Window Ceremony Launches Restoration
AME Denomination's Episcopacy Window Removal Ceremony Launches Metropolitan AME's Multi-Million Restoration and National Capital Campaign with Bishop Council's Blessing.
“Crown Thine Ancient Church’s story
Bring her to bud to glorious flower.”
Washington, D.C. — A commemorative ceremony for the temporary removal of the unique 123-year-old Episcopacy Window of the AME denomination recently launched the start of a $10 million restoration project at Metropolitan AME. Church. Metropolitan, which was built by recently freed slaves, is known as “The Cathedral of African Methodism" because it is shrouded in the unique history of the A.M.E.denomination. The church has also had an historic voice in the lives of black people and others throughout the nation and world.
Despite the faltering economy that has forced many Washington area churches to halt the expansion of their edifices, Metropolitan’s passionate and committed 1100-member congregation is demonstrating its faith, obligation to God, their ancestors and the future by undertaking a massive renovation and national capital campaign for the historic structure. Located at 1518 M Street N.W. in the heart of a commercial district, the church’s 2500-seating capacity arguably rivals nearly every other public place in the Nation Capital’s downtown section except the convention center and baseball stadium.
The Episcopacy Window emphasizes the national character of the church. The beautiful stained glass windowpane bears the name and is dedicated to every AME bishop consecrated between 1816 and 1884. Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the denomination and consecrated as the first Bishop, is the window’s centerpiece and the names of the other bishops are encircled about him. The window differs from most stained glass windows of the era because it lacks the more common Biblical themes.
“It is very clear that the Council of Bishops view this historic building and institution as a connectional shrine,” said the Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, senior pastor. “We express our gratitude to our own Bishop and Supervisor Adam and Connie Richardson, the Second Episcopal District, along with Bishops John Bryant, McKinley Young, William DeVeaux, Carolyn Guidry, James Davis, David Daniels, Sarah Davis, Earl McCloud and John White for their combined contributions of $42,506.00.”
The window-removal ceremony occurred outside the church as Pastor Braxton led the congregants in prayer, scripture and an original litany. As the parishioners worshipped, the Episcopacy window was slowly taken down the church steps by stained-glass window experts who will spend the next year restoring and releading the window.
Several generations of Metropolitan members gathered for the ceremony. “My grandmother’s parents helped to build this church,” said Rev. Johanna Green as she watched the window being carried from the church. “I am the fourth generation of my family to attend Metropolitan and I know my grandmother would have wanted me to be here.” According to Juliette Prioleau, 29, “This is part of my history of being an AME. I enjoy the history of the church.”
Metropolitan has not only been a major center of worship, but also an institution in the forefront of the civic, cultural and intellectual life of African Americans. Metropolitan was the first black institution to host from its pulpit an official presidential inaugural event. William J. Clinton hold both of his pre-inaugural prayer services at the church and Rosa Parks’ memorial service was held at Metropolitan.
It has hosted people representing every political sentiment that advocated racial and economic parity, including Frederick Douglass, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy. Frederick Douglass attended regularly, and his funeral was held at Metropolitan. Its pulpit leadership has advised U.S. presidents on issues of race, economics and national security.
One of the themes of the National Capital Campaign, headed by co-chairs Dr. Elsie Scott and Mrs. Dina Curtis, is “Restoring our Church for Future Generations” . God has blessed the efforts of the congregation since May of this year to raise nearly $300,000. Said Mrs. Thelma Jacobs, a church historian, “I am always touched that when I walk into the church I can reach (past) generations and I’m a traveler in the caravan that I hope can see generations ahead .”