Methodist History: Church of Presidents

By | September 1, 2019


(Ann Michel) People from all
around the country helped to give birth to this. Abraham Lincoln was among the
contributors who gave money to create the original
church building.” (narrator) At the National
Church, visitors can walk in the footsteps of U.S. Supreme Court justices or sit
in the pews of presidents. Pastor Charles Parker says
the United Methodist landmark in D.C. has a rich history. (Charles Parker) Our original
home of Metropolitan Memorial was on Capitol Hill and
was the home to a lot of significant government figures
over the years. Ulysses Grant was, for
example, a very active member. President McKinley was
a very active member. (narrator) Metropolitan Memorial
United Methodist was founded in 1852 and completed
after the Civil War. It’s the only church in the
denomination formed by an act of the General Conference. Ann Michel likes to
share her church’s story. (Ann Michel) The idea was to
create a church that would be a representative presence of
Methodism here in the nation’s capital, and also to be a home,
to be a worship place for the wayfarers, for different people
who came to Washington, D.C. by virtue of this being
the seat of government. (narrator) By the late 1800s,
the congregation included nearly 550 members and offered a Sunday
school for Chinese immigrants. In the 1930s, the church moved
to its current location in northwest D.C. near American
University, which was also founded by the Methodist church. Visitors to Metropolitan
Memorial marvel at the stained glass windows, vaulted ceiling,
gothic details, and the plaques on the pews for each state. Members through the years
have included President Nixon and family and Supreme Court
Justice Harry S. Blackmun. Today, the National Church seeks
to set an example in areas of social justice, community
outreach and inclusiveness. Ministries include a
transitional housing shelter and a food program which serves 1300
meals a week to those in need. (Ann Michel) This church is
deeply engaged in the local community, and really has a very
important ministry here in the city of the District of
Columbia: work with the homeless, work with the hungry,
work in community revitalization and affordable housing. My feeling is, unless we can be
a leader in our own community we really can’t claim to
be a national leader. (Bill Potts) I love that
we have the history, just the beautiful facade. But we also have the
beautiful spirit inside. ♪ (music) ♪

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