Church Collaboration

 How Churches Can Work Together for Mission

Option 7. Partnership with an Anchor Church

What are church-to-church partnerships?

A hundred years ago Messiah Lutheran Church was started by immigrants from Sweden who lived in the neighborhoods just south of downtown Minneapolis. Messiah grew rapidly and became strong enough to plant a new church, St. Stephen's in the suburb of Bloomington. During the baby boom years Bloomington grew rapidly while Messiah's neighborhood evolved into the troubled "inner city". It didn't take long for St. Stephen's became bigger and more prosperous than its mother church. Several years ago St. Stephen's and Messiah became partners again. St. Stephen's provides volunteers and funds to help with Messiah's programs for the low income people in its neighborhood. For several years St. Stephens funded the jazz musicians who played at a second service each Sunday at Messiah. In turn, Messiah helped the suburban members of St. Stephen's understand the diverse cultures in the city and provided opportunities for St. Stephen's youth to learn and serve.

There is an interesting side note to the story of Messiah. In early 2009 Messiah became a "church without walls." It moved from its long-time building to a nearby multiuse building called "Center for Changing Lives."

The ELCA describes this as an “anchor church” partnership and the February 2019 issue of Living Lutheran has several examples. This concept is not unlike a multi-site merger without a legal relationship.

Track Record of Anchor Church Partnerships

There are dozens of examples of partnerships like this in almost every city. Members develop rewarding personal relationships and better understandings. The Anchor church enjoys the rewards that come from serving, and the receiving church gains much-needed resources. We are not aware of any studies or tracking of this concept but our observation is that these partnerships vary in tenure and sometimes involve expectations that fall short in terms of  financial support.

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