Yes, the bearded Friedrichsen likes riding his bike and enjoys a strong brew from Rising Star Coffee Roasters, but he's here to learn how to start a church. His passion to make Cleveland more integrated goes deeper than a trend. He's working to close the gap, whether that means launching a church open to all or choosing to raise a family in the city.
Exit Sign: A sports nut, Friedrichsen went to the Cleveland Browns final home game in 1995 before the team moved to Baltimore. "People just felt like victims, and they were not good enough."
Under Dog: Growing up in Akron, Friedrichsen saw Cleveland as a "big, scary city." He met his wife during college and moved to the Chicago area, where she's from, for graduate school. Working as a pastor in the diverse suburb of Oak Park just west of Chicago and raising two boys, now 2 and 4, made Cleveland more approachable. "It was going away that helped me fall in love with Cleveland and not be intimidated," he says. "It's the idea of hope that Cleveland has that really appeals to me. It's shown in sports that Cleveland is always on the brink of greatness."
King's Man: When LeBron James announced he was coming home in 2014, Friedrichsen cried in his Chicago living room and immediately drove back to Ohio to witness the Return. "It really represented Northeast Ohio's prodigal son wanting to come home."
Good News: Friedrichsen's own return had a greater purpose. He's in a two-year residency at Gateway Heights Church in Coventry learning how to start his own church. He hopes to establish a congregation in Ohio City to help the area become a socioeconomically integrated neighborhood. "We want to see people across ethnic or economic lines all have a place."
Message Fail: "I refuse to use emojis. That's not me."
Voice Over: Friedrichsen assists with Gateway's community projects such as Safe Families, a program launching in April where struggling parents can place kids with a short-term host family instead of putting children in foster care. He challenges millennials to be a change agent. "I meet people who feel like they are making a difference because they change their Facebook profile. It does seem like a generation of compassionate people, but to see people who are willing to do the hard work is a little bit harder."