The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Downtown: Issue # 10 – August, 2010

Posted by admin on August 1, 2010

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 #10 – August, 2010




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.”


On Sunday 9 May (Mother’s Day) I sent a long, emotional email to all of you relating the drama surrounding the adoption of my nephew, Luke Gregory Robbins.  My sister and brother-in-law, Julie and Pastor Greg Robbins, had quickly driven from Southern California to Indiana to adopt newborn Luke, who was born on Tuesday 4 May. On Mother’s Day, the birth mother changed her mind, declining to release her parental rights of Luke to Julie and Greg.  I emailed you, asking for prayers for peace and for a miracle.  Many of you responded to that email.  God is good!  That very same evening, the birth mother changed her mind again, legally releasing her parental rights to Julie and Greg.  We were able to baptize Luke into the family of God at Historic First Lutheran Church of Pasadena on Father’s Day, 20 June 2010.  THANK YOU to all who lifted up Julie and Greg (and the rest of us family) in prayer, claiming God’s miraculous ways in our lives.  We are grateful for your prayers, your support  and your love!


Since the distribution of our last newsletter, the following downtown ministries have graciously added the Association to their newsletter mailing lists or have added the Association to their electronic distribution list, listed here in alphabetical order:

  • “Historic St. Matthew Lutheran Church Newsletter,” Historic St. Matthew Lutheran, Chicago, IL
  • “Lord of Life Lutheran,” Lord of Life Lutheran, Leawood, KS
  • “The Eagle Call,” St. John’s Lutheran, Des Moines, IA

That leaves only about 400 of you out there still to share your news with the Association.  Please rest assured that every single newsletter received IS INDEED READ, with information often gleaned to be included in future issues of “Downtown.”

If you’ve not yet added the Association, won’t you please do so today?  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 make sure we subscribe.


The fifth gathering of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches will for the first time be located west of St. Louis.  Historic First Lutheran Church of Pasadena, California will serve as host.  The gathering is scheduled for the weekend after Easter, starting with a late afternoon happy hour and catered dinner on Friday 29 April 2011, continuing through Sunday evening 1 May 2011.  We announce these dates now for calendar and budget planning purposes.  Registration fee is expected to be $125.00, which will include several meals.  Presenters from Fuller Seminary, Concordia University Irvine, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod are already being secured.  Formal registration packets, including airline, ground transportation and hotel information, will be snail mailed by 1 February 2011 to enable consideration and response prior to the start of Lent.


A new member of the Association recently contacted our administrative offices to ask about evangelism / outreach ideas that work in downtown “neighborhoods.”  That’s a great question because we all know that evangelism and outreach in the downtown is different and even more difficult from the challenges experienced by suburban and rural ministries.

Not to make this sound easy in any way (for it’s not) but the key to evangelism in downtown “neighborhoods” involves stepping out of the box of traditional evangelism approaches. The key to connecting with daytime business visitors (and the permanent residents moving back into our downtowns) is to get the church open AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE during the week. Signage is very important.  Some ideas to consider to get the church open during the week include:

  1. Hosting a “Reading Room” (the Christian Scientists have done this forever) where people can wander in and find a safe, comfortable place to hang out. Maybe free coffee brewing…..
  2. If you have a gym facility, open it up during the day (lunchtime in particular) for FREE walking, basketball, exercise, especially during cold winters.
  3. Provide a “lunch time respite.” If you have a beautiful garden area or maybe even the above mentioned reading room, invite your business neighbors to make use of that space. Again, comfort and safety are two big things in the downtown.
  4. Provide a “lunch time” music program in the church. Maybe organ music. Maybe piano. Maybe guitar / flute / trumpet, etc. These “performers” could be members of the church or church staff or maybe even your business visitors themselves.  One downtown church has even tapped the skills of local street performers.
  5. For churches with re-gentrification loft housing in the immediate area, one downtown church has found success when church members have voluntarily moved from their current housing into those new loft units, providing a Christian witness presence within the building, while at the same time providing access to those often locked and secured housing units.
  6. Become ACTIVE in the local business and professional organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, Kiwanis International, Lions Clubs, networking with business leaders. Sometimes such organizations have events hosted at member organizations and provide publicity.

What success have you found in carrying out evangelism / outreach in your local community??  Share your ideas at and we’ll include them in future issues of “Downtown.”


That’s the title of the newly published book by The Reverend Dr. Philip H. Pfatteicher, recently retired Associate Pastor of First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pittsburgh, PA.  Last on Grant is the fascinating, exhaustive history of the congregation from 1836 to 2010.  The title comes from the fact that First English Church is the last church community on Grant Street, completely surrounded by high rise office buildings.  Published by Lutheran University Press in Minneapolis, copies may be ordered  from First English Church at .


New missions and ministries in historic downtown churches deserve to be celebrated!

First Trinity Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C. has a long and impressive history of starting new congregations.  Since 1852, First Trinity has been in mission and has spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ by starting 5 congregations.  But the members and staff of First Trinity don’t believe that’s enough!  They don’t believe their work of starting missions is over!

A new mission is in the works!   A community targeting people between the ages of 18 and 29 is in the planning!  These target people are both less religious than older Americans, yet also in other ways remain fairly traditional in their religious beliefs and practices.  First Trinity’s study of these target people moving into the nation’s capitol finds that they are looking for community and opportunities for service.  What direction this new mission will take remains to be seen, but this venture is being surrounded in prayer.  Each of your prayers is requested in this new venture, asking God to bless the spread of His saving message.

A member of the ELCA, more information about First Trinity Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Washington, D.C.  can be found at .


An early supporter of the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches, First Lutheran Church of  Boston has shown its continuing support of mission and ministry in the downtown by granting its pastor, The Reverend Ingo Dutzmann, an extended sabbatical.  Such sabbatical, not uncommon in suburban churches, but not at all common in downtown churches, is meant to bless the pastor with a time away from the burdens of daily ministry and an opportunity to broaden his or her ministry perspective.

In this specific instance, Pastor Dutzmann will be spending his time studying ministries located in various downtowns.  Perhaps some of you have already been contacted by Pastor Dutzmann, asking you to spend some time with him.  He hopes to return to his own congregation at the end of his sabbatical inspired and reinvigorated by the challenges and promises of downtown ministry.

All of us in the Association look forward to hearing Pastor Dutzmann’s discoveries uncovered during his sabbatical.

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


Lord of Life Lutheran Church, a new member of the Association, sponsored a “Congregational Serve Day” on Saturday 1 May.  The event was a service to the elderly and disabled who cannot perform some simple home-ownership tasks like interior or exterior painting or springtime lawn clean-up.  Lord of Life partnered with Metropolitan Lutheran Ministries in this one-day event.

A member of the LCMS,  more information about Lord of Life Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Leawood can be found at .


St. Paul Lutheran Church has found a creative solution for the guilt experienced by some members and regular worshipers who contribute electronically.  If electronic giving seems unsatisfying because  people don’t participate in giving an offering during the worship service, St. Paul’s has created an “E-Giving Ticket,” which are available from a table in the narthex.  When the offering plate is passed, the “E-Giving Ticket” can be placed into the offering plate as a token of the commitment of faithful giving.

A member of the LCMS,  more information about St. Paul’s outreach to downtown Austin 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

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.