Lutherans in the Loop: The Story of HTLoop

by Julie B. Sevig, Associate Editor, The Lutheran

From 2009 through 2014, there was no Lutheran worship presence in downtown Chicago. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Wrigleyville—a congregation described as both “traditional” and “progressive”—has changed that. Since February 2014, Holy Trinity has offered Saturday evening worship at Grace Place in the South Loop, 637 Dearborn, known as HTLoop.

Previously, Christ the King Lutheran Church met at Grace Place and other downtown locations, but closed in 2009. When Craig Mueller, one of Holy Trinity’s pastors, in 2012 asked Metropolitan Chicago Synod Bishop Wayne Miller whether there were any plans for a mission congregation in the Loop, Miller told him the cost of real estate was prohibitive. Mueller began to think about space sharing and full communion partners in the Loop, which led him to Grace Place, home of Grace Episcopal Church and several not-for-profit groups.

Holy Trinity is a growing congregation just west of Wrigley Field, known for its multi-sensory, contemplative and traditional worship; relevant preaching to a congregation filled with young adults and young families; and progressive thinking and inclusive welcome.

Initial funding for space sharing came from Holy Trinity members and friends, and a Fund for Mission Grant from the Synod. Since then, Holy Trinity has received a grant to become an Affiliated Mission Community of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod. As part of this mission initiative, Pastor Ben Adams was called as assistant pastor and mission developer in March 2015.

A common link to both Holy Trinity’s mission in the Loop and the closing of Christ the King Lutheran Church are Kelly and Tana Fryer. Beginning in 2010, the Fryers led Holy Trinity on a long-term discernment process called “Voices” in which the congregation listened “for God’s call now/what’s next.” The Fryers had also pastorally led Christ the King in its final year and Christ the King’s discussion that resulted in its decision to close and give its money away, including a portion to the synod for a future ministry start up in the South Loop.

The Fryers, now in Arizona, are thrilled with the new mission, recalling that after the Voices process, Kelly Fryer told Michelle Sevig, Holy Trinity’s associate pastor, that Holy Trinity “should plant a new church.”