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Get Religion in Glover Park

Updated: May 23, 2023

Alex: “Ken, you go first in Double Jeopardy.”

Ken Jennings: “I’ll take Religion in Glover Park for $400, Alex.”

Alex: “It’s the number of places of worship in Glover Park…...Amy.”

Amy Schneider: “What is two?”

Alex: “No…...Matt.”

Matt Amodio: “What is one?”

Alex: “No…..Ken.”

Ken Jennings: “What is….zero??”

Alex: “Correct. Trick answer. Select again.”


I know some are thinking: what about that St. Luke’s place over by Guy Mason, or that green and white church down by Trader Joe’s? Technically, St. Luke’s Mission Center is in Observatory Circle and Divine Science Church is in Georgetown, when going by Advisory Neighborhood Commission neighborhood boundaries. And that shrine to Elvis in the basement of former ANC Chairman Brian Turmail doesn’t count, even though the city granted a tax exemption. Still, despite the lack in Glover Park proper, there are a number of places of worship within an easy walk.


St. Luke’s Mission Center

St Luke’s Mission Center at 3655 Calvert St NW is a branch of the National United Methodist Church. NUMC’s main location and offices are at 3401 Nebraska Ave NW across from American University where you’ve likely noticed the grand stone church at the corner of New Mexico Ave. They also have a church that houses a Montessori school in Chevy Chase DC. The St. Luke’s campus doubles as a transitional shelter for up to seven men experiencing homelessness. This is not a pop-in shelter, as they follow a strict process of referrals from Friendship Place, one of the top DC housing services providers for finding shelter for those in need. St Luke’s has a process for helping people recover and find housing and jobs to rebuild their lives as quickly as possible. St. Luke’s also has a program called Campus Kitchen, in which volunteers recover food from local restaurants and drop off at the church for sorting and delivery. In addition, they will prepare lunches to be delivered to Friendship Place. Also, they are operating a 24-bed hostel now for college students visiting DC. St. Luke’s on Calvert Street no longer offers regular in person worship as they have merged their congregation with the other locations, though they do have occasional special events open to the public, such as the recent garden party at Easter, in addition to the myriad of volunteer opportunities related to the shelter and the Campus Kitchen.


The stated vision of NUMC is: “Extending Radical Hospitality. Transforming Lives. Pursuing Justice.” NUMC is a Protestant church with common Christian beliefs and practices rooted in the Bible, with an emphasis on diversity, equality and social justice as gifts from God and that God loves all humankind regardless of religious practice, or the lack of it. They have a worldwide congregation of about 9.5 million people and have four core guidelines in helping people make decisions: 1) Is this consistent with the teachings of the Bible? 2) Is it consistent with the traditions of the church? 3) Is it consistent with reason and common sense? 4) Is it consistent with personal experience?


Divine Science Church

The white stucco and green-trimmed Divine Science Church of the Healing Christ at 2025 35th Street on that raised triangle of lawn bordered by Wisconsin Avenue and Whitehaven Parkway was built in 1874. The church housed the Methodist congregation until they built St. Luke’s on Calvert Street and moved up there in 1954 (for fear of Whitehaven Parkway becoming a freeway, which never materialized) and then the church became the home of Divine Science. [This short history is gleaned from Carlton Fletcher’s history of Glover Park]. The commonly accepted southern border of Glover Park is Whitehaven Parkway, though for some reason I could not uncover, this triangle of land north of Whitehaven was carved out for Georgetown’s ANC and falls under their jurisdiction. Divine Science has experienced a dwindling congregation over the years and an increase in costs to maintain the large, historic church with its decorative, and expensive, slate roof. Then Covid lockdowns hit, and in-person services never returned. The church still does Sunday Zoom and call-in services/lessons and maintains a Dial-A-Prayer number (202) 338-1240, though their finances now are causing them to have to make some important decisions very soon. Back in the 1940’s, as the Whitehaven freeway was being planned, the federal government through the National Park Services condemned the land and took title to it. Details of the land transfer are a little murky, but apparently St. Luke’s Methodist Church sued for the right to sell the land and lost, due to a clause which reverted title back to the previous owner. Now, as of April 2023, the National Park Service is attempting to renegotiate the land lease with Divine Science and double their rent, a figure they have admitted they cannot afford, considering the other expenses and reduced income. Their response to NPS was: “We cannot under any circumstance comply with the proposed Leasing Agreement.” The Divine Science Board of Trustees, as reported by Board President Shirley Taylor Moore, recently voted to re-open the church for in-person services, which means they need to tap their investment account for $14,000 immediately to fix the leaking slate roof. Now, they fear an “order to vacate” from NPS, as they likely would not be able to afford the new monthly rent. Would you like to see NPS negotiate with a developer instead and see another tall brick apartment building go up on that land? Someone needs to come up with a creative solution or the last of the places of worship bordering Glover Park will be gone, possibly along with a historic 150-year-old church.


Divine Science has its roots in Christianity though they take a more metaphysical approach to the interpretation of the Bible. God is the infinite intelligence of Mind which is behind nature and all creation. Every physical manifestation is an externalized idea of the Mind of God taking form, including Man, who is perfection by its very nature. Divine Science believes that there is no devil or evil. Evil simply is a false belief in something other than God which results in a misconception of life and Truth. Sin is ignorance of the truth of nature. Heaven and hell are not realms but rather states of consciousness and we can be in either state right here on earth. Through the Mind there is thought, and thought becomes Word, and the Word becomes flesh (flesh meaning any type of matter).


Other Places of Worship


Glover Park is walking distance to a number of places of worship, even if we cannot worship at or within our neighborhood borders. Temple Micah is only a five minute walk up Wisconsin Avenue, just past the Russian Embassy. Temple Micah advertises that they welcome everyone, Jews and non-Jews, and they have put forth a 5-point Roadmap that gives its community a framework: 1) Doubling down on the Jewish narrative (for a greater sense of coherence and meaning), 2) Being explicit about the human project (what does it mean to be a good person?), 3) supporting people in creating their Jewish lives, 4) tackling the tough conversations, and 5) engaging people beyond Micah. Temple Micah offers in-person and online Shabbat services on Fridays at 6:30 pm and Saturdays at 10:15 am.


A block further up Wisconsin Avenue is the famed Washington National Cathedral, whose grounds also house the schools of Saint Albans, National Cathedral and Beauvoir. The Cathedral is an Episcopal church and offers Sunday worship services in person and online at 8:00 am and 11:15 am, plus Mon, Wed, and Fri at noon. You can find countless events at the Cathedral from the Blessing of the Bikes (motorcycles) to the annual Flower Mart, to recitals, holiday concerts, tower tours and more.


A little ways down Massachusetts Avenue you’ll find Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church at 2815 36th St NW which celebrated its centennial last year. Saint Sophia's is only a five minute walk from Glover Park. The annual very popular Greek Festival is this weekend, from May 12-14. The church explains the distinction of its eastern orthodoxy (vs. western Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity) as follows: “While the West was concerned with the Passion of Christ and the sin of man, the East emphasized the Resurrection of Christ and the deification of man. While the West leaned toward a legalistic view of religion, the East espoused a more mystical theology.”


With a good pair of walking shoes you can even get to the Islamic Center of Washington DC in about 10 minutes by taking the National Park Services path through the woods behind Trader Joe’s. The center was opened on Embassy Row at 2551 Massachusetts Avenue in 1952 and welcomes anyone wishing to worship or learn about Islam. Dwight D Eisenhower attended the dedication of the mosque in 1957. A quote from the Quran says, “‘In mosques which Allah has ordered to be raised, in them His name is remembered. Therein glorify Allah in the mornings and in the afternoons or the evenings.” The prophet was quoted as saying, “‘The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is multiplied 25 times as much as that offered in one’s house or in the market alone,” thus encouraging followers to attend the mosque to complement the five-times daily prayers. Dr. Abdullah Khouj, the Director of the Islamic Center, states, “Communication is the key to human relation especially when it comes to religious values and their effects in our lives as human beings.”



Ken: “I’ll take Religion in Glover Park for $2,000, Alex.”


Alex: “$2,000. The one thing that gives anyone a religious experience regardless of their religion.”


Ken: “What is Rocklands BBQ three-meat platter?”


Alex: “That's it. Your board, Ken.”




Chris Jones


P.S. If I mangled the interpretation of anyone’s religion please feel free to set me straight and I will correct it. I understand I could study a lifetime and still not fully get it, so please forgive a short blog attempt.





*1874 photo of the Methodist Protestant Chapel before occupancy by Divine Science is from Carlton Fletcher's history of Glover Park.

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Enjoyed the religion in Glover Park article.

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ahengst
ahengst
May 12, 2023

After abandoning their original church on Whitehaven Pkwy., St. Luke's UMC purchased the former trolley lot at Wisconsin Ave. & Calvert St. in 1949 for $75,000 and built a new sanctuary. The congregation was obliged to sell the unused western half of their property (below today's Glover Park Hotel) twenty years ago to a condo developer for $6½ million. After the stock market crashed in 2009 the SLUMC congregation, it's sanctuary and multi-million-dollar brokerage account were "absorbed" by the National United Methodist Church — which also grabbed Wesley UMC on Connecticut Ave. and Eldrbrooke UMC on River Road.

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