All In with Gethsemane Lutheran Church
What makes for a successful partnership? Cohesion? Mutual respect? Common goals? In Mount Calvary’s partnership with Gethsemane Lutheran, both churches look for ways to learn from each other, grow together, and work together as one body in Christ. “We’re all healthier when we’re working together for the whole,” says Gethsemane’s Pastor Jeff Nehrbass.
Gethsemane is located on Colfax Avenue in North Minneapolis. The church was established by a congregation of Norwegian Lutherans in 1893, and they have a brick building that looks like lots of other Lutheran churches in the city, but now they face many challenges due to their changing neighborhood. The area is transient, with many people moving in and out. Pastor Jeff says that people move away when they can afford to, due to gang violence, drug trade, and the proximity of level-three sex offenders.
The neighborhood struggles with stress and violence. The people of Gethsemane work hard to “turn the temperature down” in their neighborhood. They did an assessment and found ways to address immediate needs in the area. The first order of business was to help people with some of their basic requirements, like food and childcare. They opened a food shelf, created a growing preschool that provides a place for 40 kids, and they hope to expand to 60. They hold neighborhood block parties with barbecues and peace walks. The goal is to find ways to interact with people where they are, in ways that will be meaningful to them.
At Mount Calvary, we look for ways to be reminded that our ministry is bigger than our own backyard. “We look for opportunities to do ministry together; to build each other up,” says Mount Calvary Pastor Aaron. Pastor Aaron and his family have spent time at Gethsemane baking bread in a brick oven for block parties. He and other Mount Calvary members also have accompanied our 8th graders, who go to Gethsemane for a day of service as part of their Confirmation program. The 8th graders help in the food shelf, organize and clean in the preschool, and do outside chores for neighborhood residents. One year they used their confirmation offerings to purchase and bring 60 yards of mulch to contribute to the grounds.
This year our 8th graders will go to Gethsemane on April 6th to partner with them in service. We look forward to an enduring partnership with Gethsemane, as one more way to reach out and invite others under the umbrella of God’s love. As Pastor Jeff says, “It is wonderful to be able to be in partnership and to be accompanied in the walk that we do together, here on the North side. We can learn from each other, we can grow together in partnership, and we can learn what it means to be One Body in Christ.”