From its founding in 1961, St. Augustine's has been a church willing, and even eager, to be innovative and "out of the box." We have been a racially and economically diverse community of faith from our beginnings. Services were held first in private homes then at Hogate's Seafood Restaurant. After the original church building was built in 1965, we began sharing the building with a Jewish congregation - Temple Micah. From 2005 to 2008, we welcomed St. Matthew's Lutheran congregation into our midst as part of their transitioning to a new building in Southwest.
The original building, dating from 1965, was designed by Alexander Cochran of Baltimore. Its overall form was suggestive of an Ark. The baptismal font which stood in the entrance symbolized the importance of Baptism in Christian Life. Its placement between the sanctuary and the outside world related the inner life of fellowship with the Christian's wider life in the World. Estimated to date from the eleventh century, it is carved with symbols of the Four Evangelists and stands in the entry way of our new building on Water Street.
Our new building, designed by Michael Foster of MTFA, Virginia, held its first Sunday Eucharist on All Saints Sunday, November 6, 2016. It was consecrated in a glorious celebration on November 20 by our diocesan bishop, the Right Reverend Mariann Edgar Budde.
St. Augustine's believes in shared ministries of priest and laity and in the involvement of our remarkably diverse membership in all our activities. In our ministries to the community and the world we attempt, in Jesus' name, to reflect the love of God for all creation. Lay groups work with the clergy and play key roles in our worship services, working on the altar guild, as bread bakers, lectors, and Lay Eucharistic Ministers. Lay people also assist in leading our Tuesday Evening Prayer service. There are numerous opportunities at St. Augustine's for individual volunteer ministries.
St. Augustine's is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. We are part of the DC South Region, one of the regions into which the diocese is divided. This region includes congregations from the Capitol Hill neighborhood and Southest DC.
We received a great deal of publicity several years ago when St. A's sponsored a resolution at the 2006 Diocesan Convention to add Justice Thurgood Marshall, a long time member of St. A's, to the Book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. The Resolution passed with flying colors, both at the Diocesan and National Church levels. Now, the Feast Day of Blessed Thurgood is celebrated every May 17 (the anniversary of the Brown vs. the Board of Education, the 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision which declared segregated education in public schools unconstitutional.)
St. Augustine's community outreach takes many forms. Members, as well as volunteers from the wider community, oversee a weekly meal program, purchasing food and supplies and preparing breakfast on Sunday mornings for as many as 60 people.
Our Bread for Life breakfast program, has been going for more than twenty-five years. Some of our newest members have immediately joined the kitchen crew, finding this a ministry in which they particularly want to participate.
Our building offers space for meetings of community and civic groups, including the SW Girl Scouts and Waterfront Village, as well as the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, ANC-6D, various Condo associations, AA, and redevelopment agencies. In some cases, the space is free of charge; in others, a donation is made.
In the summer of 2004, the South Washington/West of the River Family Strengthening Collaborative asked St. Augustine's if they could hold a children's reading camp at the church. This was a welcome outreach opportunity and resulted in an ongoing partnership with the organization. We have other important partnerships with community non-profits such as Seabury Resources for Aging.
Throughout our history as a church, we have provide space for the SW Chamber Players, who offer a free monthly chamber music concert. The concert impresario is a member of the Southwest community. Neighborhood people, as well as music lovers from throughout DC and the suburbs, attend the quite varied programs of the Southwest Chamber Players.
We are happy that our location in this diverse neighborhood enables us to be of service in so many ways. Our history is interwoven with that of our Southwest neighborhood and we continue our efforts of outreach to the community.