FBC Member Andrew Blasi - An Open Letter to Friends on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

February 2018

Dear Friends,

  Andrew Blasi

Andrew Blasi

As people who are deeply cherished in my life, I’m asking for your help – that you long continue to keep in your thoughts my high school – Marjory Stoneman Douglas – and my hometown of Parkland, Florida. My “home” since infancy, with nearly 32,000 incredible people who live quietly alongside the beautiful Everglades, and its neighboring city of Coral Springs are grappling with a tragic mass shooting. Douglas is just a five minute walk from my childhood house. My family, friends, and this community are devastated. I am devastated.

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This was the place that motivated me to pursue a meaningful future in Washington. And it is where I was equipped with many of the passions/personality that I bring into my friendship with you. Douglas stands out as a shining example of public education excellence. It is one of the best high schools in the state, indeed in the entire country. This is because its educators are extraordinary. Many of them have been invaluable mentors to me and have inspired my closest friends to pursue the best higher education and meaningful careers. This is where social studies teachers in December 2005 held a surprise gathering to congratulate my early acceptance to the College of William and Mary. They got me there. I say these things so you know more than the scenes that have filtered across national news. So you know how this place has a connection to you in a very real way. So we don’t dismiss it as just another incident. There are now beautiful kids from my community who won’t have the same opportunities that I did. There are beautiful families in Parkland who will never be the same. And there are future friendships all across the country that will never be had, as you do, with a Parklander. My home, the mecca of youthful memories, will never be the same. And I can promise you that those thousands of children who have been hurt – physically and mentally – are exactly like you were in high school. I know this because I was one of them, and I know you.     

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Please give your partners, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues a big huge when you see them. Don’t hold back. And, if you’re not the touchy type, tell them unequivocally how much you appreciate them and how special they are. Look into their eyes and smile when you do. This is the best, immediate tool each of us has. Love is the only creative, redemptive, and transforming power in the universe. And – if your conscience finds it appropriate – tell them that what has happened in Parkland is not okay. Don’t write this off. If for no other reason than you are now directly connected to it through me (and not the television). It wasn’t okay yesterday, it’s not okay today, and for you it won’t be okay tomorrow. The beautiful thing is that you and those you touch, in turn, have tomorrow a chance to use voice, creativity, and actions to right this wrong. This is true both in our daily living as well as through our civic engagement. There is no single solution. And there are many paths with dead ends. But, that doesn’t matter. It will take collective action to address this grand challenge. I’m hoping, as my friend, you’ll serve this collective action in any way you can, starting with your own communities. And that you’ll put love at the core, providing space for dialogue and exchanging solutions with those you may disagree with. Because I believe this is the most essential tool that will make Parkland one of the last communities to ever go through this.

In honor of the place that has given me everything, I've decided to ban complacency from my heart. While Parkland has never weathered a storm like this, it has seen enough severe hurricanes in its time to know something about recovery and what resiliency looks like when neighbors help one another. My prayer is that this institution of excellence will rise as a living monument to the very best in all of us. Where love conquers fear. Let us now make it so. As it states in bold letters above the main exit at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: Be the Change You Wish to See in the World.  

Andrew Blasi
Member, First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Class of 2006


3/24/18 March Day Details

A group from FBC will leave at 11am from our O Street entrance (between 16th & 17th Streets) and walk together approximately 1.3 miles to 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (one of only 3 designated entrances to the event, and the one closest to the church.) All are welcome!

Note that DC DPS is emphatically encouraging participants to use mass transit on Saturday (instead of driving). 

May: First Glance (FBC Orientation)

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May new First Glance

MAY 6 - JUNE 3

a five-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 216-year history, as well as distinctive features of the Baptist stream of Christianity

  • Have conversations about walking in the way of Jesus

  • Share from your own experiences with God

Bonus: enjoy some excellent coffee and breakfast nibbles!


Fill out my online form.

Holy Week & Easter

Holy Week:
Pausing Before the Resurrection Party

What’s not to love about Easter? Blossoms everywhere and hallelujahs hanging in the air like pastel cherubs. All that resurrection radiance pouring into our Lent-weary lives. Who wouldn’t want to sprint to the empty tomb?

But sometimes a gift is given in the dreary moment. A poet whose work I have come to love, Tom Hennen, puts it this way:

It’s easy to love a deer
But try to care about bugs and scrawny trees
Love the puddle of lukewarm water
From last week’s rain.
Leave the mountains alone for now.
Also the clear lakes surrounded by pines.
People are lined up to admire them.
Get close to the things that slide away in the dark.
Be grateful even for the boredom
That sometimes seems to involve the whole world.
Think of the frost
That will crack our bones eventually.

(Tom Hennen, Love for Other Things
 Darkness Sticks to Everything
: Collected and New Poems.)

Until I was in my mid-twenties, the Baptist churches I belonged to bypassed Holy Week altogether. On Palm Sunday we’d sing Hosanna! at the beginning of worship and The Old Rugged Cross at the end, then go home and start planning the menu for Easter dinner.

But those who are willing to postpone singing Christ the Lord Is Risen Today long enough to experience the gathering gloom of Holy Week will find God whispering in the darkness: “I am here for you.” This week I invite you to trace with me the steps of Jesus in his darkest hours. I promise that your alleluias will be all the sweeter come Resurrection Sunday.

Lingering awhile,

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Palm Sunday Mariachi Parade

 2017 Palm Sunday Parade

2017 Palm Sunday Parade

You’re invited to join us on Sunday March 25th, for a Palm Sunday Parade! “Mariachi Ay Ay Ay” will return to lead us in song as we circle our DuPont Neighborhood waving palm branches. Wear your walking shoes and join us as we let our neighbors know that they are loved. “Mariachi Ay Ay Ay” was one of the featured bands in a Washington Post Magazine article on Sunday, March 4.

New Class - Christians and Muslims: Building Bridges

 Charlie Reynolds

Charlie Reynolds

New Sunday Morning Class Begins April 8
Taught by Dr. Charlie Reynolds, US Army Chaplain (Ret.)

Every day in the news we view events involving Muslims, yet there is a vacuum of misunderstanding about Muslims and the Islamic Faith. Muslims comprise one of the largest groups of emigrants coming to the United States. Muslims are our neighbors. It is critically important for Christians in the United States to understand Islam and the beliefs of Muslims, as well as how we can interact with our Muslim brothers and sisters in meaningful ways.
Teacher:  As a US Army Chaplain, Charlie Reynolds served as the Strategic Religious Advisor for United States Forces Iraq and United States Army Africa. He retired as the director of the Army Center for World Religions and is currently a religious advisor for the Army. Charlie received his BA in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Richmond and an MDiv and DMin from Golden Gate Seminary in Mill Valley, CA. While in the military he received a Master of Theology Degree from Princeton Seminary in World Religions and Culture and was an Academic Fellow at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, where his academic focus was on ways Religion can assist in reducing conflict. He has presented this material at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly, as well as at conferences in the U. K. and Germany. Charlie’s hobbies are golf, running and hiking.

Classes begin at 9:30am each Sunday:
April 8             Bridge One: Understanding Islam
April 15            Bridge Two: Understanding a Muslim’s World View
April 22            Bridge Three: Understanding the Diversity in Islam
April 29            Bridge Four: The Bridge We Walk Over

Deacon Ministry at First Baptist Church

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The word "deacon" comes from the Greek word diakonos, which means "servant." There are many references to deacons in the early church. Deacon ministry was developed in response to specific needs within the corporate life of the church itself, and its inspiration was no less the example of Christ himself, who "came not to be served but to serve". 
 
At First Baptist Church, deacons are actively engaged in the mission of the church. They promote peace, reconciliation and the spirit of cooperation and unity in this body. They model the ministry of presence by their regular participation in worship and in other events in the life of the church. They offer pastoral care and help lead in worship. They are faithful in their financial support of the church. They participate in diaconate meetings and training events. As a foundational priority, deacons endeavor to follow Jesus Christ themselves through personal practices of discipleship.
 
If a person has been nominated to serve as a deacon and is prayerfully considering deacon
service, he or she is invited to consider the following questions:

  • Am I actively following Jesus in my daily living?
  • Am I able and willing to come alongside a handful of assigned families and/or
  • individuals as their “care deacon”? 
  • Do I care about befriending people who feel disconnected from God or church?
  • Am I passionate about helping our congregation to discern and fulfill God’s mission for us?
  • Am I a peacemaker in troubled situations? Do I refrain from gossip?
  • Am I eager to play a part in mobilizing our entire congregation for ministry?
  • Would I be comfortable for others to view me as a spiritual leader? 
  • Would I be comfortable for others to view me as a servant?
  • Am I prepared to be a leader at FBC in the area of financial stewardship?
  • Is God calling me to invest myself in deacon service for as many as the next three years—and possibly to set aside some other activities in my life in order to do so?

Nominating People for Deacon Service @ FBCDC
During the period between Sunday, March 18, and Tuesday, April 3, First Baptist Church members are invited to offer the names of up to 6 church members who demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23), and who embody characteristics of servant leadership. Nominees, as well as those nominating, must be full members of FBC. 
 
This year’s deacon election will fill three, 3-year terms ending in 2018 and one, 2-year term ending in 2020. A nomination form will be provided on the Sundays of March 18, 25 and April 1, or you may submit names by email to office@firstbaptistdc.org. All nominations must be received by 5pm on Tuesday, April 3. 

Individuals not eligible for election as new deacons:

  1. Deacons currently completing their 3-year term of service in 2018: Mike Henson and Zena Aldridge.
  2. Deacons currently serving terms of service ending in 2019 and 2020:  Kate Campbell, Sadye Doxie, Erik Smith, Rose Smith, Chelsea Clarke, Doug Duvall, Allen Norfleet, Wilma Prince and Kathy Whatley.
  3. Life Deacons: Mel Doxie, Adrian Harward, Steve Netcott and Ellen Parkhurst.

 
Following the nomination period, the Deacon Selection Team, comprising Kate Campbell and other deacons, in conversation with Pastor Julie, will prayerfully review all nominations and begin reaching out to individuals.
 
Deacon Election Timeline
March 18 – April 3       Deacon nominations received
After April 3:               Deacon Election Team meets; begins reaching out to nominees
May 2018:                   New term of deacon service begins

 

Report on Gift to Puerto Rico/USVI

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On February 27, work began at Anamer Castrello’s family’s house in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Anamer, a member of our choir, flew to PR to help oversee the installation of the new solar water heater (the family has been without hot water since the middle of September 2017). Your gifts also purchased a new gas-powered generator which was delivered on Wednesday to Carolyn Roebuck’s family in St. Croix. Carolyn is the Director of FBC’s Child Development Center. And batteries that you donated will be sent soon to these families for use in flashlights and lanterns when they’re not allowed to use generators. The FBC family has given $3,275 and 238 batteries. Your generosity is making a real difference— thanks be to God!

Why March?

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“Why are we promoting the March for our Lives and the Rally to End Racism?” While no one at FBC has asked me this question, it is certainly fair. There are marches in Washington all the time. Why these two?

March for Our Lives
This march wears a personal face for us at First Baptist. Our brother and newest church member, Andrew Blasi, graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 12 years ago (see his letter here) and grew up in Parkland, FL. The mass shooting on February 14th has left Andrew and an entire community devastated. I’ll be marching as a way of demonstrating love and support. In a much broader sense, while March for Our Lives is not organized as a religious action, advocating for peace and an end to gun violence is a faithful expression of Christian discipleship as well as our own Anabaptist heritage. The way of Jesus, our Prince of Peace, embodies both an unmistakable rejection of violence and the power of love and truth in action for justice, peace and wholeness for all people. (Bill Leonard, this year’s Winter Forum speaker at FBC, wrote a blog this week for Baptist News Global about gun violence in America. Read it here.) 

Rally to End Racism
This event, initiated by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of our Baptist brother, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is overtly grounded in faith, and is the beginning of a focused, intentional effort to eradicate the racism that paralyzes our ability to see every human being as equal and created in God’s image.

The gospel is political but not partisan.
The gospel of Christ, grounded in the witness of the Hebrew prophets, addresses not only individual hearts but also the societal systems of every nation. In this season of Lent it is well for us to remember that it was the threat Jesus posed to both religious and political authorities that led to his crucifixion. The gospel is political…but never partisan. It is a misguided, even arrogant, assumption that the way of Christ is perfectly articulated by any political party. Our congregation includes people with varied political affiliations so our ideas on how best to encourage peace and justice may differ. And yet, beyond all political differences, the gospel of Christ calls us all to advocate for these.

Grace and peace,

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Kelly Magee-Prichard: FBC's New Minister For Children & Families

  Kelly Magee-Prichard

Kelly Magee-Prichard

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With excitement and gratitude, the Personnel Committee and Faith Formation Team invite the FBC family to join them in welcoming Kelly Magee-Prichard as our new Minister for Children and Families.

Kelly and her family (husband, Chuck, and son, Angus) began worshiping with us in the fall of 2017 and immediately sensed the spirit of God at work (Kelly was initially drawn to FBCDC because of our Statement of Inclusion, adopted last September.) They joined First Baptist on January 28, 2018.

Kelly holds a Doctor of Management degree in Organizational Leadership (University of Phoenix, 2009); a M. A. in Mass Communication (Northeast Louisiana University, 1996); and a B. A. in Journalism (Louisiana Tech, 1990).

Kelly’s greatest passion is nurturing children, encouraging their families, and directing, coordinating and training volunteers who serve infants, preschoolers and children. The daughter of a Baptist pastor, she began leading children as a teenage counselor at Acadian Baptist Center in Louisiana. Most recently Kelly taught children at International Baptist Church in Stuttgart-Vaihingen (Germany).

The Process:

  • August 2017: FBC began soliciting resumés for this part-time position
  • December 2017: Kelly Magee-Prichard was identified by the personnel committee as the top candidate
  • January 2018: Kelly met with Pastors Julie & Charlie; with members of personnel committee; and with parents and teachers of FBC children
  • February 1-15, 2018: Kelly completed Federal & District background checks
  • February 18, 2018: Kelly met with Moderator Rod Coates and Pastor Julie to sign covenant letter
  • March 1, 2018: Official start date  

Responsibilities:

As Minister for Children and Families Kelly will work under direct supervision of the Pastor.  Her responsibilities will include three focal areas:

1. Spiritual Leadership

  • Serve as a growing Christian leader among parents and children (grade six and under)
  • Provide spiritual and pastoral guidance/care
  • Plan overall curriculum, activities and events to nurture growth in preschoolers and children, and to prepare older children for transition into the youth ministry

2. Collaboration

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  • Work in collaboration with lay teams and staff to ensure a holistic ministry to children and families
  • Work with the CDC Director and CDC team to help our church to serve our CDC families
  • Provide leadership and support to our children’s teachers and others who serve our children; encourage a “team” effort

2. Cultivation of a welcoming, safe and healthy environment for children and families

  • As needed, enlist and train children’s ministry leaders/teachers for Sunday School and extended care for preschoolers during worship
  • Promote and maintain high safety standards for our children’s ministry
  • Extend hospitality to guests with children
  • Provide regular communication to parents and friends of FBC Children’s ministry through church-wide publications and children’s ministry channels
  • Perform other children’s ministry duties as assigned by the Pastor

We will welcome Kelly to the FBC staff at the upcoming church-wide potluck on March 4 (also Winter Forum Sunday). In the meantime, please pray for Kelly, her family, and all the children and families at First Baptist Church.

In Christ,

The Personnel Committee and Faith Formation Team: Denny Austin, Becky Ellison, Dennis Lambert, Allen Norfleet, Lucy Plovnick & Charlotte Straight

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Rally to End Racism Wednesday, April 4, on the National Mall

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Rally to End Racism
Wednesday, April 4, on the National Mall
50th Anniversary of the Assassination of MLK

On April 3-5, 2018 the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and partners will gather in Washington, D.C. for a historic event to mark 50 years since the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, and to launch its Truth and Racial Justice Initiative. The Rally to End Racism is a launching point for a comprehensive, multi-year program to address racism in our nation. Pastor Julie is serving on the fundraising committee for this event. Many volunteers will be needed from local congregations. Stay tuned for ways you can help.

Schedule At-A-Glance for April 3-5, 2018

Tuesday, April 3: Ecumenical Worship Service in the Orthodox Tradition

  • 6:30 p.m.: St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral,
    2815 36th St., NW, Washington, D.C., 20007

Wednesday, April 4: ACT to End Racism Rally on the National Mall

  • 7-8 a.m.: Silent Prayer Walk to the National Mall
  • 8-9 a.m.: Interfaith Service
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Rally and Call to Commitment
     

Thursday, April 5: National Day of Advocacy & Action

Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions (including the Alliance of Baptists) and more than 35 million Christians in a common expression of God’s love and promise of unity.

More Info: http://www.rally2endracism.org/

Lenten Vespers on Wednesday Nights - 2/21 to 3/21

These 45-minute worship services will offer a simple, meaningful opportunity to pause in the middle of the week to connect with God and receive fresh inspiration. Each service will feature someone from FBC sharing a piece of his or her faith story, as well as musicians from our congregation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                   

                 Faith Story           Musician(s) 

Feb 21        Lilia Abron             Cindy Fuller

Feb 28       Kevin Biggins          Paul Nelson, Zena Aldridge

Mar 7         Carol Nicholas        Robert Cochran, Kimberly Galva

Mar 14       Roger Alford           Christina Whitehouse-Suggs

Mar 21       Oliver Müller           Charles Pugh, Kevin Biggins

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Combine Worship and Community on Wednesday Nights in Lent

Two Dinner Options!
Prefer to eat early? Enjoy a delicious meal prepared by Chef Laval at 6pm in Fellowship Hall. Cost: $8.00. RSVP to D’O Dillard, ddillard@firstbaptistdc.org each week by Monday at 5pm or make a standing reservation for all five suppers during Lent.

Prefer to eat later? Each week after vespers, all who’d like to join in are invited to walk as a group to one of the many nearby restaurants.

2018 Lenten Sermon Series: Immersed in Love: Telling Our Story through Baptism

Baptism Sermon Series During Lent

Historically in the Christian movement, the season of Lent, the forty days leading up to Easter, was a time when new believers prepared for their baptism. During the Lenten season this year at First Baptist Church, we are following the example of the early church by remembering together our great story as followers of Christ through the image of baptism. All the major themes of a believer’s story are visible every time we baptize: birth, cleansing, new “clothes”, community, burial, resurrection. Join us as we remember our story.

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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 ddillard@firstbaptistdc.org)
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.

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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).