The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

The Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches

Downtown Issue # 30 – September, 2016

Posted by admin on September 25, 2016

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 #30– September, 2016

IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. WELCOME!
  2. MISSION STATEMENT
  3. RESOURCES OFFERED
  4. ALL SHAPES AND SIZES AND LOCATIONS
  5. SELF-INCLUSION
  6. IN OUR PRAYERS
  7. MISSION STATEMENTS
  8. THE FIRST “FIRST”
  9. OTHER INTERESTING DOWNTOWN FACTOIDS
  10. SUMMER SUCCESSES?
  11. SPOTLIGHT ON PEORIA, IL
  12. SPOTLIGHT ON MILWAUKEE, WI
  13. SPOTLIGHT ON PORTLAND, OR
  14. CLOSING

WELCOME!

A warm welcome to this issue of “Downtown,” a newsletter full of interchange and exchange between downtown Lutheran churches around 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 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.”

 

RESOURCES OFFERED

Our mission is stated above.  That mission is fulfilled in the following ways: 1) the quarterly electronic newsletter “Downtown” shares stories of joys and challenges of downtown ministry as well as “spotlight” ideas of creative outreaches adaptable for local use; 2) the leader of the Association is available for conversations and consultations with downtown pastors, church leaders and congregations (either technologically or in person); 3)  referrals are provided to other pastors, congregations and groups that might be of assistance; 4) when there is adequate interest and support, “gatherings” have been sponsored by the Association.

 

ALL SHAPES AND SIZES AND LOCATIONS

There is no one descriptive picture of a downtown church.

Downtown ministries come in all shapes and sizes.  There are some extremely large and complex downtown ministries with hundreds of people in weekly worship and multi-million dollar budgets and endowments.  There are also some extremely small downtown ministries involving just a handful of faithful worshipers being led by a part-time pastor.  What unites these diverse congregations is a passionate love for the downtown and its residents.

And, speaking of downtowns, they also are just as diverse.  Some downtown ministries in places like New York City and Pittsburgh are literally dwarfed by high rises next door.  Some downtown ministries in places like Orlando and New Orleans are in the first residential ring of the city.  And some downtown ministries stand sentinel on Mayberry-like town squares in seemingly sleepy communities with one stop sign. What unites these diverse downtown congregations is a passionate love for the downtown and its residents, whoever and wherever they may be.

 

SELF-INCLUSION

While there is a list of characteristics of “downtown” churches (check out downtownlutheranchurches.org) the Association of Downtown Lutheran Churches allows pastors and congregations to self-include themselves without question.  Very few member congregations fit ALL the characteristics.  A few even fit NONE of the characteristics.  And there have been a couple congregations that fit ALL the characteristics that didn’t like being labeled a “downtown” church and asked to be removed.

What we find most important among members of the Association is a desire to stand together, to support one another, to learn from each other and to celebrate the mission and ministry of the Lord in downtown neighborhoods.

 

IN OUR PRAYERS

Please include in your personal and corporate prayers the following vacant, calling downtown ministries:

    Augustana Lutheran / La Comunidad de Santa Maria (ELCA), downtown Washington, DC  (pastor)

    First Lutheran (ELCA), downtown San Diego, CA (pastor)

    Historic Trinity Lutheran (LCMS), downtown St. Louis MO (senior pastor)

    Trinity Lutheran (LCMS), downtown Orlando, FL (senior pastor)            

    St. John Lutheran (ELCA), downtown Albany, NY (pastor)

If you have a vacancy you desire added to our prayers please send notice to DowntownChurches@aol.com .

 

MISSION STATEMENTS

It’s fascinating not only to see what downtown churches are up to in mission and ministry but also just as interesting how they define their mission in their respective communities. Here are a couple more mission statements of downtown churches:

The Gathering Lutheran (LCMS), downtown Long Beach, CA: “Connecting Hearts to Christ.  Restoring Neighbors to Community.” (based upon 1 Thessalonians 2:8) 

First & Zion Lutheran Churches (ELCA), downtown Canton, OH: “ Shedding Light on our Life Together in Christ.” 

First Lutheran (ELCA), downtown Albany, NY: “Our mission is to live as a community in Christ engaged with the surrounding community.”

 

THE FIRST “FIRST”

As a nod to history, First Lutheran Church (ELCA) in downtown Albany, NY is the oldest Lutheran congregation in North America, founded in 1649!

 

OTHER INTERESTING DOWNTOWN FACTOIDS

Historic Grace Lutheran in downtown Springfield, IL (ELCA) is the only downtown church known to be located within the boundaries of a National Park – the Lincoln Home National Site.  Do you know of any others?  Please send notice to DowntownChurches@aol.com .

First Evangelical Lutheran in downtown Galveston, TX (ELCA), the oldest Lutheran church in Texas, appears to be possibly the only downtown church on an island. Do you know of any others?  Please send notice to DowntownChurches@aol.com .

 

SUMMER SUCCESSES

Do you have any exciting success stories from your summer Vacation Bible Schools or Day Camps?  We’d love to celebrate with you and also learn from you!  Send your stories to DowntownChurches@aol.com .

 

SPOTLIGHT ON PEORIA, IL

Ever wonder if having a Lutheran school in the downtown truly makes any difference?  Maybe you should ask Trinity Lutheran in downtown Peoria, IL …….

In some of our downtowns, there was a Lutheran parochial school before there was a Lutheran church.  In some of our downtowns those schools have closed through the years.  In other of  our downtowns cooperative schools jointly operated by a couple downtown ministries or by a coalition of downtown and suburban ministries have stood the test of time.  This is a story about one of those schools.

When you watched the 2016 NBA Finals earlier this year, you may not have known that Shaun Livingston, the 6’7″ guard of the Golden State Warriors, is an alum of Concordia Lutheran School in Peoria, IL, a ministry of Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Peoria.  His former teachers and pastor fondly remember not only Shaun’s athletic abilities but his positive faith that led him to attend church on his own initiative, waiting in the narthex for a classmate to arrive so he didn’t have to sit in worship alone.  And you may not know that Shaun thinks just as highly of his church and school, his pastor and teachers.  Shaun recently made a $1 million contribution to the building expansion of Concordia Lutheran School! 

What success stories can your Lutheran school tell?  What examples can you provide that a Lutheran school in the downtown indeed makes a difference?  Send your stories to DowntownChurches@aol.com .

A member of the LCMS, more information about Trinity Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Peoria can be found at www.trinitypeoria.com .

 

SPOTLIGHT ON MILWAUKEE, WI

Your editor spent a week this summer in downtown Milwaukee.  On one of his morning walks he stumbled across a coffee house that also served delicious cranberry bread.  It turns out he had stumbled (without planning) upon GRACE PLACE COFFEE, a ministry of Grace Lutheran Church.  Grace Place Coffee is open for business daily, staffed by church volunteers.  The atmosphere is safe, comfortable, clean and inviting.  In addition to the standard tables and chairs and couches, Grace Place Coffee also sells Christian books.  There’s also information available about Grace Lutheran Church.  Because of his visit to Grace Place Coffee, your editor attended worship the next morning at Grace and found a warm, welcoming, diverse congregation, even at 7:45 am Sunday morning.

What “side doors” do you use to get downtown residents and visitors into worship?  Send your stories to  DowntownChurches@aol.com .

A member of the WELS, more information about Grace Lutheran’s outreach to downtown Milwaukee can be found at www.gracedowntown.org .

 

SPOTLIGHT ON PORTLAND, OR

Zion Lutheran in downtown Portland, OR, recently co-hosted the first “Lutheran Timbers Alliance” get-together.  There was pre-game tailgating in Zion’s parking lot (across the street from Providence Park).  Bottled water was passed out with labels that said “We love you at Zion.”  There was also a Sola Victoria post-game party back at Zion, with food, refreshments, games and prizes.  The challenge given was that all the Lutheran attendees would invite someone they met at the game to the post-game party.

What unique ideas do you employ   to invite “outsiders” inside your buildings?  Send your stories to DowntownChurches@aol.com .

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