We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Capitol Hill

Pastor: the Rev. Sylvia E. Sumter

Sunday Attendance: about 150

Service Length: 1.5 hours

Video Cameras: 1

“Warm Fuzzies” (i.e. hug time): Yes

Upcoming Screenings of What the Bleep Do We Know!?: 1

Congregational Fervor

If something about the décor of Unity Church sets off a strong “live before a studio audience” vibe for you, it isn’t without reason. Church services are generally filmed for broadcast on local cable. As a result, the congregation possesses the tranquil demeanor of an Oprah Winfrey Show audience. After a brief greeting, Service Assistant Richard Jambrowsky reads the morning announcements in his best TV-anchor accent. A talented piano player interprets the hymns in a free-flowing style best classified as “Nordstrom jazz.”

Food for the Soul

At the midpoint of a recent service, the lights were dimmed for a guided meditation. Faint synthesizer chords glimmered in the background as Sumter told the congregation, “This is your time to be still; this is your time to be holy.” Later on in her sermon, titled “Open Your Eyes and Ears and Move Your Feet,” Sumter opted for a more direct call to action. While imploring her audience to become “seers,” she said, “When I say ‘seer,’ I don’t mean for you to go home and hang a sign that says ‘The Great Carnac’ on your door. I’m saying that you should become a person of great insight.”

Food for the Body

Although it was not mentioned during the service, Unity does provide snacks. If you follow a splinter of the exiting crowd down to the basement, you will find an offering of fruit, cheese, carrots, and brownies.

Overall Worship Power

If the meditation left you a little zoned out for the important parts of the sermon, don’t worry—Unity uses cutting-edge technology to burn an audio recording of the service to CDs in the basement. By the time you’re done sipping your coffee, $8 will buy you a chance to relive the hour indefinitely. DVD and VHS tapes of previous services are also available.

—Aaron Leitko