When Accompaniment Becomes a Calling
House of Mercy, a mission congregation of the Saint Paul Area Synod, was founded in 1996. Blending high church with low church, the church draws elements of worship from many different Christian traditions. After moving its roots from St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood to the Midway, House of Mercy joined the ELCA in 2014.
Nestled in Saint Paul’s Midway neighborhood, House of Mercy considers itself a vital part of the eclectic and growing community. The Rev. Russell Rathbun describes the Midway community as a place where young families are moving, joining the artists and musicians “who have long found it an affordable and vibrant place to call home.” Unsurprisingly, House of Mercy – with its musical artist guest spots and alt-country house band – fits right in.
Since re-locating to the Midway in 2006, House of Mercy has been partnering with the Turf Club, a bar, restaurant, and music venue in the Midway. There, they host events including a radio program, country gospel brunches, record release concerts, and even weddings and funerals. “In a lot of ways, the Turf Club is a part of our church,” Rathbun muses. “It’s like our fireside room.”
House of Mercy's partnership with the Turf Club is about more than giving a church some extra space; it’s also opened the church up to the community, and the community up to the church. “For a lot of people, the first time they heard about House of Mercy was at the Turf Club,” Rathbun explains. “What’s beautiful about being a church rooted in community is that the people who you see in the bar on Friday night are also the ones who you see in worship on Sunday. We’re part of the fabric of our community.”