The following statement on “The Three Miracles” was made by Sue Van Slyke, Chair of the History Committee at the ceremony unveiling the new bronze marker commemorating the historic significance of Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.:
“Before we unveil the plaque this afternoon, I would like to say a few words about the 3 miracles which brought us to this point in the life of the church.
First of all, a miracle occurred when several ladies on Capitol Hill wrote to the Rev. John Chester in Bustleton, New Jersey, remarking that since God had used him to start a church “under a tree”, perhaps He would also use him to build a church on a hill. Dr. Chester took this as a call from God and came immediately to survey the field. Consequently the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church was organized with 34 member less than 3 months later.
The second miracle took place when the church had grown so much by 1868 that a “large edifice” was needed. Fund raising did not produce enough money but the foundation was laid on faith that the funds would appear. Then the General Assembly gave them the gift of the assets of the Metropolitan Church Committee, a corporation which had hoped to build a National Presbyterian Church in DC. This money was given with the condition that the building plans be enlarged and the name changed to Metropolitan, a name which stood until the merger with Eastern in 1955
The third, but undoubtedly not the last, miracle happened on April 13, 1984, just 2 days before Palm Sunday, when lightning struck a window frame in the attic and started a fire. Don Huff, a homeless man who had a relationship with the church, was walking by and called the fire department. This quick action almost certainly saved the building, though the Sanctuary sustained severe water damage. The insurance money allowed the air conditioning of the Sanctuary, which truely seems like a miracle on a steamy hot summer day.
I would like to thank the members of the History Committee, the Session, The Rev. Andy Walton, and a special thanks to Dudley Brown and Dave Levy, who installed the plaque which I will now read to you:.
The Presbytery of the Potomac organized the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church on April 11, 1864 and installed its organizing pastor, the Rev. John Chester, D.D.
This Gothic style building was designed by Washington architect Emil Sophus Friedrich and erected 1869-1872
President Ulysses S. Grant attended the dedication of this church on December 8, 1872.
Now Andy Walton will close this ceremony with prayer.”