Saint Paulus Lutheran Church is a community of saints and sinners who gather weekly to worship at 10AM each and every Sunday, with additional worship on holy festival days including Christmas, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Occasionally there are other special worship opportunities which are announced to the public.
The worship format is of “liturgical” style, that is, there is a set order of worship which includes and reflects an historical rootage in Lutheran tradition. We practice weekly public confession, read from the Old and New Testament - with particular emphasis on the 4 gospels - engage in participatory sermons, use the historic creeds of the church, share public and private prayer, celebration the weekly Eucharist and sing the songs of faith throughout. The Eucharist is open to all.
The music support provided during the worship is directed by Mark Krey, the Director of Music for Saint Paulus. There is a choir and an instrumental ensemble. Participation in these is at the discretion of the Director. The music selections come from a variety of musical styles, traditional, classical, pop, Broadway and local compositions. Choir members are provided solo opportunities. There are special musical offerings on festival days, especially during the Christmas season.
The Psalm depicts a kind of “entrance” rite for those who come to the Temple for worship, laying out some basic standards for would-be participants in the spiritual life of the Jewish community. It seems quite clear that this psalm rose from a time when there was a need to remind or reiterate to the community the basic standards by which their communal life is defined. This time frame fits the reconstruction of the Jewish community as they returned from their exile in Babylon and Assyria. There was surely a moral component to the spiritual life of Israel, grounded in the covenant's relationship with Yahweh. In the criteria put forth in the psalm there is an echo of the law given on Sinai generations earlier, and God’s particular affirmation of his preference for the poor.
As for today, there seems to be the same need for criteria for those participating in the spiritual life of the church or faith community, but so very little effort in either articulating or implementing such criteria. The tenor of the day, the resistance to discipline, and the fragile-ness of many communities of faith mitigate against any applied criteria except perhaps a one-time visit and a minimum contribution. This condition represents a fundamental challenge to the shaping of faith communities in the days ahead, and will require some daring and endurance.
- Prayer requests are taken weekly and published on the site on Mondays.
The language that church people use inside is regularly embarrassing to use outside. As a result, virtually nothing gets communicated to the world on the other side of the church’s front doors. Two observations: Either the issue is simply the language, for which a new way of expression would be the solution, or the reality that is recognized inside the church has little to do with the ways of the world, for which there is hardly any solution except a return to the biblical narrative and rigorous re-education. Take for example the Gospel reading for this Sunday (Matthew 4:12-23): For the most part congregations that hear this read will recount the calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John to be his first disciples by Jesus as he walks along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The story is quaint and even surprising given that the descriptive “immediately” is inserted as these four leave everything, including their father, and go off after Jesus. This reality is a subject for consideration inside the church, but it is thoroughly outside the scope of the world around us. Very few, if any that can be recalled, could or would do this immediately.
However, there is an another dimension in the narrative that usually escapes the attention of both preacher and attendee: the opening words – “…John was arrested…” The ways of the world, snuffing out criticism and dissent, detaining truth tellers, threatening oppressive action, are the context for this Gospel reading. The mouth piece of the people, John the Baptist, had been “eliminated, with prejudice”, now awaiting execution in the dungeons of Roman Empire representative, King Herod. And Jesus steps into the vacuum created, not with fear, not with violence, not with retreat, but with a proclamation that a reality of ultimate consequence was present, and that contrary to the usual acquiescence to the worldly idols, he challenged his hearers with “metanoia,” that is, turn away from despair and dispirited-ness and be embraced by the rule of a present kingdom which he embodied. Actually, the word heard by church people is “repent” (not metanoia), which unfortunately carries with it all the baggage of a moralistic mentality (for which church people are too well known).
The story of the calling of Jesus’ first disciples is hardly a call to walk away from vocation and family, but a call to be disconnected from the shackles of the world’s idolatrous power, and lay hold of him who leads through such illusionary ‘realities.”
I cannot think of a more important proclamation in our own day and age, a more sustaining message of resistance than Jesus calling to us: “follow me.”
SFCARES is a collaborative ministry engaged in providing services and assistance to the underserved of San Francisco. Partners of the collaborative include Welcome Ministry, San Francisco Night Ministry, Saint Paulus Lutheran Church, St. Francis Lutheran Church, Sts. Mary and Martha Lutheran Church and Grace Lutheran Church plus an At-Large member. Under the SFCARES umbrella, the following services and ministries are or have been provided:
- Vision Project having provided more than 1500 pairs of prescription glasses
- Friendship Banquet for HIV/AIDS clients
- Conference on racism
- Urban gardening experiments
- Urban (homeless) immersion project
- Mental Health Advocacy in San Francisco
- Crisis phone line counselors
- Clergy on SF streets every night from 10PM until 4AM
- Research on LGBTQ homelessness in SF
- Open Cathedral (outdoor Eucharist) every Sunday and Thursday
- Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
- Yearly Memorial for Homeless who have died
- Food programs for seniors
- Breakfast for homeless
- Singers of the Streets (SOS)
- HIV+ Grocery Project
- Hand Up project
- Educational offerings
- LGBTQ homeless shelter
- Dolores St. Mens Shelter
SFCARES operates by means of institutional funding from partners and general contributions received from the public, corporations and private donors. Volunteer opportunities are always available, with training and supervision present. Contact number: 415-673-3572. The Story of SF CARES
Saint Paulus Lutheran Church is a member church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The church claims its identity through three expressions:
- Conference: San Francisco Conference of Lutheran Church composed of 10 partner Lutheran Churches in San Francisco, all of whom identify as ELCA congregations.
- Christ Church Lutheran – 1090 Quintara St., San Francisco 94116
- Her Church/Ebenezer Lutheran – 678 Portola Dr., San Francisco 94127
- First United Lutheran – 2094 Turk Blvd, San Francisco 94115
- Grace Lutheran – 3201 Uloa St., San Francisco 94116
- Lutheran Church of Our Savior – 1011 Garfield St., San Francisco 94132
- St. Francis Lutheran Church – 152 Church St., San Francisco 94114
- St. Mary and St. Martha Lutheran Church – 1050 S. Van Ness Ave., San Francisco 94110
- St. Mark’s Lutheran Church – 1111 O’Farrell St., San Francisco 94109
- St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church – 3218 16th St., San Francisco 94103
- Saint Paulus Lutheran Church – 1541 Polk St., San Francisco 94109
- Synod: Sierra Pacific Synod composed of nearly 200 congregations in the geographic area from the Oregon border to Fresno, from San Francisco through northern Nevada. The Synod elects a bishop once every 6 years, provides support and services to its congregations and pastors, and fosters mutual associate among the congregations of the Synod. There is an annual assembly whereby a budget is approved, policy is legislated and collective ministries are celebrated. www.spselca.org
- ELCA: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is comprised of 65 synod in the continental US including Alaska and the Caribbean with a total of nearly 4 million members. The tri-annual assembly is the highest legislative body of the church, and every 6 years elects a Presiding Bishop. This expression includes national and international programming and ministry support, theological education, church related colleges and universities, missionary efforts, ecumenical relationships and general church policy considerations. www.elca.org