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Looking For Christian Public Leader? Teaching Congregations transitioned to Christian Public Leader at the end of the 2013 – 2014 academic year. In 2014 - 2015, Teaching Congregations will be offered only to students completing their graduation requirements as per the distributive curriculum. This will remain a non-credit degree requirement. Students and supervisors should be in touch with Contextual Learning at

Teaching Congregations site list

Important Note

The Site List below is for the Teaching Congregations program. In 2014 - 2015, Teaching Congregations will be offered only to students completing their graduation requirements as per the distributive curriculum. This will remain a non-credit degree requirement. Students and supervisors should be in touch with Contextual Learning at prior to contacting sites on this list.

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[SITE FULL] Bethany Lutheran - Minneapolis (Franklin)

Address:2511 East Franklin Avenue
Baptized Membership:138
Confirmed Membership:130
Average Sunday Attendance:50
Paid Staff:Pastor (3/4 time), Music Director (part-time), Office Administrator (part-time), and Maintenance Supervisor (part-time).
Access to Public Transit:Bethany Lutheran is located only a few miles from Luther Seminary on E. Franklin Avenue just south of Augsburg College. Franklin Avenue runs along a bus route and is accessible via the bus system.
Bethany Lutheran Church has been situated in the Seward Neighborhood of Minneapolis since its beginnings in 1902. Today the parish neighborhood is culturally diverse and bustling with activity. Within walking distance of Augsburg College and biking distance to the U of M, young adults and students are prevalent in the neighborhood. The Seward neighborhood is growing with young families in addition to the long-time residents. There is also a large African population in the neighborhood, many of whom are Muslim. In the past, Bethany has formed a strong relationship with the Oromo community.

Worship is at 10:00 am on Sunday mornings - All are welcome here! At the present moment, the Learning Hour (twice a month) consists of a "schoolhouse" Sunday school class. We meet at 9:00 am to learn the biblical story, engage in music and artistic expression. Other educational activities and Bible studies are held sporadically throughout the year including seasonal planning teams for the liturgical year. There is a lot of potential for programmatic growth as Bethany experiences a transformational/redevelopment season in the life of the congregation.

Contextual education students will have ample opportunity to preach, lead worship, teach children, and grow in faith and leadership formation at Bethany. If you yearn for these opportunities, this is the place for you!

For the past decade, Bethany has been deeply involved in justice issues relating the full welcome of the LGBTQI community. Bethany is a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation. Eight years ago, the congregation extraordinarily ordained Pastor Jay Wiesner who had been serving Bethany for two years as a pastoral assistant. Our commitment to welcome is reflected in our mission statement - all are welcome here! Bethany continues to work with Lutherans Concerned/North America (now ReconcilingWorks) in assisting other congregations to become RIC. Also, Bethany has been committed to Augsburg College and its campus ministries, Center for Workers United in Struggle (CTUL), and Community Emergency Services. We support the Minneapolis Area Synod in our joint work as the body of Christ.

Bethany has undergone a transition of pastoral leadership in the past six years. The lead pastor, Steve Benson, left in 2006 to take a call in Montana. At that point, the pastoral assistant - Jay Wiesner - became the solo pastor. In 2008, Pastor Jay took a new call in Pennsylvania. Bethany was in an interim transition for 15 months. During that period, average worship attendance dropped from 65 to 32 and giving was decreased significantly. Once a newly growing congregation, Bethany now finds itself in a kairos moment poised for transformation and redevelopment. Because of the giving decrease and loss of membership, Bethany can only sustain a 3/4 time pastor. Issues of finance and participation are the major challenges facing us today. With that said, Bethany completed a 10 month intentional visioning process in 2010 to guide us for the next 5 years. Our major goals include an ongoing commitment to Lutheran liturgical worship, cultivating a community that shares faith stories with each other and the community, stronger partnership with Augsburg college, and an assessment our of current physical plant. In the past three years, Bethany is beginning to see growth again. We are now (2011 numbers) averaging nearly 50 people on a Sunday and are starting to offer more opportunites for faith growth and service. It is an exciting time to part of this community of faith!
Congregation Keywords:urban, redevelopment, liturgical, welcoming, prophetic

Mentor Pastor: Justin Lind-Ayres
Years in Ordained Ministry:9
Years in Current Position:3
Previous Students Supervised:4
In 1999, I completed my undergraduate studies in religion at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. I attended Luther Seminary graduating in 2003. While at seminary, I completed my internship at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Mankato, MN, worked in the seminary library, served as teaching assistant for NT classes, Koine Greek, and worship. Upon graduation, I served as the associate pastor at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in St. Paul, MN from 2003-2006, and as the associate pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Woodstock, GA from 2006-2009. In September of 2009, I received the call to Bethany Lutheran Church.

This year I completed my Doctor of Ministry studies at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. My focus is in preaching and worship. My reading interests are in the areas of preaching, worship/liturgy, and New Testament studies, especially the Gospel of John. I am currently working on metaphor in worship and worship.

I have been actively involved in Lutherans Concerned/North America (now ReconcilingWorks), the Reconciling in Christ program, Clergy United for All Families, synodical committees (Southeastern Synod), including Candidacy and a Task Force on Welcoming. At Bethany, we seek to build community involvement with the Seward Neighborhood Coalition, CTUL (fair work issues), Community Emergency Services, Augsburg College, and Synodical missional priorities.

My interests and hobbies include spending time with my family, liturgy and music, basketball, NFL football, cooking, reading, writing, and, of course, fly fishing.