Holy Family Partnership

The idea of an inner-city ministry in Chicago was developed in 1962 by the American Lutheran Church (a predecessor to the ELCA). Holy Family Lutheran Church was founded in 1965 by Rev. Fred Downing, a son of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Waverly. July 1-6, 1966, marked the first visit to Waverly, Iowa, by some of the children of Holy Family Lutheran Church.

In 1989 Holy Family began a community effort to rehabilitate the 1,400 highrise apartments at Cabrini Green, a Chicago Housing Administration project that housed 26,000 people. Every Saturday morning, volunteers would scrub, paint, and do small repair projects to bring care to residents. Originally called “Cabrini Alive,” the massive project was funded by Ameritex until 1994 and then by Housing and Urban Development.

That seventeen year long ministry has been changed by the gentrification of the area and Holy Family is refocusing its ministry in the areas of after school programs for the children of the community, and building bridges through “Artirum Village” in its vision of a community where people of all races and economic status come together.

Children from Holy Family have been coming to Waverly for more than forty years now. Both the host families and the students find that what sometimes begins with anxiety gives way to good times and even tears when the guests leave to go home again.

Holy Family Lutheran Church (in center) c. 1980.

Holy Family Lutheran Church (in center) c. 1980.

Holy Family and St. Paul's youth pick cucumbers at the community garden.

Holy Family and St. Paul's youth pick cucumbers at the community garden.