The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


The pastor and the thief

On a Tuesday evening in late February a sudden downpour flooded the streets around Grace Church. Inner city: the ancient sewers too long unrepaired. I dismissed my adult confirmation class so they might slop to their cars before the water reached their knees.

photodiscFinally there was but one young man left. Lucian didn’t drive. He called his mother. We stood outside under the porch to watch for her car. The church stood on high ground, but she couldn’t park closer than a northern side street.

Grace was a blunt brick structure two levels high. The basement held our fellowship hall, kitchen and two bathrooms. Above that there was the sanctuary—only the sanctuary. Eleven pews on one side and nine on the other to give worshipers a passageway out. Behind the church, separated by a sidewalk and concrete terrace, was a small house—once a parsonage, now an office and classrooms. The African American congregation lived well enough on a sacred shoestring.

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March issue

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