The Center for Urban Education Ministries serves leaders of Lutheran schools, churches, institutions and agencies, helping them to provide innovative and effective Christian education ministries and opportunities for children, youth and families who live in urban areas. When the Center began in 1980, there was a strong cadre of urban Lutheran schools and churches serving students and families in our cities. Unfortunately, due to many circumstances, the numbers have drastically declined. Our schools and churches have closed where they are most needed.
Martin Luther wrote, “For the sake of the church, we must have and maintain Christian schools.” For years, Lutheran and other parochial schools have provided quality Christian education, nurturing children in mind, body and spirit. These children grow to be mature adults who contribute to society in their own right.
Lutherans have a long history of educating students well. Educating children of poverty in the city is our vocation and our call to service. Unless there is a concerted effort to identify, train, support, connect and retain leaders suited for urban ministry, combined with an effort to identify and share new models for education, urban Lutheran or Lutheran-led schools will soon be missing from the lives of those who most need us. This is simply not an option.
The Center for Urban Education Ministries began as a dream of a few dedicated urban educators and philanthropists seeking to support those involved in urban ministry. Charles and Mary Gundelach, Les Bayer, Richard Engebrecht and Mel Kieschnick helped establish the Center at Concordia University, Bronxville, in the fall of 1980. The Center ceased operations at Concordia and was moved to Wheat Ridge Ministries in 2006. From 2006 until 2013, the Center was reestablished by Wheat Ridge Ministries, continuing the visionary work of its original founders.
Beginning in the fall of 2013, the Center for Urban Education Ministries was established as a separate entity, gaining its own 501c3 status. The Center now works in close partnership with Lutheran Social Services of New York. The Center will continue to connect and equip leaders of schools, churches and agencies with resources to help provide quality, innovative educational opportunities to children, youth and families in our cities around the U.S.
The last five years have been both exciting and challenging ones for the Center for Urban Education Ministries. Through generous grants from donors and foundations, we have embarked upon a journey of discovery, sharing insights with the larger Lutheran and faith-based communities, and striving to give hope to Lutherans serving in urban areas.