The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Reality check

California congregation recommits to community teens first

At first glance, the images resemble graffiti. Splashed in spray paint across once cream-colored walls of the aging church in San Bernardino, Calif., wild block letters hover over three crosses. On the crosses hang the crucified bodies of a pregnant teen, a convict and — in the center — a drug addict, needles jammed in his veins and blood oozing red streaks.

So it made sense when several police cars rolled up to Central City Lutheran Mission to arrest more than a dozen busy "taggers" for defacing property.

What the police didn't know was that these renegade artists were at the church by invitation — not a big surprise considering the number of radical community youth programs started by the mission since David Kalke arrived as pastor in 1996.

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March issue

MARCH issue:

All are welcome