The following is a Bulletin Letter to the ELCA Central States Synod
Children’s Memorial Lutheran Church has been an active part of the northeast Kansas City community since 1884. Children across the United States sent money to the congregation which resulted in the purchase of land and eventually a building, thus the name, Children’s Memorial.
The neighborhood prospered into the 1950’s, then declined as families moved to the suburbs. By 2000, the congregation depended on pulpit supply and volunteers to continue their ministry. In 2011, the congregation asked the bishop for synodical administration rather than closing. With the guidance of the Synod Council and bishop’s staff there was a turn around in 2013 the synod council called Ann Rundquist, Diaconal Minister as pastoral leader and mission redeveloper.
Now dedicated, excited volunteers and parishioners are engaged in welcoming all God’s children to walk, heal, and grow with Jesus in our community. Realizing this is a “non-traditional” church, our ministry is taken to the places where homeless gather, the bus stop outside our front door, lunch time in the basement, and apartment buildings where elderly live alone.
Currently, the congregation serves meals three days each week and on Saturdays area Lutheran churches provide lunch. Additionally, food is distributed at least twice a week from the pantry. Thanks to Harvesters, Lightfoot ministries, and area congregations, the expense to Children’s Memorial is minimal. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church distributes clothing once a week in a combined effort with our volunteers and donations from Bessie’s House.
Beyond the food ministry, we are engaged in building peace in this neighborhood to change the reality and reputation of “crime and grime.” In the mission redevelopment process, we will discern what God is calling us to do in this place and time. The council and congregation are recognizing the gifts we already possess and exploring new possibilities of how to utilize those gifts for the glory of God. We ask: What is the root of the problems in our neighborhood?
How has Jesus shown us to prevent, intervene, and ultimately eliminate the plague of despair? Who else can be our partners to build a healthy community?
The first step to build peace and health was to open our doors to everyone without judgment and
become a very visible everyday presence. Pastor Bill Pape presides at an outdoor worship service every Saturday morning. Scripture, devotions, prayer, and Holy Communion are an every-day part of ministry, programs, and activities.
Friday, June 14 we held a community memorial service, meal, and prayer vigil for a parishioner who
was murdered across the street. Sunday, June 23 our neighbors packed the social hall for the first annual (free) ice cream social.
Wednesdays youth from the neighborhood eat lunch with Ann Rundquist, DM to make crafts, and
read library books. Two youth received scholarships to attend day camp at Hollis Retreat Center and an eleven year old girl is attending Camp Tomah Shinga. Vacation Bible School is planned for August.
This transformational ministry has annual offerings of $10,000 and receives basic funding from churchwide and the Central States Synod, however this does not cover expenses. We appreciate financial and in-kind support, as well as the mentors who are guiding us as leaders in the congregation and community.
As we read through Luke this season, the congregation is learning from Jesus’ stories how to take our ministry out of the building into the neighborhood where people gather and to trust the healing power of God through the forgiveness of sins which turns lives from despair to hope and joy living in one with Jesus.