The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Archive for October, 2010

Downtown Issue # 11 – October, 2010

Posted by admin on October 17, 2010

Downtown
A Quarterly Publication of The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches
c/o Historic First Lutheran Church, 808 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, CA 91104
DowntownChurches@aol.com
Issue #11– October, 2010

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. WELCOME!
  2. MISSION STATEMENT
  3. A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT: JOY IN THE JOURNEY!
  4. REACHING OUT IN THE GREAT DOWNTOWN
  5. THANKS
  6. NEXT GATHERING
  7. SPOTLIGHT ON AKRON, OH
  8. SPOTLIGHT ON CHICAGO, IL
  9. SPOTLIGHT ON SAN FRANCISCO, CA
  10. CLOSING

WELCOME!

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 DowntownChurches@aol.com .


MISSION STATEMENT

“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.”


A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT: JOY IN THE JOURNEY!

Between the lines of the dozens of monthly newsletters from downtown Lutheran churches received and faithfully read by your editor, much brokenness is seen.  That brokenness results from declining congregational membership.  That brokenness results from major deficit spending during these tough economic times.  That brokenness results from the enormity of the endless mission confronting the downtown church.  That brokenness  results from strained relationships between pastor and people.

Your editor is no stranger to all those examples of brokenness.  Your editor is one who empathizes with you and prays for you as he reads your newsletters.

My sisters and brothers in Christ, know that the words of St. Paul are so real: “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS!” [Philippians 4:13].  Know that your editor has found much “joy in the journey” as he reads your newsletters.  It’s not uncommon for a shout of joy to emanate from his office as he reads what you’re doing, faithfully sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ to all those in your congregation and community experiencing their own brokenness.  It’s the desire of your editor that this “Downtown” bi-monthly newsletter brings you joy in your journey and inspiration in the harvest field we call the “great downtown.


REACHING OUT IN THE GREAT DOWNTOWN

Remember the old Petula Clark song?  “When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go DOWNTOWN.  When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry seems to help, I know.  DOWNTOWN.  Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city.  Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty.  How can you lose?  The lights are much brighter there.  You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares, so go DOWNTOWN.  Things will be great when you’re DOWNTOWN, no finer place for sure.  DOWNTOWN!  Everything’s waiting for you.”

So many years after that song hit the charts, it’s becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Statistics tell us that, after many years of fleeing to the “‘burbs,” people are discovering anew the secret of their ancestors: “Downtown is the place to be!”

Why do we have the monstrous, cavernous church buildings downtown?  Because the streets and the houses used to be packed with people.  Excited reports I have received from downtown churches across the country have confirmed what I myself have experienced in downtown ministry.  There is again growth in our downtown churches.  Not all that growth is simply coming from people commuting back in from the “‘burbs.”  A lot of that growth is happening because of all those people moving back into the lofts and apartments and condos located DOWNTOWN.  Property prices and quality of life issues are driving people back into our cities, back into our downtowns, back into our downtown churches.  Praise God!

Brothers and sisters in Christ: do you and your congregation have a plan for dealing with the repopulation of the city that is either happening around you right now or is guaranteed to happen around you within the next few years?  If you do, share those insights with the rest of us at DowntownChurches@aol.com .


THANKS

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:

  • “Grace Life,” Grace Lutheran, Tulsa, OK;
  • “St. Paul News,” St. Paul Lutheran, Phoenix, AZ;
  • “The Bethlehem Star,” Bethlehem Lutheran, Richmond, VA;
  • “Timothy Notes” & “A Letter from Timothy,” Timothy Lutheran, St. Louis, MO

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 DowntownChurches@aol.com.  If your e-news requires an email address to subscribe to receive your newsletter, please send notice of that fact to DowntownChurches@aol.com and we will make sure we subscribe.


NEXT GATHERING

The fifth gathering of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches will for the first time be located west of St. Louis.  Historic First Lutheran Church of Pasadena, California will serve as host.  The gathering is scheduled for the weekend after Easter, starting with a late afternoon hosted cocktail hour and dinner on Friday 29 April 2011, continuing through Sunday evening 1 May 2011.

We announce these dates now for calendar and budget planning purposes.  Registration fee is expected to be $125.00, which will include several meals.  Presenters from Lutheran World Relief, Fuller Seminary, Concordia University Irvine, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are already being secured.  Formal registration packets, including airline, ground transportation and hotel information, will be snail mailed by 1 February 2011 to enable consideration and response prior to the start of Lent.


SPOTLIGHT ON AKRON, OH

As we all know, keeping the grounds of the church beautiful and appealing to both members and visitors alike takes a huge amount of constant labor and funding.  Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Akron has started an “Adopt-a-Plot” program.  Their gardens look great and they’d like to keep them that way.  A map posted on the info-tower allows individuals or families to take summer “ownership” of a specific area of the church property.

(Just as a side note, if you have a beautifully landscaped property, outreach to your neighbors – both residential and daily business workers – might take a twist of allowing them to use your property for lunch breaks, etc.)

A member of the ELCA, more information about Holy Trinity’s outreach to downtown Akron can found at www.trinityakron.org


SPOTLIGHT  ON CHICAGO, IL

Not a foreign topic to any of us, the maintenance and repair costs of generally old and constantly aging buildings create a huge burdens on the budgets of congregations.

In March, 2010, The Chicago Gazette Magazine spotlighted the plight of Historic St. Matthew Lutheran Church which has been ordered by the City of Chicago’s Building Department to make costly repairs, including replacing windows, tuckpointing the chimney, adding metal safety bars to the front doors, fixing the ceiling structure and repairing cement steps.  That original article caught the attention of many willing to help and brought help from local congregations.  That original article also touched the hearts of an architect and an engineer, who are volunteering their services to the church.

During the difficult task of raising enough funds to get all the work done, Pastor Julio A. Loza discovered a nonprofit group called “Partners for Sacred Places,” which provides training and technical assistance to congregations in making historic buildings handicapped accessible.

A member of the LCMS, more information about Historic St. Matthew Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Chicago (including it’s “El Comedor Popular” soup kitchen which serves 1,200 meals a month to the hungry and unemployed) can be found at www.stmatthewchicago.org .

Information about “Partners for Sacred Places” can be found at www.sacredplaces.org .


SPOTLIGHT  ON  SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Most of us downtown churches conduct community outreach programs.  Many times congregation members don’t actually connect with the members of the community reached by those outreaches.  Bethel Grace Lutheran Ministries has developed a wonderful idea to connect congregation members with the 26 children and families enrolled in their summer program.

“Prayer Pictures” have been posted in a public area.  Congregation members are invited to take home a “Prayer Picture” from the posting area.  Each “Prayer Picture” includes a photo of the child and a few informational items.  Congregation members are asked to pray for the child and its family daily that they may believe in Jesus as their Savior, be baptized and become active disciples in Bethel Grace Lutheran Ministries.

A member of the LCMS, more information about Bethel Grace’s outreach to downtown San Francisco can be found at www.bethelgrace.com/BethelGraceLutheranMinistries .


CLOSING

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
Editor
Senior Pastor, Historic First Lutheran, Pasadena, CA

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