The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Archive for January, 2011

Registration materials for our “Build UP the Walls!” Gathering, Friday 29 April – Sunday 1 May, 2011, are in the mail to members and friends of The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches.  All materials, including schedules, transportation and accommodation information, registration forms and  our roster of Presenters can also be viewed and downloaded here.

Downtown Issue # 12 – January, 2011

Posted by admin on January 23, 2011

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 #12– January, 2011




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.”


The fifth gathering of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches will be held at Historic First Lutheran Church of Pasadena, California from Friday 29 April through Monday 2 May 2011.  Registration fee is $125.00 for the first participant, with a discounted $75.00 per person rate for additional participants from the same congregation registering on the same form.  Those fees include all meals.

Presenters include Reverend Dr. John Arthur Nunes from Lutheran World Relief of Baltimore, Dr. Mark Lau Branson and Graduate Student Matthew Rosebrock from Fuller Seminary, Reverend Greg Seltz from Concordia University Irvine, and Reverend Bishop Dean Nelson from The Southwest California Synod of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Formal registration packets, including airline, ground transportation and hotel information, will be snail mailed by 1 February 2011.  In addition, registration information will soon be available for download at .


Last year, Pastor Steve Massey from St. Paul Lutheran in Phoenix turned 50 years old (along with St. Paul’s).  To celebrate the events, he trained to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in one day.  On 30 September 2010, he completed the hike.  He also made this an opportunity to financially support outreach for St. Paul and urban ministry throughout the Pacific Southwest District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

As part of this event, Pastor Massey started a blog:  One of the purposes of this blog is to network the urban church with other churches.  The Lord has brought the nations into the backyards of our urban churches.  Many times the urban churches do not have the manpower to run programs they desire, such as Vacation Bible School. This blog site can be used for the urban church to express ministry needs and another church can connect with that church to meet that need.  Over $1,700.00 was raised for urban ministry.

In addition, St. Paul’s has started a “Magazine Round Table,” inviting members to recycle their read magazines (and also save money by not having to purchase a subscription to every magazine they may desire to peruse) by placing them on a designated table for other members to also enjoy.  Stickers marked “St. Paul” are affixed over the mailing labels so people know to return the borrowed magazine when completed with it.

A member of the LCMS, more information about St. Paul Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Phoenix can found at .


Bethlehem Lutheran Church took outreach to a new level this past fall!  An outreach activity involving students at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)  took place during “Welcome Week.”  Bethlehem passed out free hamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs and soft drinks.  Literature about the church was available, along with announcements about upcoming opportunities in which students might get involved.  Follow-up emails to students announced special events planned for them: a cooking course, a class on church architecture and symbolism, a class on defending the Christian faith and a meeting about ways that students can serve the greater community through the church.  The goal of this event was to build bridges with students so that they might know Bethlehem and Bethlehem them so that some may also come to know or better know the Lord Jesus.

In addition, Bethlehem celebrated “Christmas in October,” collecting items to be delivered to homebound members during “Caroling to the Homebound” visits in December.  All-occasion cards, combs, chap stick, hair brushes, hard candy, hand and body lotion, puzzle books, stationery and stamps, tooth brushes and toothpaste were all collected during October.  Food and beverage items were collected during November and December.

A member of the LCMS, more information about Bethlehem Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Richmond can found at .


Many downtown churches support local food banks in a great variety of ways!  St. John’s Lutheran put its own unique spin on this important mission.  For the past two years, a two-acre plot of land next to the sanctuary has served as a community garden tended by an army of volunteers, raising hundreds of pounds of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, lettuce and other fresh produce.  There’s even a flock of hens, doing their part in their moveable pen by eating bugs and weeds and laying eggs.  Local food bank workers pick-up the fresh produce from St. John’s every day or two.  As soon as the crops come in, they’re distributed to families in need, making the produce as fresh as possible.  St John’s hosts open work parties on Saturday mornings, but volunteers are liable to drop in any time.

A member of the LCMS, more information about St. John’s Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Napa can found at .


“Let none hear you idly saying, ‘There is nothing I can do.’” Way too often, downtown churches use their small size or struggling financial condition as excuses, saying, “Once we’re larger or have more money available, we plan to do something.”  Instead of using that excuse, Zion Lutheran teamed up with a number of other faith-based organizations and social service agencies to impact downtown Portland through an event called “Downtown Compassion” last September.

Held at the Memorial Coliseum, many different volunteer services were provided: medical, dental, physical therapy, foot care, immunizations, social services, hair cuts, child care and even pet care.  Upon opening, the swell of the crowd was overwhelming.  Clients waited patiently in the center of the Coliseum until their appointment times were announced on the big screen.  Initial numbers report 1,200 meals served, 600 immunizations given, 300+ medical or dental care clients, 140 prescriptions given out, 125 haircuts, and guests, as well as volunteers, were prayed with, listened to and cared for.  The debriefing session agreed that even more volunteer staff members were needed for future events.  Volunteers agreed that it was a humbling honor to have been a part of this event.

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


Zion Lutheran Church has established a “Community Emergency Fund,” inviting church members to help those in need.  Maybe unusual by downtown standards, Zion’s experience has been that many of the people seeking assistance are only seen once because theirs is a situation that requires short-term help.  This new fund helps with utility bills, stranded motorists, transportation to medical treatment, food needs beyond what its food pantry has available, obtaining identification cards and countless other situations.

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


Grace Lutheran Church has introduced a new feature in its newsletter called “Ask the Staff.”  This feature allows members to ask questions about Grace’s mission and ministry and permits the appropriate staff member to provide important information so that members better know and understand what happens in downtown Springfield.

In addition, in preparation for its annual distribution of baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Grace Church challenged its members to “think outside the box” and place a collection container at their work locations to collect canned goods, to ask members of non-church groups belonged to by members to donate food or money, to suggest that Christmas gift exchanges instead include contributions to the food baskets, or emailing non-member family and friends, asking for food or money for the baskets.  All great ideas!

A member of the ELCA, more information about Grace Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Springfield can 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