Members of the community are encouraged to study, to learn and to develop their own teaching skills. At Beth Immanuel, the study of God's Word is not an end in itself, rather we study to transform our minds, to conform ourselves to the Master and to apply His instruction to our lives. We study to learn, and we learn to do.
The doing of God's Instruction, that is the practical application of His Word, is our highest priority. We desire to be a congregation characterized not by our peculiar mode of worship but by our sacrificial generosity and simple obedience to the Master. Have we achieved that goal? Not yet, but we are surely determined to make a worthy effort.