From Field to Field

Whether in Mexico or New Orleans, the Rev. Andrew Schlund continues to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments to his flock.

Our Lord first called the Rev. Andrew Schlund out of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, to serve as pastor of El Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd) Lutheran Church in Mexico City, to reach out to those in need of Christ, and to be a theological educator both in Mexico and in the Dominican Republic as a missionary of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). For five years, he faithfully served the saints in day-to-day parish work and assisted fellow missionary Rev. Daniel Conrad in preparing pastors as undershepherds of Christ’s flock while reaching into the community surrounding the church.

The second time God called him in 2020, He needed him in New Orleans.

Serving in New Orleans

St. Paul Lutheran Church in the Marigny area of New Orleans, situated just blocks from the French Quarter, is one of the oldest churches in the LCMS. Founded in 1840, it predates the Missouri Synod and has a remarkable backstory. The church burned several times. An arsonist was responsible for the complete destruction in one of those fires. It suffered tremendous damage from multiple hurricanes. The congregation weathered the Civil War and suffered from epidemics of yellow fever, smallpox and COVID-19. Despite the hardships, the congregation often found the large sanctuary too small for the number of worshipers. St. Paul joined the Missouri Synod in 1874.

Storm clouds gather near St. Paul Lutheran Church in the Marigny area of New Orleans in July.

Almost 150 years later, the church still stands in a neighborhood of houses built in the signature architecture styles of New Orleans. “St. Paul Lutheran Church has kept its presence in a city that has the same challenges of any American metropolis,” said congregational president Michael Riemer. “Our membership declined drastically after Hurricane Katrina, and attendance was further diminished with the COVID-19 pandemic and the pervasive societal trend that church attendance isn’t as important as many once believed.” Despite the obstacles, there are people in the community who need to hear the Word of God and come to His house.

Schlund distributes the Sacrament at St. Paul Lutheran Church in July. Below (from left): Congregation member Daisy Orth greets Schlund after worship. The exterior sign of the church. Michael Riemer carries the processional cross.

“Being a missionary has given me a different set of lenses through which to view the community here,” said Schlund. Yet despite the varying nuances from mission field to mission field, Schlund said the fundamental work is “preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments. That is the essential work of the church. And so, all of what we do is in service to that aspect of our mission. That is at the heart of it.”

Schlund isn’t the first missionary called by St. Paul. Fifty years ago, the congregation extended a call to the Rev. Richard Meyer, a missionary to Japan. “[He] accepted that call and served St. Paul from 1971 to 1978 before being elected president of the Southern District,” Riemer said.

Reaching Out

The culture in New Orleans is different from Mexico City, but Schlund is ready to reach out to new neighbors as he embarks on the work the Lord has called him to do. “I think being a small church in Mexico City really helped me to recognize the need of the congregation to actually go out there and reach out to the community, not just to really exist as a congregation,” said Schlund. “So that’s really giving me a good idea of looking at different ways to connect with the community, different possibilities of service that we have, different gifts that we possess that we can use to connect to the community and build relationships and bring people in, hopefully to the congregation.”

The congregation is examining ways to expand their outreach, by offering hot meals, hosting a health fair and flea market, and beefing up its food pantry — in addition to purposefully reconnecting with members who drifted away during the pandemic.

“What is preached to us in church isn’t just for us sitting there; we must carry it with us, and we must share it in word and in our actions all the other days of the week,” Riemer added.

Regardless of what form that outreach takes, Schlund continues to preach the Word of God and distribute the Sacraments to the saints, just as St. Paul’s pastor has done every Sunday of the church’s storied history. On other days, Schlund visits with his fellow brothers in the ministry, cares for the sick and dying, and leads Bible study.

There are some challenges to his new role in New Orleans. After speaking and thinking in Spanish for the last few years, Schlund sometimes momentarily has trouble remembering the English translation of something. But the content — the Word of God — is still the same, even if the language is different. It will just take some time for him to acclimate.

The Lord may see fit to keep Schlund at St. Paul, or He may move him to another stateside parish or a different foreign mission field, just as He does for His called workers around the world. No matter where the workers labor, Schlund urges the brothers and sisters in Christ to pray often for them. In Christ, they are never alone.

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Pray with Us

Lord of the church, You call men to serve You and Your people with Your Means of Grace. We thank You for faithful pastors who serve where and when You call. Bless Pastor Schlund, all pastors and all missionaries as they proclaim Christ to people wherever You gather them. Bless also those who hear with faith, that Your Word might not return empty, but accomplish that which You desire through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

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Erik M. Lunsford 

Managing photojournalist for LCMS Communications.

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