Visiting St. Paul Lutheran; Davenport, Iowa

St. Paul Lutheran Church is one of our sibling congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. There are a lot of parallels between St. Paul and Trinity. The approximate size, age, style, staff and structure between the two congregations are very similar. We’ve also shared a pastor! Pastor Amanda served at St. Paul as a pastoral resident for two years prior to coming to Trinity.

The Sanctuary at St. Paul

I had a great visit with Pastor Peter Marty, who serves as the senior pastor at St. Paul. Pastor Peter has served at St. Paul for over 20 years, and in that time has experienced a lot of growth in the congregation.

St. Paul has a beautiful facility. It has a very open and welcoming feel and is full of light. It was very fun to see.

My conversation with Pastor Peter was really wide-ranging. We talked about the similarities and differences between our two congregations; we talked about staffing and we talked about the projects we are working on.

A significant part of our conversation revolved around the importance of building community especially in a world where we have all experienced significant separation due to COVID. Interestingly, St. Paul chose to discontinue live-streaming worship services after they returned to in-person worship. Pastor Peter said that they are outliers in this, but he so strongly believes in the value and power of the face-to-face experience, and that it was so difficult to sustain live-streaming well, that they decided to move back to worship exclusively in-person.

I need to give this more thought. While I agree that community is best built in person, I’m not convinced that in-person and online worship cannot co-exist. In the digital online world in which we live, it feels to me like we need to focus on doing both in-person and on-line worship well. But as I said, there is much to think about.

We also talked about how expectations are set, for staff, for leadership and for the congregation around worship, service and generosity.

Pastor Peter is wise, and I appreciated the good conversation and his willingness to spend time with me. He has given me much to think and pray about as we look to our future.

More to come!
God’s peace,
Pastor Todd

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