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Brief History of the Church of the Holy Communion

The Church of the Holy Communion, established in 1895, has existed in Congress Heights during three different centuries--the 19th, the 20th, and, currently, the 21st century.   It was organized in what was then suburban farmland adjacent to the community of Anacostia in the District of Columbia. In 1902, a small frame church building, the gift of Mrs. Arthur Randle in memory of her mother, Esther, was constructed at the corner of Esther Place and Nichols Avenue (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave.) in Southeast.  Then, it was known as the Esther Memorial Chapel of the Holy Communion and the first service was held there on February 22, 1903. The Chapel was consecrated by Bishop Satterlee, the first Bishop of Washington, soon after.  On February 1, 1908 the Diocesan Convention separated Congress Heights Parish from Anacostia Parish and established the chapel as a parish church.

The building served the community of Congress Heights for more than forty years, but the explosive population growth of Washington after World War II overwhelmed the capacity of the little chapel. Ground was broken for a new building a few blocks down the street on April 15, 1951, our current church home. The cornerstone was laid on October 14, 1951 by the Rt. Rev. Angus Dunn, the fourth Bishop of Washington, and the first service was held on July 20, 1952. On April 28, 1957 ground was broken for our Education and Office wing.

Church of the Holy Communion continues to make its mark by reaching out and making known the Church's presence in and service to the Congress Heights neighborhood.  Our mission is to be a community of people charged to be stewards of God's gifts; committed to caring, helping, and nurturing each other; engaged in teaching and proclaiming God's word; empowered by the Holy Spirit to do Christ's work.

Church of the Holy Communion was one of the first handicap accessible churches in the city.  Over the years it has been used as a center for the D.C. Crippled Children's Society, the United Planning Organization's Petey Greene Center, and Samaritan Ministries of Greater Washington.  Other groups who have met at the church include Serenity House, Alcoholics-Anonymous, AI-Anon, for families of alcoholics, and Ala-teen.   The church also has played host to political rallies, voter registration efforts, senior citizen activities, and other community affairs.

Priests who have served the parish notably include The Reverend Berry B. Simpson; The Reverend Donald R. Morris; The Reverend Gayle E. Harris, the first African-American, female priest appointed to this Church and current Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts, The Reverend A. Kenneth J. Phillips and The Reverend Ezra A. Naughton, Ph.D.  Our current Priest-in-Charge is The Reverend Prince L. Williams.

Click here to see photos from the church's history