Local pastors quietly provide joint ministry | SierraSun.com

Local pastors quietly provide joint ministry

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunChrist the King Lutheran Church pastor Chip Larson and his father Al Larson sort through jackets for the Tahoe Ministerial Association winter coat drive at the church in Dollar Hill Wednesday morning. The association has collected 300 jackets it will donate on Saturday.

Ask Pastor Chip Larson why he helps people in the community and he will likely say it is the Christian thing to do.

For 28 years, Larson and other area pastors have quietly helped locals and visitors through the North Lake Tahoe Ministerial Association. Larson, pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church on Dollar Hill, said he started the organization to help those who needed it, from a traveler whose car broke down on a snowy night to victims of abuse.

The association reaches out to people from Incline Village to Tahoe City to the West Shore and Truckee. –

“I have helped people who went bankrupt or broke down in their car,” Larson said. “I see it all. It is just people helping people. I have never turned anyone down.”-

The association’s role has changed over the years, taking a backseat to non-profit organizations that have formed more recently in Tahoe, from Project MANA to Tahoe Women’s Services. Now, those organizations go to the ministerial association as a last resort when all other options have failed, he said.

“We just do it quietly and silently. It is a quiet, but effective way of helping people out year-round,” Larson said. “Someone may remember me helping someone four years ago and they say, ‘Why don’t you call Pastor Chip?’ It is because of longevity [that they know we exist].”-

Dan Holzer, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Tahoe City, said the association tries to convince those who are really having a rough time to move to an area with more services.

“This community is so difficult because it is so expensive,” Holzer said. “This is not a good place to be a vagrant. We try to get them to a place with more stability.”

Larson said the North Lake Tahoe Ministerial Association will give everything from money to help pay rent to grocery store gift cards for food to winter coats. It was actually Christ the King Lutheran Church that started the free winter coat program that is now so popular, Larson said.

Larson said a parishioner came up with the idea for the winter coat collection 14 years ago and an article about the program was written in the L.A. Times. It was such a great idea, others started to implement the program, Larson said.-

“It was such a natural idea that everyone has extra jackets sitting in their closets,” Larson said. “It has really spread.”-

The church has given out 7,000 winter coats to area residents in 14 years, he said.-

The North Tahoe Ministerial Association spends $10,000 to $12,000 a year to run its assistance program. The association receives in-kind donations from parishioners of the churches involved and organizations like Kiwanis Club and Rotary. There is no overhead because the pastors volunteer their time, so 100 percent of the money is given to those who need it.-

Other churches involved include a Catholic church, Episcopalian, Lutheran and Presbyterian , Holzer said.

“I just do it because of my own personal beliefs,” Larson said. “I try to have Christmas year-round.”

The North Lake Tahoe Ministerial Association accepts donations year-round. To give to the organization, contact Pastor Chip Larson at 583-1222.

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