Committed to see Van Nuys Rise – now and always

I came to Van Nuys first when I was in high school in 1970’s, cruising the Blvd to find Farrell’s Ice Cream with my friends, power into the 100-scoop Animal creation, and celebrate youth.

I came back in 2016 as a Pastoral Candidate to serve – a radically shifted community that has huge areas  poverty pocketed by communities of relative comfort if not wealth.  In the 1.5 miles around our church, food insecurity was already rampant, people could not afford housing prices without multiple adults working multiple jobs, and there was a 350-person waiting list to get into ESL classes at the local Adult Ed center.

We have dived in since I was called as Pastor of Central Lutheran Church / Iglesia Luterana Central in October 2017. By 2018 we were offering English classes free, with child care, and we started both a Women’s Group to support one another  (also with child care) as well as kids program and Bilingual worship, so that our community was re-united across the intergenerational divide, as well as across perceived language barriers. We are ONE VAN NUYS, no longer accepting divisions of homelessness, poverty, or language differences.

In October 2019, pursuing the requests of our neighbors and thanks to a significant grant from a sister ELCA Lutheran church in Granada Hills, we opened the Mobile Food Pantry to help families with the tremendous lack of food for their children due to poverty. NOW, in April, 2020, we are expanding during the 2020 COVID-19 Crisis to offering food distribution every week, for as long as we can get food from the LA Regional Food Bank and Volunteers from across the Valley (and across Los Angeles!) to help us feed some of the first fired/furloughed and those most likely to be last rehired.

As Pastor and Administrator here, I serve here in Van Nuys because this is what I am CALLED to do – by my higher power. I came to a place of faith here that had a decade-plus legacy of serving the homeless – Central Lutheran Church. Together we have expanded our sense of Vision and Mission to address issues of poverty and to prevent further homelessness. My/our neighbor here is the face of God for me, and I hope I am the face of God for them.  I take my faith and make it action, as often as I can, in as many ways as I can so that others may also be inspired and drawn to the light. But I also offer spiritual care that is interfaith, for those who seek it.  I share my story of faith to help others find their connection with the Divine.

Because God loves everyone. Period. And I strive to live that way, too.

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