Our History

LMM Through the Years​

LMM’s mission is to challenge systemic injustices faced by those who are oppressed, forgotten, and hurting by providing responsive solutions, advocacy, and hope. LMM has embraced this mission for more than 50 years.

The Early Days

According to the late Rev. Richard E. Sering, founding executive director of LMM, such a mission statement and such a mission don’t just happen. He wrote:

“It was not conjured up in a backroom by clergy ennobled by good Lutheran beer. It gets hammered out over years of following Jesus’ call to participate with him in His kingdom of God ministry—preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind and setting at liberty those who are oppressed. Wielding the hammers over the years were clergy and lay, younger and older, black and white, male and female, persons with disabilities and able bodied persons, wealthy and modest means, street educated and highly educated, Lutherans, Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, UCC members, Baptists, Jews, Muslims, agnostics and, goodness, probably a few secular humanists.”

LMM’s conception goes back to the pain of the upheaval in the Hough area of Cleveland in the mid 1960s. The campus pastor at Case Western Reserve University called together the All Lutheran Pastoral Conference of Cleveland to consider an appropriate response. Misunderstood by many was a central figure for peace and neighborhood progress, Harllel Jones, often known as “Harllel X” (late director of Community Re-Entry’s Denise McNair New Life Center and longtime civil rights advocate). Harllel was the prime minister of the Afro Set, Cleveland’s most powerful black nationalist organization. Harllel spoke to the pastors, along with Concordia Seminary Professor Dr. David Schuller, an urbanologist. Each in his own way gave the same message; the clergy should unite and act.

Richard E. Sering, Founder

Rev. Richard E. Sering, Founder of LMM

The founding group phoned the Lutheran Human Relations Association of America for assistance. A young Lutheran minister was brought to town from St. Louis in the summer of 1967. Rev. Richard Sering, his wife Susan and baby Jennie lived in the Commodore Hotel that summer. Sering assisted Lutherans to listen to the city, learn of positive initiatives and participate. He also designed a plan for a continuing agency, left the plan with the committee and returned with his family to their parish in St. Louis. The wheels of Lutheran cooperation ground slowly but steadily and, in 1969, a cooperative arrangement was reached involving all Lutheran church bodies. Dick Sering was officially called to direct the effort. He and his family, which now also included a son, Michael, moved to Cleveland in May, 1969, and Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry began.

Rooted firmly in the prophet Micah’s command to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8), LMM staff went about “doing justice,” identifying injustice and working with the people involved to build the right relationships in the community. The philosophy of servant leadership, apparent in the unique structure of LMM, an upside down table of organization, provided an administrative core that undergirded ministry efforts—efforts that, for more than 50 years, have influenced legislation, gained national recognition and, most importantly, touched the lives of people who were oppressed, forgotten and hurting.

Urban upheaval begins in Cleveland’s Hough Neighborhood and Lutheran congregations respond, resulting in the founding of LMM
Social justice advocacy & community organizing; the start of Community Re-Entry (CR) and Long Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO)
Establishment of Linking Employment Abilities and Potential (LEAP), Guardianship Services and Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio (MAHO)
LMM youth programs (Support To At-Risk Teens) begins and grows; Women’s Re-Entry Network (WREN) started; CR, LEAP and the Volunteer Guardianship Program expand into Lorain County
Transitions in leadership; strengthening of administrative infrastructure; expansion into Housing & Shelter programming
LMM headquarters moves into renovated, green building at 4515 Superior Avenue; LMM defines main program areas as Housing & Shelter, Workforce Development, and Health & Wellness Services; Chopping for Change (C4C) program begins; agency celebrates it’s 50th Anniversary at the historic League Park in the Hough Neighborhood; Founders Day and The Founders Circle are established
Advocacy footprint expands; successful navigation of safety and programming during COVID-19 pandemic; LMM signs on to operate a future Youth Drop-In Center, the first of its kind in Cleveland; change in executive leadership

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