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Last week’s piece about two congregations, one black and one predominantly white, dissolving their space-sharing arrangement in a beautiful old church on H Street NE confirmed that gentrification is a raw and contentious issue for readers, as it drew a response of near biblical proportions.
Last summer, journalist Quintin J. Simmons began reporting about Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church, an African-American congregation, and its struggle to preserve its identity and the building it owns while its congregation dwindles. To stay afloat, it began a partnership with the new and growing Table Church a few years ago. Table gave Douglas a percentage of its tithe payments in exchange for a 5 p.m. Sunday worship time, but after Table pushed to take over its host’s longstanding 10 a.m. worship slot, Douglas decided to terminate the deal.
“This has always happened,” ginawalker124 commented on our website. “Black people have something and white folks find a way to either steal it, lie about it, or just take it.”
“Another episode in the unfolding saga of gentrification in D.C.,” Cheryl J Sanders (@drcherylsanders) tweeted. “Wow! Sad! Gentrification at its best,” Dr. Carlos Smith (@doctorLos) wrote.
The religious cited Corinthians. “1Cor13:4-5 tells us that love is patient and KIND, love does not envy or boast,” commenter Veronica G. wrote.
But Texas2DC1, who described himself as a Table congregant, wrote that the story needed more context. “[W]e are a diverse church with about half our attendance being POC, this pastor has another congregation half a mile away that could easily combine services (or as we suggested their congregation of 15 is more than welcome to join ours of 125). … We tried to work with them, and we previously collaborated on many ministries that their congregation struggled to fund.”
It was George Davis King Jr. who broke through the noise with an idea, commenting that his congregation had been in the very same position but had found a solution: “…We eventually were able to use our facility and property to build an affordable Senior Apartment complex and own it,” he wrote. “Now we are still a small congregation, but we are able to support many more ministries that reach more than we could have ever imagined.”