The article “Sunday School” (10/16), written by Elissa Silverman, was filled with inaccuracies. It distorted the nature of a long-standing community partnership between the Metropolitan Baptist Church and Garrison Elementary School.
It is true that Metropolitan Baptist Church uses the Garrison schoolyard on weekends and for occasional weekday evening events. This arrangement has been in place for more than 20 years. Despite the current condition of the yard, Metropolitan has consistently been a good neighbor in this community in general, and to Garrison School in particular. Focusing narrowly on the schoolyard and the $5,000 rental fee Metropolitan has paid to the D.C. Public Schools for its use does an injustice to the real relationship between our two community institutions.
Let’s look at the record. Since my tenure began in 1977, Metropolitan has provided Garrison free use of our facility for graduation and other nonrecurring ceremonies and events. We continue to provide free, unlimited use of our church vans and buses (including drivers and fuel) for school field trips upon request.
Metropolitan adopted Garrison School nearly 20 years ago. For three years, our church provided an annual contribution of $5,000 for an African cultural exchange program in which Garrison students were involved. Project Spirit, a Metropolitan after-school program for elementary school children, which includes a state-of-the-art computer lab, was established primarily in response to a need identified by Garrison’s then-principal, Mrs. Andrea Robinson. This program costs the church in excess of $25,000 per year. Currently, we pay the full cost of participation for four Garrison students. No Garrison student pays full tuition.
We periodically provide clothes and other resources for the families of Garrison students in need. We annually donate Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to the families of Garrison students identified by school staff and involve Garrison students in our youth programs.
Mrs. P. Dianne Worthy, Garrison’s new principal, and I have already begun a dialogue about ways in which we can extend and expand this relationship. Chief among these is a significant landscaping of the area by Metropolitan Church. With Mrs. Worthy’s help, we have already begun redirecting some of the parking traffic to better protect the playing field. In the near future, it will be restored and maintained.
Even the casual observer can see that Metropolitanan institution in the Shaw community for 133 yearshas improved the neighborhood and enhanced the quality of life for some of its residents. Metropolitan used its resources to purchase the property at 12th Street and Vermont Avenue that housed a corner store that was a haven for drug users and prostitutionright in the path of the same children the playground is intended to serve. We not only provide security for the Garrison lot, we also installed floodlights so that the grounds are safe for evening use by everyone. We strive to be good neighbors, following the mandate of the Christ we serve.
More than 60 percent of our members are residents of the District of Columbia; 15 percent reside in Ward 2. We use the tithes and offerings contributed by Metropolitan members to stimulate social change within this community. We provide children with opportunities for learning, fellowship, and fun. We invest in beautifying the surrounding area, invite all to come join our church family, and support numerous nonprofit community agencies such as the Central Union Mission, Whitman-Walker Clinic, Kingman Boys and Girls Club, Anthony Bowen YMCA, Cardozo High School, and RAP Inc., as well as Garrison Elementary School, through significant financial support.
Metropolitan is not just a Sunday school. We are respected and accountable members of this community. We are willing to cooperate; we are willing to give. We encourage others to follow our example.
Metropolitan Baptist Church