2021 Georgetowners of the Year
By December 8, 2021 One Comment 284•
The naming of Georgetowners of the Year has been a tradition of The Georgetowner newspaper for decades. This year’s group, selected by the editorial board, includes a church, a congregation and pastor, a devoted story-seeker and a Georgetown couple who left a big bequest to their town.
Mt. Zion Church and Pastor Selena Johnson: History and Racial Justice
Mt. Zion United Methodist Church on 29th Street NW is the oldest African-American congregation in Washington, D.C. Last month, the National Fund for Sacred Places in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announced that Mt. Zion is one of 15 historic congregations that will receive a grant of up to $250,000 each. The church does need some repairs, no doubt.
As luck — or God — would have it, Mt. Zion is led by Rev. Selena M. Johnson, formerly an architect for 20 years. Pastor Selena’s resume is impressive: MIT, Berkeley, and later Wesley Theological Seminary. Author of “The Sin of Racism: How to Be Set Free,” she entered the ministry later in life. Her husband, Rev. Dr. Paul Johnson serves as Senior Pastor at Hughes Memorial UMC. Georgetown’s Mt. Zion keeps up the call for teaching Black history — and restoration of the Mount Zion and Female Union Band Society Cemeteries. Mt. Zion’s pastor describes herself as “biblically conservative, but socially liberal.” She believes that “faith goes hand-in-hand with compassionate, grace-filled action. Jesus saves!”
For such accomplishments — above and beyond — Mt. Zion United Methodist Church and Rev. Selena M. Johnson are Georgetowners of the Year for 2021.
Marilyn Butler: Love Stories for and by Georgetown
As The Georgetowner previously wrote: “Imagine falling in love with your local town. Then, dedicating all of your creative efforts to cultivating and preserving its unique culture and heritage. Georgetown resident Marilyn Butler has done –– and is doing –– exactly that with her Mapping Georgetown project.” Since 2019, Butler has captured and conveyed memories, impressions, family stories and details of life in Washington’s oldest neighborhood, a place she “absolutely loves.”
On a simple 8 ½ by 12-inch folded flyer with an outline map of Georgetown and a page for responses, Butler invites participants–– young and old –– to “reach for your pen, markers, crayons and imaginations!” and to “have fun [decorating] your map to your heart’s content.” Feel free, she adds, to “use words, pictures, vignettes, doodles and anecdotes” and visit mappinggeorgetown.com.
A retired AT&T executive from Cleveland, Ohio, Butler moved to Georgetown to be near her sons who lived in D.C. and fell in love with her new neighborhood. Her devotion to story-seeking and story-telling is her gift to us.
For such accomplishments — above and beyond — Marilyn Butler is a Georgetowner of the Year for 2021.
A. Michael Sullivan and Beverly Sullivan: A Lasting Legacy
Arthur Michael Sullivan Jr. and Beverly Bissell Sullivan were happily married for 27 years. She died in 1999; he, in 2020. Their love of Georgetown is forever. And one of the beneficiaries of that love is the Citizens Association of Georgetown, which received its biggest donation ever. Because of a legacy gift of more than $1 million — from the Trust of A. Michael Sullivan, Jr. — that required it purchase a building in Georgetown, the nonprofit set up its headquarters at 1058 30th St. NW, adjacent to the C&O Canal National Park.
Of the Sullivans, CAG President Tara Sakraida Parker said, “Our new town home … will honor Mr. Michael Sullivan and his wife, Beverly Bissell Sullivan. Their legacy gift supports CAG in an exceptional and unprecedented way. For the first time ever, we have a permanent home to gather and grow, and to build a foundation of impact and change.”
The Sullivans were active in their communities, which also included Newport, Key West and Palm Beach. Besides CAG, they were involved with the City Tavern Club, the Piedmont Environmental Council in Middleburg, the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund among others — as well as Georgetown Village, later for Michael, who was the principal at Michael Sullivan, Inc., and then moved to Washington Fine Properties. According to his obituary, his last words were: “We won!” Georgetown is a winner for having the Sullivans.
For such accomplishments — above and beyond — A. Michael Sullivan Jr. and Beverly Bissell Sullivan (posthumously) are Georgetowners of the Year for 2021.