St. Francis of Assisi was called the “Second Christ.” Forsaking the wealth he was born into, he chose a life of poverty with the common people, and was so at home in the creation that he called the sun his brother and the moon his sister. Birds lighted on his shoulder and fierce animals tamed. This humble layman was so in love with the Savior Jesus Christ that in the end he suffered one of the first stigmata recorded, the marks of the suffering Christ in his own body.
Mission St. Francis’ motto is “Peace and Justice for All People.” Every liturgy is led by young boys and girls who are committed to the Risen Christ. They lead the confession of sin, the prayers, the reading of the psalm, the lessons and the creed. They distribute the elements for communion in an ancient liturgy graced with beautiful hymns.
The sermons apply Biblical teachings to today’s social issues: the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, lingering racism, the criminal justice system and the rate of incarceration, public schools, labor, the distribution of wealth to the top one tenth of one percent and many more. They emphasize society’s obligation to the poor and the need to preserve the environment. At the same time, scientific truth is embraced as God’s truth, and evolution is not scorned.
Mission St. Francis offers free GED classes to the public, taught by two retired teachers. It is preparing a series of art shows where local artists may display their works. It hosts a monthly women’s group that helps low income and physically challenged women achieve success in their own businesses. It hosts two AA groups, a Korean Presbyterian congregation, and a Church of Christ congregation. It provides full camperships for El Camino Pines Lutheran Camps to youth and adults who would not otherwise be able to participate. It gathers food for needy families. It provides a safe place for children to play basketball. It plans to offer “Mommy and Me” in the future. It hopes to turn the sanctuary into a multipurpose room to better serve the community with concerts, theatre, banquets, young people cheerleading, public forums and Bible studies as well as worship on Sunday mornings.
Mission St. Francis’ goal is that members will each be specialized in an area of community ministry, and that the Pastor will become knowledgeable of every existing ministry in the San Fernando Valley, forming friendships in each and offering aid and mutual sharing to independent congregations that may not have the support of a denomination and who may be interested in Lutheran theology.
The five siblings of the Peralta family (pictured) love this church because of the role they play in the service, as it gives them a sense of feeling wanted and loved, one story among the many examples of why Mission St. Francis exists today and is such a special place.