As an LCMS Recognized Service Organization (RSO), Lutheran Urban Mission Agency (LUMA) works alongside pastors, lay leaders and congregations in urban and multicultural outreach. Partnering with both the Missouri and Kansas Districts means they can work across the entire Kansas City Metro area and beyond.
As part of our mission work, the Missouri District has assisted LUMA with the salary of Kelsha James, a Community Outreach Coordinator. With a background in psychology and outreach, Ms. James is as skilled in building local relationships as she is in advocating for the people she serves.
Ms. James started in June and has already made a big difference. There was a group of 128 Congolese immigrants, who were already Lutheran but interested
in joining the LCMS. They needed a place to worship and they also needed transportation. Kelsha found a 12 passenger van in great condition and wasn’t afraid to get it for the lowest price she could. LUMA’s Chairman of the Board, Vic Cook, said he would have had a hard time opening negotiations with such a low number. Kelsha’s response was clear and emphatic. “I didn’t care,” she says, “They needed it.”
The idea of need is one that is central to community outreach. In addition to an extensive background in this type of work, Kelsha grew up in the neighborhood, which means people will feel more at home as they talk to her and share what would really help them. It takes the guesswork out of ministry. What she learns from people in the community will help LUMA inform the work of congregations and pastors, as well as LUMA’s own ministry. In today’s world, people need to know that churches are providing something of value, because the church no longer has automatic influence. It must be earned. The team is communicating with members and working to set up a weekly Bible study, in addition to the food pantry they run.
Sharing Christ’s love with their homeless neighbors has also been a large
emphasis. Kelsha has conducted interviews for local media about LUMA’s
work providing hygiene supplies for people. They also partnered with Project Homeless Connect and Clean Slate to connect people with services such
as, medical and immunizations, vision screenings and glasses, dental services, identification services, family and child service providers, counselors, family portraits, haircuts, showers and more.
In addition, the LUMA team helped distribute backpacks to 105 kids in the neighborhood of Immanuel Lutheran Church and are planning an event to give away school supplies after the Christmas break. They’re branding this event
a “restock,” because most organizations only donate school supplies in the fall.
LUMA’s work is a long-term sustainable model that will strengthen the abilities of the ministries in the Missouri and Kansas Districts to meet people in urban
areas where they are. Kelsha’s relationships and outreach will help ensure that in proclaiming the Gospel, the dedicated church workers and lay leaders are taking an approach meaningful to their audience. To receive occasional updates about LUMA and this critical support, please follow the Missouri District on
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