Along the Green Line: A Home for the Journey

Date posted: Tuesday 20 November 2018

What does place mean to you? It’s probably not something you think too hard about every day.


During our “Along the Green Line” series this fall, a group of young adults spent six weeks in consideration of a theology of place. Our context was the city of Saint Paul, specifically the areas right along the Metro Transit Green Line. We encountered myriad cultures, as well as people who are "doing church" in ways that many Lutherans may not have thought about.


One of the primary frameworks for our time together was Walter Brueggemann’s The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith. He indicated that in the Bible, the people of Israel may have related as being sojourners, wanderers, or exiles. We translated that to wondering where we are at in our own lives and the churches we visited. We used these terms to imagine what God might be up to today.


An Accidental Place

In our final week, we visited Humble Walk, a congregation rooted in the West Seventh neighborhood of Saint Paul. We did not meet in a church building but rather in Shamrock’s Irish Pub. Here, the church was celebrating their 10-year anniversary with an evening of Beer & Hymns. Pastor Jodi Houge started the church “accidentally," by inviting folks in the neighborhood to gather for liturgy at a coffee shop. These were folks who weren’t closely connected with any faith community at that time. Yet, they showed up to what she offered.


Over the years, Humble Walk has met in coffee shops, homes, a Jewish long-term care facility, and now a former church-building-turned-art-space. The church has a strong relationship with Shamrock’s Pub, where they gather for Beer & Hymns as well as times of storytelling.


With Pastor Jodi, we returned to sojourners, wanderers, or exiles. But we also discovered another way to be in a place: rootedness. Rootedness captures those spaces and times where someone is happy with where they are and feels “at home.” I think that is where Humble Walk fits. Pastor Jodi and the community have been rooted from their beginnings in the West Seventh neighborhood. They are rooted not in place but by people. It’s a different story from my church, St. Anthony Park Lutheran, which has been in the same place since 1902. There’s nothing wrong with being rooted, of course. St. Anthony Park Lutheran continues to ask questions today about our purpose in the community. But, these categories helped us see that no matter where we find ourselves in our lives, it can be a “place” that is meaningful.


Humble Walk made me realize that church can happen anywhere — it means something a little different for everyone. Not every congregation is about a patch of land. Church is about being among people who share the love of God with one another and are open to seeing that in ways you haven’t before.


Brita Moore

St. Anthony Park Lutheran, St. Paul