First United Lutheran Church

First United Lutheran Church

First United Lutheran Church (“FULC”) has a vibrant past that has logically lead it to its dynamic and inclusive present state and points towards a promising future witnessing the diversity of God’s creation.

Founded in 1886 by the Women’s Missionary Society as Women’s Memorial Church, it was the first Lutheran church on the West Coast to hold all of its services in English, if not also the first formed by women in the highly patriarchal milieu of 19th century American Lutheranism. The congregation flourished and soon built an amply-sized American Gothic style church building on Geary Boulevard, near Octavia Street.

After being comfortably situated in the well settled cathedral hill area of San Francisco for 50 years, the congregation broke with established norm and moved to the newly developing Richmond District of San Francisco. The Richmond was already on the road to becoming one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the United States. In its new location, the congregation eventually changed its name from First English Lutheran Church to First United Lutheran Church to reflect a more encompassing mission.

In 1989, the congregation again challenged the status quo by extending a call to an openly gay pastoral candidate, Jeff Johnson. In the subsequent years, the congregation actively participated in justice issues including homelessness, LGBT rights, and expanded interfaith cooperation.

2007 was another frame bending year for First United as it decided to become a Church without walls by selling its building and allowing the congregation to focus its energies and resources on creative, inclusive ministries instead of bricks and mortar issues.

Currently, FULC gathers at the chapel of another historic congregation in San Francisco, Unitarian Universalist Church. In fact, they’re one of our old time neighbors as our new home is scarcely a block away from the site of the original Women’s Memorial Church.


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