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Questions Congregations with Reviews

Lutheran community which is great for kids

June 2006

We are looking for a Lutheran church which is also nice for small kids in the area of Albany, Berkeley or El Cerrito. Thanks a lot

Please come visit Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church on Grizzly Peak at Spruce. We welcome all families and have a Sunday School during the school year. Childcare is provided for children under 2 years of age during service. Pastor Katie always has interesting and engaging children's sermons at the beginning of services. We have a comfortable area in the back of the church with a couch and love seat and carpet area where the kids work with ''Busy Bags'' during the services. For more information see or call (510) 524-8281. Welcome! Jeanne
I've been going to Christ Lutheran in El Cerrito with my kids (ages 6 & 3) for several years now. It is a small, neighborhood church at the corner of Ashbury & Stockton. We are very happy there. Because the church is so small, there are only a handful of young families, but they are all nice people. There are probably 3-5 families with young children, and my children have had a lot of fun playing with the other kids. The best thing for kids is really our ''Worship on Wednesdays''. We meet at 5:30 or so on Wed. evenings for some fun activity or playtime, then have a very child-friendly worship service from 6:00-6:20 or so, and then we have a simple meal (we take turns providing it). This draws more kids/families than the Sunday services, and is a lot of fun, too. I'd say there are probably 5-7 families that participate, plus other adults. Summer is not the best time for family activities at Christ Lutheran, because of travel, but we'll resume in the fall. Hope you can check it out! Christine

Seeking ELCA Lutheran Churches

January 2002

Seeking an ELCA Lutheran Church with an active Sunday School We have a 1 and 6 year old. We are trying to find a Lutheran church that is on the liberal side that has an active Sunday School for families with children. When I say liberal, I mean a congregation that accepts people of all lifestyles and has an open-mind about other philosophies. We live in Albany.

Recommendations received:
  • St. Francis Lutheran San Francisco
  • St. Paul Lutheran Oakland
  • Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church Berkeley
  • University Lutheran Chapel Berkeley

    Resurrection Lutheran Church


    We belong to Resurrection Lutheran Church, which is in Oakland near the Grand Avenue side of Lake Merritt (just off the 580). It's diverse and progressive, and very involved in the community and the world. We have sister parishes in E. Oakland, as well as in Tanzania and El Salvador. I can't say enough about the pastor, Lucy Kolin, who is intelligent, articulate, and just very sincere as a person. She really has a gift in making scripture, Christian teaching, etc. vital and current to contemporary society.

    It's not huge, though, and only has a handful of kids, so it might not be what you're looking for. It is, however, a great and caring community, and those kids who are coming up/have been raised in that church I think have been very nurtured spiritually. We decided, rather than looking for a placed based on the child factor, that we really liked Resurrection and felt right about building up their young congregation. And it's been great; our son is really loved by/important to many of the members, especially the older ones, who have watched him grow since birth. Stefanie

    St. Francis Lutheran

    Jan 2002

    Re: ELCA Church
    My family belongs to St. Francis Lutheran in SF (Market and Castro/Church -- also known as Our Lady of Safeway due to its proximity), which was kicked out several years ago and is the "poster child" for congregations that have told ELCA that we think they're wrong about calling 'out' pastors. (BTW, according to ELCA, if a pastor was ordained and THEN declared themselves gay, it's okay for them to keep on preachin'. Like I said, not progressive.) There are only a few kids at St Francis, and while it's a fabulous group of caring people, gay, straight, seniors, and 'other' (I'm not Lutheran, not religioius and I actually don't mind going) there are maybe 3-5 kids at Sunday School, which happens every other Sunday. check the website for more details. . If you'd like your child to be doted on by the congregation, and a good organ and music are important, St Francis is without peer!

    There is also a Lutheran church in El Cerrito, very near the high school, that has lots of families, including friends of ours, and they seemed like a very nice congregation. Happy church shopping! Ann

    St. Paul Lutheran

    March 2002

    Re: Upbeat church with good gospel music
    Try St. Paul Lutheran in Oakland. The music isn't always gospel, but it's good. I'm not sure what constitutes your experience of ''same ole,'' but St. Paul is a great mix of tradition and liberality. We do a good job of welcoming newcomers; the congregation has a good youth program, is justice-oriented, and has had seven babies born in the past year and a half. It's got a diversity of sexual orientation, age and economics, less so in race/ ethnicity. Worship is on Sunday mornings at 10 am; dinner and Christian education are on Wednesday nights beginning at six. I'm single, lesbian, mom to an 18-month old and have been at St. Paul for nearly ten years. I love it. Christine

    Jan 2002

    To the person seeking an ELCA church, I hope you will visit St. Paul Lutheran in Oakland (on Excelsior, close to the Park Avenue exit off 580). I think you will find it fits well with what you are looking for. I became a member when I moved to Oakland in fall of 2000 and it has been a wonderful church home for me and my family. I have two children, an almost three-year-old girl and a three-month old boy. The congregation is small, but growing mostly through the addition of families with elementary school age or younger children. My children have not yet been in Sunday school, but I know the teachers and I believe we have a thriving program. And our church is welcoming to all -- we have old and young members, physically challenged members, members of different races and ethnic groups, gay and straight members, single members and families. Stephanie

    I can highly recommend St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1658 Excelsior Avenue, Oakland, 530-6333. While I am personally no longer a member there (because I no longer identify as Christian), I remain on their mailing list and am in touch with the pastor, Ross Merkel. The congregation is very open, liberal, and community-like. Also, active Sunday School. Pretty much the only growing ELCA church in area. Lot's of diversity. Ross is gay and has been removed from the roster of the ELCA but the congregation retains him as their pastor. Pretty good racial diversity for a Lutheran church. Good music and liturgy. Tell Ross I say HI.

    Feel free to contact me for more info. B Avalon

    January 2002

    Re: ELCA Lutheran Church

    We are off-and-on members of University Lutheran Chapel (at Haste and College), and you ccouldn't find a more "liberal" church or congregation that is still Lutheran. The pastor is gay, the language of the liturgy is inclusive, there has been a big focus on social justice issues, particularly in the past (the pastor who retired a few years ago, Gus Schultz, was awarded the first Berkeley Peace Prize for work either in El Salvador or North Korea, or both, I forget). There are many young children there now, and Sunday school for 3 - 6 year-olds is just getting going again post-Christmas. There is childcare for infants and young toddlers offered in a newly remodeled nursery below the sanctuary. Feel free to contact me personally if you want to know more about the history of this church, approach to worship, etc. Pamela

    If you want a little closer to home, try University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley, corner of College and Haste. Jeff Johnson is pastor there. He, too, is gay, and was ordained "illegally" and is not recognized by the ELCA. Campus community is diverse. I don't know about active children's program. Tell Jeff I say HI.

    Feel free to contact me for more info. B Avalon

    Lutheran churches: You might want to know that it is unclear how long University Lutheran will be ELCA affiliated, if that is really important to you. Their senior pastor retired not long ago and the congregation called a wonderful pastor who happens to be an out gay man, and as you probably know, ELCA is not exactly progressive. So University Lutheran will likely be cast out. (Personally, I can live without the cheesy magazines they send to the house, but it does affect the congregation financially, because things like group health insurance for the staff disappear.) Ann
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