An Evening with Pastor Donna Claycomb Sokol

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 (Fellowship Hall)

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Our “third Wednesday” speaker series sponsored by the Faith Formation Team continues in January. Join us for a conversation with Rev. Dr. Donna Claycomb Sokol, senior pastor of Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church here in D.C., and co-author of a new book, A New Day in the City: Urban Church Revival. The MVP congregation focuses its energy on a limited number of ministries in order to offer each with intentionality, excellence and the hospitality of Christ. On January 17th, Pastor Julie will facilitate an interview and Q&A with Pastor Donna. Come and hear more about the MVP story, and meet this exceptional pastor who is also eager to meet the people of First Baptist Church.

Schedule on January 17 in Fellowship Hall (come for some or all of the evening)

5pm Sandwich making for Martha’s Table
6pm Supper prepared by Chef Laval (RSVP to
7pm Conversation with Rev. Dr. Donna Claycomb Sokol


Christmas Eve Candlelight Service—Dec. 24 @ 4pm

This year Christmas Eve falls on Sunday. In addition to our weekly service at 11am, we’ll also gather again at 4pm to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Join us for this beautiful hour of worship featuring special elements for children, a reading of the Christmas story, the music of organ and choir, and a Christmas Eve meditation by Pastor Julie. We’ll conclude the service with the lighting of congregational candles.

How We Wait: An Advent Sermon Series

Let’s be honest: Advent can be a hard sell. While Christmas starts appearing in September, often in glaring, gaudy ways, Advent comes on padded feet with very little fanfare. Advent is about waiting. It’s about reflection and repentance and delayed gratification—things with which we tend to struggle. And yet, Advent has a gift it wants to give, which our souls desperately need. Advent, if observed with intentionality and an open heart, helps us to resist some of the Christmas craziness out there. Advent offers the simple joy of preparing our hearts and minds for Christ. In this holy season, our chief assignment is to watch and wait and worship. Doesn’t that sound like something of a relief? Join us!

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60th Annual Candlelight Carols

December 10 @ 4pm (FBC Sanctuary)

Capture the joy of the season with a beloved First Baptist tradition! The first Candlelight Carols Service was held in the newly completed sanctuary of First Baptist Church on December 8, 1957, launching a tradition that has spanned six decades. Candlelight Carols continues today, featuring the choirs and instrumentalists of The First Baptist Church and The Runnymede Singers. An offering will be collected, benefitting SOME (So Others Might Eat), an interfaith, community-based organization that exists to help poor and unhoused people in D.C. Bring a friend!

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Blue Christmas

For those of us who are grieving, Christmas can be the hardest season of all. Loss comes in so many forms: The death of someone we love. Illness. Divorce. Addiction. Estrangement from family. Loss of a job. Or just disappointment with life in general. Our Blue Christmas service offers an invitation to acknowledge and entrust every kind of grief into the hands of our compassionate God and find some healing and hope. Come for your own grief, and/or invite and accompany someone you know who could use some hope during the holidays.


Caring Christmas: Wednesdays in December

December 6th at Christ House 6:30pm-8pm Decorating

We will meet at Christ House to help put up Christmas decorations around the house. All are welcome to join. Christ House is located at 1717 Columbia Rd NW, in Adams Morgan. Dinner after decorating at a nearby restaurant for those who want to join in.

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December 13th: Blue Christmas Service at 7pm (Sanctuary)

For those of us who are grieving, Christmas can be the hardest season of all. Loss comes in so many forms: The death of someone we love. Illness. Divorce. Addiction. Estrangement from family. Loss of a job. Or just disappointment with life in general. Our Blue Christmas service offers an invitation to acknowledge and entrust every kind of grief into the hands of our compassionate God and find some healing and hope. Come for your own grief, and/or invite and accompany someone you know who could use some hope during the holidays.

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December 20th at The Residences at Thomas Circle 6pm

Christmas Caroling at The Residences at Thomas Circle (a senior adult community at 1330 Massachusetts Ave, NW, not far from First Baptist). Meet at the church at 6pm to walk over together, or join the group at The Residences at Thomas Circle at 6:30pm. Dinner after caroling at City Tap House (1250 Connecticut Ave NW, at N Street, Washington, DC 20036).

Church Family Christmas | Sun. Dec. 4 9:30am

Live Nativity During Potluck Lunch

Every year, our children and youth reenact the Christmas story during our December “first Sunday” potluck. Rehearsal will take place during the Sunday School hour starting at 9:30am (children and students should come to their classrooms first, then head to Fellowship Hall). During lunch, kids will eat first, then come backstage to dress as angels, shepherds, wisemen or part of the holy family. (Any children visiting are also welcome to dress and join the FBC kids on stage; they won’t have to speak.)

2016 Live Nativity:

Fifth Annual Halloween Concert on Tues, Oct. 31 7pm

Don’t miss First Baptist’s annual musical treat on Tuesday, October 31, at 7pm.  We have talented “Goblins” (of assorted kinds) who will thrill and chill you with performances on the magnificent 5-manual Austin Organ of more than 6,000 pipes.  The concert will last about an hour, and is free and open to the public. Performers will wear costumes, and the audience is invited to come in costume as well. Bring a friend!


Annual Thanksgiving Lunch: November 19 - Buy Tickets Here

Chef Laval is preparing a Thanksgiving feast on Sunday, November 19. Cost is $10/adults; $7/children under 12. Deadline for reservations is Thursday, November 16. You may make your reservation and pay for your tickets in advance here (preferred), or email Church Administrator D’O Dillard and pay at the door. Contact D’O at Please consider chipping in the cost of an extra meal, so that we can extend an invitation to all who worship with us that morning.

Church Fall Fellowship, Sat, Oct 21, 11:30am-3:00pm

Our annual gathering in Rock Creek Park is fast approaching! Since the grill at site #24 is not the best (and the Park Service doesn’t allow personal grills in the park) this year FBC will provide cold cuts and fried chicken, accompanied by breads, condiments, beverages, plates, cups, napkins and cutlery. Attendees are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share.

Please tell us your coming (and how many are coming with you) so we’ll be sure to have enough food -- we don’t want anyone to go home hungry. We’ll also have games available, so come join the fun! Questions? Contact D’O Dillard at

Directions: From 16th Street NW, turn into Rock Creek Park on Morrow Drive NW. Bear to the left for about 100 yards, toward the William H. G. FitzGerald Tennis Center (stadium with blue seats). Picnic site #24 is the first site on the right, across from the Tennis Center. Please park in the adjacent lot. MetroBus Lines S2 and S4 stop at 16 Street NW and Morrow Drive NW.  
(Google maps link) 

First Glance - Sundays - Oct. 22-Nov. 12 9:30-10:30AM

First Glance
(room 315; from the O Street welcome area, take elevator to 3rd floor)

October 22 – November 12
A four-week orientation to fbc for newcomers and new members*

  • Facilitated by FBC pastors and lay leaders
  • Meet others who are new to First Baptist (within the past year or so)
  • Hear a little about our church’s 215-year history, as well as distinctive features of the Baptist stream of Christianity
  • Have conversations about what it means to walk in the way of Jesus 
  • Share from your own experiences with God
  • Bonus: enjoy some excellent coffee and breakfast nibbles!

*Can’t be there all four Sundays? No worries; join us as often as you can.

Please RSVP here (this will help us in our planning and coffee-making!)

Fill out my online form.

Pianist Christopher Schmitt in Recital October 15, 4pm


Christopher is the pianist in the “President’s Own” US Marine Chamber Orchestra. His program features works by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff and Ravel.

Performance in the Sanctuary. 

A reception follows the performance; complimentary valet parking available.  

More about Christopher at

The CenturyMen In Concert on Wednesday, Oct 11 @ 7pm

You may be wondering, “Who in the world are The CenturyMen?”  Well, let me tell you. The CenturyMen is a group of music ministers from across the country who gather together once a year for a concert tour or a recording project. They are professional musicians with graduate degrees in music who audition to be a part of the group. They were one of the first groups to gain entrance to China back in the late 70’s and have performed literally around the world. They once performed for the Dove Awards and in April 2016 they performed across the island of Cuba building relationships with the churches and church musicians there.

Their accompanist is Joseph Joubert. Joseph plays for numerous projects across New York including Broadway and television as well as traveling across the country as a guest soloist with various orchestras. He has been music director, conductor, and orchestrator for various Broadway musicals including, “Motown the Musical” and “The Color Purple.” On this year’s tour, Joseph will play a pre-concert of selections from his newest recording.

Their guest soloist is the accomplished lyric soprano, Renee Joubert, who specializes in a variety of musical styles. Their organist is our own Cindy Fuller.

This is quite an accomplished group of musicians. And I get to be their music director and conductor.

An important part of the story of The CenturyMen is that they pay their own way for every one of our projects. No one gets a salary. Their motivation is the privilege of sharing the gospel in song across the world. The expenditure of time, energy, and money from each and every one of them is substantial. It’s always a privilege to get to hear a CenturyMen concert. The members of The CenturyMen actually pay out of their pockets to come and sing.

On October 11, The CenturyMen will present a concert for us at 7pm. I hope you’ll brave the traffic and make it in to hear some incredible music. The CenturyMen only tour once a year. Every tour focuses on a different part of the country. It may be ten or twenty years before The CenturyMen return to our area. You’ll not want to miss it!

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Charlie Fuller
FBCDC Executive Pastor
CenturyMen Music Director and Conductor

“What’s Your Story?” Young Adult Retreat - Sept 22-23

Young adults are invited to spend a day away from the city hustle and lean into a small sabbath in the woods. We'll get to know one another through sharing our stories and the ways we've seen God at work in our lives. Join us! September 22-23, 2017 We leave Friday evening and return Saturday night. The cost is $25. RSVP by September 8th below. Contact Pastor Alyssa for more information.

August Forum 2017: Faith & Action

Sundays in August  •  9:30-10:30  • Breakfast starting at 9:00  •  Fellowship Hall

I will show you my faith by my actions.
— James 2:18

This year during the month of August, we will examine some of the most complex global issues of our day through the lens of Scripture and ask together, “How does my faith in Christ direct my actions?” 

August 6:

Contemplative Grounding for Healing the World
Margaret Benefiel, PhD., Executive Director, The Shalem Institute, Washington, D.C.

“Marches. Online petitions. Letters to the editor. Am I doing any good? I ask myself. Am I making a difference? Is there another way? In the face of injustice, wars, and humanity’s inhumanity to humanity, I long to be faithful to doing my part to heal the world. This session will focus on contemplative grounding for healing the world.”

Margaret became executive director of the Shalem Institute in July 2015. Prior to coming to Shalem, she ran her own consulting, speaking, training, and coaching business, Executive Soul, helping leaders and organizations nurture their souls and express their deepest values institutionally. At the same time, she taught as adjunct faculty at Andover Newton Theological School in the area of contemplative leadership. Margaret is a Quaker and holds a B.A. in History from Princeton University, an M.A. in Mathematics from Portland State University, an M.A. in Theology from Earlham School of Religion, and a PhD in Spirituality from Catholic University of America. She has written extensively on various aspects of contemplative leadership and spirituality at work, including The Soul of Supervision; The Soul of a Leader: Finding Your Path to Fulfillment and Success; and Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations.

August 13:

Christians and Muslims in Relationship
Rev. Steven D. Martin, Director of Communications and Development, National Council of Churches USA

“After I made my first film in 2001 entitled, “Muslims in Appalachia,” I have been concerned with the beautiful people that make up the Muslim community, both their rich life and culture, and the dangers they face as America becomes more anxious. In this session I will bring my perspective on my experiences with Muslims around the world and how the teachings of Jesus have shaped my work with this community.”

Steven has served United Methodist Churches as pastor for twenty years and is a graduate of Candler School of Theology. He brings his expertise in theology, the intersection of faith and politics, and media production to bear upon today’s most challenging problems. He has produced several films for public television, including Muslims in Appalachia; Islam in America After September 11th; Theologians Under Hitler; God With US: Baptism and the Jews in the Third Reich; Elisabeth of Berlin; and most recently, Islam in America: The Christian Truth. His writing has appeared in America’s top national media outlets including the Washington Post and USA Today. He speaks frequently at churches, seminaries, and conventions across the US.

August 20

Religious Liberty Based on Compassion
Rev. Charles Watson Jr., Education and Outreach Specialist, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

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"My theology didn't have an answer for why children were dying. As a chaplain intern at Children's Hospital of Atlanta, I wept, prayed and mourned with families at the lowest point of their lives. I learned that the pain didn't care about the religion of the family, but that their faith was sometimes their only hope. In this session I will explain why compassion should compel us all to be religious liberty advocates."

Charles Watson Jr. is the Education and Outreach Specialist of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C. His work is focused on expanding the base of support for religious liberty and engaging the next generation of advocates. A graduate of The Citadel, Watson earned a Master of Divinity degree at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology. He previously served as the Children’s Director of Buckhead Baptist Church in Atlanta and as a hospice chaplain resident, endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Watson is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

August 27

Sitting With the Trauma of Racism
Rev. LeDayne Polaski, Executive Director, Bautistas Por La Paz (Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America)

“I came to an interest in trauma through my interest in conflict transformation. Unaddressed traumatic experiences underlie much of the painful conflict we experience. As I have delved further into antiracism work, I have become convinced that White America's unwillingness to acknowledge and address trauma is at the heart of the US's seeming inability to move forward on issues of race and racism. In this session we'll explore why and how we might sit with our trauma and that of others long enough to be transformed and changed.”

LeDayne became BPFNA's Executive Director in 2015, having served the organization in a variety of roles since 1998. A life-long Carolinian, she is a graduate of Furman University in Greenville, where her commitment to issues of peace and justice began. She received an M.Div. in 1993 from the Divinity School at Duke University in Durham, NC, and was ordained in Durham at Watts Street Baptist Church. LeDayne and her husband, Tom, a professor of mathematics at Winthrop University, are active members of Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte. 

Leadership Workshop Leads to Action Steps for FBC 

On Saturday, June 3, twenty-five leaders at FBC gathered in Fellowship Hall for the second of two workshops, facilitated Geoff Abbott and Mark Nishan, designed to help us clarify our vision and mission. Participants included 9 deacons, our Deacon Chair, Moderator and pastoral staff, as well as representatives from our support staff, choir and every committee at FBC. The group participated in a variety of exercises aimed at describing our present state, clarifying our desired future state, and identifying action steps as we move forward. Here is a summary of outcomes:

What we want to be known for

  • A vibrant church in which lives are transformed
  • A reflection of the kingdom of God
  • Hospitality; openness and visibility in our community
  • Service
  • Joy
  • Being missional; participation in our community
  • Love

Commonly-Held Values

  • Biblical grounding
  • Communication/Authenticity/Healthy Conflict Resolution
  • Hospitality/Love of Christ/Diversity
  • Creativity/Risk-Taking
  • Strategic Service/Teamwork/Intentional Apprenticing
  • Intimacy with God/Spiritual Growth/Intentional Worship

 “Critical Few” Action Steps for the near future

  • Each week--FBC folk intentionally engage at least 1 person at church whom they don’t know
  • Identify gifts and talents among the congregation
  • Create a newcomer hospitality team
  • Continue to refine and simplify governance to help us live by our values
  • Plan 3 new opportunities for spiritual growth/biblical grounding for this fall
  • Broaden our missional footprint; find ways to participate in or support creative missional endeavors
  • Get to know our neighborhood and help them get to know us
  • Promote intentional apprenticing by encouraging committees to elect now a chair for this year and a chair-elect for next year
  • Embed FBC values/aspirations into the work of all committees, teams, ministry groups and staff

Sincere thanks to Denny Austin who first suggested these workshops in the spring of 2016, and recommended his friends, Mark and Geoff. And thanks to all who participated in one or both gatherings. Our two days together are already yielding fruit. I’m eager to see what else grows at FBC in the months and years ahead.
Peace and grace,




Julie Pennington-Russell
Senior Pastor

Raul Prieto Ramirez Organ Concert at FBC 6/18 4pm

Sunday, June 18th 2017 at 4 p.m.

Free and open to the public

A Gift to the Community


Described by critics as “fearless, exciting, sizzling,” an organist who “instantly connected with the audience” and for whom “[the] audience rose to its feet with applause at every opportunity.”

Find out more about Raul at: