Laborers For Christ

A Partnership for the Generations

March 20, 2018 | Posted by Demian Farnworth

For Peace Lutheran Church, Washington, D.C., the ball got rolling in 1962 over a partnership that would grow stronger with each generation.

The church was formed in 1960, and two years later a building was constructed, thanks to a loan from their district church extension. The pastor of Peace, Rev. Dr. Lloyd Gaines, calls the partnership a lengthy association that has been in place since the church was built.

William Cary Sr., director of finance and member of the property committee at Peace, also sees the ministry of church extension as a key component in the church’s founding, for the sake of the Gospel.

“The [district church extension] fund made it possible in 1960 for Peace to establish and to carry out its mission in the surrounding community,” said Cary. “Peace probably would not have come into existence in 1960 without [their help].”

A rarity

A building constructed in the 1960s, of course, would eventually need some updating. The church didn’t hesitate to call Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) numerous times between 1998 and 2016 when it was time for some renovation work. In total, Peace has returned to LCEF on six occasions over the years.

“Most congregations borrow from LCEF in support of a major building project once every 15 to 20 years,” explained Stephen Heemann, LCEF district vice president for the LCMS Southeastern District. “To apply for and receive as many as six loans over a couple decades is fairly rare and achievable only when the pastoral and lay leadership facilitate a strong shared vision regarding ministry direction.”

At Peace, that vision and direction included updating the church facilities, especially the fellowship hall. Increasing their building would help expand their capacity for ministry in their northeast D.C. neighborhood that is plagued with crime, poverty and a desperate need for the Gospel. Gaines, who has served at the church since March 2014, shared that “Peace has always been a positive, impactful urban ministry in the metro D.C. area.” With an updated facility, that impact can be greater.

“As one of only two LCMS churches located in Washington, D.C., Peace has developed leadership that thinks [of] mission both within their neighborhood and throughout D.C.,” Heemann said.

According to Cary, “the expansion/capital campaigns gave the whole congregation ownership in Peace’s growth [and] … through its community outreach programs [the church] brought the Word of God to the surrounding community and new members to Peace.”

Investing in the future

While the building addition will benefit the current generation of Peace members and the general community, the church also encourages its members to invest with LCEF to benefit the next generation as well. Through this effort, an increasing number of members are choosing to invest with LCEF.

Sheryl Freeman, an LCEF advocate for Peace who has been guiding this effort, states, “It has also been exciting to share how each member’s investment contributes toward the rebate program through LCEF. The congregation now understands that they benefit from their individual investments and the church benefits as well.”

The partnership that is being cultivated today will no doubt be passed along to that next generation of members, investors and community beneficiaries to further the mission of bringing Christ to all people.

To honor this strong relationship with Peace, LCEF presented the Partnership Award to the church during the 2017 Fall Leadership Conference.

Originally appeared in the 2018 winter issue of Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s official magazine, Interest Time. View a digital version here.

Demian Farnworth
Senior Content Writer for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.