Saturday, April 26, 2008

St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church

St. Stephen and the Incarnation: "a committed, intentional [congregation]...
work[ing] in partnership to share gifts, to nurture the faith,
and to grow together in the love of Christ"

St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church (1525 Newton Street NW) is the merging of two parishes: St. Stephen's and The Incarnation. The former was founded in 1892 and was located at 14th and Irving Streets NW. The latter was founded in 1867 and met at 12th and N Streets NW. In 1925, the two parishes merged into one and began growing in numbers and diversity over the last eighty odd years. For many years, the church's congregation was largely white, middle class, but over time the make up of the church began to reflect the integration of the surrounding neighborhood and migration of black families into the northern sections of the city. In the 1950s, St. Stephens and the Incarnation became the first integrated Episcopal church in the city.

In addition to its involvement in local issues, the church has also been actively engaged in civil rights, women's rights, and anti-war movements. Located just blocks from the riots that broke out in Washington after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was killed in Memphis, St. Stephens held the first requiem eucharist. According to the church's website, "The church was so full that people coming in could hardly find a place to stand, yet when the prayers began a reverent silence enveloped the congregation, and we could plainly hear the wail of sirens, the sound of gunshots, and the fearsome sound of men running as fast as they could, soles beating on the pavement."

Unlike most Episcopal parishes which are led by a priest, St. Stephen's is led by a group of lay people and volunteer clergy under the guidance of a senior priest. The church believes such shared leadership and ownership will lead to a stronger community.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 2/08


The Artful Eye said...

This building seems almost Norman in architecture. Lovely setting with the beautiful cloud filled sky.

D.C. Confidential said...

Andrea: It does have a bit of a Norman appearance, doesn't it. It's actually one of the more nondescript Episcopal churches I've ever encountered.