The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Archive for January, 2010

Downtown: Issue #7 – January, 2010

Posted by admin on January 31, 2010
A Quarterly Publication of The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches
c/o Historic First Lutheran Church, 808 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, CA 91104
Issue #7  – January, 2010
  4. THANKS!

A warm welcome to this issue of “Downtown,” a quarterly newsletter full of interchange and exchange between downtown Lutheran churches across our great country!  As your editor, it’s my hope you’ll find this a helpful, powerful resource to further equip and empower your ministry in the great downtown.  As your editor, I can only accomplish that goal when you respond to the content of this newsletter and feed me information about what’s going on with your own particular ministry.  Responses, comments, constructive criticisms, etc. can be directed to .


“The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches celebrates the mission and ministry of the Lord through congregations in downtown neighborhoods, sharing and developing ideas and programs by communicating, networking and encouraging one another.”


After just 7 issues, “Downtown” will cease to exist in its present form with this issue.  As a cost-saving measure, we will begin to exclusively distribute “Downtown” electronically after this issue.  Some of you will receive duplicitous copies of this issue as you’ve already signed up to receive this electronically.  For those of you who do not receive this issue electronically, please take a moment right now to send notice of your desired e-mail address to . You will also want to make sure that your spam filters will allow mass distribution from that e-mail address.

And, for the (hopefully) very small number of you who desire to continue to receive a hard-copy of “Downtown” mailed to you, please also make such request (even if you’ve done so before, please do so again so we can get an accurate listing) to .


Many thanks to those downtown ministries which have graciously added the Association to their newsletter mailing lists or who have added the Association to their electronic distribution list, listed here in alphabetical order:

“Bethlehem News & Notes,” Bethlehem Community Church (Lutheran), Euclid, OH; “Faith Alive!,” Faith Lutheran, Phoenix, AZ; “First Church Alert,” First English Evangelical Lutheran, Pittsburgh, PA; “First Lutheran News,” First Lutheran, Muskogee, OK; “First Things,” First Lutheran, Long Beach, CA; “Newsletter” First Lutheran, Van Nuys, CA; “Messenger,” Historic Trinity Lutheran,  Detroit; “Mission Outpost,” Bethel Grace Lutheran, San Francisco, CA; “The First Lutheran,” First Lutheran, Boston, MA; “The Messenger,” First St. Paul’s Lutheran, Chicago, IL; “The Voice of First Trinity,” First Trinity Lutheran, Washington, DC; “The Zion Star,” Zion Lutheran, Portland, OR; “Trinity Highlights,” Holy Trinity Lutheran, Akron, OH; “Trinity Tidings,” Trinity Lutheran, Sacramento, CA; “Trinity Tidings,” Trinity Lutheran, Seattle, WA.

That leaves only about 400 of you out there still to share your news with the Association.  Please rest assured that every single newsletter received IS INDEED READ, with information gleaned to be included in future issues of “Downtown.”

If you’ve not yet added the Association, won’t you please do so today?  If your congregation publishes a printed newsletter, would you please add us to your mailing list?  Please address them to Rev. Christopher Schaar, Historic First Lutheran, 808 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, CA   91104-4317, If your congregation publishes an electronic newsletter, would you please add us to your e-dis list?  Please send them to .  If your e-news requires an email address to subscribe to receive your newsletter, please send notice of that fact to and we will make sure we subscribe.


In October, a small group of us (14 people, representing 8 ministries from both the ELCA and LCMS) gathered for a wonderful weekend of fellowship, learning and worship at Historic Trinity Church in St. Louis.  Each participant was able to explain to the group his or her particular ministry.  In addition, resource information (newsletters, bulletins, historical booklets) was exchanged freely.

We were blessed by insightful presentations by Dr. Tom Zehnder, Executive Director of LCMS World Mission; Dr. Tony Cook of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; and Rev. David Birner, Associate Executive Director for International Missions, LCMS World Mission.  Worship experiences on Saturday evening and Sunday morning were enjoyed at both Historic Trinity Church and at Vintage 10, Historic Trinity’s satellite location in the downtown loft district.

Saturday found us twice engaged in “Spitball Sessions,” facilitated by Rev. Christopher Schaar, Leader of the Association, from topics identified earlier by participants.  Specific topics that were discussed by the group included being a “Cathedral Ministry;” the challenges of staffing; pastoral longevity and its effect upon the downtown church; identifying and keeping informed “Alumni” (former members and school alumni); unique ways to fund downtown ministries; how to engage the residents of the gay neighborhoods that surround many of our downtown churches; worship styles; the future direction of the Association; how to create ministry unity in the diverse downtown; how to engage the multiple cultures that surround many of our downtown churches; how to break down the perceived walls that keep people out of our downtown churches and the use of terminology, particularly “Old” versus “Historic.”

If you missed the Gathering for whatever reason and are interested in hearing more about any of the above topics, simply open up an electronic dialogue with Rev. Schaar at .  He’d be glad to fill you in on specific questions or issues you may have.

It was decided that the fifth gathering of the Association would be held in the Spring of 2011 (post-Easter), with location preference being given to the West Coast (most likely California).


Associate Pastor at First English Evangelical Lutheran, The Rev. Dr. Philip Phatteicher, is updating the church’s written  history since the previous written history only goes through 1909!  In a humorous story related in the church newsletter, Dr. Phatteicher tells of Pastor Gleason who had occasion to contact the mayor’s office concerning the impossibility of legally making any deliveries to the church since the church was surrounded by no-parking zones.  The response from the mayor discounted the request from the pastor: “There is no church on Grant Street.”  Dr. Phatteicher relates how the church had been on Grant Street since 1887, the last surviving church on the street and one of the two oldest buildings on Grant Street.  Dr. Phatteicher also comments how things have changed as today the city is well aware that there is a church on Grant Street and that the pastor is recognized by city officials and is invited to have a significant role in many boards and agencies of the city.    This shows the power and importance of written congregational histories – not simply to “dwell on the past,” but to know from where we have come.

A member of the ELCA, more information about First English Lutheran’s outreach to Pittsburgh can be found at .


Zion Lutheran recently celebrated it’s “Prayer Shawl Ministry.”  Ladies make the prayer shawls to distribute to the sick.  Each shawl is distributed with a little card that reads, “Our prayer to you … wrap this shawl around you and feel God’s grace and care.  Know that it was made with love and in each stitch a prayer.  May the comfort that it offers remind you God is near.  And if you’re sick or hurting, may God’s love calm your fears.  Know that God’s great mercy is very like this shawl: surrounding, warming, loving your heart, your soul, your all.”   This ministry began in September, 2005, with its 100th shawl just delivered.

In addition, as with many of our downtown churches, the German Gottesdienst is celebrated the second Sunday of the month at 9:00 a.m. The German worshiping group found that many of its hymnals were wearing out or finding “new homes” outside the church pew.  The worshiping group was recently blessed by two boxes (27 lbs.) of new “used” hymnals donated from congregations in the Hannover Region of Germany.

A member of the LCMS, more information about Zion Lutheran’s outreach to Portland can be found at .


Dealing with the needs of the homeless and hungry confronted by many downtown churches, First Lutheran hosts free community breakfasts the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.  Staffed by volunteers, 50 to 90 people attend throughout the hour of service.  Not just a soup kitchen or food pantry, an opening Scripture reading, devotion and time of singing is led by Pastor Eric Loza and volunteers.  Volunteer staffers are church members, members of neighboring churches and even the homeless themselves.  Not all “guests” (the term used by Pastor Loza) are homeless or jobless or in need of any help.  Some come just to chew the fat, with the free meal helping their wallet.  Some “guests” come looking for jobs.  Some “guests” have addictions.  Most of the help provided the “guests,” though, is in simple conversation, knowing that it’s a lonely existence to live on the streets.  One of the highlights of this relatively new mission outreach is a baby shower for a couple who had been living on the streets but later found housing.

A member of the LCMS, more information about First Lutheran’s outreach to Van Nuys can be found at .


Holy Trinity Lutheran serves the aging and infirm by making medical equipment available for use by members and friends of members – items like walkers, quad canes, bedside commodes, crutches, shower chairs, raised toilet seats and wheelchairs.  The equipment available for free check-out, with the only request that equipment be returned clean.  The church is always looking for additional equipment to be donated.

A member of the ELCA, more information about Holy Trinity Lutheran’s outreach to Akron can be found at .


In closing, my sisters and brothers in Christ, my wish for each of you is simple: KEEP PREACHING THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON FOR HE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.

As you preach Jesus, may He bless you in all ways, enabling you to continue to bless those around you!

Joined with you serving Christ and His people,

The Reverend Christopher Schaar
Senior Pastor, Historic First Lutheran, Pasadena, CA