The Shiloh Baptist Church
As the car drove farther from American University the environment started to change. The buildings colors and shapes were transforming as I passed through Embassy Row in the car towards my destination. All I could see were dozens and dozens of flags from all around the world while the driver had some rap music on. Drake was singing to the beat while the driver was speeding towards P and 9th Street. As we moved through the city every building and every place was transforming from clean to dusty and old. From the clean, white American University buildings to the small embassy buildings, until I arrived at the brick buildings location in DC. All buildings were brick and with their own style. Some were brick with a touch of modern, while the Shiloh Baptist Church is a huge all-brick building.
“The Shiloh Baptist Church was founded in 1863 by twenty-one slaves during the Civil War” (SHILOH BAPTIST CHURCH WASHINGTON, D.C. RECORDS). During the war, these individuals migrated from Virginia towards Washington DC in order to construct the church. Reverend William J. Walker was the first man to become responsible for the church and take care of it. He was the founder and the man who inspired many other slaves to build this holy place so that civilians from all around the city could attend. The current reverend, Wallace Charles Smith, is trying to do the same by inspiring so many people around the community by helping them.
This church is located in a place I didn’t even know existed. It is close to Logan Circle and in the downtown area of the city. This is a place I had never been to since I’ve been to DC and it is very warm location. The majority of the places in the surrounding are made from brick with the exception of some. The Shiloh Baptist Church itself is a huge brick building with some unique distinctions. Most of the doors in this place are solid bright red, while the glass windows are all disguised in art. The art covered in the glass windows are not people from the bible, but instead it is great amounts of different shapes such as squares, diamonds, or circles that give the church a much more fascinating look from the outside.
In front of the church, there is a restaurant and an apartment. It is a mix of both as the restaurant lies on the bottom floor and the other ones are for rental. Not only is the food in the restaurant really distinct due to its location, it is also really good. This Japanese Ramen restaurant has a variety of delicious plates that can be served with different kinds of vegetables. One can even sit in the outside area of the restaurant and enjoy the view of so many different buildings in the surrounding. Chaplins is a brick building covered in some modernistic black walls with a touch of glass. This place gives a touch to the community as it is different from the rest. Crossing the street from Chaplin’s there is an old building under reconstruction.
Besides the Shiloh Baptist Church, there is a small, grey-colored liquor store. The liquor store is interesting because of all the products it sells. It is weird to see a store that only sells alcohol, cigarettes, sodas and things like these are set right in front of a church. One can even contrast these two buildings across each other in P street. It can be this sort of parallel place in which the street is Earth and us the humans and civilian decide whether we want to go to heaven, which is the Shiloh Baptist Church or hell, the liquor store. This is a weird comparison that can be accounted upon due to that fact that my site is a church and in the bible, it says that underaged people cannot drink or else they would be sinning. So, in reality, it probably is accurate to say that weekly many teens go there trying to get alcohol sold when in reality they do not have the age. These kids are basically sinning by choosing to go to “hell” instead of heaven in this parallel universe.
The Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington DC has over one hundred and fifty years of existence; therefore, it is older than most churches I know. Actually, it has been reconstructed once in its history. This was in 1998 after a fire in 1991 destroyed part of the church in the inside. The fire was caused by an organ during a practice. The fire forced the church to be rebuilt and the opportunity was taken by Reverend Wallace Charles Smith to create a more modern and renewed place. “This building is a reaffirmation of our belief in the city of Washington, and this is just a beginning of our renewed effort to address issues in our community such as poverty, social justice, and homelessness” (Harris, Hamil R and Bill Broadway).
As mentioned, the church was built by slaves and thus has some significance to the black community. Freedmen found solace in the church in the late 1800s and civil right leaders held meetings in the church. Therefore, the church also contributes to the history of DC. Over the years, the congregation has learned to live as one and continues to protect the rights of the disenfranchised people (Harris, Hamil R and Bill Broadway). For this reason, the church has been proud to reach out to as many people as it can and Reverend Smith hopes to continue to do so.
Reverend Smith uses the church as a way to promote prosperity around the community. He is trying to give hope to those that have lost it and inspire those in need of help. The Shiloh Baptist Church is a means that can help many poor and homeless citizens become even better and prosper in the community. In a way, it was good that the fire occurred due to the fact that the church was remodeled and this served as a way for Revered Smith to demonstrate that the church wants to help those individuals that need help.
Additionally, the need to double the capacity at the new unveiling shows the need for the Reverend and the church as a while to reach out to the people of the community. Shiloh Baptist is not just a worshipping center but a haven for the community. As the article states, there are a group of lawyers from Shiloh that provide counseling to the congregation. Other than that, other professionals provide their services to the worshippers when in need. Hence, the church is an all-round wholesome experience that is meant to nourish the people spiritually and among other realms.
Some people might think that placing so much importance on a building even if it is a place of worship may be too much or unnecessary. But, the church has some significant historic roots and has remained in the lives of the people living around it. A person seeing and even worshipping in the church on a daily basis makes it very important. Reverend Smith understands this notion and thus made its unveiling a very important affair.
This church is a symbol of hope in the community. Those homeless or poor people who need help can go at any moment to the church because they know that the people working there will be of service. It is amazing what a site can do in a community. This place has tried to help the surrounding civilians become better people. Until the day I visited The Shiloh Baptist Church I didn’t know this place existed in the city of DC. I had never gone to the Downtown area of the city, much less a specific place and it is extraordinary how a site can change everything. The environment built around the church has been changing throughout the years due to the church’s effort in making it that way. The brick building is much more than brick, it is a place where place can be assisted and taught to become better, it is a place of prosperity.
Harris, Hamil R and Bill Broadway. “A NEW PLACE FOR AN OLD CONGREGATION.” Washington Post, 1998. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Montas, Juan. Photo 1. 18 Feb. 2017.
Montas, Juan. Photo 2. 18 Feb. 2017.
SHILOH BAPTIST CHURCH WASHINGTON, D.C. RECORDS. 1st ed. Web. 22 Feb 2017.