The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Archive for January, 2012

Downtown Issue # 15 – January, 2012

Posted by admin on January 22, 2012

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 #15– January, 2012

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. WELCOME!
  2. MISSION STATEMENT
  3. NEWSLETTERS STILL BEING SOUGHT
  4. SIXTH GATHERING IS IN THE PLANNING STAGES!
  5. CAN ANYONE HELP OR ADVISE?
  6. REVITALIZING CONGREGATIONS: A HIGH PRIORITY?
  7. MIDWEEK WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
  8. SPOTLIGHT ON DETROIT, MI
  9. SPOTLIGHT ON ALBANY, NY
  10. SPOTLIGHT ON PITTSBURGH, PA
  11. SPOTLIGHT ON PORTLAND, OR
  12. CLOSING

WELCOME!

A warm welcome to this issue of “Downtown,” a newsletter full of interchange and exchange between downtown Lutheran churches around our great world (yes, we have “international members” not just in the United States, but also in Canada and even Hungary!)  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.”


NEWSLETTERS STILL BEING SOUGHT

If you’ve not yet added the Association to receive your weekly or monthly newsletters, won’t you please do so today?  It is guaranteed that every newsletter is indeed read!  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.


SIXTH GATHERING IS IN THE PLANNING STAGES!

The Sixth Gathering of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches will be hosted by Historic Grace Lutheran in Springfield, IL from Friday 12 October through Sunday 14 October 2012.  Please mark this on your calendars!

Our main presenter will be Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman from the ELCA Churchwide Offices!  This gathering will prove to be one you will not want to miss!  Please plan and budget now to attend this gathering!  Formal registration packets will be mailed around 1 June 2012.


CAN ANYONE HELP OR ADVISE?

One of the stated purposes of the Association is to encourage each other by sharing ideas.  Maybe someone can help with this unusual situation!

More than 100 years ago, one of the founding families of Akron, Ohio, set apart a plot of ground in the newly developed downtown for a Lutheran church.  Zion Lutheran was established on that plot of property and has faithfully carried out its ministry ever since, even purchasing an adjacent parcel of property to accommodate its growing ministry.  The problem is that it is believed that the original plot of property was never transferred to the congregation, leaving much uncertainty about the true ownership of that now very valuable piece of real estate.  Official property records from that era are very sketchy.  Trying to locate a descendent of the original founding family has proven quite the challenge.

Has anyone ever heard of a similar situation, or maybe experienced a similar situation?  Any words of advice or counsel?  Pastor Josh Schoon would love to hear from you at josh_schoon@yahoo.com .


REVITALIZING CONGREGATIONS: A HIGH PRIORITY?

In case you missed it, you would do yourself a great favor to check out the Fall, 2011 issue of “Issues in Christian Education,” an online publication of Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska.  Featured in this issue are the articles “Demographics and Transforming Congregations” (by Rev. Jeffrey Miller), “Revitalization: A God Idea?” (by Rev. Dr. Robert Newton) and “How Revitalization Can Happen” (by Rev. Terry Tieman).

If you haven’t already seen it, this excellent resource can be found at www.cune.edu/about/publications/issues-in-christian-education/issues-fall-2011 .


MIDWEEK WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Many Lutheran churches these days, even large suburban congregations, are scaling back or altogether canceling midweek worship services, even during the seasons of Advent and Lent.  The usual complaint is declining attendance at these services and the expense of such services (printing costs, heating and lighting costs and staff costs).

In the downtown venue, though, midweek worship services offer a wonderful way of bringing the downtown community into the doors of the downtown church.  Some downtown churches have found a great niche in reaching fellow Lutherans who work downtown who otherwise wouldn’t attend services at their own suburban congregations.  Other downtown churches use midweek worship as great outreach opportunities to reach non-Lutherans or the unchurched population working in the downtown area.

With the continued evolution of modern technology some cost of these midweek worship opportunities can be minimized by using excellent musical resources like the CD sets “Every Voice a Song” or “The Concordia Organist.”

What is your congregation doing with midweek worship opportunities?  Please email your ideas and solutions to DowntownChurches@aol.com .  We will share your ideas with others!


SPOTLIGHT ON DETROIT, MI

The visionary “Mother Church” of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches (it was the singular passion of Rev. Dr. David Eberhard that convened our first gathering in October, 1996), Historic Trinity Church in downtown Detroit continues to set the bar for downtown churches across the country and around the world!

A couple years ago, Historic Trinity Church (a downtown church with 1859 baptized members) engaged in a shared ministry with Our Shepherd Lutheran in Birmingham, MI (a suburban church with 1703 baptized members).  Under this shared ministry partnership, pastors of both churches are “partner pastors” in both locations.  In addition, the partnership has been involved in shared youth activities, Men’s Bible Studies, training and producing 20-30 Bible cell groups throughout metro Detroit, regular sharing time in sessions of church executive officers, discussing and challenging each other to greater ministries and providing deployed seminary training for vicars and trained lay ministers at each site.

In addition, while the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit are engaged in re-inventing themselves, so also is the church in the city engaging in a process to re-invent itself.  The shared ministry of Historic Trinity and Our Shepherd is promoting “The Lutheran Church in the City” (LCC) as a self-supporting flexible organization throughout the City of Detroit.  It is fostering contacts with developers and community representatives to allow LCC to become involved at the ground floor of these communities, engaging urban pioneers in discussion intended to maintain and improve the value of life in the city.  On the horizon are Bible study groups at three locations along the Detroit river front, assisting the reestablishment of several parishes in the city, connecting people to areas where they can volunteer, beginning a legal and medical reference and assistance center and seeking other partnerships with suburban parishes and people.

A member of the LCMS, more information about Historic Trinity Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Detroit can be found at www.historictrinity.org and www.historictrinityinc.org .


SPOTLIGHT ON ALBANY, NY

Many people incorrectly assume that “the church” is only concerned about spiritual matters.  St. John’s Lutheran in downtown Albany recently broke that stereotype by prominently advertising a “Faith Hike” on Saturday 14 January 2012 at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.  Hikers met at a neighboring Lutheran church for prayer and a brief devotion, followed by a hour-long hike, all the while taking in God’s creation.  Prayer was also offered at the end of the hike.  Skilled hiking guides had a trail map and first aid equipment.

A member of the ELCA, more information about St. John Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Albany can be found at www.stjohnsalbany.org .


SPOTLIGHT ON PITTSBURGH, PA

A number of years ago, Rev. Dr. David Gleason, Senior Pastor of First English Lutheran, envisioned a VBS program that would not only provide children with an opportunity to learn the Bible but also learn downtown Pittsburgh, believing that the church has a responsibility to teach children to love both Scripture and the city.  What has resulted is known as “Camp Downtown,” a full-day, week-long, multi-congregational VBS program for children in kindergarten through grade 6, with young people in grades 7-12 serving as youth counselors.  Mornings are spent exploring the Bible through various learning stations, with afternoons spent exploring Pittsburgh through various excursions around downtown.  Last year, more than 50 children and young people participated in “Camp Downtown.”  The program has proven so successful that a day-long winter event known as “Ice Fest” is sponsored in February.

In addition, again under the spiritual leadership of Pastor Gleason, the Worship Committee of First English Lutheran became united in the belief that worship opportunities should extend beyond their church doors into the greater downtown community.  A “Prison Worship Team” was formed, with worship services now conducted at Allegheny County Jail.  A new challenge has also surfaced.  Due to the constant coming and going of inmates, First English Lutheran has established a goal of raising $1,000.00 to purchase 1,800 Bibles to place into the hands of the inmates!  Talk about “doing unto the least of these” [Matthew 25:40]!

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


SPOTLIGHT ON PORTLAND, OR

Church members at Central Lutheran Church are invited to enter “Soul Café,” a new online community that is a sacred space on the world wide web that enables geographically separated Lutherans to meet, interact and get to know each other through idea sharing and communication for real solutions to shared problems, issues and challenges facing the church today.  This initiative places them ahead of the curve at a strategic period in their history when they can no longer afford to be behind it.  Members are encouraged to log onto www.soulcafe.org and be part of the onset of this incredible new adventure.

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


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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