The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Archive for January, 2015

Downtown Issue # 25 – January, 2015

Posted by admin on January 17, 2015

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 #25– January, 2015




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 .


“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.”


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


This issue of “Downtown” is dedicated in loving memory of The Reverend Ronald F. Fink.  Prior to his retirement, Ron served as Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran in downtown Orlando, FL.   In that position, Ron served as host for the Third Gathering of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches in April, 1999.  Ron also served as Gathering Chaplain for the Association, developing and leading a wonderfully in-depth study of the Book of Jonah.  Prior to his years in Orlando, Ron served parishes in Denver, IA; Vestal, NY and Flushing, NY.  He also served as District President / Bishop of the Atlantic District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

Ron was unexpectedly granted eternal rest from his labors on Saturday 27 December 2014, at the age of 77.  God’s peace and joy is being provided to his wife Millie, two daughters and their husbands, a son and daughter-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and ten grandchildren.

If you have suggestions for future issues of “Downtown” to be dedicated in memory of other great veterans of downtown ministry, please do not hesitate to pass that information along to .


All the way back in 1959, Zion Lutheran Church in downtown Portland, OR participated in a study of Portland Lutheran congregations sponsored by the National Lutheran Council.  A fascinating comment was included in the final report: “Downtown churches need to run to stand still.”


As reported in the 24 November 2014 issue of “Time,” a new study by the non-profit City Observatory, a think tank funded by the Knight Foundation, recently found that college-educated people ages 25 to 34 are migrating to city centers in places like Detroit at twice the pace of any other demographic group.  A new urban model is emerging.  Young knowledge workers want to live, work and play in cities.

Are you ready for this migration?  Are you already involved in also giving young knowledge workers  someplace to worship in the city?  Email your stories to .


The first weekend of October, 2014 saw a very small but dedicated group of downtown Lutheran church pastors gathered at Historic St. Paul Lutheran in the Marigny neighborhood of downtown New Orleans for the 7th Gathering of the Association.  There was wonderful food!  There was wonderful fellowship!  There was a reflective and vision-casting “State of the Downtown Church” address.  There was a thought-provoking, challenging keynote by urban missionary Deacon Ben McLeish.  There was wonderful worship, including evening prayer at a public park right along the “Mighty Mississippi!”  A new feature was an afternoon “think tank” / consultation between the gathered pastors (representing many years of downtown ministry experience) and key leaders of Historic St. Paul’s.  And evenings found the group convened at restaurants, jazz clubs and hotel courtyards throughout The French Quarter.

Gathering evaluations commented how powerful, refreshing and important was this time together. We’re sorry not more of you were able to attend …. which leads us to the question, “Should these gatherings continue?”  Please take a moment to share your thoughts to .


Every electronic distribution of “Downtown” elicits comments of thanks for this avenue of sharing, encouraging, resourcing and challenging downtown churches!

When did you last share “Downtown” with your staff and leadership?  When did you last make your congregation aware of the existence of “Downtown”?

You are invited and encouraged to make copies of “Downtown.”  You are invited and encouraged to forward “Downtown” to your members via email.  You are invited and encouraged to send a link to the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches website ( to all your contacts where ALL past issues of “Downtown” may be viewed.  You are invited and encouraged to include blurbs about “Downtown” and the Association in your bulletins and newsletters.  Most of all, you are invited and encouraged to encourage your staff and leaders and church members to request inclusion in our e-dis list.  All anyone needs to do is send an email request to .

Thanks for whatever you can do to help us expand our reach!


Trinity Lutheran in downtown Sacramento, CA honored Bob Scheffel for 50 years of service as its organist on Sunday 2 November 2014.  It was Martin Luther who said something like “Next to Theology, Music is Closest to the Heart of God.”  We celebrate with Bob and thank him for using his gifts and talents to glorify God!

The Reverend Paul D. Rees-Rohrbacher was honored by the members of St. John’s Lutheran in downtown Albany, NY for his 15 years of ministry at St. John’s on Sunday 14 September 2014.  A memory book was assembled, sharing thoughts, letters, pictures, memories and special Scripture passages.   We are grateful for his many years of faithful ministry!

What do you do with a Civil War-era pipe organ that has needed repairs for decades?  Well, if you are Historic Trinity Lutheran in the Soulard neighborhood of downtown St. Louis, MO, you rebuild it and add to it!  You would then host a big party to celebrate the rebirth of an organ played by The Reverend Dr. C. F. W. Walther (2nd pastor of Historic Trinity and founding President of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod) himself.  On Sunday 16 November 2014, Historic Trinity hosted internationally recognized organist Dr. Fred Swann (formerly of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries and “Hour of Power”) for the formal dedicatory concert.

First Immanuel Lutheran in downtown Chicago IL celebrated its 160th Anniversary on Friday 21 November 2014 at the Chicago Midway Marriott under the theme “Blessed to Be a Blessing.”

Lauren “Elyse” Scott began service as Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministry at First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on Sunday 5 October 2014.  We wish her welcome and God’s blessings in this new ministry challenge!

The Reverend Tyrus H. Miles retired from Zion Lutheran Church in downtown Portland, OR on 31 December 2014 after 50 years in the Holy Ministry.  Pastor Miles came out of his first “retirement” ten years ago to provide leadership to Zion.  We are grateful for his many years of faithful ministry!

The Reverend Jennifer R. Peters McCurry will be installed as Associate Pastor of First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on 25 January 2015.  The Reverend Marie C. Jerge, former Bishop of the Upstate New York Synod of the ELCA, will be the guest preacher.  For more information, please call the Parish Office at 412.471.8125.

The Reverend Dr. Jeffery Moore retired from Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Orlando, FL on 31 December 2014.  A special celebration honoring his 11 years of service at Trinity Downtown was held on Sunday 28 December 2014.  We are grateful for his many years of faithful ministry!

Trinity Lutheran in downtown Sacramento, CA will celebrate its 100th Anniversary throughout 2015.  “How Great Thou Art” is the selected theme.  On Sunday 18 January 2015, The Reverend Robert Fickenscher, son of the first called pastor at Trinity (who served more than 40 years), will preach.  A gala dinner and auction event to benefit Lutheran High School will be held on 7 March 2015.  The major celebration is scheduled for 14-15 November 2015.  For more information, please contact 916.456.8701 or .


Every year, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America sponsors a “Day of Service.”  This time of year the newsletters of ELCA congregations are filled with plans for carrying out this special event.  They are ALL to be complimented for being the hands and feet of Jesus in the communities around them, living God’s Love in the World.

Of all the events spotlighted in so many newsletters, special kudos to St. John’s Lutheran Church in downtown Sacramento, CA!  It’s “Day of Service” events called for the participation of over 200 people!  Here’s the breakdown of St. John’s “Day of Service” events:

Midtown Neighborhood Cleanup (40 people) – hitting the streets to clean Midtown and hand out resource packets to homeless brothers and sisters.

American River Parkway Cleanup (50 people) – cleaning up trash accumulated along the walkway adjacent to the American River.

Yardwork & Home Repairs (12 people) – aiding homebound members of the congregation.

Backpacks for Lutheran World Relief  (100 people) – assembling school supply backpacks to be sent to children around the world.

First English Lutheran Yard Cleanup (15 people) – cleaning the property of a neighboring congregation.

Planter Building & Beautifying (20 people) – building and filling planter boxes on St. John’s property.

It’s great to note that less than  10% of the efforts were directed toward St. John’s itself.   Another 5% directed toward St. John’s members.  Another 6% directed to another local church.  A whopping  80% of the efforts were total outreach to the greater community.

A big congratulations is offered to St. John’s and to all ELCA parishes that participated in this “Day of Service!”

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


In Long Beach, California, it is illegal for homeless people to sleep in their cars parked on the street.  So the Ministry Council of First Lutheran Church has decided to revive its overnight parking ministry so that the homeless can sleep in their parking lot in peace and safety during the night.  The Long Beach Community Action Network is a partner in this ministry project.

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


On Tuesday 25 November 2014 (yes…two days before Thanksgiving), the “rubber hit the road” at  Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Tulsa.  One of Grace’s area neighbors, who has children attending adjacent Kendall Whittier Elementary School, needed help moving.  Volunteers with trucks and trailers were rounded up.  A morning’s worth of work proved Jesus’s command: “love your neighbor as yourself.”

A member of the LCMS, more information about Grace Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Tulsa can be 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