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History 

First Trinity

First Trinity is a multi-ethnic congregation. From its beginning in 1851 as a German-speaking congregation in the heart of downtown Washington, DC, First Trinity has been a place of welcome and gathering for both seekers and longtime followers of Christ.

Care and concern for our neighbors has been a significant part of First Trinity’s mission, which manifests itself in a number of ministries that were started and are sustained by the congregation. Community Family Life Services (CFLS), a nonprofit that serves children, families, and adults who are experiencing poverty and homelessness, was started by the congregation in 1969 and is now an independent nonprofit organization. Another partner organization, Lifeline Partnership, serves adults with developmental disabilities by providing spiritual and social support. In 1991, First Trinity founded New Course Restaurant and Catering, a restaurant that serves the neighborhood workforce while providing job training to people experiencing homelessness and unemployment. 

With the core belief that God calls us to be faithful stewards of creation, First Trinity has adopted a number of eco-friendly practices, including installing solar panels on our roof and maintaining two honeybee hives.

First Trinity is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, explicitly welcoming people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Understanding that Christ is the model and guide for reconciliation in all aspects of our lives and society, we are actively working towards breaking down structures of systemic racism within our church and community. 

Over the course of its history, First Trinity established six congregations across the Metro DC region, which has now become a network of 38 congregational ministries. For years First Trinity maintained dual membership in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) until the early 2000’s, when we were removed from LCMS for our openness in welcoming female clergy and the LGBTQIA+ community. 

St. Matthew

St. Matthew is a multi-ethnic congregation with a history of itinerancy in the name of following God’s call to new ventures. Founded by bakers in 1893, St. Matthew began worshipping at Kentucky Avenue in Southeast DC. The congregation then moved to its current location at 222 M St. SW, joining other Southwest congregations in a mid-century redevelopment of the neighborhood. In an effort to redevelop it’s faculties to become a center for community activity,  St. Matthew undertook a 20-year redevelopment process of its M Street property. During this time, the congregation joined First Trinity for worship and fellowship, growing together with this sister congregation. In 2019, St. Matthew dedicated its new building with a joyful worship service. The building includes space for conferences, an emergency shelter, accommodations for hostel groups, a commercial kitchen, and a coffee shop – “Sacred Grounds Café – Coffee with a Purpose.” 

Shared Ministry

In 2018, First Trinity and St. Matthew took active steps to live into a vision of “two congregations sharing one mission in two locations.” The congregations shared a long history of worship and ministry, growing together through activities like the choir, bible study, and fellowship, which they wanted to leverage as a new way of being in relationship with one another. Both congregations felt they could do more together than apart. Now, both congregations share mission, worship, and ministry opportunities between their two campuses in Penn Quarter and Southwest. Please join us for worship at either location – we would love to welcome you!