The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Archive for June, 2012

Downtown Issue # 16 – June, 2012

Posted by admin on June 4, 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 #16– June, 2012

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. WELCOME!
  2. MISSION STATEMENT
  3. NEWSLETTERS STILL BEING SOUGHT
  4. SIXTH GATHERING IS IN THE PLANNING STAGES!
  5. NOTED CELEBRATIONS
  6. ADLC LEADER’S CONSULTING REPORT
  7. MIDWEEK SERVICES RESPONSES
  8. SPOTLIGHT ON AUSTIN, TX
  9. SPOTLIGHT ON SAN FRANCISCO, CA
  10. SPOTLIGHT ON PORTLAND, OR
  11. SPOTLIGHT ON TULSA, OK
  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 presenters will be The Reverend Dr. Stephen Bouman from the ELCA Churchwide Offices and The Reverend Carlos Hernandez from the LCMS International Center, both of whom have extensive knowledge of and experience in downtown ministries.  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 by 15 July 2012.


NOTED CELEBRATIONS

On Sunday 17 June, First English Lutheran Church in downtown Pittsburgh will honor The Reverend Dr. David Gleason’s 40th Anniversary in the Holy Ministry.  He has served as Senior Pastor at First English since 1989 (23 years).  We join in thanking God for the effective ministry of Pastor Gleason in downtown Pittsburgh!

On Sunday 6 May, Grace Lutheran in downtown Tulsa installed The Reverend Christopher Hall as its new Senior Pastor following a one-year vacancy.  We ask God’s blessings upon Pastor Hall in his new position!.


ADLC LEADER’S CONSULTING REPORT

Pastor Christopher Schaar, Leader of the Association, spent five days during early February in downtown Sacramento, California.  While there he met with Associate Pastor Frank Espegren and Interim Senior Pastor David Mullen of St. John Lutheran Church, learning about their past and their future direction.  He also met extensively with Pastor Jason Bredeson and the leadership team of Trinity Lutheran Church, submitting to them a 10-page consultation report.

For information about Pastor Schaar visiting your downtown and meeting with your church leadership, please contact him at DowntownChurches@aol.com .


MIDWEEK SERVICES RESPONSES

In the last issue of “Downtown” we asked a survey question regarding the mission viewpoints of downtown churches regarding midweek services, particularly during the seasons of Lent and Advent.  A number of you took time to respond.  Those responses are summarized below:

The most ambitious response came from First English Lutheran in downtown Pittsburgh (flcpittsburgh.org) .  Pastor David Gleason reports that the Eucharist is celebrated each day from Monday through Friday at 12:10 p.m.  Thirteen orders for these services have been developed which can all be celebrated in 20 to 30 minutes.  The services all contain the essentials of Eucharistic worship and include a brief homily.  They also have music, sometimes as little as a brief organ prelude and postlude and one hymn.  On Mondays, the Eucharist is celebrated with special prayers for healing and an opportunity for the laying on of hands and anointing.  Attendance at these daily services varies widely depending upon the weather, the season of the Church Year, etc.

Pastor King Shoenfeld from Historic Trinity Lutheran in downtown St. Louis (www.trinitystlouis.com) reports doing two not-very-novel things to encourage neighbors and members to take advantage of midweek services.  A short service for lunch-time workers and neighbors as well as senior members who don’t drive at night  is offered Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m.  This has been profitable enough to continue for a dozen years at least.  Wednesday evenings a free soup supper (coordinated by the Fellowship and Assimilation Board and hosted by different parish groups with free-will offering) is sponsored at 6:00 p.m.  This has proven very popular as the groups and individuals try to outdo each other and diners enjoy the fellowship.  The evening service follows at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary.  Pastor Schoenfeld offered a suggestion that sack lunches might be provided noon-time worshipers.

The two above ideas (minus the soup suppers) reflect the general practice of Historic First Lutheran in downtown Pasadena (www.historicfirstlutheran.org).  For at least the last 15 years a noontime service has been held whenever an evening service is scheduled (Ash Wednesday, midweek Advent and Lent services, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday) for those working in the area or those not wanting to drive at night.  Volunteer member musicians accompany services on the piano.  Pastor Christopher Schaar has long predicted attendance at those noontime services would eventually exceed attendance at evening services, a prediction that this year has indeed almost come true.  On Ash Wednesday, being located in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood, the church was open from 9:00 a.m. through the end of the evening service.  Dozens and dozens (close to 100) of neighbors stopped by at their leisure to receive the Imposition of Ashes.


SPOTLIGHT ON AUSTIN, TX

Most churches (downtown and non-downtown alike) face the challenge of maintaining interest in and participation at Voters’ Assembly meetings.

St. Paul Lutheran in downtown Austin has tackled that common problem with a unique solution.  Following their two Sunday morning worship services the church youth group provides voters with a wonderful meal.  Money received from free-will offerings help the youth program with their activities throughout the year, particularly assisting them with paying for travel to youth conferences in various locations throughout the United States.  The Voters’ Assembly begins as soon as the meal is finished.  What a wonderful idea not only to bolster attendance numbers at Voters’ Assembly but also to permit the youth to play a vital role in the life of the church!

A member of the LCMS, more information about St. Paul Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Austin can be found at www.stpaulaustin.org.


SPOTLIGHT ON SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Church mergers are rarely successful.  There is usually a strong sense of defeat and discouragement among the members of merged congregations.  In fact, experts usually predict that at the end of a certain period of years, the merged congregation will actually be smaller – not larger – than the largest of the two pre-merged congregations (please don’t ask me for a credit reference for this expert opinion; I’ve just heard it enough – and actually seen it enough – to know it must be true).

Here’s some good news: a church merger can actually prove successful!

About 8 years ago, Bethel Lutheran and Grace Lutheran, both in downtown San Francisco, held joint worship services and soon jointly called a missionary pastor to serve them and lead them through the merger process.  During this 8-year process, business didn’t just continue “as usual.”  Instead, a food pantry was launched.  The Chinese outreach and many other mission initiatives were started.  Today, Bethel-Grace Lutheran Ministries has formalized its merger with the formation of “Christ for All Nations Lutheran Church.”  Weekly worship attendance has climbed from 80 people each week to between 250 and 275 people.  In fact, Christ for All Nations has set as its goal reaching 1% of its zip code population of around 50,000 people.

They know their work isn’t over, reminding themselves that while Christ uttered the words “It is Finished” from Calvary’s Cross, the real beginning of the Resurrection is the change in the world that happens life by life, something that never ends.

A member of the LCMS, more information about Christ for All Nations’ outreach to downtown San Francisco can be found at www.cfan-sf.org .


SPOTLIGHT ON PORTLAND, OR

Some, but not all, of our downtown churches have been blessed with parking lots.  Besides providing valuable off-street parking for worship services and church programs, the parking lots can also be used as an outreach to visitors to the downtown.  Such has become the case at Zion Lutheran in downtown Portland.

A recent newsletter proudly announced that Portland Timbers season is in full swing.  The youth at Zion are again this year offering parking in the Zion lot for a monetary donation for Timbers fans.  This proved to be a great fundraiser last season which allowed the youth to make a donation to the Zion Kitchen Fund, buy Christmas gifts for a refugee family as well as finance their ski outing.  Church members are encouraged to encourage Timbers fans to stop by and use the Zion Lot.

(Just as an aside, everyone should be aware that parking lots are often considered “unrelated business income” and may be subject to taxation by federal, state and local agencies.)

A member of the LCMS, more information about Zion Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Portland can be found at www.zion-portland.org .


SPOTLIGHT ON TULSA, OK

Social groups are an important component of every church!

At Grace Lutheran in downtown Tulsa there is a group called “Grace Girlz.”  The “Grace Girlz” “do lunch” almost every Sunday.  They issue an invitation for any mature, unattached women to meet immediately after services and comment where they’d like to go for lunch.  What a great social network idea!

A member of the LCMS, more information about Grace Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Tulsa can be found at www.gracelutherantulsa.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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