Last week, DC Like a Local put out a piece about Christmas worship in Washington, covering most of the best known places to visit (National Cathedral, Shirne, etc.) and a reader asked for some more suggestions for visiting Protestants. Wanting to respond to our readers, we went to work to investigate alternatives. We even put it out to our Facebook group, we incorporated several of those suggestions as well. Washington, DC has a lot of churches, and this is a somewhat arbitrary list of churches that we felt represented a good spread. And, by all means, if you feel your church puts together a great Christmas service, feel free to add a link in the comments.
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Avenue, NW, 202-393-3700. If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, this may be where you want to go. Lincoln, who was never baptized into any Christian church, frequently worshipped here during his presidency because he liked the preaching of the pastor, Phineas Gurley. Rev. Gurley attended Lincoln at the Petersen House across from Ford’s Theatre during his last hours. There is a small exhibit of Lincoln items in a room adjacent to the main sanctuary, but it might not be open during the Christmas Eve services. What you can see is the pew where Lincoln sat. If you get there early enough, you might get to sit in it because it is not reserved for anyone. This also was the church of the Rev. Peter Marshall, made famous in the film “A Man Called Peter.” Nearest Metro: Metro Center or McPherson Square
National City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) , 5 Thomas Circle, NW, (202) 232-0323. This church is the national “cathedral” of the Disciples of Christ and was designed by John Russell Pope, who also designed the Jefferson Memorial and the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. Both President Lyndon Johnson and James Garfield worshipped here and are memorialized in stained glass windows. Nearest Metro: McPherson Square
Luther Place Memorial Church, 1226 Vermont Avenue Northwest , NW (Thomas Circle), (202) 667-1377. A large statue of Martin Luther by E. Reitchel sits on Thomas Circle beside the church. Nearest Metro: McPherson Square
Calvary Baptist Church, 755 8th Street Northwest, (202) 347-8355. This church was designed by famed 19th century architect Adolf Cluss. Cluss designed over 80 buildings in Washington, of which only a handful remain, including this one, Eastern Market, and the Arts and Industries Building (a part of the Smithsonian, the museum is adjacent to the Castle and presently being renovated). His buildings are characterized by red brick construction. Nearest Metro: Gallery Place/Chinatown
Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th Street, NW, 202.332.4010. President Rutherford Hayes attended Foundry nearly every Sunday during his term. President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill attended a special service at Foundry on December 25, 1941. Bill Clinton and his family attended regularly. Foundry is well known for its music programs as well. Nearest Metro: Dupont Circle
Metropolitan AME Church, 1518 M Street, NW, (202) 331-1426. This church is the National Cathedral of African Methodism. Metropolitan is the oldest AME church in Washington, DC, and the church sits on the oldest, continuously black-owned parcel of land in the city. A Christmas Eve service is listed on the website for 7:30pm. Nearest Metro: McPherson Square/Farragut North
Universalist National Memorial Church, 1810 16th St., NW, (16th & S Sts., NW), (202) 387-3411. This church is part of the Unitarian movement. Its Christmas Eve service is at 7:00pm and the website says that they will be doing the Lessons and Carols. Christmas Day communion is at noon. Nearest Metro: Dupont Circle
St. Mark's Episcopal (3rd and A SE) and Christ Church Episcopal (620 G ST SE). We've already mentioned some Episcopal options in our last post, but if you looking for some more community oriented options, we recommend these two church on Capitol Hill. St. Mark's filled in as Washington's cathedral until the National Cathedral and Christ Church has worshiped in its current location since 1807. Despite both of their storied histories, they are very much tied in with the local neighborhoods, and hence a great way to worship as, well, a local. Nearest Metro: Capitol South (St. Mark's) and Eastern Market (Christ Church).
It's a bit further afield, but a reader suggested Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington. They feature a live nativity with a real baby Jesus and farm animals, with time before and after for petting the animals. Nearest Metro: Ballston (but it's a good mile from here, you may want to consider a taxi if you are not driving).
Even for the churches that have the times listed here, we recommend checking their websites shortly before Christmas to see if they have updated them for the holiday or give them a call. If we’ve missed your denomination, feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check this tool out at the Washington Post.
Merry Christmas to all wherever you worship (or don't)!