Arts & Culture

Historic Churches in Washington, D.C.

March 31, 2014 9:00 AM

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National Cathedral (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

National Cathedral (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

For many, churches are the outward representation of an inner faith and strength. It’s no surprise that one of the nation’s most historic cities is also home to equally historic churches.

St. John’s Episcopal Church
Lafayette Square
1525 H St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-8766
www.stjohns-dc.org

Located across the street from the White House, St. John’s Episcopal Church is widely considered “The Church of the Presidents” for its historic connection to American commanders in chief. Organized in 1815, it is registered as a national historic landmark. The church held its first service in October of 1816 and since then, every sitting President has attended a service there. When the President is in attendance, he doesn’t have to worry about finding a seat. Pew 54 — known as the President’s Pew—is reserved for his use.

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Metropolitan A.M.E. Church
1518 M St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 331-1426
www.metropolitanamec.org

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church since its establishment in 1838making it D.C.’s oldest A.M.E. church. The A.M.E. denomination is the first African American independent religious body in the U.S. Metropolitan has a mission of “spreading Christ’s liberating gospel” throughout the DC area via its ministries and outreach. Steeped in history, the church represents the unification of two A.M.E. congregations: Israel Bethel founded in 1821 and Union Bethel founded in 1838—once a stop on the historic Underground Railroad.

Washington National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 537-6200
www.nationalcathedral.org

It took exactly 83 years to build, but ever since (even before its completion in 1990), the Washington National Cathedral has played a monumental role in America’s history. Designed by four different architects, this 83,012-square foot, Neo-Gothic-designed, regal, masonry structure is comprised of Indiana limestone and is complete with architectural elements like pointed arches, flying buttresses, vaulted ceilings, stained glass, rose windows and sculpted angels and gargoyles. Throughout its long history, the impressive place of worship has been inextricably connected to the national and international stages as the venue for state funerals and memorial services for American presidents, the destination for presidential prayer services post inauguration, host to British royalty and even the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last Sunday sermon in its Canterbury Pulpit. The cathedral has been designated by Congress as the “National House of Prayer.”

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Calvary Baptist Church
755 8th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 347-8355
www.calvarydc.org

Centered in the heart of DC, Calvary Baptist Church is settled in an historic edifice with an origin dating back to 1862. Calvary is the founding church of the American Baptist Convention and a member of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention, as well as the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. The church is committed to its mission of “living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the heart of Washington, DC” through its outreach and partnership programs within the community.

Mormon Temple
9900 Stoneybrook Drive
Kensington, MD 20895
(301) 588-0650
www.ldschurchtemples.com/washington

You’re driving along the Capitol Beltway when you see it. In daylight, its golden spires glisten in the sun. At night, its majestic white marble exterior is illuminated. You’re looking at the Mormon Temple—the first temple constructed in the eastern U.S, and, at 288 feet, the tallest structure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The beautiful 160,000-square-foot edifice, completed in 1974, is situated on a 52-acre wooded site that also houses a Temple Visitor’s Center. With 15 million members worldwide, the church is considered the 4th largest Christian denomination in the U.S., according to the National Council of Churches. The LDS Church is on a mission to promote the Christian doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Kevin Don Porter is the author of OVER THE EDGE and MISSING—two mysteries available on Amazon.com. Visit his website at www.kevindonporter.com..

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