Category Archives: District of Columbia

Revisiting worship from 1939

I’m making a historical review of worship at Universalist National Memorial Church, by request, to help worship leaders understand how worship has developed. I’m curious to see what will turn up.

I’ve written very generally about a set of orders of service, saved in the Library of Congress ephemera collection and posted online. Two posts (1, 2) from 2012.

So, what can we tell from the order of service? Some initial thoughts.

  • It’s pretty easy to see the morning prayer format. The Venite, the typical morning psalm, is a pretty big tell, too. The current UNMC service has all of the elements of morning prayer, with some parts more emphasized than others, and new elements (joys and concerns, center aisle greeting) added.
  • The call to worship, invocation and Lord’s prayer are grouped, with the organ prelude and hymn (music) and procession (action), as a unit: the opening sequence.
  • In Hymns of the Church services, the opening sequence may begin with opening words, but the hymn fills that role, presumably. The call to worship is the statement of the purpose of worship. The second service has a prayer for purity, which almost presumes a private and unspoken confession. Or if not confession, then at least a good intent. You see this construction in other published services.
  • With sentences, we hear echoes of this sequence at UNMC today, though the Lord’s Prayer is in another place.
  • The responsive readings are really long. About twice as long as found in the 1964 Hymns for the Celebration of Life and absolutely endless by 1993 Singing the Living Tradition standards. About two psalms worth, but perhaps used in halves, as suggested by the order of service, and the penciled notes in the version of the Hymns of the Church.
  • The prayer after the scripture reading may be a general thanksgiving, a part of a larger sequence from Anglican morning prayer. The “pastoral prayer” or “long prayer” may be implied here.
  • In morning prayer, two major elements can appropriately be put in different places: announcements and the sermon. The announcement placement problem is perennial. In one version of “morning prayer and sermon” the sermon comes close to the end, before an optional prayer, final hymn and benediction. This is what UNMC has now. The printed order of service has the sermon after the reading, which might be a more modern ordering. But that’s not necessarily an endorsement.
  • This service includes communion, a service its own right of course, after the usual morning service. Several years ago, a member of UNMC told me that Seth Brooks, who began his long pastorate the following week, presided over communion from the pulpit. Make of that what you will: better amplification perhaps, and that the thin space behind the altar was never meant for a versus populum service. (I recall getting a shoe wedged in.) And there’s no way that stone will move.

The architecture of Universalist National Memorial Church, in detail

I was Googling for a set of 1939 orders of service from the Universalist National Memorial Church — where I was once minister and now, after a long break, am now a member — and found Sixteenth Street Architecture,  a fine architectural survey of Washington, D.C. “avenue of churches” from just north of the White House to just south of Columbia Road, thus missing All Souls Unitarian, but capturing the recently-demolished brutalist Third Church of Christ, Scientist. (I blogged about it a few years ago.)

 The section on UNMC is detailed and valuable, and includes photos of the construction.

Saraswati statue dedicated in D.C.

Daisy the Dog took me out on my evening walk, and we happened upon the aftermath of the dedication, at the Indonesian embassy, of the statue of Saraswati, the Hindu deity of learning.

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I was glad to see the dedication plaque: the right-hand plinth had a rough top for ages, and I thought it might have been vandalized!

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If you are devoted to Saraswati, you can find her statue on Massachusetts Avenue, between 20th and 21st Streets, near the north exit of the Dupont Circle subway station.

Silver Line opens; new way to Dulles Airport

Photo, courtesy, Jonathan Padget.
Photo, courtesy, Jonathan Padget.

So, my husband and I rode to the eastern terminus of the Washington Metro Silver Line on opening day yesterday. This is the first new subway — really, an elevated line — since 1991, and it goes through and past Tysons Corner, a local byword for big shopping malls, wide highways and mammoth office blocks. And until now, access by car or difficult bus connections. The plans for the future include more residents, and replacing an old-style suburban built environment with one more urban. But that’ll take many years.

As, indeed the rest of the planned, but not yet built, Phase 2 of the Silver Line. At least that’s scheduled for 2018, and not decades away. But the reason I suspect most in-town Washingtonians want to ride the Silver Line is to reach Dulles Airport, but that station is in Phase 2.

But the options to Dulles have improved.

The old “medium cheap” brown Washington Flyer bus — that only came in as far as East Falls Church Metro station — has been replaced by a blue Silver Line Express, to the Wiehle-Reston East station, the current terminus. It’s a shorter run, and also cheaper at $5.

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The Silver Line Express waiting at Wiehle-Reston East

Here are some notes:

When you arrive at Wiehle-Rest East, well, you’re really in a parking and bus transfer center. The station is in the median of the major arterial Dulles Toll Road, and so there’s no direct access.  Go up the adjacent escalator, turn right out the enclosed vestibule. You’re now in an open-air plaza; turn right again. About thirty feet or so ahead is a path; look left. You will see a covered foot bridge over the Dulles Toll Road to the station ticketing area. There you can buy your fare; I’d recommend getting a SmarTrip card from one of the sales machine. You’ll save the cost of the card almost immediately, and spare yourself the trouble of fiddling with a paper fare card (for which there’s a $1 surcharge) and money. And there are discounts for using one.

Footbridge to the Metro station
Footbridge to the Metro station

Proceed though the gates, and down to the platform. and take any train.

Stand behind the bumpy edge on the platform.

When using escalators, stand on the right and walk on the left, unless it’s just packed solid.

On the return trip, just get on the bus. You’ll pay at the airport.


I’ll blame Putin

Horrible for Daisy the Dog! Some of her favorite sniffing places at the little, angular park in our neighborhood are trapped behind chain link fencing and barbed wire. The park has no formal name, but its impossible to not call it Schevchenko, for the large monument to Taras Shevchenko, “bard of Ukraine” in the middle of it. It has also been the site of rallies and demonstrations since the Russian-prompted annexations of Ukraine. Someone tucked a Ukrainian flag under Schevchenko’s right arm.

Not that you can get to the monument now. The fence went up yesterday, and when I walked Daisy last night, the plaza had been plowed up to the concrete slab.

Putin’s doing? More likely the National Park Service. Many of the plaza’s concrete tiles had come loose or eroded to reveal sharp reinforcing wire. The fountain hasn’t worked in our time in the neighborhood. Time for restoration. If Daisy can cope.

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Universalist National Memorial Church debuts new website

So, I made it to church Sunday, was greeted and then asked: how you seen the new church website. I had seen a preview, but not the release.

Seeing as I was the lead on the last revision a decade ago, I knew it was overdue for a refresh. And a new breeze is blowing…

I’m glad to point to Universalist National Memorial Church’s site at

Churches: merged, disaffiliated and dead

As I wrote yesterday, one of the UUA backends has — if you know how to look — references to churches that are “not constituent[s]” though I suppose they must have all been thus at one time.

Since the larger list includes Canadian congregations (not listed here) that departed around Canadian Unitarian Council autonomy in 2003, this list has to be at least that old.

Which is also to reinforce that not all of these are dead. I see at least one Universalist church (Rockwell, Windsor) that has come and gone over the years. So also I can image a couple of community or federated churches doing fine outside the UUA.

But the rural and small-town Universalist churches and the marginally placed Unitarian fellowships are surely gone. Two were intentionally African-American-focused starts. (T.H.E., Atlanta and Sojourner Truth, Washington, D.C., which was long gome before I moved to D.C. in 2000.) The hardest to see is Epiphany, Fenton: the hoped-for firstfruits of a new age of Christian church planting. Others surely feel the same way about Panthea Pagan, Hoffman Estates. I’ll miss Muttontown’s sheep banner at General Assembly.

But many more are simply mergers. I recall the two in Flushing, Queens continue as one. Two in Minnesota. Saugus recently merged with First Parish, Malden. Oregon City’s merger even has a note online. Perhaps, too, the references to Dayton, San Diego and San Antonio?

Comments (and clarifications) welcome.

'Not a Constituent Congregation' City State
Guadalajara Unit. Univ. Fellowship Guadalajara Jalisco
Seward UUs Seward Alaska
Coronado UU Church Coronado California
UU Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast Mendocino California
U. U. Fellowship Southern Marin Mill Valley California
Aliso Creek Church Mission Viejo California
U U Fellowship of the Ojai Valley Ojai California
Channing Society of Orange County Orange County California
The Chalice Unit. Univ. Church Poway California
U. U. Inland North County Fellowship San Diego California
Unit. Univ. Fellowship of Friends San Diego California
All Souls Unitarian Church San Juan Capo California
UU Fellowship of Leisure World Seal Beach California
UU Fellowship of Aspen Aspen Colorado
Darien-New Canaan Unit. Society New Canaan Connecticut
UU Fellowship of the Farmington Valley Simsbury Connecticut
Sojourner Truth Congregation of UUs Washington D.C.
U. U. Fellowship of South Dade Homestead Florida
Eastside UU Church Miami Florida
Thurman Hamer Ellington UU Fellowship & Ministry Atlanta Georgia
Rockwell Universalist Church Winder Georgia
Glenview Unitarian Fellowship Glenview Illinois
Panthea Pagan Fellowship, UUA Hoffman Estates Illinois
Universalist Church Waltonville Illinois
Sauk Trail Unit. Univ. Fellowship Crown Point Indiana
UUs of Northern Kentucky Lawrenceburg Indiana
UU Fellowship Johnson County Prairie Village Kansas
UU Church of Hopkinsville Hopkinsville Kentucky
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Ruston Louisiana
First Universalist Society Brownfield Maine
Seneca Valley U. U. Fellowship Gaithersburg Maryland
First Federated Church Beverly Massachusetts
First Parish Unitarian Church East Bridgewater Massachusetts
UUs of Lowell Lowell Massachusetts
First Parish UU Church in Saugus Saugus Massachusetts
U U Fellowship Northern Berkshire N Adams Massachusetts
Church of the United Community Roxbury Massachusetts
First Unitarian Church Stoneham Massachusetts
First Unitarian Church Ware Massachusetts
U. U. Fellowship of Saginaw Bridgeport Michigan
First Universalist Church Concord Michigan
Epiphany Community Church UU Fenton Michigan
First Unitarian Church Virginia Minnesota
Burruss Memorial Universalist Church Ellisville Mississippi
Universalist Church of Westbrook Concord New Hampshire
Community Church Dublin New Hampshire
Dorothea Dix U. U. Community Groveville New Jersey
U U Gloucester County Congregation Turnersville New Jersey
Unit. Univ. Fellowship of Burlington County Willingboro New Jersey
First Universalist Church Dexter New York
Hollis UU Congregation Flushing New York
Unitarian Universalist Church of Flushing Flushing New York
Universalist Church of the Messiah Fort Plain New York
First Universalist Church Henderson New York
Unitarian Universalist Church Lockport New York
Muttontown UU Fellowship Muttontown New York
First Univ. Church Schuyler Lake Schuyler Lake New York
U. U. Fellowship of Fayetteville Fayetteville North Carolina
First Unitarian Church Dayton Ohio
Miami Valley Unitarian Fellowship Dayton Ohio
U. U. Society Western Reserve Kirtland Ohio
Community UU Congregation Tulsa Oklahoma
Unit. Univ. Community of Cottage Grove Cottage Grove Oregon
Valley Community U. U. Fellowship Newberg Oregon
Atkinson Memorial Church (merged) Oregon City Oregon
Boones Ferry U. U. Congregation Oregon City Oregon
Unitarian Fellowship of Bucks County Fountainville Pennsylvania
Venango Unit. Univ. Fellowship Franklin Pennsylvania
First Universalist Church Woonsocket Rhode Island
Brookings Unit. Univ. Fellowship Brookings South Dakota
First U U Fellowship Hunt County Greenville Texas
Community UU Church San Antonio Texas
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship San Antonio Texas
The Old Brick Church East Montpelier Vermont
Jenkins Unit. Univ. Fellowship Chesterfield Virginia
Lewis Clark Unitarian Fellowship Clarkston Washington
UU Congregation of Grays Harbor Hoquiam Washington
Fork Ridge Universalist Church Moundsville West Virginia
UU Fellowship Buenos Aires
Tokyo Unitarian Fellowship Tokyo 106-0032