Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Our Adirondack Chairs

“We are no longer [just] that church next to Pinocchio’s Pizza. We are ‘the church with great outdoor chairs.’”
—Pastor Kathleen O’Keefe Reed, annual report to the congregation, January 2015

The distinctive rainbow-colored Adirondack chairs on our front stoop became part of our ministry of hospitality in September 2014 through the efforts of UniLu member Cole Hediger and the generosity of the Reisz family.

Empty chairs outside University Lutheran Church, ready for occupants
The seven brightly colored Adirondack chairs on UniLu’s front porch. Photo by David Hoglund.

Seventeen-year-old Cole organized the building of these chairs, and a similar set for Camp Calumet Lutheran, as part of his Eagle Scout project. The chairs were constructed from hundreds of board feet of cypress lumber cut, sanded, and milled at the Hediger home by members and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 2 of Marlborough, Massachusetts using plans from The New Yankee Workshop with Norm Abram. Each chair had 22 pieces.

Five young men relax in the unpainted Adirondack chairs.
Members and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 2 enjoy the fruits of their labor after a long day of building. Project organizer Cole Hediger is second from right. Photo by Charles Read.

Members of the UniLu community joined the Hediger family in priming and painting the chairs.

A young woman applies green paint to the arm of a wooden Adirondack chair.
The UniLu narthex doubles as a paint studio as Madison Hediger and others apply the vibrant color.

The Reisz family—Rev. H. Frederick Reisz, Jr., who served as pastor of UniLu from 1978 to 1993; his wife May Reisz; their daughter Katherine Reisz-Hanson and son-in-law Christian Reisz-Hanson; and their grandchildren Ben and Isabella—funded the project in memory of Heather Reisz, daughter of Fred and May and sister to Katherine. Heather died unexpectedly of natural causes in May 2013. “Heather was vivacious and made friends everywhere she went,” wrote Katherine in Heather’s obituary. “She had a boisterous laugh and an empathetic heart. She was incredibly talented and found her calling as a researcher and data nerd within the development department of non-profits.
And she was a devoted friend, daughter, sister, and Auntie to all of us that love her.”

On September 14, 2014, Pastor Kathleen Reed led a blessing of the chairs at the end of morning worship. “To all in need of a place for resting, dreaming, eating, studying, conversing, or wondering in silence, may this chair speak warm invitations,” read the concluding litany. And the community responded, AMEN!