My name is Christine Dunn and I’m Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area’s (LSSNCA) new Director, Community Engagement. I’m excited to introduce myself as we launch our end of year campaign, Pieces of Home. Home is something I’ve given a lot of thought to, for myself, for clients, for my family, and neighbors. Prior to joining LSSNCA, I served as a Lutheran pastor (ELCA) in Montgomery County, Maryland for 13 years. Whenever I tell the story of how I unexpectedly discerned a call to becoming a pastor, it is always hinged upon a series of transformational events in my life, which altered my perception of what it means to be church in community and finding your “home.”
While learning and working in Central America, I saw faith leaders advocating for radical change in policy; saw community members banding together for the good of all; saw societal changes implemented that made real, tangible changes in people’s lives; saw religion as an agent of grace. And I thought, “I can be a pastor, if I can be a pastor that does work like that.”
Since then, that’s all I’ve wanted to do. And it’s what I get to do at LSSNCA. It’s what we get to do with LSSNCA. We bring community members together who want to make real, tangible differences in people’s lives. We help people become better advocates for justice and equity. We all get to learn from others’ deep and rich backgrounds. I truly couldn’t ask for anything more of a new home.
I recently ran a marathon and saw something printed on the back of someone’s shirt that really stuck with me. It said: “Courage is endurance for one moment more.” Post-marathon I’ve thought a lot about that quote. It’s really quite true.
Like many of you I can become dismayed at the violence, discrimination, and judgment that exists within society. My prayers are often comprised of silent hurls at God, which sound something like: “How long, O God? How long” which has been prayed by people of all religions for generations, especially when people felt lost and longing for home. When I feel like change is slow; money is scarce; or hatred is heavy, I’m reminded that no pivotal moment has been without challenge and that lasting change takes perseverance, courage, and in many cases community.
We at LSSNCA are grateful for your ongoing support in creating Pieces of Home for our new neighbors. We are intentionally seeking to reinforce and expand our community engagement efforts and partnerships. We need individuals, community groups, faith organizations, and businesses to partner with us in this brave work. We know there’s a lot of work ahead of us, but we also know that together we can effect real change. I’d love to connect with you, but more importantly, I’d love to help connect you with our new neighbors and to ways you can make a difference. Please consider donating to our Pieces of Home campaign today to help make someone’s home a bit warmer and safer this holiday season, and I look forward to hearing from you.