By Marva Gumbs Jennings and Daryl Byler, Christ United Methodist Church
Christ United Methodist Church (CUMC) has occupied the corner of 4th and I Streets SW since 1961 when the merger of two churches — Gorsuch Memorial and Lewis Memorial— was the embodiment of an interracial worshiping community during the height of the civil rights movement. The unique mid-century style building also showcases some unusual architectural and interior design features.
Throughout the years, CUMC has engaged the community through social justice initiatives, including affordable housing, supplying food to DC area shelters, serving as the Southwest location for the SHARE program and providing the first farmer’s market in Southwest on the front steps of the church with the Dreaming Out Loud organization and a host of other individual and group projects. A highlight for years was the monthly breakfast cooked by the men of the church and opened to the community for a very nominal cost of $5.00 and the annual Jazz Vespers concert. The church also hosted a senior program, served as a before and after school program for children from Amidon-Bowen elementary school and for many years hosted a nursery/preschool program.
To address the lack of food pantries in Southwest, the 5,000 Food Ministry was started. Then came the pandemic and the physical closing of the church building. A week later, CUMC began operating and worshiping virtually. More significantly during this period, in recognition of the pandemic’s impact on the growing food insecurity in the neighborhood, and with permission from the Mayor’s office and the development of safety protocols, the 5,000 Food Ministry continued and grew significantly. This ministry, whose name is based on the biblical story of Jesus miraculously feeding 5,000 people with two fishes and five loaves, provides groceries, produce, cleaning and personal supplies to members of the Southwest community, twice a month in partnership with the Serve Your City/Ward 6 Mutual Aid (SYCW6MA), who also provides a clothes closet. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the 5,000 Food Ministry has served on average 100 households and 260 individuals monthly in the Southwest community.
The 62 year-old church building has held up well over the years, but to continue serving the community as the headquarters for the 5,000 Food Ministry and the Ward 6 Mutual Aid Supply Pod, two major construction projects are underway—replacing the church roof as well as the HVAC system with an all-electric energy-efficient model. Given these major projects, CUMC has launched a capital campaign, $500,000 for the 5,000, to support the work which is slated to take place this summer. For contributions to the capital campaign visit our website https://christchurchinthecity.org/ or to learn more about CUMC’s ministries, email email@example.com.