The Rev. Dr. Mary Anderson

Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Organization: Incarnation Lutheran Church, Columbia, SC

The Rev. Dr. Mary Anderson has been Senior Pastor of Incarnation Lutheran Church in Columbia, SC, since 2003.

Pastor, St. Paul's Lutheran, Evanston, IL 1992 - 2002

ELCA Churchwide Staff in Chicago 1988 - 1991

Pastor, St. Mark's Lutheran, Prosperity, SC 1983 - 1987


B.A. in Religion and Philosophy from Newberry College, Newberry, SC 1978

Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia 1983

Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago 2005


For 20 years, I have been an advocate for the homeless and for racial reconciliation. Since moving back to my hometown of Columbia, SC in 2003, I have served on the Board for the Midlands Housing Alliance which built the 11 million dollar transitional housing and help facility in downtown Columbia called Transitions, and served as chair for many years of Light the Way, an interfaith group assisting with education and advocacy around homelessness. In June, 2008, I was honored with the Hyman Rubin Sr. Distinguished Service Award by the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council for my work on these issues.

For eight years, I have been part of a Racial Reconciliation Group in Columbia comprised of mostly Lutheran clergy and a variety of lay and clergy African American members of the community. While we have planned and carried out a few public events, our main purpose is to work toward racial reconciliation by developing deep friendships with each other. We meet once a month for lunch conversation and several times a year we meet in each other's homes along with our spouses or friends. We believe that our friendship and the trust that is a result of it will naturally translate into all the other relationships and networks in our lives.

Currently in my congregation and as an ordained ministry in the ELCA, I am focused on and write, preach, and speak on the following issues:


  • How to be an effective minister and have an effective ministry in the 21st century.
  • How to do effective ministry in 20th or 19th century church buildings in which many of us find ourselves.
  • While many like to point to the statistics of decline, I am trying to put it in the context of a changing church rather than a declining church. We know that change is the constant in church history and yet when it happens in our midst it causes us to be afraid rather than creative or grateful! As mainline Protestants, I believe our greatest challenge and our coolest opportunity is to discover how to be creative and grateful in the midst of change.


Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Dr. Mary Anderson

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Alabaster Extravagance

Thursday May 02, 2013
The Rev. Dr. Mary Anderson reveals how Jesus' willingness to forgive sinners, as in the case of Luke 7:36-50, demonstrates God's loving acceptance of all who love God.