The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Archive for September, 2012

Downtown Issue # 17 – September, 2012

Posted by admin on September 29, 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 #17– September, 2012

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. WELCOME!
  2. MISSION STATEMENT
  3. NEWSLETTERS STILL BEING SOUGHT
  4. OUR SIXTH GATHERING: BUILD UP THE WALLS!
  5. NOTED CELEBRATIONS
  6. A WORD ABOUT LONGEVITY
  7. IDEAS FOR MISSION EXPANSION
  8. FOCUS ON CHICAGO, IL
  9. FOCUS ON OCALA, FL
  10. SPOTLIGHT ON WILLISTON, ND
  11. SPOTLIGHT ON MUSKOGEE, 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 sent 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 subscribe.


OUR SIXTH GATHERING: BUILD UP THE WALLS!

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches will hold its 6th Gathering at Historic Grace Lutheran, Springfield, IL Friday 12 October through Sunday 14 October 2012. Speakers include Bishop Stephen Bouman from the ELCA Churchwide Offices (“The Downtown Church: From the Kitchen Table to the Altar to the Tables of the World” and “The Downtown Church on Mars Hill”) and Reverend Carlos Hernandez from the LCMS International Center (“Planting Gospel Seeds While Serving Human Needs”).

Gathering details and registration packets were mailed in July.  In case you somehow missed the packet, it can be downloaded at www.downtownlutheranchurches.org.  Registration deadline for the gathering is 1 October. Hotel block deadline is 21 September. More information can be obtained from DowntownChurches@aol.com .


NOTED CELEBRATIONS

First Lutheran Church in downtown Long Beach, CA recently recognized the 25th Anniversary of Dr. Jerry Dahlin as church organist.  A member of the American Guild of Organists, Dr. Dahlin began playing the piano as a child, later beginning private organ instruction at the University of California, Los Angeles.  He previously served four other Lutheran churches as organist before his tenure at First Lutheran.  Some members know Dr. Dahlin not only as their church organist, but as their dentist as well!  We join in thanking God for the music ministry of Dr. Dahlin in downtown Long Beach, CA!

On Sunday 30 September, First Trinity Lutheran in downtown Washington, DC will honor The Reverend Tom Knoll’s 30th Anniversary in the Holy Ministry and his 30th year of serving Community Family Life Services and First Trinity as pastor.  First Trinity is looking to collect photos of Pastor Tom taken over the past 30 years (if you have any photos you may like to contribute to the celebration you are encouraged to contact office@firsttrinitydc.org).   We join in thanking God for the effective ministry of Pastor Knoll in downtown Washington, DC!

The Reverend Dr.  David Gleason, Senior Pastor of First English Lutheran Church in downtown Pittsburgh, PA for the past 23 years, has announced his retirement, effective 1 January 2013.  We thank Dr. Gleason for his dedicated leadership at First English and wish him and his family great blessings from God during his retirement.

The Reverend Frank Espegren, Associate Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in downtown Sacramento, CA since 2007, was called to be the congregation’s new Senior Pastor on Sunday 9 September.  Pastor Frank has been a visionary leader in connecting the church with the downtown community in a variety of ways.  We ask God’s continued blessing upon him as he transitions into his new position.


A WORD ABOUT LONGEVITY

According to the Barna Group, the average pastoral tenure is between 4 years (“mainline churches”) and 8 years (“Protestant non-mainline churches”).

Over the 16 years that the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches has been in existence, a trend has been noted.  Downtown churches that are stable and especially those that are growing and expanding enjoy pastoral tenures that far outlast the average.  Twenty years or more is not an unusual tenure for a senior pastor in a downtown church.  It’s believed that is due to the trust and commitment required between pastor and people in tackling the challenges facing the downtown in general and the downtown church in specific.

What do you think?  What is the tenure of your senior pastor?  Why does a longer tenure seem necessary in the downtown church?  What are the blessings?  What are the curses?  Please send your ideas and comments to DowntownChurches@aol.com.  Your comments will fuel future discussion.


IDEAS FOR MISSION EXPANSION

In February, 2012, New York Times writer Stephanie Clifford wrote an article about the latest trends in large shopping malls.  Former retail space is now being occupied by gardens, churches and clinics.  The entire article can be read at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/business/making-over-the-mall-in-rough-economic-times.html .

Have any of our downtown churches explored or actualized downtown mall space as mission expansion?  Additional worship location?  Youth facility?  Office space?  Evangelistic outreach?  Please send your comments to DowntownChurches@aol.com .  Your comments will fuel future discussion.


FOCUS ON CHICAGO, IL

Resurrection Lutheran Church in downtown Chicago publishes a weekly email devotion to subscribers.  That in itself is not an earth-shaking idea, except for the fact that Resurrection’s weekly devotions are written by a whole variety of lay volunteers.  The mostly non-clergy authors of the weekly devotions start with one or more of the assigned pericopal readings, then in mostly story-telling fashion relate that pericope to daily life on the streets of Chicago.   (Editorial comment: your editor has found better sermon applications in these weekly devotions than in many professionally produced sermon resources…..)

A member of the ELCA, more information about Resurrection Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Chicago can be found at  www.rlclakeview.com .


FOCUS ON OCALA, FL

While not a “downtown” church, Pastor Mark Jurkowski, recently installed Senior Pastor at St. John Lutheran in Ocala, has provided a great example for all churches that sponsor school ministries!

With St. John operating a school, Preschool through Grade 12 (the only Lutheran high school in the Florida-Georgia District of the LCMS), Pastor Jurkowski has established a new tradition of inviting the athletes of each of the sports teams of each of the schools to attend worship one Sunday.  Parents of the athletes are also invited.  During worship, the teams are recognized and blessed.  Talk about  a great evangelistic idea!

A member of the LCMS, more information about St. John Lutheran’s outreach to Ocala can be found at www.stjohnocala.org .


SPOTLIGHT ON WILLISTON, ND

Also not a “downtown” church, Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston, ND has creatively responded to its city’s severe housing shortage driven by the influx of people looking for oil jobs.  Community discussions about developing an emergency shelter or some other solution seem to have disintegrated, so Pastor Jay Reinke hosts 30 to 40 job seekers sleeping inside the church on a typical night, with dozens more who stay in their vehicles in the church’s parking lots.  A total of 450 people have slept inside the church while they searched for work and housing since May, 2011.  The church has diligently worked to calm the fears of church members, community members and church neighbors.  There are rules that must be followed.   The church keeps records of all the people who stay in the building and runs background checks.  A portable toilet has been added to the rear parking lot.

Responding to this social need has become quite the ministry!  Pastor Reinke leads devotions every evening at 9:00 p.m.  He returns every morning at 6:45 a.m. to walk through the church and wake the guests by singing “The Lord is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation.”   Overnighters are welcomed guests at worship.  Two have been baptized.  Some have settled in Williston and have become church members.

More information about this ministry can be read here .

A member of the LCMS, more information about Concordia Lutheran’s outreach to Williston can be found at http://concordia.ctsmemberconnect.net .


FOCUS ON MUSKOGEE, OK

First Lutheran Church in downtown Muskogee (“downtowns” indeed come in all shapes and sizes) recently announced the first meeting of the Anniversary Committee for the celebration of 100 years of Lutheranism in Muskogee.  The Anniversary Committee is looking for a history writer, a collector of historical information, a collector of pictures, information about former pastors, vicars and teachers and volunteers to assist with building clean-up, etc.  We join with them in their planned celebration and wish them God’s continued blessings upon their mission and ministry.  Founded in 1913, First Lutheran is currently led by Pastor Wayne Schuett.

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