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Jan 2001 / the ordinary eye :: email this story to a friend

Pillar of Strength
By Rev. Martha A. Brunell

Friedens United Church of Christ was called into life as a people of faith in 1857, the same year that the Dred and Harriet Scott case was decided in St. Louis. Throughout our nearly one hundred and fifty years together, we have been on the corner of 19th Street and Newhouse Avenue in what is now known as Hyde Park. With the ebb and flow of populations and prosperity in and out of our city, we have remained where we are. We believe that divine presence continues to draw near and to partner with us in new life.

Friedens Church Our early years were marked by services in German, then in German and English. By the middle years there were eight hundred children in Sunday School, and Friedens was instrumental in helping to establish several other congregations. In these later years we are a smallish band of eighty-year-old women with unmmistakable German names, African American children and youth, and a growing and diverse smattering of others in between, both Caucasian and African American. We walk and we car pool on any given Sunday from within the neighborhood and around the metropolitan area. We gather with joy as we listen to the gospel, and lean into a common language where we hope and search to discover an illumination of God with us, an illumination of Christ in the face of neighbor and stranger, an illumination of ourselves as images of divine love in word and service.

We have a sturdy tie to Clay School, one of our neighborhood public elementary schools. For ten years now Friedens Church, Clay School, and Hyde Park neighbors have co-sponsored Friedens Haus, an after school program. We work intentionally to support and appreciate school staff; we collect toothbrushes for students and kleenex for classrooms. We are very involved in sustaining the arts in our neighborhood and in recent years have worked with Taproots School of the Arts, Musicians United for Furthering Youth (MUFFY), the St. Louis Black Repertory Theater, the Regional Arts Commission, and individual artists. Every Wednesday our Large Hall is the site for delicious neighborhood lunches. Over the last year we have shared our space with another small north side congregation. We delight in unfolding relationships with various people and projects of Metropolis.

At Friedens we carry a memory of and a commitment to the church and ourselves as a people and place open, safe, and welcoming to needs and dreams, imagination and pain, stories and possibilities. We are grateful for all who have gone before us and for who we are becoming.

The photos below were taken at Friedens Church during the early and mid 1900s. Move the pointer over a thumbnail image to view the caption in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. Click on a thumbnail to view the large version.


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