Church #26. Meet Marie Gettel-Gilmartin. She is a member of Spirit of Grace in Beaverton, Oregon. Her congregation is an intentional community of 150-200 members made up of Lutherans, Roman Catholics and other faith traditions, who worship and serve together.
Gettel-Gilmartin is a lay leader in her community–one that affirms all sexual orientations, gender identities, shapes, sizes, races, languages, faiths and spiritual practices.
“We’ve identified our three guiding principles: authentic, inclusive, and justice seeking. We strive to extend a radical welcome to all people.” says Gettel-Gilmartin. For nearly 3 decades now, members of Spirit of Grace – a Lutheran/ Roman Catholic community – believe they are called to journey together. They serve together, work together, and worship (mostly) together. It’s only the Eucharist that is done separately, but that’s it. Otherwise, they act in one accord.
Gettel-Gilmartin says, “As God’s people, we need to be reaching out to our neighbors with love. In this current climate of fear and uncertainty, people need a supportive community now more than ever.” Spirit of Grace regularly hosts speakers from different faith traditions and backgrounds. In early 2017 they had a speakers’ series with a couple who were undocumented, the president of the local NAACP, the ELCA Oregon Bishop, and a workshop on how to combat bullying. They also had a Muslim woman speak on Mother’s Day. The community focuses on a gospel of love, equipping their ecumenical members to be justice minded, loving, and encouraging.
Oregon is in the none zone, where fewer people go to church. Right now, according to Gettel-Gilmartin, many in her progressive state view religion as a condemning place with judging people. Spirit of Grace is the opposite of that kind of place, and it draws many people—women, people who identify as LGBTQ, and disenchanted Catholics—who have been hurt by the church.
With hospitality at its core, Spirit of Grace seeks and reaches out to be a different presence in Oregon. A radical welcome is at the center of what they do. It’s a common purpose that helps them attend to not only what Jesus died for, but what he lived for: God’s people, who come in all shapes, sizes, orientations, faiths, languages, and races.
Gettel-Gilmartin says, “Our congregation is a good place for those who struggle with faith. We like to ask the tough questions. But what makes us unique is that we are a Reconciled in Christ (pro-LGBTQ) church with an ecumenical worshiping opportunity that chooses to react with radical welcome and radical love.”
Why does this radical welcome – radical love matter? It matters because of what is written in Hebrews 13:2, which says: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Jesus extended a radical welcome and a radical love to all people no matter who they were. Hebrews reminds us that we – followers of Jesus – should do likewise.
For more information on this story, check out this Living Lutheran Article. Or contact Marie Gettel-Gilmartin at firstname.lastname@example.org.