Like the city in which it presently meets, Abiding Peace Lutheran Church is small yet vibrant. A liberal congregation that actively resists discrimination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Abiding Peace took the progressive step of calling a lesbian minister six years ago. Members currently convene just north of the river in North Kansas City, where a Protestant spirit still fuels both worship and study.
Abiding Peace Lutheran Church
Abiding Peace Lutheran Church was once situated on Chouteau Trafficway. It was a mainline, neighborhood Lutheran church, and as happens with churches, its membership began to evolve. As part of this evolution, several gay and lesbian worshippers were incorporated into the church family. The congregation has been “reconciling” for many years since.
“Reconciling in Christ” is the phrase—like the terms “welcoming” or “affirming” in other denominations—used by warm-hearted Lutherans who want to convey their desire for the full participation within the church of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The independent organization, Lutherans Concerned/North America, is the steward for such principles.
Abiding Peace is a member congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which is not itself a fully reconciling body. For instance, ELCA allows LGBT clergy to serve, but only after they take a vow of chastity. For this reason, an exceptional program was formed to shepherd gay and lesbian seminarians through an alternative candidacy program not sanctioned by the denomination’s governing documents.
The Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP) was founded in 1993 to certify the credentials of openly identified sexual minority pastors and seminarians who no longer wish to keep their sexual orientation a secret but who feel called to serve. ECP was formed as an act of “ecclesial disobedience,” in direct opposition to the ELCA celibacy rule.
Rev. Donna J. Simon. pastor of Abiding Peace Lutheran Church since 2000, was called and certified through the Extraordinary Candidacy Project. Simon “came out” during seminary, and because of her honesty about her sexual orientation and her partnership with a woman, was not allowed to proceed to candidacy through the normal means. Donna is quoted in the brochure for Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries (LLGM), a group that provides support to LGBT pastors and their congregations, as saying “LLGM’s support of this congregation, that was willing to call an openly lesbian seminary graduate, has given us a new sense of mission and vitality.” LLGM is also a placement vehicle for ministers who are approved by ECP.
Membership at Abiding Peace is mixed—about half LGBT, half straight—diehards and newcomers. In particular, the congregation ministers to those who are marginalized by religion and society. Though the liturgy is elaborate, it is performed in an informal manner. The church sponsors both seminars and retreats in addition to its regular worship and Bible study.
Abiding Peace reaches out to the community by participating in events such as AIDS Walk and Out in Westport. Members have contributed time and effort to Habitat for Humanity and provide cleaning supplies to those in need as a complement to the feeding programs of other organizations.
If you are interested in the hope and joy of the Gospel, want to learn about scripture in a truly welcoming environment, desire to serve your community, and believe the Word of God to be a message of hope not of condemnation, perhaps Abiding Peace Lutheran is for you.
Abiding Peace Lutheran Church
Worship - Sunday at 10:00 AM
Adult Education/Bible Study - Wednesday (Call for details)
Located at Finnigan’s Hall
503 East 18th Avenue
North Kansas City, Missouri 64116
Rev. Simon and other members of the Kansas City Coalition for Welcoming Ministries are sponsoring a 6:30 PM Ecumenical Candlelight Service for Advent on December 3 at Unity Temple on the Plaza. The candlelight service will mark the beginning of the Advent season and will feature Kansas City Star faith columnist Bill Tammeus speaking on “Anticipating Justice.”

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