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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.

Soviet Jewry Exhibit at Washington Hebrew Congregation

By Schroeder Stribling, N Street Village Executive Director

It was an honor to be present for the opening of an exhibit at Washington Hebrew Congregation on Sunday night December 8th, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the vigil and movement to liberate Soviet Jewry.  N Street Village is especially honored by the deep ties that we share to the leaders in this extraordinary history – including Norman and Joanne Goldstein, Marcia and (the late) Rabbi Joe Weinberg, Joan and Oscar Dodek, and Pastor John and Erna Steinbruck, among others.

The Soviet Jewry exhibit – which will be up until April 6, 2014 – is a great testimony to our human potential.  This history is a vibrant example of the fact that we can indeed unite and work in communion and in community for justice, peace and freedom.  Especially this past week as we honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela, may we be bound together in hope and determination to continue our efforts and see the promise ahead for the social justice we have yet to achieve.

 

A country without compassion?

This blog post is in response to Charles Blow’s August 9, 2013 New York Times op-ed piece, “A Town Without Pity,” which was about America’s attitude toward the poor and homeless.  Blow’s article is a must read for all who are concerned about the poor and disenfranchised.  As Blow comments in his article, we were once the land of liberty that welcomed the world’s poor and homeless.

Yet today, many in America seem to have nothing but disdain for the poor.  Only last week, I wrote about the vengeance being unleashed in the House of Representatives against safety net programs for the poor. They propose massive cuts in these programs often wrapped in language of contempt for those in poverty.  As one who has been involved for 40 years with my congregation, Luther Place Memorial Church in D.C., serving homeless women at N Street Village, I want to offer a different perspective on the issues of poverty and homelessness in America then the one so prevalent in America today including in the chambers of our Congress.

My pastor of 27 years, John Steinbruck, gradually helped open our congregation’s eyes to the social justice message of the biblical texts, and he guided us in how to be good stewards of our church property and resources. N Street Village, a continuum of services for homeless and very low-income women, grew out of some old, run-down townhouses and a parking lot owned by the church. N Street Village supporters from multiple faith traditions helped build this amazing place of healing.

N Street Village

When our new facility was opened in 1996, we were proud to display biblical texts of compassion, justice, and hospitality on the entrance to N Street Village.

We discovered through working with the homeless women who came through our doors that they were not lazy freeloaders seeking to get a handout as often is the claim by those who want to cut safety net programs.  These women were desperately seeking help for lives that had seen abuse, abandonment, mental illness, addictions, loss of jobs and housing, and more.  We have witnessed so many wonderful transformations on our block through our customized safety net programs for the homeless.  N Street Village now serves more than 60 percent of the population of homeless women in DC and is one of the premier programs in the nation offering a complete continuum of services to women seeking to reestablish wholeness of life. Government support, along with private charity, and private participation were all instrumental in achieving our success.

Religious historian Karen Armstrong identifies compassion as the most important and common tenet among the world’s major religions and the Dalai Lama (who visited N Street Village in 2007) similarly says that compassion and social justice is the common message of all the world’s major religions. I end with words of Karen Armstrong who says: “We can either empathize with those aspects of our traditions, religious or secular, that speak of hatred, exclusion, and suspicion, or work with those that stress the interdependence and equality of all human beings.” The choice belongs to each of us.

Gary MaringBy Gary Maring – Gary is a member of Luther Place Membership Church and one of the founders of N Street Village.  He continues his commitment to N Street Village through membership on the Board of Directors and volunteer service.  Out of his 40 years of experience serving at Luther Place and N Street Village, he was moved to publish “Faith, Social Justice, and Public Policy.” He also authors a blog, which focuses “Faith, Social Justice, and Public Policy.”

You Helped Pat

PatOne night after being beaten and verbally assaulted one too many times, Pat finally got the confidence to leave her abusive boyfriend.

With only the clothes on her back, Pat left – and for the first time in her life, she was homeless. Looking for somewhere safe where she could focus on getting her life back together, Pat found N Street Village.

At the Village, Pat moved into Luther Place Night Shelter, a transitional shelter where a woman can stay until she locates more permanent housing. Pat began feeling hopeful again as she started the hard process of rebuilding her life.

After working with our Employment and Education Center, Pat now has two jobs and is able to afford a place of her own. Pat is happy again—she is safe from violence, employed, and has her own home.

There are so many more women like Pat who find themselves in circumstances they could never have imagined. Please make a gift this holiday season to offer these women a new beginning.

Because of your support of N Street Village, our city’s most vulnerable women have a place to go.  By making a gift today, you will ensure that every woman who walks through our doors in 2013 is offered care and compassion.  These women are counting on you.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy New Year,
Schroeder Stribling
Executive Director

P.S. Be sure to make your tax-deductible gift before December 31 – you will be helping women like Pat make a new start in 2013.

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.”

Let’s do it again! Walk with N Street Village!

 

We did it last year…
Last year, N Street Village recruited enough walkers to receive $50,000 from Fannie Mae.

Let’s do it again…
This year, when we recruit 4,000 walkers (in-person or virtual), we will receive $50,000 from Fannie Mae.  Join our team today!

Walk with us Saturday, October 6th through our Logan Circle neighborhood.  Following our Community Walk, join us for SoulFeast – a block party co-hosted with our neighbors at Luther Place Memorial Church. You can walk with us or you can register as a “virtual walker” and count towards our walker goal without attending our Community Walk. Join our team!

Registration fees are $35 for virtual walkers, $30 for adult walkers, and $25 for walkers 25 years old and younger.  Every walker counts towards our goal of 4,000 walkers. Sign up your friends and family at the same time — just enter each name and click “register another walker” before making final payment.

If we reach our goal of 4,000 walkers, the additional $50,000 N Street Village receives will allow us to provide housing and supportive services for women in recovery living in our Transitional Housing program. Watch as Carol, a resident of our Transitional Housing program, shares what support from walkers like you means to her and so many other women at the Village.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OxW4wRFckY&w=853&h=480]

Are you interested in supporting N Street Village’s Community Walk in other ways?  Learn about opportunities to join our Community Walk Committee, sponsor a client walker, or host a community walk/event on our Community Walk page.

 

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 >>

Book Release to Benefit N Street Village

Join us as we celebrate the release of Faith, Social Justice, and Public Policy: A Progressive’s View by author Gary Maring, an N Street Village founder and current Board Member. The event will feature a brief book presentation, reception, and performance by N Street Village’s women’s gospel choirs. All proceeds from event book sales will benefit N Street Village programs.

Date: Sunday, June 17, 2012
Time:
1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave, NW, Washington, D.C.)
Getting Here: Limited street parking available. You may park in the garage at the Washington Plaza Hotel across the street from the church for $4; ask church for parking voucher.  Luther Place Memorial Church is within a few blocks of the McPherson Square (orange and blue) Metro station. All are welcome! No need to RSVP.


Gary says, “For me, this book is the culmination of a year-plus endeavor to get down on paper what I have learned over the last 40 years being involved at Luther Place Memorial Church and immersed in development of the most amazing interreligious social justice initiatives like N Street Village.”

Schroeder Stribling, Executive Director of N Street Village says about the book, “Gary Maring’s voice is critically important for our times – this book is an exhortation to people of all spiritual traditions to respond in faith to the serious social justice issues of today. His perspective echoes the passionate response of the interfaith founders of N Street Village which has become a demonstration of hope and reconciliation on the small scale of our city. I trust that his words will inspire and encourage readers to create and sustain other such effective examples of justice and social change.”

Read more about the event and book on Gary’s blogPlease contact Gary Maring at m.gmaring@verizon.net with any questions regarding the event.