Immanuel Family,

The "Goldilocks Zone." Have you ever heard of that place? Recently, I learned we actually live in it. It's a term used to explain the perfect distance between our planet and the sun. If we were just a little closer to it, we'd burn. A little further? We'd freeze. Instead, the distance between Earth and the sun is just right--our relationship is just right. 

In many ways, being in this zone is what we desire for every facet of our lives, isn't it? Which makes me so excited to let you know about a Goldilocks relationship that Immanuel Church is entering into this Fall; a relationship with an organization that's just right.

More than a decade ago, Immanuel launched a brand-new ministry called Upward Basketball. In the years following, God used this ministry to introduce thousands of kids to Jesus and connect hundreds of families to our church community. It's been a vital component of the stellar reputation our family has in northern Lake County. Just this last season, around 250 kids were connected with a coach that consistently loved and supported them within the context of a fun and safe sports environment.

We believe God is calling us to do more. Which is precisely what makes On Fire Sports a perfect fit for us. On Fire has been in operation in Lake County for more than 10 years, using existing programs like Upward to introduce kids to the Gospel through sports. However, they do so with a much broader reach through additional programs like Onward and Forward which allow middle school and high school students the opportunity to continue on with basketball beyond their sixth grade season. In addition to basketball, On Fire offers volleyball and sports camps, along with summer day camp. Last year, more than 500 kids participated in one or more of these programs.

Beginning this Fall, On Fire Sports will become icSports and officially be a sub-ministry of Immanuel Church. I'm excited to expand our influence for the Kingdom further into Lake County and see what God does through this new partnership. Carlton Cessna has been the Executive Director for nearly a decade and will continue to fill that role with Immanuel. He and his teams are exceptional in what they provide for families through sports ministry.

We are so excited!

Josh Petersen

Lead Pastor

Immanuel Church


Dear Upward Families,

I have fantastic news to share with you! Immanuel Church has decided to partner with On Fire Sports from Grayslake to create a new Sports Ministry at Immanuel called icSports. This ministry will offer basketball, volleyball, Day Camp, and Sports Camps. God has repeatedly shown His hand in this transition, enabling this to happen quickly, with the diligent assistance of leaders from Immanuel, Torch of Faith, and On Fire Sports.

Here are a few things that you should know about the upcoming Upward season.

1. Upward will operate as a single league with the possibility of two sites, depending on enrollment numbers. Immanuel Church’s gym will be our primary location. We are negotiating to have additional gym space at a second, more westerly, location, in case that becomes necessary. All families that had previously registered by September 20th are guaranteed practice nights at Immanuel if desired.

2. Parents registering after September 20th will be asked at evaluations to let us know their preferred site for practices. NO GUARANTEES, but we will do our best to accommodate as many of those requests as reasonably possible.

3. Practices, as in the past, will be one night per week. Same night, time, and LOCATION all season long.

4. Practice nights will be limited to Monday, Thursday, and Friday at Immanuel. Your child will need to have practice availability for one of those evenings, in case there are no additional nights made available by adding a second location.

5. Games will still be on Saturdays. Games will be at Immanuel Church or at an alternate site, as necessary. This will create some added excitement for the players as it will feel more like travel/school basketball, getting the opportunity to play “road games” during the season.

6. We will need to be flexible, as renting school gym space comes with the caveat that our events may require last-minute practice or game schedule/location changes. For example, we may need to play a Saturday set of games in a different school’s gyms versus the “scheduled” game-day gym.

7. Awards Day will be celebrated at Immanuel Church. Details are still being worked on for the times, etc.

8. Practices will start the week of November 13, with our first game day on December 9th.

9. There will be challenges. We ask that you partner with us in this new multi-site format and give us constructive feedback as to how it goes. This will be both a learning and transitional year, but we see it as opening doors to some amazing possibilities for the future.

10. Onward and Forward Basketball will be offered for Jr. High and High School students this year!

Registration for Upward is already open at Immanuel. Please use the following link to register online, or register in person at the church (2300 N. Dilleys Road, Gurnee, IL). We are extending the early registration discount through next Wednesday, September 27. If you already paid full price after September 15th you will receive a refund of the late registration fee.

UPWARD EVALUATIONS ARE NEXT WEEK! Evaluations will take place at Immanuel Church, 2300 N. Dilleys Road, Gurnee, IL 60031, on September 28 (6pm-7:30pm), 29 (6pm-7:30pm), and 30 (8am-9:30am) and Thursday, October 5 (6pm-7:30pm).

Regarding the other sports and camp programs:

1. Onward and Forward Basketball registration will open in October.

2. Onward and Forward Volleyball are on the calendar for 2018, with the possibility of a spring schedule in lieu of the fall 2017 leagues.

3. Cross Court Basketball will return in Summer 2018 for its third season.

4. Day Camp and Sports Camps will operate out of the Immanuel Church facility under much the same format/schedule as in the past.

All for Jesus,

Carlton Cessna

Executive Director, icSports
Immanuel Church, Gurnee, IL