About Us

Who makes up Augustana?

Augustana is an ecumenical congregation in the Lutheran tradition comprised of some 475 diverse members plus friends and visitors who live in the District of Columbia and its metropolitan area.

“Ecumenical” means that at Augustana you might find yourself sitting next to someone who is a former Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or who is a work in progress trying to figure out what he or she believes or where he or she belongs. Or you may find yourself amid life-long Lutherans who grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Synod, the Lutheran Church of El Salvador or a Lutheran church in another part of the world.

Though founded by Swedes and Swedish-Americans, as you look around, you will see light and dark skins. Augustana was among the earliest churches in Washington, D.C., to racially integrate in 1954. The congregation began a Latino ministry in the early 1980s. The congregation has also welcomed families from Africa along the way. And as Augustana diversified, Norwegian-Americans came to outnumber the Swedes, and the doors opened to welcome a broad range of ethnicities. Augustana has embraced inter-racial marriages that blend African, African American, Asian, European and Latino-descent individuals into couples.

In 1987, Augustana became a “Reconciling in Christ” congregation. This means Augustana has a long-standing commitment to welcoming gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people as members, friends and leaders of our congregation. Augustana’s policies on marriage extend to the blessing of marriage of same-gender couples.

In 2005, Augustana made a major investment to assure its facilities would welcome and be accessible to people whose mobility is limited by temporary, chronic or permanent physical disabilities. Members and visitors regulary utilize these improvements to the building to fully participate in our life together.

The Augustana mix is further diversified by newborns, children, teens and elders; young singles and couples as well as the middle-aged and older singles and couples they grow into; those who have wealth, those with next to nothing, and those who fall between; high school grads and PhDs; lawyers, librarians, teachers, researchers, communicators, consultants, executives, managers, administrators, trades people, handy-workers; individuals who are home-based, retired, fully employed, under- and un- employed individuals; and the list goes on.

What do Augustnans have in common? They are committed to the mix. They do not need to be with people who are just like them. Augustanans feel energized and more complete when they experience God’s grace touching their lives through people who are different. By grace alone we are called together to celebrate Christ’s real presence in both the holy meal at the altar and at all the tables where people eat together.

Our worship

Sunday morning worship at Augustana; reading of the Gospel lessonAugustana revels in the historic liturgies of the Church that create the umbrella under which our diverse community gathers on Sundays. Our liturgy combines excellent music with strong Biblical preaching and prayerful concern for one another and the world in which we live. We mark the start of worship by ringing chimes that  tell people to stand and face the baptismal font at the entrance to the church  for brief public confession.  With a love for festivals, we celebrate the important days and seasons of the church year with incense, special prayers and music. The reading of the Gospel always involves a procession to the center of the church. (At our Spanish Misas, the entire congregation processes into the church to start the service, sometimes after processing around the block.)  In using historic forms, our worship belongs to all and is not dominated by any one group’s popular sounds or preferences.  At the same time, the forms come to life as we fill them with our experiences, gifts and concerns adapted to the events of the day. Ours is a living liturgy.

Each Sunday afternoon, Augustana offers a Spanish-language Misa that follows the liturgical order of the morning Eucharist but incorporates the spirit of “the people.” The worshiping community is mostly Salvadoran and has strong ties to the Lutheran Church in El Salvador.

The first Sunday of the month, September through May, the Swedish Lutheran Church of Washington, D.C. worships in Augustana’s sanctuary at 8:30 a.m.

The Crossroad Center at Augustana

For more than 40 years, Augustana has housed social service agencies, child care centers, and charter schools that both needed space for purposes that fit the mission of Augustana and financially contributed to operating the building. In 2009, Augustana began to more clearly articulate its commitment to sharing its facilities with community-based organizations and neighbors whose activities extend Augustana’s Sunday experience as a crossroad into our community through service to our neighbors.

Two full-time tenants now provide child care for infants and toddlers and after-school programming to middle and high school youth. Regular renters include Zumba classes and and AA group. Occassional renters use space to teach classes, hold meetings or conferences, celebrate birthdays or other special occasions, and conduct summer programs.

Interested parties can initiate inquiries by contacting the church office.