Dear siblings in the struggle,
Happy Summer and Blessings to you all in your organizing! It has been a very busy finish to the Spring season: San Lucas celebrated Mother’s Day with our founding pastor and UCC Illinois Conference Minister Jorge Morales. We also hosted a breakfast for affordable housing advocates and marched on California Ave against gentrification in support of working families becoming displaced due to corporate development.
And, it seems the summer will continue this pace of excitement and passionate energy. We remembered the Puerto Rican Rebellion and Humboldt Park Riots of 1966 this past week, and look forward to a June 30th action with Community Renewal Society to advocate for a moral budget in Illinois. As always, there is more work to be done in the work for justice.
During the month of May, I preached at Bethel Lutheran Church in the West Garfield Park community on Pentecost Sunday. This was the final piece to the call process within the ELCA-Lutheran system. The congregation then voted to extend a call to me as their part-time Equipping Pastor, which I accepted. The call and contract is in the final stages of negotiation between the Bishop’s office and Bethel, and will conclude this week.
On Sunday June 5, I began working part-time with the new congregation. I will be ordained sometime between late August and late September. When I know more, I plan to invite the community of San Lucas and our community partners from Humboldt Park for this celebration, which will hopefully take place at Bethel in nearby Garfield Park.
Over the last three months, I have prayed and been in thoughtful discernment with Rev. Marilyn Pagan-Banks, and the Church Council about the ministry at San Lucas. Before ministering with San Lucas, I balanced two part-time calls between nearby communities in Bridgeport and the South Loop with ministry teams. The demands of each congregation were great and many; with funerals, hospital and home visits, community meetings, and pastoral care to children & youth, and young adults and families.
This is a privilege I take seriously as a minister; a call that extends to the wider neighborhood and into the streets to engage our neighbors. I have a profound respect for the people and history of San Lucas. Their ministries feed the hungry and serve our most vulnerable neighbors in Humboldt Park. The warm embrace this congregation extends to strangers, and their advocacy with the poor and oppressed, continue to strengthen and inspire me.
And at this point in our organizing together, I realize I cannot serve both Bethel and San Lucas. Sustainability for our communities and ministry teams is important. I believe that both communities need a minister that is fully present to the gifts of the people and attentive to the needs of our families. I cannot do this for San Lucas as I serve in my ordained call to Bethel Lutheran. Therefore, I have decided not to seek a call as an ordained pastor with San Lucas, and I have asked the church council to accept my resignation from my current position.
My time at San Lucas will officially end on Thursday June 30. After this date, Rev. Dr. Marilyn Pagan- Banks will take over pastoral and leadership responsibilities in the community. Cassandra and I will visit San Lucas for 11 AM worship on Sunday July 10 to celebrate the last two years we have spent with them. We are sad to leave, and know this is best for all persons involved.
Of course, I will still live in the neighborhood and bump into folks in Humboldt Park here and there. I hope that we can continue to catch up during those moments for they are truly welcomed by Cassandra and me. There will also be opportunities in the distant future to reconnect around various organizing actions and events. Bethel Lutheran is considering their own membership with Community Renewal Society, and I will encourage them to collaborate with San Lucas and other organizations as co-workers for justice.
My hope is that as I leave, this will provide intentional space and conversation for the congregation to discern the call of San Lucas in Humboldt Park as you continue to celebrate 40 years of ministry. Like any church, there are challenges ahead, which will require vision and leadership to sustain the congregation’s ministry in the neighborhood. I am confident San Lucas can meet those challenges and cultivate a dynamic vision to raise up future leaders in this community.
Though I will cease being the congregation’s pastor, I am always your brother-in-Christ. There is no place or community like San Lucas. It was my honor and privilege to serve them as a community minister for almost two years. I look forward to the journey and struggle we will share as neighbors; knowing that San Lucas will continue to be a place of love and people who fill this world with joy. I am thankful for your witness to struggle for God’s kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven.
May the God of love and liberation bless you in your organizing, and strengthen you in the struggle.
With peace and love,
Rev. Drew Rindfleisch
Bethel Lutheran Church
130 N. Keeler
Chicago, Il. 60624