by Makenzie Gold Quiros
Many of you may know me. I am an American University student and have been a member of Luther Place for about a year and a half now. I can usually only make it down to Luther Place for Sunday mornings because of my crazy schedule, and I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. Though limited by my schedule, I enjoy the roles I play during services, either as an usher, communion assistant, assisting minister, or parishioner.
Inevitably, I am asked by my friends why I get up and commute for an hour to church the one day of the week I have the time to sleep in. On a surface level, it’s habit, and I am a creature of habit. The reality, however, is that Luther Place was the first community I found when I came to D.C., full stop. It was not the university that made me stay here or my affluent internship in downtown D.C., it was this community.
The first time I saw Luther Place I was running late to a meeting with who would become my boss and I had gotten lost. Somehow I ended up jogging down M street and stopping at Thomas Circle to orient myself. It was early September, the last rays of a late summer sunset made the red walls glow. I could just see the familiar figure of Martin Luther, stepping down from his pedestal as if he were going to ask the city to join him. For the first time in years the image of Redwall, from the series written by Brian Jacques, sprang to mind. Redwall is an abbey to a host of woodland creatures, the cornerstone of a multitude of stories I had read growing up.
Regrettably, picturesque churches and childhood memories do not prevent you from being late, so on I went. I didn’t make it back to Luther Place until weeks later, November 13th to be exact, the first Sunday after the election. At the time I was working for a non-profit that trained young women to run for office, Running Start. Saying the all-female office had a tough week might’ve been an understatement. I came to Luther Place that Sunday desperate for some sort of solace, for some sort of sign that the world spinning on wasn’t simply an illusion.
To be completely candid, I don’t remember what Pastor Karen said that day. I do remember crying as my fears, though still overwhelming, didn’t feel quite as oppressive. As the light shone through the windows, illuminating Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman, I felt as if I could breathe again.
Feeling overly emotional I attempted to slip out the back after service. I’m sure the congregation will agree with me when I say that is no easy feat. Predictably, I was caught by Pastor Karen on what I thought was my stealthy way out. She immediately gave me a hug and made sure I filled out a visitor’s card. Before I knew what was happening I had been introduced to three members and invited to my first D.C. brunch.
I’m sure there are many members who can relate to my experience, Luther Place has a habit of luring you in with tinkling pianos, good humor, and quality people. Ultimately, that is what has kept me coming back Sunday after Sunday. To everyone in the congregation reading this, even if we’ve only exchanged a handshake when sharing peace, you are the reason I come to church every Sunday. You are the reason I look forward to getting off campus at least once a week. You are the reason I have rediscovered my faith after it had been buried. So for that, I thank you. Thank you for being a community that is ever changing but steady in its acceptance of who I am. Thank you for giving me a place to see my cousin and his wife, two of my favorite people, every week. Thank you for supporting me when I feel like I just can’t take one more day. Thank you, for unconditionally investing in me and requesting nothing in return.
Most of all, thank you for being you. Luther Place is made by every person under its roof and it wouldn’t be the same without any of you. After all, what is the point of a church and a steeple without all the people?