Lutheran? What's a Lutheran?
Good question! We get that one a lot.
Baptized into the name of the Triune God, we are made children of God, part of the Christian family with brothers and sisters throughout the world: Roman Catholics, Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Disciples, Orthodox Christians, Congregationalists, Adventists, Mennonites, Reformed Christians, Friends, Covenanters, and countless others. In baptism, Christians of all these traditions and more are our brothers and sisters in Christ!
Within that larger family tree of the Christian church, we are one branch - a branch with a nearly 500-year old story! To learn more about this Lutheran branch of the Christian family tree, the website of our national church body, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is helpful. We also recommend Dan Erlander's book Baptized We Live: Lutheranism as a Way of Life. We also offer classes on Lutheranism every October.
In 1904, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, our little Christian church in the Lutheran tradition, was founded at the corner of Vermont Avenue and 36th Place in South Los Angeles. Deeply connected to our neighborhood, we've carved out a specific mission and vision for our time and place. Read on to learn more about our Mission, Values, and Vision!
Of course, the best way to discover who we are is by firsthand experience: just to come down to church on a Sunday morning and experience God in community with us. Hope to see you soon!
We strive to make God’s love alive in what we do:
in sharing the Word and Sacraments,
in serving and caring,
for each other and for all those around us,
whoever they might be.
We are a multicultural church, a “church for all nations.” In 1948, amid changes in our neighborhood and our nation, our congregation voted to be a “church for all nations,” welcoming all races at a time when that was not a given. From that time forth, the congregation integrated, and in the decades since we have welcomed every new “nation” that has moved into our neighborhood, learning from one another and inclusively celebrating one another. We are still learning from one another and growing in mutual understanding together. St. Marks Lutheran Church welcomes people of all ages, all races, all ethnic backgrounds, all gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations, all physical and mental abilities, all immigration statuses and all socioeconomic levels. You are welcome here. We are a church for all nations.
We are a church for all of God’s children. Following Jesus’ example, we are called to accompany all of God's children, whether through programs for young people growing into adulthood; visitation of the sick and the shut-in; affirming those who have been rejected for their race, immigration status, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and accompaniment with people of all ages who are excluded, hungry, homeless, lonely, sick, or vulnerable. We are a church for all of God's children.
We share what God has given us. Like those who gathered manna in the wilderness, we, too, receive gifts from God, gifts of food, culture, time, talents, money, things, passions. With the manna-gatherers in the wilderness, we understand that all of life is a gift, and so we share the gifts we receive with one another and with all those around us. We share what God has given us.
We gather in circles. When we gather for holy communion, we gather most often in a circle, a sign of our equality before God and with one another. All are welcomed just as they are. We also believe that, following the example of our Lord, we are called to act whenever the circle of equality is broken, that all might be restored to the circle of equality. We gather in circles.
We are small but mighty. Like the little boy whose lunchbox opened to serve five thousand people, we believe that God can do a lot with a little. And so we are unafraid to take risks, to set high goals, to do big things, to raise our collective voice to advocate for justice. We are small but mighty.
For over a century, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church has been a church with a vision.
We are a multicultural congregation that has been a symbol of hope and a beacon of light in a changing community. Our congregation has survived and thrived as a result of courageous acts of justice in civil and human rights, Christian education and development of our youth and children, and the willingness to bridge cultural gaps.
We are here to serve God by showing love and acceptance to all cultures and socio-economic levels through the preaching of the Word and sharing of the Sacraments. In doing so, we have enjoyed the blessings of God as a multi-church: multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-generational, multi-class, multi-abled, multi-expression, even multi-denominational, rooted in the Lutheran tradition but inclusive of multi-denominational influences and outreach.
May that vision continue to bind us together and strengthen us as we continue into our second hundred years!