Transcript: Methodist History: Church of Presidents
(Voice of 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.”
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.
The Rev. Charles Parker, Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church: “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.”
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 capitol, 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.”
By the late 1800’s, the congregation included nearly 550 members and offered a Sunday school for Chinese immigrants.
In the 1930’s, 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.”
(Voice of Bill Potts) “I love that we have the history, just the beautiful facade. But we also have the beautiful spirit inside.”