Luther Place is located at 1226 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington DC 20005. We are on Thomas Circle, at the intersection of 14th Street, M Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and Vermont Avenue, NW.
By Public Transit
Luther Place is within a few blocks of the McPherson Square (Orange and Blue Lines) Metro Station. We are also within walking distance of the Farragut North (Red Line) and Mt. Vernon Square (Yellow and Green Lines) Metro Stations.
Luther Place is convenient to several Metrobus lines: 52, 53, 54, G2, and any of the many lines that serve K and H Streets, such as the D6, 32, 34, and 36.
If you are taking the DC Circulator, you can take these two lines: Woodley Park-Adams Morgan-McPherson Square, and Georgetown-Union Station. To plan your trip online, please visit WMATA or DC Circulator.
Bicycle parking is available near the Vermont Avenue entrance.
Limited street parking is available in the neighborhood, most of which is free on Sundays. We do not validate parking at this time.
Registered with the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, Luther Place Memorial Church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We are both old and new — built in 1873 and continually seeking ways to be engaged faithfully with today’s world. We value tradition and embrace change. We are structured and spontaneous. We are prayerful, spiritual, collaborative and engaged in the world.
We are a dynamic community of disciples offering hospitality through worship, fellowship, and ministry. We invite you to prayerfully consider being part of this journey.
Our Creator God’s love is forever and is made real in Jesus Christ, who lived, died on the cross, and who rose on Easter. Through Christ, God continually gives us the gifts of forgiveness and grace – loving us in ways that meet us in our brokenness and our celebrations. God’s power moves throughout the world through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who works within us to transform us into disciples of Jesus Christ. Disciples are called into the world, invited to join in God’s mission to love and bless the world.
The Word of God comes to us in the Holy Scriptures. We take this word to be a living word, coming alive among us now, reflecting in an ongoing way our expanding understanding of the world. We tell the stories of the Bible, we argue with stories of the Bible, we look in new ways at stories of the Bible, all while loving the Bible.
God’s grace and mercy are made real in the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. We baptize babies and all ages, believing that God chooses us first as beloved children of God. Our communion table is open to all, including children.
Beginning in 2009, we engaged in a discernment process around God’s purpose and vision for Luther Place. This process included prayer, Bible study, eating together, and listening to God and each other. From this Spirit-filled process we generated the following Purpose, Guiding Principles, and Vision!
God’s purpose for our congregation is to grow a Christ-centered inclusive community, led by the Spirit, that proclaims the Gospel’s transforming love and grace and challenges injustice.
Our Guiding Principles
- All of God’s creation is sacred.
- We listen to the Holy Spirit through worship, Scripture, and prayerful reflection.
- We seek continuous transformation to become radically hospitable.
- We invite all into the journey with Christ through reconciliation with each other and God.
- We respond to injustice through loving service and courageous action.
- We walk together in our celebrations and our struggles.
In 2020, Luther Place will be a community that looks and feels like God’s kin-dom in its beautiful expansiveness, where all are called into relationship with Jesus Christ and one another. In this place we will use our gifts to act in the world and build the beloved community.
- Worship attracts and gathers a range of people with various services and styles, engaging the community in a depth of traditional practices and creative endeavors.
- Spiritual Growth is how we are formed as disciples of Jesus Christ, embracing scripture and all opportunities to engage the divine, and nurturing us to contemplate, study, and question our faith.
- Justice is a public witness to our faith; we will continue our history of openness to what arrives, standing in solidarity and acting with people who are struggling, in our community, country, and world.
- Hospitality is how we – each of us – extend God’s kingdom to a dynamic and diverse city, growing our community and engaging all of God’s children, from the powerless to the powerful.
- Community Care is how we sustain a vibrant community, our intentional practice of supporting and nurturing one another in all stages of life, in celebration and sorrow.
Formally known as Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church, Luther Place was founded in 1873 as a memorial to peace and reconciliation following the Civil War. Two of the original pews were dedicated to Generals Grant and Lee. The building is in the shape of a ship, symbolizing a vessel for God’s work, with the rafters in the shape of a keel. The statue of Martin Luther on our grounds was dedicated in 1884 on the 400th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth and over 10,000 attended the dedication ceremony.
The Rev. John Butler, first pastor of Luther Place, was an abolitionist who advocated for African American pastors in the Lutheran Church. In 1886 Daniel Wiseman founded Our Redeemer, which was DC’s first African American congregation. Rev. Wiseman was ordained at Luther Place in 1886.
A fire ravaged much of the nave in 1904 but allowed for renovations including the 12 reformers depicted in the windows and dedicated to unity under God. President Theodore Roosevelt spoke at the restoration celebration a year later saying that, “the Lutheran Church is destined to become one of the two or three greatest churches, most distinctly American.”
In the 1930s the congregation became aware of thousands of unchurched persons living in the city and began a life marked by evangelism. Pre- and post-World War II the city was teeming with young adults. Many were attracted to Luther Place by recreational and service activities. Church attendance was at a record peak.
In the 1970’s the church founded N Street Village, a continuum of care including short and long term shelter, case management, substance abuse treatment, employment services and affordable housing, especially for women experiencing homelessness. A memorial burial plot at the apex of the Luther Place triangle is the final resting place of homeless activist Mitch Snyder, who inspires the work of the Community for Creative Non-violence. In the late 70’s the Lutheran Volunteer Corps was created in order to help staff N Street Village programs; it has now grown into an organization that sends around 100 volunteers yearly to various cities across the country. LVC’s core values are social justice, community, simplicity, and simplicity. LVC volunteers build community, work for peace with justice, and live simply and sustainably. Photo: Lutheran Volunteer Corps In the 80’s while actively growing its ministries, the congregation also advocated globally for Soviet Jewry and against apartheid in South Africa. In the 1990’s, the church was integral in advocacy with gay lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights and inclusion, becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation. In 2007, the interior of the sanctuary was extensively restored and new front windows were created portraying Martin Luther, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Harriet Tubman, reformers of society and the church. In 2009, we adorned the outside of our building with paintings of Saints on our doors — St. Dorothy Day of New York, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Martin of Birmingham — deepening our commitment to connect with God in our community.
In the 1970’s the church founded N Street Village, a continuum of care including short and long term shelter, case management, substance abuse treatment, employment services and affordable housing, especially for women experiencing homelessness. A memorial burial plot at the apex of the Luther Place triangle is the final resting place of homeless activist Mitch Snyder, who inspires the work of the Community for Creative Non-violence.
In the late 70’s the Lutheran Volunteer Corps was created in order to help staff N Street Village programs; it has now grown into an organization that sends around 100 volunteers yearly to various cities across the country. LVC’s core values are social justice, community, simplicity, and simplicity. LVC volunteers build community, work for peace with justice, and live simply and sustainably.
Photo: Lutheran Volunteer Corps
In the 80’s while actively growing its ministries, the congregation also advocated globally for Soviet Jewry and against apartheid in South Africa.
In the 1990’s, the church was integral in advocacy with gay lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights and inclusion, becoming a Reconciling in Christ congregation.
In 2007, the interior of the sanctuary was extensively restored and new front windows were created portraying Martin Luther, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Harriet Tubman, reformers of society and the church. In 2009, we adorned the outside of our building with paintings of Saints on our doors — St. Dorothy Day of New York, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Martin of Birmingham — deepening our commitment to connect with God in our community.
Pastor Karen Brau, Senior Pastor
Pastor Karen Brau, ordained in 1990, came to Luther Place Memorial Church in December 2008 after serving as a Pastor in Baltimore City for 18 years. Her ministry began at Bethany Lutheran Church, and then the focus became working with lay leaders, the Synod and the ELCA to consolidate Bethany with 2 other small congregations (Trinity and Martin Luther) in East Baltimore. The new multicultural congregation is named Amazing Grace Lutheran Church (www.amazinggracelutheran.org).
In the block surrounding Amazing Game Church, Pastor Karen was part of a community effort to create the Amazing Port Street Project, which includes community gardens, murals and a community built labyrinth. Pastor Karen was also involved with the early work of the Charm City Land Trust.
Pastor Karen graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1988 and did her Lutheran coursework at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, now United Lutheran Seminary. She grew up in various parts of New York State and is a 1981 graduate of Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, majoring in economics. Pastor Karen worked in New York City at a major commercial bank for almost 5 years before responding to God’s call to consider a path towards ordination.
Pastor Karen serves as the chair of the Metro DC Synod ELCA Racial Equity Team. She serves on the Steering Committee of the Washington Interfaith Network and on the Board of N Street Village. Pastor Karen teams up with Justin Fitch to lead a group of singers named the Ambassadors of Praise — this group rehearses weekly at N Street Village and sings out in the community as well as the first Sunday of the month in worship at Luther Place Church.
Pastor Karen has a deep interest in prayer and contemplation and has a long term connection with Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana as well as a Franciscan Convent in Northern Baltimore County. Pastor Karen has collaborated in self-publishing 2 books — Breaking Bread: Stories of Luther Place Memorial Church and N Street Village; and a book of poetry entitled We Garden Under Blue Lights. Pastor Karen Brau is married to Ed Miller, and between them they have 5 adult children — Eddie, Erin, Meredith, Sam and Hannah, and one granddaughter, Dorothy, who is a college student.
Pastor Karen enjoys gardening, reading mysteries, swimming laps and dogs.
Justin Fitch, Director of Liturgy & Communications
Justin Fitch joined the Luther Place team in 2017 and was baptized into the church in 2019. He holds a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Maryland and strives to use his collaborative training in many aspects of the church. Justin cannot remember a time when he wasn’t drawn to the piano — he has been playing for over 20 years and gratefully serves as the organist, pianist, choir director, and handbell director. While he enjoys performing multiple genres and in many different settings, he says that “Perhaps the greatest spiritual connection I experience comes from leading the church in song from behind the keys.”
With a passion for meaningful, relevant liturgy, Justin heads the Worship Team and is always looking for new words, music, and ways of being the church together. He believes tradition and ritual should never constrain liturgy, but instead they should serve as a flexible outline, always being reformed to challenge us with new ideas and hold us accountable to living out our faith.
As the Director of Communications, Justin seeks to minister in 21st c. ways — “Communication is vital in any organization, and with new ways being introduced frequently, it is the duty of the church to utilize them to proclaim the Good News and serve both the community in which we are placed and the much broader online community,”
Justin regularly serves as a pianist for Christ Episcopal Church in Kensington, MD, and teaches numerous piano and voice students throughout the Metro D.C. area.
Justin likes powerlifting, Spartan races, and attending live performances.
Karin Selland, Lutheran Volunteer Corps Fellow
Erica Van Lunen, Administrative Coordinator
Erica is an experienced animal welfare advocate who recently managed a national community cat program in Washington, D.C. In addition to being a dedicated cat lady, her passion has always been to find ways to better serve the community and make meaningful connections that empower others. Throughout her career, she has fostered relationships with a broad and diverse base of clients and community leaders, and she is excited to be a part of the Luther Place family. When she is not working, you can find her outdoors wrangling a toddler.
The Church Council is comprised of lay members of the congregation. Together they discern the vision of the congregation and oversee the operations of the church. They also lead various committees, share information, support and coordinate programs, develop future leaders, and build and maintain relationships with guests and members. The council proposes the annual budget to the congregation, makes all hiring decisions, and is responsible for making decisions regarding building maintenance and renovations. Moreover, the Council continually is seeking to understand how God is working through our community and how to respond to the Spirit’s call.
Each year at the congregation’s annual meeting, council members are elected to serve a three-year term. The current council members are:
|Term Expires 2022
|Term Expires 2023
|Term Expires 2024
Ben B, President
Kyra RM, Vice President
Collin B, Secretary
Thomas R, Treasurer
Karen Brau, Senior Pastor (Note: ex officio member of all committees)
Constitution and Council-Approved Bylaws Integrated (as of November 5, 2012)
Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), founded in 1996, is a broad-based, multi-racial, multi-faith, strictly non-partisan, District-wide citizens’ power organization, rooted in local congregations and associations. WIN is committed to training and developing neighborhood leaders, to addressing community issues, and to holding elected and corporate officials accountable in Washington, DC. Learn more at windc-iaf.org
For more than 45 years, the Shalem Institute has answered a unique call to assist those who hunger for a deeper spiritual life. Dedicated to the support of contemplative living and leadership, Shalem ministers to clergy and lay people from a variety of denominations and communities across the country and throughout the world.
At Luther Place, our prayer is that everyone who enters our doors feels welcome. We try to create a sense of belonging for all who are part of our community.
Should you feel that the Spirit is calling you to consider becoming a member, we would love to have you attend one of our new member classes. We gather for a few hours to share a meal, study the Bible, share one another’s faith stories, discuss discipleship, learn a little Lutheranism 101 and hear about the history and present life of our congregation. You will “officially” be welcomed into our faith community during a Sunday morning Worship.
Members of Luther Place are invited to make a covenant with one another. In order to maintain a healthy and responsive congregation, each member is asked to make three commitments:
Church + 1 + 1 = YOU!
- Church – Members are asked to commit to attending a weekly Sunday worship service three Sundays per month.
- 1 Time/Talent – Members are asked to participate in at least one ongoing volunteer engagement activity as part of the community.
- 1 Treasure – Members are asked to support the church financially.
If you’re already a member at another Lutheran congregation and are reluctant to transfer that membership, please consider becoming an Associate Member.
If you’re interested in exploring more about what it means to be a member, Pastor Karen would love to connect with you.
Stewardship is about so much more than money – it’s about love for God and our fellow human beings and sharing in the discipline journey.
We are blessed to be members of such a tremendous, giving, deeply spiritual community. Thank you for your many contributions to Luther Place — your gifts of time, talent, and treasure help to build our Christ-centered community.
Luther Place is comprised of many longstanding members, new members and families blessing our services and our community. For so many of us, this is a second home, a training ground where we learn what it means to follow Jesus and a place of building unlikely relationships.
We are blessed to share this community with you. We hope you feel likewise. It is incumbent upon us to provide the financial support for our spiritual house. We invite you now to reflect on your pledge commitment and ask you to give as generously as possible.
As Christians, we are called to be good stewards (managers) of all the gifts God has given us. Take time to prayerfully consider where God may be challenging you to make adjustments in your discipleship journey. Discipleship includes activities such as praying daily, worshipping regularly, reading the bible, generously sharing your time, talent and treasures at Luther Place and beyond, and being in a relationship to encourage spiritual growth.
As a community, and individually, we grow in faith and experience joy through the sharing of the gifts God has given us. Each of us have unique talents to share at Luther Place and beyond. You are invited to complete the Volunteer Skills Survey to help you and the Engagement Team explore new or different ways of serving in support of Luther Place’s mission and vision. Completing the survey will also help us to better understand your interests.
God gives us all that we have. When we make a pledge indicating how much money we plan to give to support the ministries of Luther Place, we are not just a charity. We become people joined together by Jesus to do God’s work in this world. In the truest sense of the words, our offerings are an act of Christian responsibility. It is our means for reaching out to enrich the lives of others, as well as our own. Although we may not all share equally, we can all share according to our blessings. When we give, we become fully invested members of the body of the congregation, “where your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:21; Luke 12:34).
Two ways to pledge:
- Pledge online at https://lutherplace.org/pledge or
- Paper Pledge Forms for 2020 have been mailed out. Didn’t receive one? Contact Sarah for one and return it via the Sunday offering plate or mail it to the church office.
Sign up for a one-time or recurring secure electronic check donation via ACH. If this is an option for you, your dollar goes further since ACH does not charge a percentage fee for each donation.
Set up a one-time or recurring scheduled donation securely using your Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express credit cards, or Visa/MasterCard check/debit cards.
- Give via your computer browser
When setting up your account, please use the same email address used for your FellowshipOneGo account (Member Portal). This will allow the systems to talk to each other and automatically record your giving history, in real-time, in your Member Portal account. Please note that the passwords for FellowshipOneGo (the Member Portal) and FellowshipOne Giving (Contributions) are different unless you set both as the same.
- Give via your SmartPhone
Download the FellowshipOne Go (F1 Go) SmartPhone app available from the Apple Store or Google Play
Username: Your FellowshipOneGo Logon ID
Password: Your FellowshipOneGo Password
- Give via Text
- Send a text message with the dollar amount (e.g. “$10”) to +12028166673.
- If this is your first time giving this way, you will have to fill out a short form with your billing info.
- After the initial setup, giving is as easy as sending a text message.
- Give via traditional Check or Cash
This is an opportunity to give via check or cash during each service, or you can mail a check to our office:
Luther Place Memorial Church
Attn: Church Administrator
1226 Vermont Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20005
- Give via Stock Transfer
Gifts of appreciated stock can have the added benefit of relieving the donor of capital gains taxes on the transferred securities. If you’re interested in stock transfer, please contact our Church Administrator to discuss further.
Step Progression Giving Chart (Journey to Tithing)
This chart is designed to assist you in assessing your current level of giving and planning step progressions for those individuals that want to tithe.
Sometimes we are unsure of the plentitude of gifts God has given each of us. Recognizing and reflecting on those gifts helps us grow as stewards. If you have never taken a Spiritual Gifts Assessment, it will be eye-opening and life-affirming. If you have taken one previously, it is worthwhile to reflect again and grow in faith. Learn about, be reminded of, and reflect on your unique gifts from God. Your results are personal, but the consequences can be astounding: opening your hearts to generosity and your relationships with God, your families, our Luther Place community, and the world at large.
What is a stewardship pledge?
A stewardship pledge is a commitment, made after deliberate and prayerful consideration, to contribute a specific amount of money to the Luther Place community. It is a reflection of your gratitude for God’s abundant grace in your life. Pledging assists Luther Place in forecast projections for the coming calendar year. We hope that all households will make a stewardship pledge—even if it is only a small amount per week—as an expression of a vital commitment to the mission and ministries of Luther Place.
Is there a minimum amount I have to pledge in order to be a member at Luther Place?
No. All gifts, great and small are gratefully received at Luther Place. Please don’t let the ability or inability to pledge affect whether you show up to church. We are glad you’re here.
What if I really can’t give financially?
Please don’t feel that lack of financial giving is a barrier to your being a part of Luther Place. Remember, gifts of time and talent are equally important expressions of stewardship.
How can I pay my pledge?
Luther Place accepts checks, cash, credit cards, bequests and stock transfers.
Are my gifts to Luther Place tax deductible?
Yes, your contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by federal and state law. While Annual Giving Statements are generally made available to contributors each January, you may also view your giving history online through the Luther Place Member Portal.
What’s a good way to figure out what my pledge will be?
Prayer is a great start! Pledging and giving regularly is a great spiritual discipline. Please see the Step Progression Giving Chart (below) for giving suggestions. Whether you tithe to the church (give 10 percent of your income), we encourage you to give what you can.
What if I pledge and my circumstances change?
Your pledge to Luther Place is not a commitment set in stone. It’s your best guess of what you intend to give. If you find that your financial circumstances change in the course of a year – that’s OK – your pledge can be revised.
How can I submit my pledge?
You can submit your pledge by mailing the pledge card to the office, dropping it in the offering plate on Sunday, or online via https://lutherplace.org/give.
Who can I talk to about my pledge?
You can talk to the Church Administrator (202-667-1377) or any member of the Stewardship Committee about your pledge. However, please note that your giving is a private matter. The committee members can answer general questions. They do not know your personal giving history.