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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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One pastor's 'out there' ministry

Like Paul, we must go where the people are

During a stint as interim pastor of a congregation of some 600 members in Santa Barbara, Calif., I also started conducting my own version of street ministry. It continues. I set up two collapsible chairs and an A-frame sign on the sidewalk along State Street, the city’s main drag. For two hours each Tuesday, dressed in a clerical collar, I’m on the border between Christ and culture, church and world.

Jean Wollenberg<BR><BR>Bruce Wollenberg,
Bruce Wollenberg, an ELCA pastor, listens to a man who stopped by his Tuesday morning ministry site — the sidewalk along State Street in Santa Barbara, Calif.
More than a few who sit with me are homeless or otherwise denizens of downtown. Some have mental-health issues. Others are tourists, students and businesspeople. All want a moment of the Spirit amid the noise and bustle of the city.

Arne, estranged from his family, wants to pray for them. April sits long, telling of her struggle with drugs and of men — all disappointing. What a privilege it is to receive their stories and be a fleeting part of their narrative, and then to commend them to our loving God.


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