The Words of the McCarthy Family
Something is going on in the DC church
Recently, the DC regional director, Rev. Jeong Phyo Hong, has been so pushed by heaven to begin a project of restoration of our national cathedral at 1610 Columbia Rd. Just last year, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the opening of our national church in 1977. Honestly, over the course of those 25 years, repairs and maintenance fell far behind schedule as most members live outside the district and regular services are mostly held in local community groups with only one service a month held at Columbia Rd.
With plumbing problems escalating, stonework in need of repair, rewiring, new carpet, bathroom renovations. . .on and on and the list was never ending. The single estimate we had for renovation came in at several million. (Note to building committee: let's work on getting a few more estimates).
A few voices of discontent could be heard. "Sell it!" some said. "The neighborhood is in decline! Get out while the gettin is good!" said others. "Don't pour money down an empty well." But most Washington members still remembered Father's great hope for this first church as a memorial to the victory of Washington Monument rally. Sadly, heroic efforts of the past to restore the building such as the Columbia Project had to be abandon to devote vital resources to the more urgent providence.
But after years of sacrificing the building. . .the urgent providence now is to restore the building .
In concert with that urgency, God called the new regional director to challenge the community with a new vision of development. It was Rev. Jeong Phyo Hong's own "field of dreams."
In the movie, "Field of Dreams," the townsfolk and the local banker couldn't understand why the character played by Kevin Costner would build a ball field in the middle of nowhere. They vehemently opposed his plan, even violently threatening him. He had everything to lose, yet something within drove him to plow under acres of perfectly good corn in order to build his field of dreams. He was told that if he would build it. . .they would come. Only his wife trusted and believed. He built it and they did come.
Rev. Hong sees the building at 1610 Columbia Rd as a shrine to True Parents, not only for the city but for the nation as well. He wants to lead the way in fully restoring and renovating from top to bottom. The project will take time and will involve three phases.
The first phase is aimed at making the church welcoming and productive. It will become the National Welcoming Center at Columbia Rd. We are reconstructing the sanctuary emphasizing the traditional structure that accommodates True Parents. Curtains, new carpet and a redesigned level stage. The large pulpit will be removed and will be put on display as a part of the historical record. The new stage will give Father a level surface in which he can freely move as well as stairs in the front for easy access to the floor level. The old wood is being preserved and will be restored at the front of the stage so that the link to the past history will be maintained much in the same way the facade at Yankee stadium was preserved when the stadium was renovated in the 1970's.
The stage in the cultural hall is also being renovated. The middle wall presently dividing the two rooms will be removed. In the lobby the bathroom is being totally renovated and a hospitality area is being constructed so that coffee, pastries, salad and other refreshments can be provided. Tables, chairs with umbrellas will be set up outside to invite people to "come by and set a spell." We will also establish a museum and education facility to tell the story of the life and teachings of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
The Washington D.C. members are starting to rally around the project. At first there was some concerns that Rev. Costner. . .I mean Rev. Hong was mowing down too much corn! But as elder's in the community take time to understand Rev. Hong's vision, they come to realize that this is an important moment for the community to come together in faith. God wants to bless us as never before!
God is also helping our community understand the value of the neighborhood around our church. Many members still maintain a decades old perspective of the neighborhood when, in fact, over the years our neighborhood has become quite upscale. A recent article in the Washington Post under the title "Hip Hoods" cited our Adams-Morgan, Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights neighborhood as a "hot enclave of cool for Washington's young, urban, professionals." Hey, I like those demographics!!!
God is telling us to hold on to our national flagship and restore it as a condition to save America. Recently, I was reading a book that documented the Mormon history in Washington D.C. In 1973, they too began to hear voices within their ranks that were telling them the demographics of the neighborhood were not good, that the money needed for repairs was too much, that it was time to let the building go.
Two groups emerged in that battle. One group insisting the cost of renovation was prohibitive and they should abandon the building and leave the neighborhood. However, there was another group that was insisting that the cost of renovation could be effectively handled and that the church could still be productive and growing amongst the new residents of the community. Their voices were not heard and the building was abandoned. However, "the stone the builders rejected, the same became the capstone"
Years later, representatives of the Latter Day Saints personally conveyed to me their continuing sadness that they sold the building. They realized that the group that wanted to hold on to the building was representing the right view. Today, LDS outreach leaders are finding that the people most deeply searching for new truth and a vibrant community of faith are the type of people that are found in the communities that surround 1610 Columbia Rd., our little "enclave of cool."
It is often said, "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat history." Let's learn from that history. Rev. Hong is leading us in a very timely, significant direction. As we commit to this project, I know that God will bless all our ministries. Rev. Hong has asked the Washington, D.C. families to each donate $500.00 to support this National Welcoming Center. We, of course, welcome support from anyone, anywhere in the nation or the world. Please, help with a donation if you feel so called. Send to: Washington Family Church, National Welcoming Center Project. 1610 Columbia Rd. NW, Washington, D.C.
We ARE building it andů hey are coming! I'm just not sure yet who "they" are. (see photos). Could they be resurrecting LDS spirits who want to be liberated from their historical regret for abandoning the building? Or perhaps it is the Presidents coming down to support the new outreach in D.C. These photos of the new stage construction in the sanctuary were taken on successive nights from the same spot. Whatever the phenomenon is that is recorded in the first photo on August 23rd is clearly increasing on August 24th.
May the power of the Holy Spirit be ever magnified in all that we do for God and True Parents.
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