The origins of PLUM go back to the year 2004 when
our sister congregation at East Liberty Lutheran became vacant
and was unable to provide the resources to call a pastor.
Pastors Beth and John recognized that East Liberty’s situation
was similar to that of many of our small congregations. So, they
put their heads together, along with the members of East
Liberty, Christ and St. Andrew, to develop a plan of action.
That work led to the PLUM model for addressing the pastoral care
needs of small congregations in our Greater Pittsburgh area. It
is from those discussions, the fantastic support of our
congregations and our synod, constant prayer, faithful action
and humble beginnings that the Pittsburgh Lutheran United
Ministries has, and continues to, evolve. PLUM continues to meet
the needs of small congregations and now has twelve churches as
part of this cooperative ministry. These churches include:
Bethany Lutheran – Bethel Park
Bethany Lutheran Church – Dormont
Christ Lutheran Church – Duquesne
East Liberty Lutheran – East Liberty
Lutheran Church of our Saviour – North
Messiah Lutheran – Munhall
Resurrection Lutheran – Oakdale
St. Andrew – East Carnegie
St. Paul’s Lutheran – Canonsburg
Trinity Lutheran – Mt. Oliver
Trinity Lutheran – Sheraden
Zion Lutheran – Coraopolis
In these first decades of
the 21st Century, Pittsburgh Lutherans are giving
birth to a renewed enthusiasm for the mission of the Gospel.
Twelve congregations have begun to respond to God’s Call for
transformation. They have discovered that the best way to live
into this calling is through an intentional cooperative
ministry. We call it "Pittsburgh Lutheran United
Gradually our members are
learning that faithfulness to the challenge of the Gospel
requires a move out of the confinement of our church buildings
and unbinding the restrictions of traditionalism. This will
renew the congregations’ commitment to the Great Commission:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
Bringing the joy of the
Gospel into the streets and homes of the people living around
our buildings requires a transformation of our congregations.
This is neither an easy task nor is it a ‘quick fix’ for
congregations that are in various stages of decline,
discouragement, and detachment from the Gospel’s Call.
The great prophet Elijah
provides an illustration
(1 Kings 19). Having defeated the
false prophets of Baal and publicly challenging the political
powers of his day, Elijah escaped arrest and began a journey to
Mt. Sinai. In his exhaustion, he sat under a broom tree and he
thought he might die there. Instead of dying, angels came with
food. He continued his journey in the strength of God’s
providence only to hear God say to him, “What are you doing
(1 Kings 19.13b)
This question was
followed by instructions from God. Elijah had a new mission
So it is with PLUM’s twelve
congregations! As we have turned the corner from survival to
mission, members have begun to think in terms of the church’s
mission. Some initial examples of their transformation into
this new mission include:
Moving a Saturday Summer worship out on the front porch
(including fire pot and a fellowship of marshmallows and hot
dogs). This has attracted the attention of passers-by.
Giving a block party for the neighborhood. This has
resulted in baptisms and new member families.
Cooking, serving and delivering over 1,000 full turkey dinners
Two congregations, whose financial resources are very
limited, made the decision to take 10% of the weekly
offerings and divide them evenly between support of the ELCA
and a local mission or benevolence (a different group is
chosen each month).
The new enthusiasm recently inspired two visitors at one of
our churches to step forward with an interest in building
outreach to children and youth.
Two congregations are now offering a free lunch program for
7. Two congregations host monthly diaper banks, which
offer new and gently used baby supplies to individuals in
the local community. They distribute items such as diapers,
baby wipes, baby clothes, baby/toddler toys and equipment,
and other baby supplies to over 100 children each month.
is the identification of $400.00 each month, in each
congregation, caused by a reduction of the congregation’s
monthly contribution towards pastoral care. The Pastoral Team
and the PLUM Board are challenging each congregation to put that
money into a Congregational Mission Fund that would be
used for new mission efforts. In other words, each
congregation could have $4,800 mission dollars annually, or
collectively PLUM would have $43,200 mission dollars available.
The ultimate goal is to
see each congregation as a Mission Outpost. We hope to
see the Gospel’s mission at the center of the congregation’s
planning, ministry, and life.
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Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110