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Hollywood Lutheran Church Thai Fellowship

Hollywood Lutheran Church Thai Fellowship

When Pastor Pongtep “Golf” Chutimapongrat, who pastors a Thai congregation at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Whittier, began receiving calls from members of the Thai community in North Hollywood and Burbank, he knew that he was being called by God to meet the spiritual needs of this population. After a few months of people carpooling from the San Fernando Valley to Whittier, it was clear it was time to establish a Lutheran Thai Fellowship in the Hollywood area. Accordingly, Pastor Golf and Thai fellowship members began meeting at the Burbank-area Thai restaurant owned by one of the men who’d been traveling to Whittier.

What began as a house church quickly outgrew the homes of the participants. Therefore, Pastor Golf and Pastor Hitoshi Adachi, Director of Asian Ministries for both the Pacifica and the Southwest California synods, met with Pastor Marj Funk-Pihl to see if there was any possibility of being hosted by a local Lutheran congregation. After researching area demographics, Pastor Golf thought either St. Matthew’s in North Hollywood or Hollywood Lutheran would be the most appropriate site. Although the presence of a very large Buddhist Temple in North Hollywood – the largest outside of Thailand – meant that much of the Thai population of that area is Buddhist, many Thais living close to Hollywood Lutheran find their cultural loci less in the Temple than at the nearby Barnsdall Park, which hosts a Thai community celebration, and in the close proximity of Thai Town.

Pastor Jim Bessey and the council of Hollywood Lutheran generously agreed to host the new Thai Fellowship, enabling them to participate in Saturday morning worship and community time, which Pastor Golf has been leading since early March. We ask for your prayers and support so that this ministry will grow and reach more of the Thai community of Hollywood, Burbank, and the surrounding areas.

The Southwest Synod Stories of Faith in Action features images and stories of people whose lives have been touched by the ministries of the Southwest Synod of the ELCA, all made possible by congregational offerings.