The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Archive for May, 2010

Downtown: Issue # 9 – May, 2010

Posted by admin on May 23, 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 #9 – May, 2010




A warm welcome to this issue of “Downtown,” a 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.”


This ninth issue of “Downtown” is dedicated in honor of the retirement of The Reverend Dr. Philip Pfatteicher on Sunday 6 June 2010.  Pastor Pfatteicher will enter this new era in his life and ministry after 50 years in the Holy Ministry and 11 ½ years of faithful ministry as Associate Pastor at First Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh.  Those desiring to send congratulatory greetings may do so in care of First Lutheran Church, 615 Grant St. Pittsburgh, PA   15219.  Well done, good and faithful servant!


If you have suggestions for future issues of “Downtown” to be dedicated in memory of or in honor of other great veterans of downtown ministry, please do not hesitate to pass that suggestion along to .


Since the distribution of our last newsletter, the following downtown ministries have graciously added the Association to their newsletter mailing lists or have added the Association to their electronic distribution list, listed here in alphabetical order:

  • “Central Lutheran Church Messenger,” Central Lutheran Church, Portland, OR
  • “News & Views,” Zion Lutheran Church, Akron, OH
  • “The Saint Paul Epistle,” St. Paul Lutheran, Raritan, NJ

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 often 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.


With the distribution of each issue of “Downtown,” we receive emails from those who aren’t pastors or leaders of downtown churches, sometimes apologizing for “spying” on our conversations and conveying how they also enjoy and find helpful the information in “Downtown.”  So, if you’re one of our non-downtown readers, WELCOME!  We’re happy to provide insights to you as well!  While the specific focus of this newsletter is upon the mission and ministry happening in the great downtowns of North America, we know that many of these items are helpful to mission and ministry everywhere.


Each issue of “Downtown” is the product of multiple (easily 25 or more) hours of internet research, church newsletter perusal, typing, lay-out and distribution.  Each issue is a great investment of time.  While our mailing list contains about 450 addresses, our e-distribution list is less than half that number.  Would you please help us increase that e-distribution?  There are two things you can do:

1) Talk up “Downtown” among all your ministry colleagues, laboring in downtown ministries or non-downtown ministries.  We are particularly finding it difficult to locate many of our downtown ministries on the world wide web (many of our downtown ministries sadly have no web site) in order to invite them to join our e-dis list.  If you could please share “Downtown” with other clergy and church leaders, that would be appreciated!  Encourage them to sign-up to receive their own copy by sending an email to .

2) Invite your lay members to become readers of “Downtown.”  If you could please include a blurb in your weekly bulletins or monthly newsletters, asking your laity to check out past issues of “Downtown” at, also encouraging them to sign-up to receive their own copy by sending an email to .


Based upon discussion at our last gathering in October, 2009, it was decided that our next gathering should be scheduled for the spring of 2011.  It was also decided that the next gathering should be in California (so far we’ve had three gatherings in the Midwest and one in Florida).  Our next gathering is admittedly a year from now, but we wanted to invite you to begin thinking about and planning for our next time together.  Tentative dates will be the weekend of the Third Sunday of Easter, 2011.  The gathering will either be at Trinity Lutheran in Sacramento, CA or at Historic First Lutheran, Pasadena, CA.  We’ll keep you posted as plans develop.


Each night, after church activities are ended, a few cars enter the inner parking lot at First Lutheran Church.  The security guard opens the gate, receives a brief application and issues a permit to park.  The bathrooms are open.  Waste containers are available.  The folks living in their cars have a safe place to sleep at night.  “Overnighters” leave before preschool activities commence the next morning.  City officials and police are supportive of providing this safe haven for some of the 5,000 homeless in the neighborhood.  This special outreach has been dubbed the “Parking Ministry.”

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


Downtown churches are typically known for their daring, creative “tweaks” to traditional mission and ministry.  Such is the case with Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee which recently celebrated the Ascension of our Lord not with a worship service in the church, but with a potluck mission dinner in the Grace Center.  Dinnerware and drinks were provided by the church and college students ate for free (no need to bring anything).  The special program included the showing of a DVD called “Road to Emmaus,” a chancel drama about Christian witnessing.  In addition, nurses from Grace Church who just returned from relief trips to Haiti were interviewed.  The evening concluded at 8:00 p.m. with the singing of Ascension hymns and mission songs.  A special collection was received to benefit a special mission project.

As yet another creative “tweak,” Grace Place Coffee Shop is now pleased to offer for sale Christian books, Bible study aids, daily devotions, along with greeting cards, CDs and Grace Place’s custom coffee.  Talk about a powerfully practical outreach to downtown neighbors and daily work “visitors!”

A member of the WELS, more information about Grace Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Milwaukee can be found at .


Bishop Peter Rogness, in “Ending Poverty – A 20/20 Vision” has written, “We believe it is the Creator’s intent that all people are provided those things that protect human dignity and make for healthy life: adequate food and shelter, meaningful work, safe communities, healthcare and education.”  To that end, Central Lutheran Church’s substantial “Restoration Center” provides community meals every Monday; financial assistance to help with co-pays for glasses, prescriptions, dental work; public transportation assistance; referrals for housing, employment and other resources; assistance with writing resumes and cover letters; clothing distribution; caring nurses who assist with basic health care needs in the Augsburg Nursing Center three days a week.

In a creative way to celebrate its history, the anniversary of the first worship service of Central Lutheran Church on Passion (Palm) Sunday 1919 has been commemorated on Passion Sunday ever since.  A long-standing tradition is for the Congregation Council President-Elect to issue a “Founders’ Day Proclamation.”  Such proclamation is published on Central’s website.

A member of the ELCA, more information about Central Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Minneapolis can be found at .


At the beginning of 2010, Pastor Christopher Schaar, Senior Pastor of Historic First Lutheran Church, started a special ministry.  Following the example of Father Maurice Chase, who has been dubbed by the media as “Father Dollar Bill,” Pastor Schaar has begun passing out dollar bills to the homeless who stand on the street corners of Pasadena.

As the economy has declined to its current position, Pastor Schaar heard comments from some of his parishioners that they would like to help those who are homeless and standing on street corners.  Those parishioners expressed concern, though, as to how they would know who was authentically in need.  Some women also expressed concern about their own personal safety in passing money through car windows.  Encouraged by those parishioners, Pastor Schaar committed a dollar out of his own pocket every day and made that ministry available also to members of his congregation.  Those parishioners pass their dollar bills to Pastor Schaar at the exit doors after worship (it sometimes look like they are tipping the pastor for a fine service and sermon) and Pastor Schaar adds those gifts to his own contributions and daily distributes those dollar bills to those he sees daily and knows are authentic.

A member of the LCMS, more information about Historic First Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Pasadena 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