March 17, 2014
Over my 40 years of ministry, a common theme has been voices within the church proclaiming the imminent demise of congregations. However, the presence of Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. for 150 years is evidence of the durability of congregations. It has been a faithful witness to the love of God through civil wars and world wars, economic booms and great depressions, times of social change and times of social stability.
Congregations in our time are strikingly similar to those Paul created as he moved around the Mediterranean. They are filled with people who come together regularly to worship God, argue with each other about who God is and what God calls us to do, help the less fortunate in their communities, take stands against empires and make significant financial and time sacrifices to keep their congregations alive. Paul’s congregations were small just as most PCUSA congregations today are small.
We need people in each generation to invent new forms of the church. However, I hope that most Christians will continue to pour their energy into traditional ways of making their congregations faithful servants of God as the good people of Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church have done for 150 years. In our congregations, we need worship that inspires, engages and teaches; spiritual growth programs that deepen our faith; community ministries that transform the lives of those they touch; and a strong sense of belonging among our members.
Congregational ministry isn’t rocket science. Congregational ministry is long hours and hard work, staying focused on the core things the church has always done, and being disciplined in doing the work of God. We don’t need to reinvent the church. We need to be the church. May God’s blessings be upon CHPC as it serves God and neighbor for another 150 years!
Western Presbyterian Church
March 3, 2014
My wife Emily and I have been members of CHPC since the last 1990s and our love of this community was such that when we moved to the suburbs in 2005 we never considered changing churches. (We later learned the several other members made the same decision.) But my history with CHPC goes back to 1987, when, as a Cornell undergrad spending a semester in Washington, I arranged to have a group of students from around the country working on global poverty to stay at the Washington Seminar Center. We had a great experience there and it got me out of a big bind since I was not sure where I could find for them to stay.
I find CHPC to be an inclusive, caring community that reinforces and also helps expand my evolving views as a Christian. I learned a lot from Kim Rodridgue and have enjoyed Andy Walton’s term has pastor even more, mainly since it has been longer. I love his sermons (and have begun tweeting about them to share his wisdom with a wider community) ! His wife Peg is a great contributor to CHPC in so many ways.<
Being a thriving community after 150 years is no mean feat. It truly “takes a village” of members, volunteers, visitors and staff to make it happen, and I tip my hat to everyone who works for the benefit of CHPC and its mission. Most of that work is done quietly and does not receive much if any appreciation, beyond what comes from our Heavenly Father. I especially appreciate the current Session and all the Elders of the Church for their leadership, and not least Leslie Barbour for being the energetic, practical and optimistic champion of the sesquicentennial observance which should carry us through the bicentennial and beyond!
February 2, 2014
Congratulations to CHPC on the occasion of its sesquicentennial.
I had lived in DC without a Church home for the better part of 14 years. My daughter, Leslie, was about 3 when I decided that as an only child, she needed to know that her roots here were deeper than just her Mom and Dad. I sought a Church home in our Capitol Hill neighborhood which came close to the Congregational Church in MA where I grew up. While there did not appear to be many youngsters in either of my 2 options: the Methodists and the Presbyterians, I chose the congregation with the least blue-haired ladies and have never looked back!
There were periods of time in the last 30 years when neither Leslie nor I would show up. However, we never had a guilt trip laid upon us for our absences; rather we were welcomed always with smiles and warm greetings. Off and on, I taught a semester of Sunday School with the little ones, served as a greeter or even did a coffee hour now and then, but it wasn’t until after 2000 that I was ordained as an Elder and went on Session—one of the most meaningful decisions of my adult life.
I came to experience a deep sense of belonging and a commitment to this Church, which I hadn’t felt since leaving my MA.
As for Leslie, she had the opportunity to participate in a confirmation class, which was not a regular offering due to the small number of young people of appropriate age at the time. I told her that it was her decision as to whether or not she was confirmed, but that I wanted her to take the classes to learn about her denomination and other religions. It was a special time for her, both in terms of what she learned and in the bond she formed with the 3 other young ladies (no guys unfortunately). She made the decision to be confirmed.
Several members of the congregation have heard this story, but I will repeat it:
Leslie was in her early teens when Ida May Mantel paid us a stewardship visit. As we sat in our living room, Leslie all of a sudden spoke up and said she appreciated that her Church was always there for her. That statement brought me great joy!
Ida May’s response was to the effect that it was difficult for the Church always to be there if you were not there for your Church.
I hope that I have given back in some small way to this historic Church and to the community of faith which has given so much to me and to my daughter.
HAPPY 150th ANNIVERSARY!
August 29, 2013
Hello, and congratulations on CH’s approaching Sesquicentennial! Your website shows much going on around it.
I’m writing as a member of the task force preparing for First Presbyterian Church’s Bicentennial coming up in 1819, in Bloomington, Indiana. Dr. Luccock was pastor here (when we were called the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church) from 1891-1894, just before he moved to Washington and Capitol Hill PC.
I had googled to look for further information about him, having recalled that he served in Washington, D.C., and up came your history materials, including a photo of him — something we have been looking for! As well as that splendid and detailed biography written by Gene Larkin, for which we are very grateful.
Thank you SO much for considering this request, and again, congratulations on a wonderful history!