Black and White Congregations Unite to Honor Dead, Nov. 1

In a display of unity during a tumultuous year, two congregations with distinctly different racial makeup will honor dead from their own churches and others who have died of COVID-19 or racial violence.

Dumbarton United Methodist Church and Mount Zion United Methodist Church will hold the service on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 3 p.m. at the Female Union Band Society Cemetery at 27th  Street and Mill Road NW in Georgetown.

“This is part of a long process of reconciliation between the two congregations, just after they both adopted the Baltimore-Washington Conference pledge of antiracism,” remarked the Rev. Rachel Cornwell, senior pastor at Dumbarton Methodist.

Both were part of the same church until the predominantly African American Mount Zion broke off from Dumbarton in 1816. Just three blocks apart, the churches have gotten together in recent years for events such as Bible study, an annual Pentecost service and evenings feeding unhoused neighbors.

The site of the service will be at the cemetery which Dumbarton has deeded to Mount Zion. Mount Zion’s senior pastor, the Rev. Selena Johnson, had proposed honoring not only people who died from many causes in their own congregations, but also those nationwide who died from COVID-19 or racial violence.

Johnson said: “Out of adversity is born opportunity. Therefore, my prayer is that our churches will take this opportunity to be at the forefront of healing and hope, especially where antiracist work is involved.”

Said Cornwell: “On All Saints Sunday, we liked the idea of a sort of memorial service in that sacred space and as a way to gather outdoors for this remembrance.”

The service will start with a somber time of reflection and some music, followed by readings and a lighting of candles for the dead. “The goal is to send people out in a hopeful way, focusing on how we can respond to this moment in history in a unified state,” added Cornwell.

Attendees are required to RSVP and follow the covenant of safety protocols. The RSVP form is linked HERE.



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