Seven Lutheran ministry partners want to revitalize Franklin Avenue
Coalition targets health care, social services, education, financial literacy
A partnership of seven Twin Cities agencies, all Lutheran, has begun a program to transform one of the most economically stressed neighborhoods in Minneapolis.
Coalescing around a new initiative, “Faith in the City,” the consortium plans to attack a wide range of social problems plaguing the Phillips Neighborhood on Minneapolis’ near south side.
Except for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, all coalition members are affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA bishops of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Area Synods are also participating.
Spokespersons for the seven partners (see list below) describe their effort as “a catalyst for collaboration among people, neighborhoods, congregations, community organizations and others to develop innovative programs and initiatives that benefit the city, region, nation and world.”
In a June 4 “Report to the Community” at Thrivent’s downtown Minneapolis corporate headquarters, CEO Bruce Nicholson announced the Lutheran fraternal was committing $300,000 to the Franklin Avenue initiative.
Speaking at the same meeting, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, an Episcopalian, affirmed and applauded the venture. Rybak spoke of growing up on Franklin Avenue, where his father operated a drug store. He said the store was moved to Franklin and Chicago Avenues after the construction of I-35W took out the original building.
Leaders of the seven faith-based organizations began planning for cooperative work in the fall of 2000.
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“Faith in the City” partners and the initiatives they’re proposing:
* Augsburg College
Augsburg Academy for Health Careers, offering an education of excellence for students interested in exploring health careers.
Lutheran College House, placing Augsburg College students in service and community-building in the inner city.
Augsburg Nursing Clinics.
* Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Providing print and audio visual resources to congregations and individuals serving the Phillips neighborhood.
* Central Lutheran Church, downtown Minneapolis
Expanded community ministries, aiding the homeless with employment and housing self-sufficiency.
Central’s programs include hospitality to the homeless, a clothes closet, a housing and jobs ministry (shared with Lutheran Social Service), “Arts in the Heart,” and Senior Wellness.
* Fairview Health Services
Fairview Senor Wellness, improving the health and well-being of seniors in the metro area.
Fairview Wellness Center, promoting the health of residents in Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood.
* Luther Seminary
Student Engagement, placing seminarians in ministry in inner-city neighborhoods, in-cluding urban internships.
* Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
Urban Ministry Center, en-hancing service, family well-being and volunteerism in the Phillips neighborhood and beyond. LSS and Messiah Lutheran jointly operate an urban ministry center.
* Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Promoting financial self-sufficiency for Phillips neighborhood residents, with a focus on “financial literacy.”
Lutheran congregations in the Phillips neighborhood include St. Paul (Portland Ave.), Messiah, Our Saviour’s, Trinity First, and Norwegian Lutheran Memorial.