A few downtown churches are shedding their traditional skins and slipping into an outfit considered more progressive. With the theme of everyone being equal in God’s love, these institutions have broken out to welcome lifestyles others may look at with downcast eyes.
Allie Lauritson, of the Gateway Church, gathers with a group of 15 bakers every month to make homemade goodies to be delivered to the women who work at The Lumberyard, an area strip club. Lauritson says this program, called “Sweets and Stilettos,” is not a façade to try to convert the girls’ beliefs or convince them to stop dancing. The point is to show them a love that has “no strings attached,” she said. The group has received positive feedback from the exotic dancers.
“Christians are better known today for their judging whispers and narrow-mindedness than actually acting like Jesus,” expressed Lauritson. But it appears as though some churches are attempting to combat this behavior and are moving forward.
Although Iowa was the third state to legalize same-sex marriage, in the church community a homosexual can sometimes be considered wrong or sinful. But not at St. John’s Lutheran. To them, LGBT folks are God’s children, too. Their Rainbow Ministry supports the LGBT men and women of the community.
“The church is like a rainbow in that it embraces the full spectrum of God’s creation in all its diversity,” reads the group’s description, while extending a hand of acceptance to those who may have felt excluded by other churches.
For the past 25 years, Corinthian Baptist Church has been home to a Prison Ministry. Made up of 15 volunteers, some coming from as far as St. Paul, the group travels every fourth Sunday of the month to the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville to conduct a service. Prison Ministry Coordinator Diann Walls Kipper says the volunteers enjoy spreading the gospel outside of their own churches. The goal is to help the women gain a strong sense of Christian character through both worship and prayer.
“Over the years, we had many inmates receive salvation and be baptized,” she said. “The inmates tell us they enjoy our ministry and look forward to us coming to worship with them, so the ministry continues.”
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