We are a Lutheran congregation that invites all persons to Christ's communion table. We believe in community and celebrate and serve as one body with Christ as our leader. We are committed to reaching residents of Jersey City and neighboring cities in New Jersey. We exist to help you and your family grow closer to your God-given purpose. Everyone has a first step to take in their journey. Will you take your first step this Sunday?
Pastor Gary A Grindeland
The COVID virus has been a real “game changer.” The challenges have been many and various, with families being forced to make critical, life-and-death decisions. We will never be the same, but I guess we are always changing. However, the crisis has also been marked by new opportunities for growth.
The organized, institutional church was in sharp decline even before COVID; the virus has forced us to examine and redefine what it means to be church. A growing individualism, along with a general mistrust or lack of concern for community and those supporting institutions, has altered the reality of the “common good.” Besides this, technology has moved us to a new level of reality which has forced uncomfortable changes but has yielded promising returns.
For two Lutheran congregations nestled around “Lady Liberty,” this paradigm shift has moved both congregations from maintenance and survival modes to a more dynamic understanding of mission to the area. Redeemer Lutheran, located in the southern Greenville area of Jersey City and Grace Lutheran in Bayonne, are presently engaged in a “Shared Ministry” effort that offers a more comprehensive, Lutheran outreach plan for the southern end of Hudson County. Since we are stronger together, each church has adopted a common plan that underscores this connectedness through outreach.
Their tagline, “Connected to Christ, Connected to each other, and Connected to community” speaks to this Shared Ministry, offering a consolidated, outreach program that makes more efficient use of each other’s gifts. It also strengthens their weaknesses by leaning on the other’s gifts. Together as “Liberty Lutherans,” and utilizing a Transcontinental Railroad theme, the two churches have begun a train ride that will directly touch the lives of those in the designated parish boundaries of those living along Interstate 78 west and Highway 440 south.
This Shared Ministry vision of Redeemer and Grace Lutheran is crucial, since neither church has the capacity to effectively support the spiritual needs of such a diverse, geographical area as southern Hudson County. This Shared Ministry includes the fiscal and physical support of two, separate houses of worship, in addition to common, pastoral oversight, has already provided a dynamic, core foundation for future ministry. Of course, the thread that binds this relationship together (in addition to the work of the Spirit) is technology. We already serve more people online than we do in person, and this was true even before COVID. Now imagine how much more we can do together.
This Shared Ministry includes a common tagline and slogan. The newly developed logo visually sets the boundaries of this mission. Worship times have already been changed to offer guests and parishioners more times to worship or to seek out pastoral care and support. Common events, such as confirmation classes, are already being held so that duplication of services can be avoided. July 4 has been designated as the kick-off Sunday for these “Liberty Lutherans.” We are using the theme of the Transcontinental Railroad to visually underscore the common “track” we share together. One train at Grace Lutheran is nearly completed and the other will be constructed soon. The national freedom we celebrate on July 4 weekend will also be a weekend recognizing the liberty the Gospel brings us through worship, food and clothing distribution, and a walk through the respective neighborhoods. Stay tuned for more details.
Finally, even though technology has made our congregational lives more dynamic, it has not replaced the need for outreach. The focus of Liberty Lutherans is to provide face-to-face contacts with the larger community. The symbolic, “transcontinental” walk for the two churches on July 4 is the inaugural event for this community outreach. The real outreach push will begin on Independence Day and will continue through Sunday, September 12, the date that has been slated by the larger Lutheran church (ELCA) as its day of “God’s Work. Our Hands.” During the time between holidays, parishioners from both churches will walk the different neighborhoods, piggy-backing on Pastor Grindeland’s Walk of Hope, when he walked every street in Bayonne as a part of community outreach several years ago. All aboard! The trains are pulling out!!