by Roland Lovstad
Ministry among immigrants in neighborhoods such as Detroit’s Mexicantown depends on willing and committed volunteers as well as church workers.
As he reviews Iglesia Luterana Pan de Vida en Belén, Rev. Gregory Lorenz remarks, “Our ministry exists only because we have partners and that includes congregations and individuals.”
The congregation and LATINO mission society receive significant support from Detroit-area congregations. Called by LATINO to be executive director, Lorenz is actually paid by St. Peter, Macomb. St. Paul, Trenton, pays the mortgage on the storefront where the ministry began and also sends volunteers. Women from Trinity, Monroe, and St. John, Fraser, teach sewing class. Members of Gethsemane, Rochester Hills, help with Vacation Bible School. Superior Industrial Cleaning, a local company, donated a spring cleaning of the entire church building.
“St. Paul doesn’t own the Gospel,” says Rev. John Bush, pastor of St. Paul, Trenton, and a member of the LCMS Board for Communication Services. “We are honored and privileged to send people resources as well as dollar resources.”
Bush adds that the members of Bethlehem showed that kind of support also. “A lot of things happen when a church says we need to give our church away to make an impact and when other churches are willing to support the mission.”
Rev. Roosevelt Gray, director of mission services for the Michigan District, says the district tries to partner with circuits and encourage congregations to work together in addressing mission opportunities among ethnic groups and unchurched populations in their areas.
“I think the greatest challenge is to return to an apostolic understanding of mission,” Gray says. “We need to see people as individuals who need to hear the Gospel and approach them without presuppositions. It’s going to be 21st-century presentations, even though the Gospel remains the same.”
Saying the church needs to be more cross-cultural, Lorenz adds, “The church needs to focus on what is most important–and that is to share Jesus right now with the people in front of us.”