For the first Collaborative Voices for 2019, we take a look at St. Barnabas Lutheran Church in Plymouth. The congregation was heavily involved in helping get the City of Plymouth to approve Cranberry Ridge a 44 unit apartment complex for working families. We spoke to Bobbi Dering, a leader on the congregation's Beacon Leadership Team about St. Barnabas and how they became involved in the fight for affordable homes.
Could you tell me a little about the history of St. Barnabas?
Our church was started by Pastor Wayne beginning his role as senior pastor on September 1, 1985. He door-knocked to gather our charter members, a group of around 25. Our firstworship service was held on November 24 at Greenwood Elementary School. In 1986 worship was moved to the theater of the Radisson Inn in Plymouth. Since that time we have built a sanctuary and become a presence in the Plymouth community.
Jazz at St. Barney’s” began in 2007 and continues to this day. We hold approximately 12 jazz concerts each year, bringing in professional singers and instrumentalists to provide concerts at an affordable price for people throughout our community. We also offer professional music lessons for nearly every instrument.
St. Barnabas was involved in getting Cranberry Ridge approved by the Plymouth City Council. What led to your involvement? Has it changed how you see housing issues?
St. Barnabas became involved with Beacon in 2015. We took part in Families Moving Forward for about three years. Our awareness and concern for the need for affordable housing grew out of that experience. We were invited by Beacon to be part of the initiative to get a 47 unit apartment building approved in Plymouth. Pastor Amber and two members involved with FMF agreed to represent our church in this effort. Approximately two years later, in November of 2017, the Plymouth City Council approved the building of Cranberry Ridge. We believe in the Beacon vision and their model for success—to end homelessness and build quality housing with on-site supportive services for the residents. With the help of a congregational organizer and the education provided by Beacon, we have learned a lot abouthousing issues, the reasons for homelessness, and what is needed to end it!
Your Mission Statement reads, “Sent by Jesus, we set our sails to be filled by God’s Spirit, inspiring us to praise, grow and serve.” How has the congregation grown in serving? How has the congregation been impacted since joining the collaborative? What about housing issues did you not know before joining Beacon?
The approval of Cranberry Ridge in our community has been a memorable experience for our congregation. We have also been impacted by our involvement in hosting families. In the past six months, we have formed a Beacon Leadership Team, which will further engage our congregation to continue our efforts to end homelessness. We will be stepping outside the walls of our church building into the public arena to be true to our Christian values and pursue the goal of “a home for everyone.” Our work does not end with the passing of the Cranberry Ridge apartments.
What would you say to another congregation considering joining the Collaborative?
We encourage other congregations to join this effort! It is what we are called to do, AND, it is both exciting and rewarding to collaborate with other people of faith—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Universalist—to end homelessness together.