Jun 16, 2022
Trinity Lutheran Church, located in the NE Portland Cullyneighborhood, is surrounded by Spanish speaking people. At least2,000 Latino people live in high density apartment units within amile of the church.
Throughout the past 20 years, the church has attempted to reachout to this population through English classes, food programs, acommunity garden, and other avenues. Prior to the pandemic,Spanish language worship services attracted 40-50 worshippersper Sunday. Yet, the church has barely scratched the surface inreaching out to its Spanish-speaking neighbors. The neighborhoodis also home to additional racial and ethnic groups.
Members of the congregation decided to spearhead a project tohelp reach these neighbors. The availability of a $3,000 NOWDistrict COVID-19 Community Care Grant, a $2,000 personalgift, and a Thrivent Action grant provided necessary funding forthe project.
The NOW District grant provided the impetus for undertaking thisproject. It was conducted during the final four Sundays in May.Thirty individuals — 15 of whom were Latino — participated. Oneach of the Sundays, 8-10 teams, usually consisting of one Latinomember and one Anglo member, made contact with 4-5 families.Over the four Sundays, 120 successful contacts were made.
Once a resident responded to the knock, team members indicatedthey were from Trinity Lutheran Church. They indicated that theyhad gifts. They presented a package containing 18 chocolategranola bars and a $30 Fred Meyer gift certificate. They also presented an envelope containing a Trinity brochure with pictures.The back of the page included a devotion in Spanish and English, and more information about the Church.
The response to team members was exceptional. Over the fourSundays, only two or three residents indicated they were too busyor didn’t want to visit.
Teams asked three questions:
Is there any way in which Trinity Church can be helpful to you?
May we pray with and for your family? If so, is there anythingthat we should include in the prayer?
Would you like a visit from a pastor?
Team members also spoke about English Language classes and abasketball program for teenage boys, both of which are soon to beresumed, following closure during the pandemic.
Five families had immediate food needs. These were addressedthrough available supplies in the Church’s food pantry. Fiveneeded help in paying energy bills. Two needed children’sclothing. One needed help with lawn work. All of these requestshave been or are being addressed.
Six families had prayer requests of a serious nature that werebrought back to the congregation.
There was considerable interest in English classes and the teenageboys’ basketball program. There were a surprising nine requestsfor pastoral visits. Both Trinity’s senior pastor and its assistantpastor are fluent in Spanish. There is also a one-day-per-weekLatina deaconess. Arrangements for visits are underway.
A number of individuals indicated that they will visit worshipservices.
In many respects, the project exceeded expectations. Thewillingness to engage in conversation with team members wassurprising. Perhaps the gifts were helpful in this respect. There isadditional follow up work to be carried out. After the follow upwork is completed, will the program be repeated? If so, how andwhen? The Mission Outreach Board will consider these questionsand will report back to the congregation with recommendations.
In Isaiah 55:11 we read: ”So will My word be which goes forthfrom My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, withoutaccomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matterfor which I sent it.” God’s message as shared in Trinity’sneighborhood by word of mouth and through love-filled actionswill not return empty. It will accomplish that which God intends.