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Remembering Pastor John

Pastor John in front of N Street Village's flagship building while it was being constructed (1996).

Pastor John in front of N Street Village’s flagship building while it was being constructed (1996).

Dear Village Friends,

As many of you know, Pastor John was the senior pastor of Luther Place Memorial Church from 1970-1997. Through his dedicated leadership and his unwavering commitment to the biblical concepts of hospitality and “welcome for the stranger,” and with the tireless support of his beloved wife Erna and the interfaith community that coalesced around him — N Street Village was born.

I got to know Pastor John and Erna well over my years at N Street Village. I know what a force of nature he was — and will continue to be. His passion for justice and his commitment to the poor and disadvantaged knew no boundaries and continued until his very last days. I had regular conversations with him over the past few months and he was true to form — funny, provocative, radical, spiritual, and loving. On the occasions when I heard him honored for his role in founding N Street Village, he would reply “I’m just an implementer — this was God’s plan.”

We invite you to join us Monday, March 9, 2015 at 11 a.m. as we celebrate Pastor John’s life. The service will be at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave. NW) and there will be a reception following in N Street Village’s multipurpose room. All are welcome.

A life well done indeed. From now forward, may we be true to his spirit in the work we do with our hearts and our hands.


Schroeder Stribling
N Street Village Executive Director

Read more about the amazing life of Pastor John on his Wikipedia page.

This Father’s Day — Let’s Celebrate!

IMG_5330This Father’s Day is very special for N Street Village.  It is a day to recognize all of our supporting fathers AND celebrate the 57th wedding anniversary of founding father Pastor John Steinbruck and his wife, Erna.  This year, Pastor John and Erna are asking for a very special anniversary gift: to help the homeless women at N Street Village.

And this year, your special anniversary gift will be matched by the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (up to $25,000) between now and June 30. Click here to make a donation on Pastor John and Erna’s anniversary page.

Today, Pastor John and Erna live in the Cadbury Continuing Care Retirement Home in Lewes, Delaware.  They send along their warm greetings to all the individuals and congregations that have been instrumental in growing N Street Village to be the largest provider specializing in supportive services and housing for homeless and low-income women in D.C.  

Now, you can double your gift and impact by making a donation today! Together, we can raise $50,000 for women who depend on N Street Village.

P.S.  Send Pastor John and Erna an anniversary message using the comment box on their anniversary page.

Donations can also be mailed to Pastor John and Erna Steinbruck at N Street Village, 1333 N Street NW, Washington DC, 20005.

From the Executive Director: A Founders’ Day Reflection

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N Street Village Executive Director Schroeder Stribling with Legacy Award honorees – Pastor John Steinbruck, Chuck Solem, and Joan Dodek

On December 2nd, our community gathered to celebrate 40 years of N Street Village serving our city’s most vulnerable.  Following a service at Luther Place Memorial Church, Schroeder Stribling, N Street Village’s Executive Director, shared this welcome with over 100 friends in attendance at the Founders’ Day Luncheon.

“Welcome and good morning all – what a beautiful day.

I have the pleasure and privilege of knowing most of you here, but for any whom I don’t know my name is Schroeder Stribling and I am the Executive Director of N Street Village.

Today we have the extraordinary opportunity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of our mission.  We started the day with a ceremony to place a mezuzah at the threshold of Erna’s House – our newest housing program which is named after Erna Steinbruck – Pastor John’s wife and one of our founders who is here with us today.  Erna’s House provides permanent supportive housing for 31 formerly chronically homeless women – a fitting tribute to the legacy of Erna herself.

I learned today at that ceremony that tradition holds that one should kiss the mezuzah whenever you leave the house – the purpose of this ritual is to be reminded of what God expects of us as we go out into the world.  As the founding of our mission reminds us – God expects of us to do the work of justice and compassion and mercy.  So this was a fitting note at the beginning of this day in which we have the opportunity to celebrate our 40th anniversary and to express gratitude to our founders whose commitment to these ideas first established this community and this safe haven.

We have much that we can and should feel proud of on this anniversary.

We are witness here to justice and healing every day. I can think of a few specific examples:  recently we had a graduation for our Recovery Housing residents who are working on addiction recovery, which was a beautiful celebration; our Ambassadors of Praise if you were in the service this morning; our recent performance at the Kennedy Center.  This week I had a conversation with a woman who helped me lead a tour to introduce some new people to N Street Village — she told the story of the recent death of her husband and the loss of other resources and how she was forced to sleep in her car until she finally came to safety at Luther Place Night Shelter.  And then this morning at Erna’s House we met a woman who wanted to very much meet “THE”  Erna Steinbruck, the “Erna” of “Erna’s House” — because she was so grateful for the safety and welcome of her new home.

And we witness justice in the way people treat each other in this community every day — in the dignity and respect that people afford one another and in the hospitality that is mutually exchanged.   We have much to be grateful for. This is the rich inheritance of our founding – and our founders – and it is an echo of the passion and the principles that they brought to this endeavor.

AND…Tomorrow — we should get right back to feeling disquieted and urgent about the justice and healing that is yet to be done.  I want to reference an article that many of you may have read in the Washington Post recently about our friend and collaborator Lynn Brantley who is here today. This article was discussing the state of hunger in the District currently and Lynn Brantley, one of the founders of Capitol Area Food Bank, shares her grave concerns about a lack of progress.  The article states: “Despite the success of the Food Bank, she remains unsatisfied.”

We should ALL remain unsatisfied.

Today N Street Village is serving over 1,200 people a year.  We provide 142 beds of housing for homeless and low-income women, we offer a breadth of supportive services, and we operate Eden House, which is affordable rental housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.  And we have many partner agencies that are providing similar critical and important services across the city.  AND yet — I am going to tell you some discouraging truths about the present moment, which will hopefully continue to inspire our passion and pursuit of justice — because I don’t think Pastor John would forgive me if I fail to at least agitate you just a little bit…

The annual survey of homelessness confirms that homelessness is still on the rise in our city, especially among women and families.  The median income of the women we serve here is $300 a month and a third of the women have no income at all.  Significant majorities of the people we serve are affected by addiction, mental illness, trauma, or chronic health problems.  Here in our city average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment has now risen to $1,100 a month and we have lost half of our inventory of affordable rental housing over the last decade. Our census tells us that one in five residents is living in poverty and unemployment almost doubled in 5 years to 10%. The rate of HIV infection is at epidemic levels – and, as we all know, other health and well-being disparities fall disgracefully right down along the lines of race and gender and social economic status.

So, Pastor John – I have agitated them… (Looks to Pastor John and receives a peace sign in response.)

So now let us take the celebration of today and allow it to reignite in all of us the inspiration of our founders.  Let us feel urgent about justice, and let us feel an undeniable impulse for compassion that will not let us rest.  Let the celebration of today give us strength and courage for the journey ahead.  Thank you all.”

N Street Village Founders Celebrate Book Release

N Street Village founder and current Board Member Gary Maring celebrated the release of his new book Faith, Social Justice, and Public Policy: A Progressive’s View in a heartfelt event at Luther Place Memorial Church this past Sunday.  Many of N Street Village’s original founders, including Pastor John and Erna Steinbruck, were in attendance to celebrate 40 years of social justice work at Luther Place Memorial Church and N Street Village.

Gary’s presentation highlighted the work accomplished over the last 40 years and went on to lay out the social justice challenges facing our city and nation today, such as rapidly increasing income inequality, shortage of good jobs and affordable housing, and federal budget proposals that unfairly target the most vulnerable.  He called for a new progressive movement within the church in cooperation with the progressive spiritual community, social justice oriented evangelicals, and secular social justice advocates.

Gary will sell and sign books this coming Sunday, June 24th after both Luther Place Memorial Church services with the profits going to N Street Village.  The book can also be purchased on Amazon.

Author Gary Maring shares excerpts from his book with those in attendance.

Erna Steinbruck shares a few words during the Q&A segment.

N Street Village Executive Director, Schroeder Stribling, offers remarks on the relevance of Gary’s book.

Those in attendance were lucky enough to have their newly purchased book signed by the author.

Maring family photo; a happy Father’s Day indeed!

View more photos from the day >>