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The small, red brick church sits in a mostly black neighborhood of Evansville Indiana. About 80 percent of the two hundred people attending Grace Lutheran Church are black as well. The only thing black about the Rev. Walter Wangerin is his cassock.

Immediately to the rear of the church sits a matching red brick parish house. The sign above the door reads Office. Two LEADERSHIP editors knock, and Wangerin emerges from a rear office that was obviously once a cozy bedroom. He welcomes us toward the comfortable armchairs across from a desk and a wall full of bookshelves.

After a few moments we ask, "What brought you to this church?"

It's a natural enough question, one we might ask a pastor in any of a hundred settings. But the question has been at the front of our minds ever since we pulled up and saw that this was hardly a church to grace the front of a Hallmark greeting card.

Walt Wangerin and Grace Lutheran Church appear mismatched. He is better known for his writing than his pastoring. After ...

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