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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Back to the basics

Talking face-to-face revitalizes urban church

Robert Fritch, pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in New York City, embraced social networking long before Facebook and Twitter. Without a laptop or phone, he sat on the church’s front steps and socialized with passers-by, especially children walking home from school.

Robert Fritch started his ministry
Robert Fritch started his ministry at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in New York City by sitting on the steps visiting passers-by — many of them children. He still “works” the community, but they also come to him.
This grass-roots social networking was a no-brainer for Fritch, who arrived at Our Saviour from Ohio 18 years ago. Leading a church about to close and with no social network of his own, Fritch did the only thing that made sense — he chatted it up: “I set out to build a relationship with the village.”

It’s no wonder membership at the Jamaica, Queens, church was declining, he said. The doors were always locked, even after worship began, and community outreach rarely took place.


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