Luther Place Memorial Church

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Our Staff

Contact the Luther Place Staff

Rev. Karen Brau, Senior Pastor. I am pleased to have served as the Senior Pastor of Luther Place since December of 2008. I was ordained in 1990 and served for 18 years as Pastor in the inner city of Baltimore where I was instrumental in forming Amazing Grace Lutheran Church and the Amazing Port Street Project. I am excited about ministry in DC and feel blessed to serve a congregation with such a rich past, a strong present, and a bright future. I am curious about the ways God is moving in the world and eager to engage around the deep spiritual hunger of our day. I love to sing, dance and garden – and sunflowers are my favorite! I can be reached at seniorpastor@lutherplace.org.

Deborah Shepard, Director of Operations. I started my career in corporate and government IT services, and decided to pursue a second career to follow my passion for social justice and service. Over the past nine years, I have worked for a non-profit health care organization, an Episcopal church and most recently, the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. I am a member of Washington National Cathedral and the Street Church community out of the Church of the Epiphany. I am a fanatical walker and love to read and write poetry, prayers and essays. I can be reached at operations@lutherplace.org.

kristenKristen Kane, New Connections Coach. I have served at Luther Place since 2010, through a variety of roles. It has been a deeply transformative journey; one that continues to reform and transform my life. This coaching role is part of the DC Metro Synod’s efforts to engage new people in the life of the church. I am being trained by the Synod and will bring those skills to the congregation as I work with leaders in our community. My favorite questions are who am I, who is my neighbor, and what is the Spirit up to? I can be reached at kristen@lutherplace.org.

Bianca Vazquez, Director of the Steinbruck Center, has served since August of 2011. I graduated with an interdisciplinary major in Sociology and Political Science from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, MD. At Loyola, I was active as a participant in Alternative Breaks and co-chaired the Alternative Break program. I came to the Steinbruck Center as a Lutheran Volunteer Corps member and served for two years before transitioning to a permanent staff position. During my time at Luther Place and working with the Washington Interfaith Network, I encountered community organizing and the power of one to one meetings to revitalize communities and churches. Bianca is committed to facilitating transformative immersion experiences for groups and re-imagining what volunteering and community engagement can look like. I can be reached at steinbruckcenterdirector@lutherplace.org.

SJSarah Johnson joins our staff as Experiential Learning Coordinator for the Steinbruck Center. Originally from Bath, Michigan, Sarah graduated from Central Michigan University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in English and History. After receiving her degree, Sarah spent a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer, and most recently completed a non-profit fellowship with Break Away in Atlanta, Georgia. Sarah enjoys baking, playing trivia, and watching The West Wing, preferably all at the same time. She can be reached at steinbruckcenter@lutherplace.org.

Jeremy J. Grenhart, Creative Minister of Music. I journey to LP after serving for 14 years at Bridge of Peace in Camden, NJ. Inviting good music into worship space is important to me, and is a calling I take seriously. I’m well versed in Gospel, Soul, Afro-Cuban, and Classical schools of music; and I’m just as happy playing a Bach fugue as I am playing the African spirituals. To that effect, look for music at Luther Place to be a reflection of diverse cultural and artistic backgrounds, and to expand the boundaries of meaningful and vibrant worship. When I’m not playing or rehearsing with the Ambassadors of Praise or the Luther Place Community Choir, I enjoy cooking with my good lady and reading. I can be reached at music@lutherplace.org.

AriaAria Christenson, Communications Associate. I’m originally from Minnesota, where I graduated from St. Olaf College with majors in Religion and Norwegian. On campus, I helped coordinate the Interfaith Coalition to build relationships and spread appreciative knowledge of diverse beliefs. Aware of my Midwestern roots and hoping to explore a new part of the country, I’ve come to DC as a Lutheran Volunteer Corps member, leading the Luther Place Communications strategy. I am eager to listen and learn from the powerful nexus of faith, social justice and community at Luther Place. I can be reached at communications@lutherplace.org.

Krista Sickert-Bush, Director of Youth & Family Ministry. It is my joy and privilege to serve the community of Christ at Luther Place! I serve disciples of all ages with specific focus on Sunday school, Confirmation, Family ministries and two different Youth Group ministries (St.LuthRef & 36ers). Prior to my involvement at Luther Place I served in professional Youth and Family ministry for eleven years at two different ELCA congregations in the Pacific Northwest. After that, I served Luther Place on a volunteer basis for seven years, before being hired part-time in January 2014. I look forward to meeting you and engaging your family in God’s mission and ministry here at Luther Place! I can be reached at youthandfamilies@lutherplace.org.

Israel Avila,  Property Manager. I moved from El Salvador to the United States when I was 16 years old. I have worked here at Luther Place since 1992. I really enjoy being of service to the community. Property Manager means that I always have a lot of projects, including painting, plumbing, yard work, electrical projects, and many daily maintenance routines.  I play soccer and enjoy time with my family, especially my son. I can be reached at property@lutherplace.org.

Roni Lopez, Custodian. I have been working here at Luther Place Church since 2004 and I am originally from Guatemala. I am the person that is in charge of making sure that the building is clean and inviting. I enjoy watching soccer and spending time with my family. I can be reached at custodian@lutherplace.org.

Nancy White, Office Volunteer. In 1949 BC (before children) Howard and I joined Luther Place. We began coming because of great preaching and warm and friendly people. We immediately joined the choir, for music has always been an important and nourishing part of my life. We had three children – all girls – and all active in Sunday School and Church. Howard and I were teachers and loved working with the kids. In 2003, when Howard died our church family surrounded me with their love and support. Since 2004, I have been working one day a week in the office. I call and write letters to members. Luther Place is a loving and satisfying place to work. I can be reached at officevolunteer@lutherplace.org.

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