Lutheran Church of the Foothills (LCF) was kicked out of a bar. It was Easter morning, April 1, 1979. The new, as-yet-unnamed congregation was looking forward to worshiping together for the first time, and the proprietors of Dorsey’s Den had agreed to allow them to hold services in the bar. At that time, there were few public or private places in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains that were willing or able to provide space to a community of faith. The small group of servants who approached the bar that Easter morning found the door locked and a sign indicating the business had closed—permanently.
Surprised at the lockout but not discouraged, the congregation met each Sunday in the pastor’s home until their multipurpose building was completed in March 1980.
LCF, a “Reconciling In Christ” congregation, expanded their original building in 1993 to include a sanctuary, and welcomes all to its two styles of worship services. Music is led by a choir, an organ, a piano, and a banjo, with occasional guest musicians playing trumpets, flutes, a French horn, and clarinets, and our children joining in with percussion instruments. A bluegrass band has been known to annually raise the roof at a Desert Song style service.
The church provides meeting space for at least 18 organizations, among them are homeowners’ associations, AA, Al-Anon, GriefShare, and The West (a local nonprofit supporting charities that benefit women and children).
Although the church building is filled with dynamic activity, much of the congregation’s “life” is lived beyond the church doors, as the servants commit to being “a community rooted in Christ, striving to grow in faith, in love for all, in service to our community and world.”
In addition to its involvement with programs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Grand Canyon Synod, LCF partners with Interfaith Community Services, Arizona Interfaith Power and Light, Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN), and Sunrise Neighborhood Assistance Program (SNAP), whose office is in the church.
Each year for many years, servants have gathered in the church’s kitchen to cut 400 pounds of meat to be used in stew that will feed 1,200 homeless men. One Friday each month, LCF servants also prepare and serve a complete meal—anchored by the stew—to about 100 men at the Primavera Men’s Shelter.
In the past year, Community Service efforts have resulted in donations and/or volunteer support for TIHAN’s Poz Café, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Reading Seed, Youth On Their Own, Habitat for Humanity, St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic in Nogales, Pangani Lutheran Children’s Centre in Kenya, families of students attending Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, Gospel Rescue Mission’s Women & Children’s Center, Toys for Tots, University of Arizona Lutheran Campus Ministry, and ELCA World Hunger. The recently launched Sunday Dollars program now gives servants an opportunity to donate to monthly service efforts by placing loose dollar bills in a Sunday offering plate.
A “Serving in Mission Wall” highlights the actions of LCF servants who support and/or volunteer with organizations and efforts that are not among those actively supported by programs of the congregation.
The congregation’s book club, Read & Yak, meets monthly and hosts the annual “Saturday Morning Live,” a community wide, free event featuring a guest author. The LCF Guild holds the annual fundraiser Trinkets, Treasures & A Silent Auction, with proceeds benefiting special projects of the church. An annual Ministry Fair offers information about the many opportunities to serve. It encourages volunteers by matching the interests of the servants to the needs of the congregation and the community.
There are few children/youth at LCF, but what they lack in number, they make up for in leadership. They read lessons, usher, assist with communion, and play percussion instruments during worship services. And in doing so, they inspire servants of all ages. LCF supports the participation of their teens in the ELCA Youth Gatherings.
Among the various service teams at LCF, the Prayer Shawl Team knits or crochets shawls for people needing comfort, healing, and strength, and holds them in prayer. And a team of Eucharistic Ministers serves communion to the homebound and is hoping to develop transport solutions for those who are unable to attend services because they lack transportation.
In 2017, outside of the regular programs and budget of LCF, the Lutheran Church of the Foothills Endowment Fund made its first distributions. With the assistance of recommendations from the congregation, support was provided to Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest Refugee Focus, University of Arizona Lutheran Campus Ministry, YWCA Southern Arizona, Southern Arizona Lutheran Camping Association, and Grand Canyon Synod Lay Ministry Scholarship Fund.
In 2006 Lutheran Church of the Foothills became a “Reconciling In Christ” congregation in partnership with Lutheran Concerned, North America as it seeks to underscore its welcome to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
If you are currently looking for a new church home in the foothills neighborhood of Tucson, you are welcome to worship at Lutheran Church of the Foothills, and experience some of the joy and heart of service of this congregation for yourself.