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desire to see more congregations refl ect the demographics of the com- munities they serve, but examples remain relatively rare. In addition to underrepresented


ethnic groups, ELCA membership lags in a variety of other areas, such as diversity of age, income, education and immigration status. According to the Pew study, more


than 60 percent of ELCA members are 50 or older. T ose younger than 30 represent 12 percent of members. Fewer than one-quarter are parents of young children. Most ELCA members earn at least $50,000 annually, and nearly 90 percent can trace their roots back more than three generations in the United States. Hope is among congregations that


skew such statistics. Approximately 42 percent of active members identify as African-American or black. Income levels run the gamut. Few white mem- bers have young children, but Hope’s programs draw neighborhood youth. King strives to ensure Hope is


“working right” by being intentional in embracing diversity. Worship is dis- tinctly Lutheran and inclusive of many cultures through use of all 10 worship settings in Evangelical Lutheran Wor- ship. Likewise, King strives to ensure assisting ministers and acolytes refl ect the church’s diversity. “When you enter this congrega-


tion, you’re seeing a congregation that’s multicultural,” he said.


Rooted in outreach T e same is true of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul, Minn. Prior to the late 1940s, it was a


white congregation nestled in the city’s African-American business district. T e area, the “Rondo Community,” was racially mixed from the beginning, said James Erlandson, Redeemer’s pastor. But the congregation didn’t refl ect this diversity in its earlier years. Aſt er World War II, more African-


‘There are several


generations that have been here because of relationships, children


growing up together here, being confirmed, being in the youth group.’


)


Americans migrated to the Twin Cities, many settling in the Rondo Community. Some joined Redeemer, and by the late 1950s, 25 percent of its members were African-American. “T ere are several generations that


have been here because of relation- ships, children growing up together here, being confi rmed, being in the youth group,” said Erlandson, who is of European descent. Today the congregation and neigh-


borhood remain multicultural. While Erlandson said Redeemer doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, he believes members consciously embrace diversity and support an authentic, inclusive worship experience. T e congregation uses traditional liturgy and, like Hope, worships with music from a variety of cultures. Redeemer emphasizes community


outreach and off ers space and pro- gramming for neighborhood resi- dents, including young people from Hmong, African-American, Somali and other groups. Erlandson said their hope is that when people attend group meetings or a youth program at Redeemer, they are more likely to return for worship. T at’s what brought Raymond


Hayes to Redeemer in the 1950s. T en 5 years old, Hayes’ interest


was sparked by a sign advertising Redeemer’s vacation Bible school. Although his family belonged to a nearby African-American congrega- tion, his parents allowed him to try Redeemer’s program. “I went there and liked it. I liked


the kids,” he recalled. While he appreciated his original


STEPHEN GEFFRE


congregation, Hayes said he felt drawn to the friends he made at Redeemer. His parents let him go there for wor- ship services and then join its youth choir. Eventually his parents followed him to Redeemer, where they quickly became respected members. Almost 60 years later, Hayes is


president of the council. Like Hayes, Kayla Wright, 17, grew


up in an ELCA congregation. Today she is counted among her congrega- tion’s leaders: she belongs to the youth group, mentors others, works in the community garden and assists with campaigns for justice. Because she’s African-American, Wright said she has encountered


James Erlandson, pastor, gives out candy during the children’s homily at the beginning of the Sunday service at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul, Minn. The congregation embraces diversity and inclusive worship services.


18  February 2016 17


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