Participation in the Tending Our Soil initiative has helped Christ Church, Capitol Hill better understand who we are, how we fit in our community, and how we can be more intentional about our future. Ours is an historic parish, founded shortly after George Washington laid the cornerstone for the U.S. Capitol. The Tending Our Soil team began by reviewing the excellent existing materials on church history, including a presentation prepared for the church’s 225th anniversary celebrated in 2019. The team made a visual summary for display in the parish hall to allow for reflection on and discussion of our church history. To learn more about who we are now, the team also displayed a U.S. map and a world map. People placed dots on the map to show where they grew up and indicate their faith tradition, if any.
This inquiry, coupled with conversations with parishioners, indicated that our congregation values inclusion and wants to be a church where people from any faith or no faith background feel welcome and at home. Numerous people said that the words spoken each week before the Eucharist (“This is God’s table, not ours. All are welcome.”) resonate with them. In addition, people value the neighborhood feel of Christ Church and its long-term commitment to serving the neighborhood. People want our church to be a place on Capitol Hill where people put divisions aside and are united in seeking to learn about, love, and serve the Lord.
As part of the Tending Our Soil initiative, the team took a careful look at the neighborhood. The team walked the neighborhood and reviewed data the Diocese provided on neighborhood demographics and trends. Both confirmed that the neighborhood immediately around the church is primarily historic homes, and at the periphery of this area, population growth is exploding. Much of this growth will be people living in new, large, multifamily buildings in the Navy Yard, NoMa, and Hill East areas. We learned that the number of single adults will increase substantially, and the number of school-age children near our church is expected to double by 2031. We have work to do to help ensure that our church reflects this changing neighborhood.
With these findings in mind, the Vestry developed a mission statement to guide Christ Church into the future:
To be a caring, accepting, and welcoming community that embodies Jesus’ love in the Capitol Hill neighborhood and beyond.
Our next step is to set goals that will help us live more fully into this mission. Christ Church has the opportunity to offer a church home to a growing number of people of all ages who are new to the neighborhood or searching for a community of faith. We plan to use Tending Our Soil resources to be more intentional and effective in how we seek to welcome people, help people become involved in the life of the church, and inspire and strengthen people to live out Jesus’ love both individually and as a church.
Parishioner, Christ Church, Capitol Hill
Digging into the Work is an on-going series reported by Tending Our Soil congregations as they implement some of the practical steps to growing in strength as vital bearers of God’s love in the world. St. Paul’s, K Street’s experience with getting to know their mission field was the first in the series.