First Congregational Church Installs First Female Senior Minister

First Woman Called to Lead Church Brings Array of Abilities, Involvements, and Experience

Indianapolis, IN, June 13, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — First Congregational United Church of Christ in Indianapolis made history when they installed the Rev. Dr. Sarah Griffith Lund as senior minister on Sunday, June 10 – making her the first woman to lead the church in its 161-year history.  

A proliferate speaker and writer about mental health, Lund is the author of the widely regarded book “Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family and Church.” She blogs at and is an active board member of the Martin Luther King Community Center in Indianapolis.

Ordained in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, Lund has served since 2014 as vice president for seminary advancement at Christian Theological Seminary. Prior to that appointment she worked with nearly 50 congregations in Florida to strengthen their vitality, and as a congregational pastor responsible for preaching, teaching, presiding over the sacraments, providing pastoral care, and community ministry.

The installation was preached by the renowned Rev. Traci Blackmon. Blackmon, Executive Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO. Under her leadership the congregation has tripled its membership and worship attendance over the last seven years, expanded membership engagement opportunities, and established community outreach programs including a computer lab, tutoring, continuing education classes, summer programming, a robotics team, a children’s library, and a girls’ mentoring program.

“The Rev. Traci Blackmon’s ministry and preaching represents the powerful blend of love for God, God’s people and doing justice,” said Dr. Lund. Blackmon’s preaching lights a fire, inspiring us all to work for a just world for all.”

The congregation’s excitement about Dr. Lund’s ministry is partly due to her breadth of leadership experience.

“Reverend Dr. Sarah Lund clearly stands out as an extremely talented and experienced leader who has exhibited that talent in multiple organizations and situations,” said Randy Walker, chair of the search committee that identified Lund. “Her personality, attitude, writings, education and other life experiences show she has had to deal with some very difficult situations. When you find someone this good, you want to be a part of what they are doing as well as invite them to be a part of what you are trying to do as a church.”

Lund’s formal education includes a bachelor of arts in religion from Trinity University, a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, a master of social work from Rutgers University, and a doctor of ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. She also completed the certificate in fundraising management from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Nancy Dickinson, chair of the congregation’s board for worship and faith, described the excitement the congregation has for this new season of its ministry. “Sarah’s generous, compassionate spirituality, her progressive inclusiveness, and social justice advocacy are all aligned closely with our church’s mission and will help us rise towards current and future challenges. Clearly, Sarah’s passionate work with many organizations on Mental Health Awareness and Education can significantly boost our effectiveness, both within this area of ministry in our church and across our community. We look forward to Sarah’s ministry with us!”

When asked what she hopes will characterize the congregation’s ministry during her tenure, Lund replied, “I hope we will be seen as a place of radical hospitality that welcomes all. I hope we flourish as a progressive, inclusive, and spiritually alive servant community of Jesus!”

Lund received the prestigious Engle Award in Preaching from Princeton Theological Seminary.

For more information about Lund or First Congregational United Church of Christ, please visit or call Cheryl Dillenback, communications coordinator, at 317.257.5397. 

CONTACT: Nathan Wilson
Christian Theological Seminary

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