by Amalia Vagts, Executive Director
About two years ago, I met Pastor John Kidd at a meeting of Metro D.C. Synod pastors. We visited about his congregation, Augustana Lutheran Church, and about Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.
“You should come visit sometime and be our guest preacher,” he said.
This past weekend, that casual comment became reality when Augustana hosted me to help them kick off D.C.Pride (which began this past Monday).
When I arrived, I was immediately greeted warmly by Fred and Doug, who have been members of the congregation for nearly twenty-five years and had arranged for me to stay in their building just near the church. The following day, Pastor John and his partner, Kate, hosted a gathering for members of Augustana who wanted to learn more about Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. It was a bustling house full of people who clearly loved being around each other – and who still went out of their way to get to know me and learn more about Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Augustana has created a strong culture of welcome and lives out their intention to be a diverse community.
The congregation has recently formed a call committee, as Pastor John is retiring at the end of the year. I had the chance to talk with a few committee members about Enrich & Transform (our guide for call committees), and share our best practice of starting conversations early about creating a call process that includes candidates who are LGBTQ.
With nearly 25 LGBTQ candidates (who are faithful, fabulous, and supremely qualified to do great ministry) awaiting first call, we need more congregations like Augustana who are taking these kinds of early steps to start the conversation.
Augustana Lutheran Church and Comunidad de Santa Maria are located in a somewhat tucked away corner between the busy neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and U Street. In addition to the wonderful events they hosted over the weekend (including a scrumptious dinner), the congregation covered my housing and flight and made a contribution to ELM to support our ministry.
Augustana has a solid online presence to bring their worship experience to those who can’t attend the service on Sunday. You can watch a video of my sermon here. Yes, I did say that Jesus was flaunting his beliefs. And, yes, those ARE Luther College graduates singing those beautiful solos!
Amalia Vagts, Executive Director, enjoyed her entire weekend in Washington D.C., but especially loved two moments: seeing a few former Planned Parenthood colleagues (and their kids!) out in the pew when she preached and observing Ruth (a 90 year-old-member of the congregation) recruiting Ben (who was baptized this past year as an adult) for a church project during coffee hour. Oh, and just being in D.C. There’s that too.