Neighborhood Church Hosts Fundraising Event, Starts Wall Repairs


By Jean Brannum |

Participants wrote on the soon-to-be-restored walls of the church. Courtesy of Pastor Katrina Foster

The writing is on the walls, St John’s Lutheran Church is getting much-needed wall repairs through funding from its members and community. 

The “Sinners Repaint” event, which included performances by local musicians and an activity where attendees could write on the walls, happened on June 29. The event raised money to get rid of lead paint in the 157-year-old church and repaint the walls. Pastor Katrina Foster said that the council is finalizing the color choice, which will be a shade of blue to go with the permanent fixtures, such as the stained glass window depicting the “lynching of Jesus.”

Foster said that the church was able to make the first $77,000 payment for the repairs, and is raising the rest of the money through pledges and donations. The church has a fundraising goal of $235.000.  

Local band Marvele Oaks performed. The band comprises husband and wife duo Tess and Alex Demir, who are long-time members of the church. Tess Demir is treasurer of the church council. Another guitar performance filled the church with the song “Oh Lord.”

The most popular activity was writing on the soon-to-be-transformed walls. Attendants could get a marker and write or draw what they pleased. Foster said the kids “had a blast.” 

Foster noted that the average age of the congregation is thirty-five. She said that the church has attracted many young people since she arrived in 2015. However, there are still many longtime members, even one who has known St. John’s her whole life.

Longtime church member Ruth writes on the walls. Foster and others jokingly called Ruth a “graffiti gangster for Christ.” Courtesy of Pastor Foster. 

Ruth, a 98-year-old woman who was baptized at St. John’s wrote “Pillars of Faith” on one of the poles in the building. The Pastor visits her regularly in Sunnyside. Ruth used to travel to the church by rowboat across the Newtown Creek, Foster said. 

Maintenance has started on the church and the St. John’s congregation is temporarily sharing space with Ascension Episcopal church at 127 Kent St. The Worship service is noon for the next three months while the repairs are underway. The Ascension Episcopal church previously had a large-scale renovation where its congregation used St John’s space for about nine months.

In a previous Greenpoint Star interview, Foster discussed how the chipped walls hurt evangelization efforts. Many people discover the church while on a neighborhood stroll. “Evangelism is a Greek word, and it means to tell good news and invite,” Foster said. “So when you walk in here and you look at this, you think, ‘Ah, this congregation,  are they still open?’”

Foster fashioned a makeshift office in the worship space to greet visitors, an alternative to her previous office in the basement where she said she was hidden from passers-by.

While the repairs are much needed to make the church safe and restored to its previous beauty, Foster is eager to get back and resume the Saturday meals and ministries, such as the Boy Scout meetings. 

“We want nothing more than to get back in there and to get everything up and running again so that we can love Jesus by serving our neighbors,” Foster said.

Donations can be made on the church website at through Donately or GoFundMe. Foster mentioned that donations are tax-deductible. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *