Trending East on a Living Bridge

Pastor Tim Anderson gives an update on his work with ACL

My two-year appointment as Director of Community Development for Austin City Lutherans started about this time last year. I can confidently say that, at this halfway point, our organization is trending east. Not left or right, or up or down – but east. This has been the plan all along.

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Pastor Tim Anderson, Director of Community Development for Austin City Lutherans, welcoming neighbors to Bread For All Food Pantry

From Austin City Lutherans’ initial days of serving low-income neighbors in SE Austin at Bread For All Food Pantry from Prince of Peace Lutheran on E. Oltorf, to these current days of solidifying plans for early childhood education in service of families in the Montopolis area—ACL’s efforts are focused due east. Bread For All now operates out of Faith Presbyterian Church, directly across from Travis High School on E. Oltorf, and the majority of our food pantry neighbors live east of I-35, some of these in Montopolis. Our early childhood development effort will use a 2-Gen(eration) approach, working not only with preschoolers in the expected ways, but with their parents in support groups that will facilitate access to educational, economic, health, and social improvements for each family.

Our 15 or so ELCA congregations of the ACL grouping are located west of I-35. The work we do—charity ministry through the food pantry, and transformational ministry through the early childhood development effort—is worthwhile in and of itself. It also has another purpose: to serve as a living bridge between folks who live on either side of the I-35 dividing wall in Austin. As we move forward equipping new buildings in which to house the childcare effort, as we serve meals to children and parents at support group meetings, as we shake hands with new neighbors in Montopolis and extend the living bridge north, west, and south—we break down walls that have existed in Austin, Texas far too long. We build up, in these processes, much needed social capital for all of us meeting on this living bridge.

ACL will continue to trend east as 2019 stretches forward to 2020. We plan to strengthen our organization from within by identifying advocates for ACL in each of our congregations, effectively widening our reach for food pantry and 2-Gen childcare ministries in SE Austin. We’ll also continue to work formally and informally in partnership with other non-profits, city and county entities, and commercial outfits to be as efficient and effective as we can.

God calls us in Christ to do no less! May we experience grace as we serve together, and be empowered by it for compassion, love, and common humanity.

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