Greetings from Houston

Dear Members and Friends of Abiding Presence,

Greetings from Houston and the ELCA Youth Gathering! I’m here with over 30,000 other Lutheran senior high youth and adults serving, worshiping, praying, learning and playing under the theme “This Changes Everything.”

While I’m here, however, I am mindful of what is happening at home in our community. Many of you have probably now heard the news about the destruction, vandalism and racist graffiti that happened at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, our neighboring ELCA congregation in Fairfax, on Tuesday (more info in this news story from NBC4). Over the past two days I have had the chance to talk and pray with many of my pastoral colleagues who are here in Houston. We have reached out to the church’s new pastor who just started this week to offer our support and solidarity.

It’s not just the pastor who needs our support, however, but the entire congregation of Bethlehem and our larger Fairfax community. The church council worked over email today to write a letter showing Abiding Presence’s commitment to walk with the people of Bethlehem. We will invite all of you to add your signatures to the letter this weekend. May it serve as a sign of our solidarity to proclaim God’s love and welcome for all people with the people of Bethlehem Lutheran Church and the other congregations in our Metro-DC Synod.

At the Youth Gathering Thursday evening, our youth were “to stand up and rise into God’s purpose.” May we stand up together and rise into God’s purpose to let love – not hate – be the loudest voice.

Here is the text of the letter from the Council:

Dear Members and Friends of Bethlehem Lutheran Church,

We are deeply saddened to hear of the recent vandalism at Bethlehem. We stand in solidarity with you in proclaiming welcome and hospitality to ALL people. We commit to joining you in working to, as our youth have heard at the ELCA Youth Gathering this past week, “Letting love be the loudest voice.” 

We will be surrounding you with our prayers as you gather for worship this weekend. We also want to offer to help with whatever you might need moving forward. Our congregation stands ready and willing to help you. We are the body of Christ together. 

We look forward to continuing to witness together to our community about God’s love, grace and mercy for all people.


The Congregation Council of Abiding Presence