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IT MIGHT INTEREST YOU to know that the institution which your publication so gleefully trashed a few days ago (“A House Divided,” 6/9) was just treasured as an institutional honoree—along with Howard University and Bell Atlantic—at the 22nd Annual Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Dinner given by the Greater Washington Urban League on March 16, 1994.

Indeed, it has happened to your publication according to the true proverb: “What is one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

It is regrettable that your publication generously contributed so much space in printing Molly Rath’s trash, to the exclusion of accurately citing the abundance of treasures in a 68-year-old institution—and its dynamic leaders—which has played a pivotal role in the lives of distinguished residents of our city. It has produced academicians who are touted as being among the top high-school and junior-high-school principals in our nation; it has given outright grants—not loans—to over 1,000 young people through the McCollough Scholarship College Fund to enable them to successfully obtain degrees from medical schools, law schools, and other colleges and universities throughout the U.S.; and it has afforded hundreds of deserving families the benefit of decent and affordable housing at rents far below fair market rents published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—without any federal or local government grants or loans, or annual government rental subsidies. (The total costs of construction and annual maintenance come directly from the United House of Prayer.) Ebony magazine once wrote of Bishop W. McCollough (now deceased): “[He was]…a one-man religious HUD which hit pay dirt during some hard lean years. What [he] has created in urban wastelands scattered throughout the nation is the basis for hope for millions of poor people.”

Yes, Ms. Rath, there are alternatives to government welfare. And, yes, individuals can still muster the resources to improve their own lives and rise above the conditions of their birth.

Enough said. Please know that the true value of the life and legacy of the United House of Prayer—and its cherished leaders, who have enriched the lives of so many—is indelibly stamped in our hearts and minds and will always be treasured. No, the United House of Prayer as a long-standing institution in our city is not trash! However, I am of the opinion that the article by Rath is precisely that! But I am inclined to do like all other responsible individuals in our city who keep house. From time to time, we simply put out the trash, and carefully store away our treasures for safekeeping! Perhaps we might meet on some occasion, while taking out the trash. But that’s another story!

Director of Special Projects for Bishop S.C. Madison, United House of Prayer, Colonial Village