Monday, January 12, 2015

Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance (LSEA) -- Christ is alive in Logan Square and Chicago!

Eagle monument in Logan Square, Chicago
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, and in 2014 LSEA really began to thrive.

Regularity and Participation - Continuing a practice we established in 2013, we continued regular monthly meetings (graciously hosted by the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO) -- which focuses on violence prevention -- at 2401 W. North). By the end of 2014, we recognized a need to expand the monthly meeting to two hours. We have observed that this enables us to work efficiently, and to welcome new participants smoothly into our activities. We saw a substantial number of congregations and organizations participate in 2014 that had not participated in 2013.

In the second half of 2014, we held a "connecting and fellowship" event specifically designed to invite more lay members into participation in LSEA. We plan more activities of this type in 2015, beginning with training to be provided in collaboration with Community Renewal Society (CRS) in February and March.

A goal for 2015 is to even more effectively provide for the participation of a larger circle -- both in terms of number of congregations, and number of participants from each congregation.

Las Posadas procession at Lathrop Homes
Rev. Erik Christensen, pastor at St. Luke's Logan Square,
leads the singing along Clybourne Avenue.
(Photo courtesy Jeff Lucas)
What We Do Well: Public Witness Together - Already by the end of 2013, we were recognizing the special contribution we, as congregations, can make by providing public witness around important social issues. The "Las Posadas" event for housing justice we led in December 2013 helped crystallize this recognition; in December, 2014, we held our 2nd annual "Las Posadas" event for housing justice.
Other public witness by LSEA in 2014 included our 3rd annual public witness on Palm Sunday (focusing on housing justice), as well as several additional events related to housing justice in Logan Square, and a memorial for a member of our community, Ernesto Garcia.

A goal (and a challenge) for 2014 will be: as a larger number of congregations participate in LSEA, we will need to discern the best ways to build on the ideas about public witness that have already begun to take hold within LSEA, as well as be open to new ways of doing this work together.

Logan Square Gentrification Series / Serie de Gentrificacion
Listening to the Neighborhood: Housing Justice and Gentrification - The issues of housing justice and gentrification were already important issues for LSEA in 2013; in 2014 these issues became only more pressing. As indicated above, a great deal of our attention and energy was directed to these issues. Already in January, 2015, we are pleased to be collaborating with the organization Somos Logan Square on a 4-part series of events to educate the public about gentrification.
At the same time we are attentive to a wide range of concerns in our neighborhood, city, region, and country. For instance, in 2014 we sponsored an event in Chicago by a Michigan social justice activist, Rev. Edward Pinckney.

Issue focus continues to be a high priority. We recognize that a degree of focus is essential in enabling us to act effectively.

Listening to Each Other: Being Church Together in Logan Square - As our circle of participants has grown, we have become more and more intentional about making space to listen to each other's stories. We recognize that we are engaged in a joint enterprise, and we are finding more and more ways to be attentive to the true needs as well as the real possibilities of all of our congregations here in Logan Square!

We rejoice in the opportunity to continue proclaiming together in 2015: Christ is alive in Logan Square and Chicago!

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