Thursday, January 16, 2014

Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance (LSEA) -- Coming Into Its Own

The Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance (LSEA) was founded by a group of Logan Square churches in 2012. The initial impetus was a public witness on Palm Sunday 2013 -- "Occupy Palm Sunday!" -- organized by First Lutheran Church, Humboldt Park United Methodist, Kimball Avenue Church, and St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square. LSEA built upon discussions that had been ongoing over a period of years among leaders at these churches about finding ways to work together in the Logan Square Community.

2013 was a year in which LSEA solidified itself.

Regularity - We moved to a schedule of regular monthly meetings. We have been graciously hosted by the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO) -- which focuses on violence prevention -- at 2401 W. North. In relation to this, we have developed a routine of providing agendas and minutes, and sharing of tasks.

A goal for 2014 is to continue to put this structure to work to build an even more effective LSEA.

Outreach - In 2013, two major organizations in Logan Square became de facto members of LSEA: ALSO, and Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA). One new congregation became a frequent participant - a new UCC church plant in the neighborhood, Root and Branch Church. Moreover, we gained a route for passive participation (i.e. a path to awareness) by a large number of Logan Square congregations, in that our meeting agendas and minutes are frequently cross-posted with the list related to the housing campaign in Logan Square -- which contains a large number of local faith leaders.

A goal for 2014 is active participation by a larger number of congregations, and by a larger number of members of each participating congregation.

Clarified Goals - The consistency and intentionality with which LSEA participants have approached this work in 2013 have helped us make progress in answering the question, "What's special about LSEA? What do we really want to do?" We are beginning to see the importance of complementing and building upon (rather than trying to duplicate) the work of the very effective community organizations we have in our neighborhood. We are recognizing the special contribution we, as congregations, can make by providing public witness around important social issues. And we are realizing that being relevant and effective requires us to be very tuned into the current developments and issues in the neighborhood: Logan Square is an extremely dynamic social setting, and the needs that must be addressed are rapidly evolving.

Clearly, there is much room to refine and expand this understanding in 2014.

Events - In 2013, LSEA held two major events: the "Remedy for Violence" witness on Palm Sunday, and the "POSADA for Affordable Housing" during Advent. In addition, there were numerous events that were spawned by LSEA connections, including: participation by various congregations in the ALSO Walk for Peace in June; the collaboration between the St. Luke's and Kimball Avenue Church social justice groups to screen "The House I Live In" (about mass incarceration) in July; and the collaboration with ALSO and LSNA in the 2013 Boulevard in August.

We will continue our program of events in 2014, starting with a Palm Sunday event in April.

The prospect for 2014 is to further expand the connections between LSEA and its member congregations and organizations with the Logan Square and Chicago communities!