A NEW BEGINNING — The staff at Grace Lutheran Church, located at S-6220 McKinley Parkway, is reinventing the church after a severe decrease of total service members. Photo by Alicia Greco.
HAMBURG — After negative experiences with its previous two pastors, the Grace Lutheran Church in Hamburg is rebuilding from the ground up, according to attendees.
Grace Lutheran, a church that once had between 300 and 400 members, is now down to nearly six or seven service members. The church has been in existence for approximately 60 years; its downward spike has taken place, during the last three years.
The church was previously located on Lake Street, across from the village park.
“We had a lot of internal problems [and] pastoral problems,” said Frank Wald, the congregational president. He said that the previous two pastors caused many members to leave the congregate.
“It was just a bad situation,” Wald said, in regard to the issues within the church, but would not give any further details.
The Lutheran Church has two primary bodies of Lutherans. Wald said that the local church became a Lutheran congregation for the ordination of its previous minister, which he said “caused some of the rift in our church.”
Wald, a lifelong member of the local body, said that seeing the dismemberment of the church was painful.
Pastor Lynn Scarpine, a Kenmore resident, was officially ordained as Grace Lutheran’s newest minister on July 1, 2012. She had filled in, unofficially, at the church for three years, prior to her ordination.
“She’s trying to breathe life into this church,” Wald said. “Treat it as a brand new beginning ... and just basically starting from scratch.”
Scarpine said that the local church is at a disadvantage, due to its small size. The rebuilding process has included an active search for new members and the installation of evening support groups.
Some church activities and events included an open house in July, a chicken barbecue and an annual blessing of the pets Mass.
“We’re basically trying to reconnect with the community,” Scarpine said. “And I’m looking forward to doing more.”
She emphasized that Grace Lutheran is a missional congregation, which she said means “we’re more interested in serving others than taking care of ourselves. We’re more interested in reaching out to others.”
Wald said that the church’s main focus is to be “Christ-centered. This is the home of Christ. That’s our message. We want to bring the good news of Christ to Hamburg and our community.”
Grace Lutheran Church is located at S-6220 McKinley Parkway in Hamburg. For more information, call 926-9104.