Friday, December 11, 2009

Tom on the Potter's House

"This place is a pretty interesting story. The Potter's House started in 1960. The name comes from Jeremiah, 'Arise and go to the potter's house and there you will hear my words.' We are getting ready to celebrate 50 years of being in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. We've been here through thick and thin. One of the things that I respect about the Potter's House is that they made a conscious decision to stay after the 1968 riots when a lot of places moved out.

"It's sponsored by a non-denominational church called the Church of The Saviour and the founding Minister, Gordon Cosby, and his wife Mary were the founders of the church. He was a Chaplain during World War II. He counseled soldiers who were potentially going to meet their death, and many of them did. After the war, he wanted to establish a church. Gordon and his wife wanted to capture the feeling of a tavern, but in a spiritual way so they had the idea of the coffeehouse church as we don't serve alcohol. We may be Washington's original coffee house. Now, we are also a book store. We sell mostly books on spirituality and social justice: poverty, hunger, war and peace, a lot of that stuff. I'm the book store manager and buy the books and I try and define social justice as broadly as possible.

"The Potter's House has always been a place where everyone is welcome regardless of background or whether people feel they have a spiritual background or not. It has always been a place for discussion groups, author events, WPFW used to broadcast from here, all kinds of things have gone on here. The Potter's House was also the birthplace to many of the Adams Morgan activist and service organizations including: Christ House, Jubilee Housing, Jubilee Jobs, Good Shepherd Ministries, Columbia Road Health Services, and Samaritan Inns.

"These are the original tabletops, as I understand it, and if they could talk, they'd tell a lot of great stories. One of the interesting stories that I heard was back in the 60's during the height of the civil rights era, students from Howard University, officials from the Justice Department, civil rights advocates and church people would meet here and talk about civil rights. As I heard it, some of the language for the civil rights legislation was drafted on napkins here. Racial reconciliation has always been one of the main interests of the Church of the Saviour. The philosophy of the church is to use your gifts for the benefit of the community and humankind. If you have an idea to help people, go for it and we will support you."

Learn more about the Potter's House here. Read more about faith in D.C. from Pastor RL Stevenson and Brother Amir.

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