A historically Black church that has long been a community staple in Washington, D.C. closed its doors Sunday as an apparent result of gentrification in the increasingly white city, The Washington Post reported.
Many members and leaders of the Lincoln Congregational Temple United Church of Christ in city’s Shaw neighborhood had moments to reflect on the church’s role ahead of its scheduled shut down. They sat in pews, sang songs and gave praise during the church’s last Sunday — 149 years after African-Americans founded it following the end of slavery.
Their church on Sunday both resembled and differed from their church of yesteryear: the large number of African-Americans sat next to people of different ethnicities with the goal of worshipping together. Several hundred people were on deck Sunday to bid farewell to the sanctuary that had stood the test of time through the most trying periods.
The church welcomed demonstrators from the 1963 March on Washington and residents after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr‘s Assassination in 1968. The church survived mergers with other churches, the Post reported. The church also experienced one of the most significant changes in the city in recent years: gentrification.
The influx of young white millennials had changed D.C.’s racial makeup. African-American residents in the historically black Shaw-Logan Circle area plummeted from 65 percent to 29 percent between 1990 to 2010, according to census data.
Gentrification brought more changes: business closures, housing vacancies left by residents who moved away and the packing up of several Black houses of worship. Lincoln tried to cater to residents with establishing itself as an “open and affirming” church for the LGBT community, hosting a farmers markets and other events. Though it had to close its doors after dwelling membership and other gentrification-related changes, members couldn’t help but cherish the church.
“Somehow, this church will never die in the hearts of the people,” Rubin Tendai, who served as the church’s interim minister from 2013 to 2016, said.