The Faster Pastor

Her nickname aside, speed isn’t essential in the race the Rev. Christine Dunn is running.

The Rev. Christine Dunn. Photo By Gianna Gronowski

The Rev. Christine Dunn’s day job sees her preaching up at the pulpit in Bethesda’s Trinity Lutheran Church, calling on the congregation to exemplify what it means to be members of a community. Yet, she’s more known around the county as an avid runner — dubbed the “Faster Pastor” — and has found how her hobby intersects with her faith.

Q: You weren’t always a pastor. Can you share your journey on how you ended up at Trinity Lutheran?

A: I initially was a special education teacher. I went through some significant life changes. My then-husband and I were struggling in our marriage and we ended up getting a divorce. I don’t know that it would be everybody’s inclination to be like, “Oh, I’ll go to seminary and figure out my life.” But that’s sort of what I did.

I went to United Lutheran Seminary [then Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary]. I think, as is the case with many people, faith doesn’t always coincide well with life. My ex-husband was understanding his sexuality in a new way and I was trying to make sense of [that] and my own internal understandings of how people understand their sexuality, and how that matches up with my faith.

Q: What was your first step taken with your new lease on life?

A: I went to Central America and I saw that the Church functions very differently than it does in middle class America. There, the Church was so much an integral part of the community. The focus was on feeding, clothing, educating and advocating for the community. Initially, I had planned on moving there and living out my pastorship there, but life happens. I met and married my husband and now have a young child.

Q: How did you come to find yourself at Trinity Lutheran Church?

A: I have been a pastor at three parishes in Montgomery County. I started at Trinity during COVID in 2020. We’re still getting to know each other in some ways. In 2020 we were worshipping virtually, and then we were worshipping outside in 2021. The disadvantage of Zoom does not allow for casual conversation, which I think is such an important element in building relationship in the community.

Q: Trinity Lutheran identifies itself as an LGBTQIA+ affirming congregation. Can you speak to what that means?

A: In the Lutheran Church, you can go through a process and designate yourself as a church that has “reconciled in Christ,” which means your church is intentionally affirming of LGBTQIA+ individuals. It is also meant to be a statement in terms of racial justice. It means recognizing everybody is a child of God and we all live that out in different ways. We’re trying to be more intentional about it.

Q: In 2015, when you were an assistant pastor at Prince of Peace in Gaithersburg, your neighbor Congregation Shaare Torah was defaced in an antisemitic crime. What was the reaction among the county’s faith-based communities to that?

A: We started Montgomery County Interfaith 5k, which is held every Labor Day up at the Soccer Plex in Gaithersburg. We worked really hard to get congregations of all faiths and throughout the county. The people that run our race are just out there to say, “We believe in this. We want to come together and make a public witness that people of all faiths or no faith can come together and demonstrate that we affirm and care for and respect one another.” All the money we make we give away to two Montgomery County charities, Gaithersburg Help and C4 Clothing Closet.

Q: You’re known in the community as an avid runner. You even were a guest speaker on the podcast “Run Farther & Faster — The Podcast with Coaches Lisa Levin and Julie Sapper” and were billed as the “Faster Pastor.”

A: Everybody has their outlet. [Running is] my outlet. The thing with running for me has been you can access it anywhere. I started running in high school and figured out I was halfway decent at it. Finding a running group was the way I always made friends. If there’s ever a time that I can’t run, then I will have to stop preaching, because there’s something about the activity and the creativity process that goes hand-in-hand with me.

I have so many friends that are so much faster than me, so it’s a little funny. One of the women who is on the Interfaith 5k board has a podcast that touches on all different types of issues. The primary topic we talked about was how our spirituality intersects with running, and how it can put you in touch with yourself and a higher being.

Q: What are your goals for Trinity Lutheran?

A: With the congregation, my focus is always greater engagement and to be mindful of and good stewards of all that we’ve been given because we are really fortunate here. I often joke with them, if we left, if our congregation was gone, what hole would be left in the county? We’re just trying to figure that out.


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