Bruce and Cathy Larson opened their door… to their neighbors who were trying to maintain their homes in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in the face of a major urban renewal project that would wipe out many blocks of moderate income housing and replace them with high income condominiums. They volunteered to work for the Independent Precinct Organization’s efforts to stand with these neighbors and protect their homes and investments in their neighborhood.
Bruce and Cathy opened their door… to me as I went door-to-door canvassing for support for the IPO’s project and resistance to the city plans. They served me herbal tea each time I stopped to talk with them. They loved their multi-cultural neighborhood, interesting people, old houses, and Chicago’s only authentic beer garden. They found the city plans to be disappointing and discriminatory, destroying a a rich culture and replacing it with a moneyed elite.
Bruce and Cathy opened their door… to the Lutheran congregation they served by choice at the same time that they opened their congregation to commitments to service with their Latin and African American neighbors, young and old, their old union-organizer, artistic, political dissident, and nonconformist folks of all stripes.
Many people came in and out of their doors. I was privileged to be among them for several months.
One night, after they put their two small children to bed, they opened their door… to someone they probably knew, or whom they believed they should know, as Jesus would have opened the door, or as Jesus came to them in the form of someone in need. That night Bruce and Cathy were stabbed to death in their living room.
As far as I know, their murders, back in 1969, remain unsolved. Holy Week seems a good time to remember such a fine couple in Christian ministry, who opened the door of my heart to the needs of people I had not met before, and to the sacrifices that sometimes are required in the attempts to serve.