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Peace Lutheran Church calls its first openly gay pastor at the start of Pride Month

Peace Lutheran Church, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregation in Waldorf, MD, named Eric Thomas M. Randolph (he/him/his) as its new lead pastor on Sunday, June 12, 2022.

Randolph, who is openly gay and married, previously served as Peace Lutheran Church's Youth and Family Minister from 2018 to 2020. Randolph's call to Peace Lutheran Church will be his first as an ordained clergy person, and he will begin his pastorate on Monday, August 22, 2022, after being ordained at Augustana Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C.

“We are so excited to have Vicar Eric back to lead us i

nto a new beginning for our ministries, and into new ways of sharing the good news of the Gospel, said Jill Fronck, Congregation President. “The church struggled during COVID, but now is ready to refocus and move forward with strong ministries that not only require our hands, but also our voices to speak up and advocate for those who need support. Christians are called to love and care for all God’s beautiful diverse people, not judge.”

“When Vicar Eric's profile was sent to us, as a first call candidate, we felt a weight being lifted off our shoulders in many ways,” said Andi Eberly, chair of the church’s call committee.

“We already had the joy of working closely with him as our past youth director. It felt like we were welcoming home a family member we had been missing since October 2020. His qualifications, his passion, his life and work experience as well as his overwhelming adoration of Peace Lutheran Church and this

community made him the perfect fit.”

Randolph recently received a Master of Divinity degree from United Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg and Philadelphia, PA. He is a second-career minister who previously held senior executive management positions with numerous major merchants. Randolph enters the ministry with a great deal of inventiveness, enthusiasm, and faith.

“The pandemic has been hard on churches for sure, but I see this time as an opportunity for churches to reassess their mission and how they’re serving their neighbors,” said Randolph. “Peace has had an active food pantry for many years and it continues to be a critical resource for many individuals and families, especially during the pandemic. So now the question we need to ask our

selves is where and how else does the neighborhood and greater Waldorf need our support.”

“Coming back to Peace Lutheran Church is like coming home again. Coming home, especially for someone who is gay, can be a challenge and even traumatic,” said Randolph. “But Peace is a spirit-filled congregation who takes their commitment to welcoming everyone, including their 2SLGBTQIA+ neighbors seriously. There is love for everyone in this space and I’m excited to help shepherd them in broadening their ministry.”

Last weekend a group from the congregation attended Capital Pride with other ELCA congregations in the DC area.

“It was wonderful to be a part of such an inclusive celebration of acceptance and equality,” said Lou D’Ambrosio, Congregation Vice President. “It is important to take my daughters to events like Pride that live out our church’s mission.”

Peace Lutheran Church, formed in 1978, became a Reconciling In Christ congregation of the ELCA in 2020. As a Reconciling In Christ congregation, Peace has committed itself to the inclusive call of the Gospel by publicly welcoming people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.

“There are many things we’re hoping to accomplish together. Most importantly, our focus is going to be about building positive and lasting relationships within our neighborhood and the wider community of Waldorf and

Charles County,” said Randolph.

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands.," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

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