For more than 175 years, Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington has made history. It is believed to be the oldest continuously black-owned property in the original 10-square-mile parcel of the District of Columbia, and for decades it was one of the largest places where an integrated audience could gather in fiercely segregated Washington.
The church’s roots are intertwined with the African American struggle for freedom. Decades ago it hosted reunions of black Civil War veterans. Civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells, educator Booker T. Washington and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at Metropolitan, a sanctuary that is known as the “National Cathedral” of 2.5 million member denomination.
Now, a new chapter is being written: The Rev. William H. Lamar IV has been named senior pastor. Lamar succeeds The Rev. Ronald E. Braxton, who was elevated to a District elder in the church. The 39-year-old Lamar is a native of Macon, Ga., and prior to coming to Metropolitan he was pastor of the Turner Memorial AME in Hyattsville. Lamar talked with The Washington Post about what he hopes to accomplish as the 23rd pastor of the 176-year-old church.
What is your vision for Metropolitan AME?
Metropolitan has remained strong because with each and every generation, we have figured out how worship, liberation and service intersect. So our work in this generation is to figure out where God is calling us to be about the work of liberation — locally, nationally and internationally, and where we are to be about the work of service.
I am thinking about the prison industrial complex. I am thinking about the state of education. I am thinking about the work of service. I am thinking about the changing demographics in Washington, D.C., and where Metropolitan should be in these things.
One thing that we are already doing in terms of education is that we are helping people get high school diplomas, we are helping people get GEDs. This place is a place of refuge with hospitality for people who are on the margins. We want today’s thinkers, today’s scholars, today’s artists, to bring their gifts here because anyone worshipping God is worshipping with their minds.
Source: Washington Post | Hamil R. Harris