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Longtime Ballard pastor heading to U District

Posted by Geeky Swedes on March 30th, 2011

After 11 years at the pulpit of Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard, Reverend Rich Lang is heading to the University District.

The congregation at Trinity United Methodist

“Every pastor has a limited set of skills,” Lang says, “What I do best is to help congregations refocus their mission (reason to exist). Eleven years ago Trinity was an aging, declining congregation that had lost its direction and focus. Today, the church is growing, the morale is exciting with young singles and young families as our growing edge. I think God has called me into a ‘raising the dead’ type ministry. Trinity is no longer dead. It has come fully alive!”

Over the years, Rev. Lang has been very outspoken about homeless rights and was even arrested during a protest in 2008. But as Lang says, the activism doesn’t start or stop with him. “The values of social justice run far deeper than just the pastor, and those values were there before I got here: I just reminded folks of what they already knew,” he tells us. “It was Tent City and the neighborhood’s angry response to Tent City that awoke the church to its need to be Christ even in the midst of conflict. When all was said and done what became clear was that the vast majority of our neighborhood live lives of mercy and compassion, the tiny minority of bullies could not carry the day. I’m very proud to have been privileged to be their pastor. Realistically, pastors come and go, but Christian faith is a commitment to social justice, or it is not faith at all.”

Rev. Lang’s last sermon in Ballard will be on June 12th before saying goodbye to the congregation the following week. “It will be a very difficult emotional day. One cannot say goodbye without some measure of a broken heart but that is always the risk of daring to love another. I’ll take that risk every time because the joy always trumps the pain.” He will start the next phase of his life at University Temple United Methodist Church on July 1st. As of right now his replacement hasn’t been chosen, but the successor will hopefully be named in April, Lang says.

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52 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Norse // Mar 30, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    And a big Hoorah to Pastor Lang and his mission on behalf of the homeless. May he take it to the University Temple United Methodist Church. Let us not forget the night of December 16, 2009.

  • 2 Barfly // Mar 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Yes, take it there! Anywhere but here.

  • 3 Barfly // Mar 30, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Can he take his flock of drunken hobos with him?

    Don’t let the door hit you in the a$$ on the way out.

  • 4 Nora Bell // Mar 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Goodbye Rev. Lang. And thank you.

  • 5 Guest // Mar 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Good riddance!

  • 6 Magia76 // Mar 30, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    He will be greatly missed…depending on his replacement, I may have to follow him to the U-District!

  • 7 Guest // Mar 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Hopefully we won’t get another militant, bible-thumping marxist.

  • 8 Donmeyer // Mar 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Rich is a good, good man. You’ll be missed!

  • 9 Ted // Mar 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Another “9/11 was an inside job” Truther lunatic. Seriously, Lang is unbalanced ranter.

  • 10 Sean W // Mar 30, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Rich Lang is a great guy with a great heart. He stepped up and tried to make a change in the community. For that I give him respect.

    Barfly do you make a positive impact elsewhere?

  • 11 Jim // Mar 30, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    The complete identification of Christianity with left-wing politics is the great failure of mainline Protestantism in Seattle and similar places. Being bothered by the bad behavior of some homeless people does not make you a bully. TUM and such churches glory in their righteousness- they are the modern equivalent of praying on the street corner. Lang is a Pharisee, it’s just that he’s a Sermon on the Mount Pharisee instead of a Deuteronomy Pharisee.

  • 12 BuffaloHawk // Mar 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    What happened Dec 16th 2009 ?

  • 13 Guest // Mar 30, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Ballard’s answer to Jerry Falwell.

  • 14 Ted // Mar 30, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Trinity United Methodist Church.


    “Blessed are the car prowlers.”

  • 15 Jim // Mar 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    That doesn’t even make sense. Not that I would expect it to.

  • 16 Jim // Mar 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Or, maybe I’m just confused. Is Lang like Jerry Falwell or am I?

  • 17 Norse // Mar 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    There was a stabbing at the shelter the church houses. Trinity thinks enough of the neighborhood that they use an organization (SHARE) that will not screen for sex offenders.

  • 18 Ted // Mar 30, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    They’re both fanatics…..

  • 19 Nwcitizen // Mar 31, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Thank you Rich Lang. You have lived your faith and your congregation has done so as well. Seems it’s no easier to do that now than it ever has been. You’ve been a real inspiration.

  • 20 Guest // Mar 31, 2011 at 12:48 am

    By congregation do you mean the guys I see drinking, smoking dope and peeing in my alley in their way over to the Rev. Rich ‘Jim Jones’ Lang’s house of irresponsibility?

  • 21 Barfly // Mar 31, 2011 at 2:38 am

    Actually, I think he said ‘blessed are the cheese makers’.

    Obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

  • 22 Cdpenne // Mar 31, 2011 at 3:35 am

    One of the great ironic tragedies of theological truth is that no matter how pure, pious, and earnest our attempts to create an equitable society are, the poor, dispossessed, downtrodden, marginalized, despised, and homeless will always be with us. Likewise, the feeble minded shill for the oppressor – those who gnash their teeth, insult and throw stones, who foolishly think they have been selected and are securely stationed in the winning camp – are also always with us. Could it be the two are connected? Like Yin & Yang, the two sides of the same coin. Do the poor suffer existence merely to be the crowbar that pries the blinders from our eyes and reveals the comfortable evil we wallow in? What kind of God is this that would allow a pitiful few to suffer for the benefit of a thankless, cancerous, whoring abomination of a society the rest of us are? What kind of God is this?

    Is that the best you can conjure up? Norse, Barfly, Vikinglifeguard, Ted, Jim, Nameless Guests. Petty comments from petty minds. The great sadness is that we will still have you as neighbors. Ever heard of Saul? Your future is coming up behind you. Don’t forget to look over your shoulders, make sure you push your hands tight against your ears, or you might just wake up with eyes that can see and ear that can hear, and the first thing you will know is shame.

  • 23 Barfly // Mar 31, 2011 at 3:46 am

    All hail the pious have arrived! Preach on Brother Penne!

  • 24 Cdpenne // Mar 31, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Hardly! I am neither pious, nor a preacher, and given the opportunity I’d much rather remove an ear than open it. I probably hate more than you do. I just hate you pompous self-righteous nouveau semilessthanpoor windbags more than I do the homeless shelter folks.

  • 25 Barfly // Mar 31, 2011 at 3:58 am

    “I probably hate more than you do”

    Must be fun.

  • 26 Cdpenne // Mar 31, 2011 at 4:02 am

    You are the expert judging from your frequent posts. Do tell. Or are you feeling defensive now?

  • 27 Cdpenne // Mar 31, 2011 at 4:22 am

    What else pisses me off? Every time you post one of your homeless hating @$$h0!3 comments Bukowski roles over in his grave. If he could, he’d come up from the ground and bash your head in with a Stein.

  • 28 PopeBubba // Mar 31, 2011 at 4:53 am

    Yes, thank god he’s outta here. And don’t let the door hit you in your holier-than-thou ass, pastor.

  • 29 TooManyBums // Mar 31, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Not by a lot of us.

  • 30 Cdpenne // Mar 31, 2011 at 5:04 am

    Cowards all of you, but I guess maybe that is beside the point.

  • 31 Cdpenne // Mar 31, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Yep the name says it all… Meet Bubba, a pope no less, a workaday hero, who thanks to his own good hard labor has come up from nothing to live in upandcomingballard and doesn’t take kindly to no downandouts messing with his own delusions of grandeur. We don’t none of yur kind round here!

  • 32 Cdpenne // Mar 31, 2011 at 5:17 am

    It seems rather likely that a more acceptable preacher to this Guest denounces just about everbody as blahblahistas while snorting meth and tapping his foot incessantly under the bathroom stall. Good luck with that anonymous coward.

  • 33 Norse // Mar 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Now just who is the judgmental one Cdpenne? Because I don’t agree with you I should be ashamed. I think not. The churches have overstepped their bounds with these homeless shelters in the middle of residential neighborhoods. As stated before, the congregations are the only people that can vote on having a shelter in their church and 85% don’t live in the neighborhoods where they go to church. So they welcome the homeless into our neighborhoods only to go home to their safe little enclaves.

  • 34 Angelo // Mar 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Rev. Lang follows the teaching of Jesus – talks the talk and walks the walk. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Not saying that the hatemongers on here are rich by any means, my guess is they are just bitter folks with too much time on their hands. These type of message boards really seem to draw truly miserable people who live to spread their gospel of hate. Our family will miss Rev. Lang very much!!!

  • 35 Magia76 // Mar 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I’m guessing you are a member of the extreme right wing Mars Hill church? God knows how much those people hate the poor and extol the wealthy. They seem to embrace an anti-Jesus theology that you are espousing. Oh, and they also embrace an extreme misogynistic philosophy as well with their hatred of women…very similar to the islamic fundamentalists.

  • 36 Norse // Mar 31, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    And I sayeth to you, follow him. The University Temple United Methodist Church is not that far away — maybe 4 miles and accessible by bus.

  • 37 Stupid Hippie // Mar 31, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    “very similar to the islamic fundamentalists.”

    So true, I saw women in burqas at Trader Joes last week, coming straight out of Mars.

  • 38 Barfly // Mar 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Jesus? Who’s he? Kind of like the Easter Bunny, all made up right? I can make up a things too and believe them.

  • 39 Udistrictchurchgoer // Mar 31, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I don’t remember the exact comments, but when I heard of Rev Lang, I thought of some comments he made several years ago about another church in the district that were quite demeaning.

  • 40 Barfly // Mar 31, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    “Rev. Lang follows the teaching of Jesus ”

    Spoken like a true fundamentalist. How is that any different from the lunatics on the religious right?

  • 41 Magia76 // Mar 31, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I don’t know where others live, but I live RIGHT in the neighborhood and I walk to church on Sundays, so I don’t go home to my “safe little enclave”. Not sure there is such a thing really since everywhere I have lived (Beacon Hill, Capital Hill, Fremont and now Ballard) has had homeless people, often sleeping on my front stairs. Do you really think having them in a shelter is worse than having them asleep on your stairs or your local bus stop shelter? If so, how is it worse?

  • 42 Norse // Mar 31, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Well I guess you are one of the 15% of the congregation that actually lives near the church. I suppose you are far enough away that you haven’t experienced what the folks across the alley from the church have had to put up with nor was your property searched by the police after the December 16, 2009 stabbing at the church. The churches, by providing shelter, have brought a lot of the homeless in to Ballard via SHARE from downtown. The churches were recently (March 2010) granted the power to do whatever they want with their property as long as it furthered their religous goals — therefore the abundance of homeless shelters in residential neighborhoods and there is nothing the neighbors can do about it. Doesn’t the Bible say something about “love thy neighbor.” Here, it seems the church and its congregation has turned it’s back on it’s actual neighbors.

  • 43 Melindahoward // Mar 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    But by most of us.

  • 44 Marty // Mar 31, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    When was this page changed to “My Barfly”? Jesus, dude, why not combine all of your comments into one?
    @CDPenne- Irony irony, that Barf Ly is using the title of a Bukowski work for his handle.

  • 45 BarefootInBallard // Mar 31, 2011 at 6:56 pm


  • 46 Barfly // Mar 31, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    ‘us’ being just some.

  • 47 Barfly // Mar 31, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    As the Lord says, go out and be divisive!

  • 48 Guest // Mar 31, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Nah, I’d rather it be like other churches in the area, turned into a yoga studio.

  • 49 Guest // Mar 31, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Lock up your daughters (and possibly your sons too).

  • 50 YouAreAllSad // Apr 1, 2011 at 12:22 am

    If you comment on here more than once or twice, you truly have no life. Wasting your time on here is why the world needs help. At least Lang is proactive. You all seem to be ignorant guppies hiding behind your computer screens that some young professional in Lang’s congregation helped create.

  • 51 Anonymous // Apr 1, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    My apologies in advance for the length of this post.

    I’ve been attending Trinity since 2005. The pastor and congregation described by some detractors here is not at all what I have experienced. Trinity is a welcoming congregation with a strong focus on social justice, environmental responsibility and personal accountability. Most congregants live within a couple miles of the church, though a few come from as far away as Bothell and West Seattle. Our ages range from infant to 94 and our welcome extends to all regardless of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability or distinction.

    The people who attend this church are a diverse population of retirees, laborers, stay-at-home parents, educators, techies, 9-5ers and students with a range of incomes to match. Members donate as they are able so we can maintain a safe and attractive building, create a dynamic worship experience, pay the salaries of twelve staff members (including a security guard during our soup kitchen), fund the United Methodist humanitarian organization UMCOR and other carefully managed budget minutia. One part of our outreach is to provide food, shelter and advocacy on behalf of the poor and homeless because poverty is a tragic reality that knocks on our front door and it doesn’t get less persistent or miserable when we ignore it.

    Personally, it is not always easy to have patience with people who are different than me. Sometimes people look, smell or act in ways that make me uncomfortable. But Trinity has helped me to see the landscape beyond my own walls and to walk through life in a less self-motivated manner. I’ve come to appreciate that compassion, respect and patience need to be the cornerstones of connectional living and we live in a highly connected culture.

    For its part, I predict that Trinity will continue to serve the underprivileged long after Pastor Lang leaves in July. Our values are not one man deep. I invite you to reach out and work cooperatively with the leadership of the church, regardless of your Faith. And if the time comes when your own situation is such that you need shelter from the storm, we’ll be here to give you a simple meal and defend you from those who wish you harm.

  • 52 island_truth // Apr 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    This is the post that makes this whole thread worthwhile — someone who actually attends the church as well as living in the neighborhood sharing their first-person impressions of what Trinity and Rev. Lang stand for: “compassion, respect and patience”. Providing food, shelter and advocacy for the homeless is what Jesus calls us to do – go back and read the Gospel of Matthew if you don’t remember that part.

    We should count our blessings if we’ve never been hungry, poor, or without a roof over our heads. With the state budget deficit and social services provided by the government cut to the bone, churches are often the last and only hope for people who have fallen through the cracks. Are we really so selfish and close-minded that seeing a few more (it’s not like they didn’t exist in Ballard before Trinity’s shelter) homeless people on the street is too much to bear? Is the mere presence of these people in our neighborhood an affront to our sheltered existences?

    I for one thank Rev. Lang and the courageous members of Trinity for doing what the rest of the neighborhood seems unable to do: truly love our neighbors — ALL our neighbors, not just the ones that look like us and make as much money as we do — as ourselves. Thank you for your leadership. You will be missed.

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