Move Forward in Mission
December 3, 2020
Dear Members & Friends of St. John's,
This letter is to inform you of the Council's decision to change the name of Goethe Hall. We know this may come as a surprise, so we wish to explain part of the rationale. In the late 1960s St. John's refurbished the space then known as Centennial Hall partially with monies from the estate of Charles M. Goethe. Although never a member of SJLC, C.M. Goethe was the grandson of our founding pastor, Matthias Goethe. In consideration of the monies expended and the request of the estate the hall was renamed for Matthias Goethe and a plaque recognizing the donation was placed in the hall.
As many Sacramentans are aware, in recent years schools, parks, and other buildings formerly named for C.M. Goethe have been renamed as a repudiation of his very public involvement with the Eugenics movement and his racially biased real estate practices.
We believe to move forward in mission in accord with our values, it is time for us to give the hall a new name. The name Goethe has become anathema in our city and potentially a barrier to full welcome. This is in no way a negative move-it is not an attempt to erase our past or to denigrate our founding pastor. Rather it is an opportunity for us to more fully embrace this space for all it has been, is now, and will be in the future. It has been the primary space for hospitality both for those within our congregation and for our neighbors. St. John's Shelter, Family Promise, Thanksgiving and Easter dinners, Central Downtown Food Basket, Safe Ground, Pilgrimage, Food Pantry (Snack Stop), respite programs - all of these ministries are evidence that this space is like the window of St. John's - facing outward to our neighbors and our city- it is one of the places we do our work of LIVING GOD'S LOVE IN THE WORLD!
After careful and prayerful consideration, the decision has been made to rename this awesome seat of ministry as The Gathering Place. The process going forward will include gathering virtually at the upcoming Council Matters Meeting on Sunday, December 13 at 10:15, where there will be an opportunity to hear your thoughts, and for you to hear more from the Council on this topic.
We, the leadership and Council of St. John's, look forward to sharing with you as we move into the new church year with great optimism.
Pastor Frank Espegren & Congregational Council President Kim Hendricks