Northeast D.C. Church Members Preventing for Their Future

The members of a Northeast Washington Presbyterian congregation are praying and maintaining the religion though the leaders of their church voted to shut their constructing, which is in despair and hasn’t been used because the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“They’re attempting to take the church as a result of they need to promote our constructing,” stated Carolyn Johns Grey, 81, a longtime member of Backyard Memorial Presbyterian Church in Northeast. “We’re a combined racial church. We don’t flip anybody away however they need to promote our constructing.” 

Grey, who joined Backyard Memorial in 1989, stated Backyard Memorial had a powerful membership and daycare middle however the congregation has dwindled to about 15 members. 

In September 2022, Nationwide Capital Presbytery (NCP) officers, the governing physique of Presbyterian congregations within the Washington space, appointed an Administrative Fee “to imagine authentic jurisdiction and act because the session for Backyard Memorial Presbyterian Church to evaluate the vitality of the congregation.”  

Nevertheless, on June 15, she bought a letter from church leaders saying the church can be closing. 

”The Administrative Fee held a gathering on June 5, 2023, and – after due deliberation and prayer – the Fee voted to dissolve Backyard Memorial Presbyterian Church,” the letter learn.  “This motion was not taken evenly. It comes because the end result of years of makes an attempt by NCP (Nationwide Capital Presbytery) representatives to work on a wide range of actions to help the Church, together with paying overdue property taxes, offering illustration on particular authorized points, facilitating entry to non permanent acknowledged provide, and offering recommendation and counseling on attainable initiatives with Church leaders who have been keen to interact. “ 

The Rockville-based NCP defined that for months the  Administrative Fee made varied efforts to succeed in out to members of the Church and discern a path ahead. These efforts included conferences with congregational members, requests for church data, evaluation of church services, administration of utilities, and termination of a long-standing lease with a for-profit group.  

In response to NCP paperwork, whereas a number of members have been keen to interact with the Administrative Fee, others refused to cooperate or to supply the requested data obligatory to deal with the wants of the Church.  

In a letter to the NCP, Grey wrote, “I really feel that the Presbytery has violated our rights as a congregation.”

“That is routine conduct and it must cease. I’m not saying that we’re completely away from being a part of the place we’re in,” Grey continued. “We needs to be allowed to are likely to our personal enterprise with out being handled like we’re mismanaging our church.”

She defined the congregation was small, however would possibly.

“We’re a small congregation with massive hearts that manages to maintain our church afloat and assist in the neighborhood. We’re a household that believes within the Lord and the instructions of the Bible,” Grey wrote to the governing physique.

Between an absence of pastor and management, earlier tax and monetary challenges, and lack of warmth within the sanctuary and room beneath, which was used for receptions, the church was operating into many difficulties.

“We have been not capable of let anybody use the areas inflicting a monetary loss,” she defined.

Extra challenges confronted the Northeast church, Grey defined.

“The schooling constructing started to leak so we couldn’t make use of the Schooling constructing. The nursery stopped paying for its area and finally moved out. We tried a GoFundMe twice to no avail. In looking for giant donors, individuals couldn’t perceive why the  Presbytery… couldn’t deal with its personal,” Grey shared. “Thus, we ran out of funds to pay payments, which resulted within the church being in disrepair and the taxes not being paid, particularly because the nursery was the rationale for the taxes and the nursery was not paying. “

Grey stated she hoped the Presbyter’s involvement would have saved the church’s doorways open, versus the challenges Backyard Memorial at the moment faces.

“I actually assume that had the Presbytery helped us with the boiler and honored its contract, we might not be the place we at the moment are,” she stated. “We by no means had an opportunity with the GoFundMe which may have been successful had the general public recognized that we genuinely wanted the funds.” 

Elder Lou Durden, chair of the Backyard Memorial Administrative Fee, addressed rumors that actions have been taken and selections made behind sure church members’ backs. 

With the church’s shut lingering, Durden stated working with the congregation to greatest present pastoral care and assist with the transition is essential.

“We may help determine different church buildings within the space that is likely to be applicable for a switch of membership. We are able to conduct a respectful celebration of the ministry and mission of Backyard Memorial,” he defined. “We may help protect necessary historic paperwork or artifacts of the church. The members of the Administrative Fee are additionally open to different cheap actions members would possibly request to ease the transition.”