Steadfast in the City–Building Update

October 14th, 2012 Post by

We have reached a joyous milestone here at Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries.  After a year of a complicated and at times frustrating process, we have acquired our first set of buildings in Northeast Philadelphia.  The buildings belonged to an existing LCMS church, Lutheran Church of St Luke, and the congregation agreed to allow us to take over and develop their property.  St Luke, an extremely small congregation, has chosen to still exist as an LCMS congregation as part of the negotiation.

We did, however, inherit substantial expenses in remodeling the property that has fallen into decay, as well as updating the property for our intended use.  With a loan from LCEF, a wealth of generous donors and an army of volunteers, we will turn the site into our first anchor for LCMS development in Philadelphia.

The property consists of a church, two large houses and a vacant lot.

The church will be the future home of Shepherd of the City Lutheran Church, and provide the altar and pulpit that will be the nucleus of our work in the city.  We will be holding our opening service on October 28th to correspond with our yearly joint Reformation service.  The church is on a major street in Northeast Philly, and is on the same corner as a busy bus stop.  It is our first church plant, and we are already in stride to plant another in a very poor section of the city in the next year or two.

One of the houses will be renovated to house a national tutoring service that has asked to sign as a tenant on our property.  With three large, underperforming schools in the immediate area, our property is ideal for their work.  The group that will be renting our space expects about 80 students as part of their after school tutoring program.  One day each week we are looking into providing a chapel service and, since the majority of the children are in families on public assistance, a meal to correspond to the time the children are picked up in the evening.

The second house will serve as a transitional house for men who are struggling with issues of poverty, and will serve as the platform for their renewed productive life.  Each of the men considered are currently undergoing catechesis, and the one we have promised a room has recently been hired as my project manager.  We are currently looking into the vicarage program at Concordia Theological Seminary, so if we have a vicar next year he will be housed in one of the rooms.

The vacant lot will be developed as a community garden.  One of the groups we may be hosting on the lot builds greenhouses utilizing hydroponic farming.  More than just providing fresh produce, this urban farming group uses the greenhouses to teach skills to at-risk veterans.  The lot will then be a space for the community to gather for events like regular farmers markets that will be held starting in the summer.

So now I feel like we are getting started.  I ask for your continued support and prayers as we begin the first phase of my work here in Philly.

 

You can click here for more information on Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries, or click the Donate button below to donate to their ministry.










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  1. NathanG92
    October 14th, 2012 at 13:38 | #1

    I really wish this blog had a like button. And that I could like this a million times. Praise be to God that there is a home where the saints can receive His gifts in Philadelphia! Prayers for this Pastor.

  2. October 14th, 2012 at 17:41 | #2

    Congratulations, Pastor, and may God be with and bless you and your ministry.

    Please do NOT be shy when posting these updates. I highly suggest you always post clear instructions on how we may donate to your ministry.

  3. Pastor Joshua Gale
    October 14th, 2012 at 18:01 | #3

    Thanks for the encouragement.

    Paul,

    The easiest way to donate to Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries is the Paypal donate button on our website: http://www.phillyministries.org; we also have check options through mail at the website as well. As a side note, we are relaunching our website soon under the direction of our new PR and fund developer Pastor Rob Kieselowsky. Our Facebook page has more frequent content at this time, but the webpage has easier donation information.

    Thanks!

  4. October 14th, 2012 at 18:13 | #4

    I rejoice with you, and thank God for His amazing creativity! My first congregation was St. Lukes from 1969-75. The congregation grew slowly and we were blessed with the implementation of a Jewish evangelism ministry. Chosen People Ministries came to us and renovated the middle building – at their expense – then used it for their outreach to Jews. They also paid us rent. Such a deal. My congregation and I were blessed by their expertise, and St. Lukes then helped to catalyze a Synodical outreach to Jews. My three kids played on the big front lawn. God has used this land in wonderful ways, and my prayer is that He will continue to use it through your ministry! Bruce Lieske, Retired LCMS – but still doing a few things in Jewish and Muslim evangelism through Lutherans in Jewish Evangelism

  5. Pastor Joshua Gale
    October 14th, 2012 at 18:49 | #5

    Bruce,

    Though a lot has changed in the neighborhood in almost 40 years, it still is an area with a sizable Jewish population. There’s been a huge influx of Koreans to the area in the past few decades, along with quite a few Brazilians. I’d love to see our newly received Korean congregation based out of there.

    That middle building was a daycare until a few years ago. We were considering opening a Lutheran daycare there, but the state of the building, and the saturation of the market there, forbade it.

    Actually, I probably found a stack of pictures of you with confirmands.

  6. Rev. Paul T. McCain
    October 14th, 2012 at 19:06 | #6

    Pastor Joshua Gale :
    Thanks for the encouragement.
    Paul,
    The easiest way to donate to Philadelphia Lutheran Ministries is the Paypal donate button on our website: http://www.phillyministries.org; we also have check options through mail at the website as well. As a side note, we are relaunching our website soon under the direction of our new PR and fund developer Pastor Rob Kieselowsky. Our Facebook page has more frequent content at this time, but the webpage has easier donation information.
    Thanks!

    GREAT…when you post about your ministry, anywhere, always be very clear how people can donate.

    I just paid a visit and made a donation.

    I challenge everyone else to do so.

    It’s easy to post on Internet forums and talk a big game.

    Challenge to all reading this: put up or…well, you know.

    : )

  7. Becky (Lieske) Bongard
    October 15th, 2012 at 07:05 | #7

    This is the church and home where I spent six years of my life! My father already gave a wonderful description of his ministry there. God’s Blessings to you as the Lord’s work continues on Castor Ave.

  8. Brad
    October 15th, 2012 at 08:33 | #8

    Blessings be upon you, Pr. Gale, and the work you are doing for Christ’s people.

  9. Michael
    October 15th, 2012 at 13:50 | #9

    You should encourage the group to use fish-based aquaponics instead of traditional hydroponics, if they aren’t already.

  10. Pastor Joshua Gale
    October 15th, 2012 at 13:55 | #10

    They actually are, Michael. It’s a pretty cool system. I had never heard of that before I started talking with this group. I hope our partnership with them works out; that would all be neat to learn.

  11. Pastor Gaven Mize
    October 16th, 2012 at 22:35 | #11

    I could never speak highly enough regarding the many hours and work that has been put into this project! Well done Rev. Gale! PLM and Rev. Gale have a true heart for the poor and needy. My only question is why don’t we have more of these caring and loving men (and projects) in other cities? Get on it, LCMS!

  12. Pastor Gaven Mize
    October 16th, 2012 at 22:38 | #12

    BTW: DONATE already….

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