GLC History


Georgetown Lutheran Church is the oldest Lutheran congregation in Washington, DC. Thirty-Two years before the city of Washington became the capital of our nation, a Lutheran congregation was organized in Georgetown, north of the Potomac River. Its existence can be documented as early as 1769.

Attracted by Lord Baltimore's offer of cheap land, a group of Lutherans from Germany migrated to and settled in the Potomac Valley. By the early 18th century, these settlers were being ministered to by itinerant Lutheran pastors who rode a circuit of early Lutheran churches. 

The German Lutheran church, as Georgetown Lutheran was known, established itself at the corner of High and Fourth Streets (at its present location) in 1766.  Colonel Charles Beatty, one of the original founders of the town, had set apart this lot of ground for the sole use and benefit of the Lutheran Church, under the condition "that they would build on it within a reasonable time a house of worship, which would conduce to diffuse piety, to enhance the value of his property, and to adorn his additional to Georgetown." 

The Lutherans took possession of the lot that same year, 1766, organized themselves into a congregation, and in 1769 the cornerstone was laid for the first house of worship.  It was a plain log church among locust trees, such as frequently marked the path of a pioneer. A steeple and bell were added later. 

A frame structure was built in 1835 to replace the earlier log building and was used until after the Civil War. On September 2, 1867, the cornerstone of a new one-story stone building was laid with the same gavel George Washington had used to lay the cornerstone of the nation's capital building.

The church installed its first regular pastor in 1869, when the congregation consisted of twenty-five members and sixty Sunday school students. The first organ was installed by 1837. The fourth, and present, structure was dedicated in 1914, and a pipe organ installed and dedicated five years later. The old bell, which stands on the front lawn as a memorial, was salvaged from a junk yard in Romney, West Virginia in 1937, after being given away in the 1870s - and then later returned to the church.

Today, Georgetown Lutheran Church is building on two centuries of ministry in Georgetown by focusing on outreach, campus ministry, ministry to children and seniors, and music. We act with other congregations in the community through the Georgetown Ministry Center to aid those facing hardship. In 1998, we installed a brand new Howell tracker pipe organ of eleven stops on two manuals. In October, 2000, our new pastor arrived to begin ministry. 

With the help of the ELCA and the DC Synod, Georgetown Lutheran Church seeks to minister to a wider community, both in Georgetown and beyond, and our members are actively facing the challenges of growth, renewal, and of Making Christ Known!

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1556 Wisconsin Avenue, NW; Washington, DC 20007
(202) 337 - 9070; Fax (202) 337 - 9170