The University of Notre Dame’s Cross-Cultural Leadership Program provides students in the Latino Studies program with summer service learning and immersion opportunities in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. In DC, students intern at The Library of Congress — Hispanic Division, National Council of La Raza, and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops: Hispanic Ministry and Anti-Trafficking Program. Additionally, each student spends one day a week with Luther Place Memorial Church. The Steinbruck Center offers a neighborhood and community based immersion to complement their traditional internships.
By: Bailey Kendall, Summer Intern
For over a month now, I have been lucky to spend my Tuesdays at Luther Place. In one word,
my experience here has been joyful. From my experience growing up in the Bible Belt, I have
seen ministries become apathetic and slow to help their surrounding community. I knew that
Luther Place subverted those tropes of indifference from my first visit. This church and its
community put in some serious work to serve God’s kingdom and spread His message of love.
Our Notre Dame professor here in DC, Professor Francisco Aragon, had given us some idea of
what to expect—he said that a few years ago, students from Notre Dame visited only once and
were immediately taken with the sense of community. These past students expressed regret
about not spending more time with the community of Luther Place. He took the students’
advice, and started sending each of us here one day a week. We spend the rest of our work
week interning at a national headquarters for an organization that helps Latinos. While I love
the knowledge I’ve gained from my other internship, I think that the community component of
working at Luther Place has enriched my experience of DC. I couldn’t be happier to be here.
This church is grounded in love for its community. Luther Place’s community involvement and
dedication to serving its neighborhood inspires me. From N Street Village, to the Steinbruck
Center, to ArtSmart camp, to SoulFiesta, this church listens to its community and fulfills their
needs. Upon my arrival, Bianca Vazquez handed me a binder full of information about Logan
Circle, its inhabitants, and the history of Luther Place as a community and faith center—they do
their research. The initiative, drive, and willingness to be a part of the community behind all of
their programs, especially N Street Village, makes me so proud to be interning here this
Working on preparations and outreach for SoulFiesta has been my favorite experience so far.
This celebration of community, love, and the completion of summer camp provides the
congregation, campers, their parents, and Logan Circle residents with a chance to build
relationships together. SoulFiesta will be held the day before I leave DC to go back home, and I
can’t think of a better way for my time at Luther Place to come to an end.
If it isn’t already evident, I am amazed by the wonderful people of Luther Place. I grew up in a
very small town, and attended the same church for years. I had never seen a female pastor
before, and I am so inspired by Pastor Karen. She’s so passionate about God, her
congregation, and social justice. On the Sundays when I am not trying to sightsee as much as
humanly possible (DC has so many museums!), I attend Sunday service here. Luther Place is
inclusive—going to the pride service was awe-inspiring. I couldn’t imagine such love and
acceptance taking place in my hometown, and this experience made me want to bring this
message of not just tolerance, but support and love, back home with me. The world needs
more churches like Luther Place that fully dedicate themselves to serving God’s kingdom and