Written By: Consentine Morgan
We’ve come this far by faith. For 179 years, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, located in the nation’s capital, has been a beacon of light in the struggle for human dignity and spiritual renewal. Located blocks from the White House, it stands as the oldest Black church in downtown Washington, DC and is recognized as the National Cathedral of African Methodism. The pastor, Reverend William H. Lamar, IV and its members continue to open the doors to all to worship and promote justice throughout the world. Many firsts have occurred in the walls of Metropolitan, from preachers to dignitaries, proclaiming the word of God and championing the call for equality.
The theme selected for the anniversary was “METROPOLITAN REIMAGINED: 179 Years- Worship, Liberation and Service.” and was led by members of the Music and Creative Arts Ministry, with Antoinette Russell and Wendell Johns as co-chairs, and Dr. Elsie Scott, Steward, as the church administrative liaison. Marty Lamar, the Director of the Music and Creative Arts Ministry, orchestrated the artistic and musical program for the Saturday activity as well as the music for the Sunday service.
Leading up to the Sunday celebration, on Saturday, July 15, 2017, “To Serve the Present Age: A Musical Journey Through History,” written by Nikki Harris and directed by Marty Austin Lamar was presented by the Kinship Entertainment Group, LLC, along with several members from the Metropolitan Music and Creative Arts Ministry. The play, a story of faith, perseverance and strength chronicled the African American experience from the early tribal traditions to today’s gospel music. The cast performed to a sold-out crowd that received the message with much enthusiasm and appreciation. The audience was moved by moments of laughter, pensiveness, and joy from music, dance, dramatization, and the spoken word that filled Douglass Hall.
On Sunday, July 16, 2017, the United Voices of Metropolitan, joined by the Kinship Entertainment Group, set the tone for the celebration with music. Songs like, “We’ve Come This Far by Faith” and ‘The Majesty and Glory of His Name,” touched the souls of the congregation and provided a spiritual uplift. Rev. Justin Nick added to the opening activities with his stirring remarks. Members of the Music and Creative Arts Ministry were also participants—Wendell Johns led the Litany; Marvin Long offered prayer; and Annette Boxley-Drew gave the summary of the Decalogue.
We were further enlightened by the history of Metropolitan through the eyes of LaVerne Clark Goldman, a member for 81 years, as she spoke about the historical significance of the church and of her family’s connection to Metropolitan for over 125 years. In 1890, her grandfather, Jefferson H. Clark, moved to Washington, DC, after being threatened by the Ku Klux Clan, for an article about injustice he had written for a local newspaper in Selma, Alabama.
Another highlight of the day was the first of a series of video presentations, “The Digital Voices Project: Metropolitan
AME Church,” narrated by Rev. Lamar. This video showcased the work of Metropolitan over the years as the church participated in numerous causes to assist its members and the community to stand up for equal rights, just as Richard Allen, the founder of the AME Church, did at the conception of the denomination. It was noted that Metropolitan is recognizing the entire year as The Year of Richard Allen and how Metropolitan will continue to be a force in the community and on a global scale.
The guest preacher was the Rev. Dr. Jo Ann Browning, Co-Pastor of Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Maryland. The title of her message, “A Defining Moment,” was focused on Luke 22:39-46. Rev. Browning reminded the congregation that during the 179 years, Metropolitan has had many defining moments and has emerged victorious because God has always been present to help His children through the struggles. The sermon was uplifting and encouraged all to continue the fight for the next 179 years.
Following the morning service, a reception was held in Douglass Hall, where members and guests gathered for fellowship. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, T-Shirts adorned with the Anniversary theme were available for purchase.
This year’s worship experiences, and Vacation Bible School will lead us into our year-long commemoration of the 180th Anniversary of Metropolitan AME Church. To God be the Glory for 179 years of worship, liberation and service.