MVT Black History Month Celebration Continues with a Look at Community’s Spiritual Foundations

Friday February 11, 2022

Last week’s Triangle Times profiled the history of African Americans who once resided in Prather’s Alley and worshiped prominently in area churches. This week we focus on these historically significant churches that continue to shape and influence the Triangle and collectively have provided a combined total of 414 years of spiritual and civic service to MVT and the District. These institutions are Bible Way Church (est. 1928), Mount Carmel Baptist Church (est. 1876) and Second Baptist Church (est. 1848 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places):

  • Bible Way Church has filled not only the spiritual needs, but also the physical needs of the surrounding community through the development of hundreds of units of affordable housing to individuals earning as little as 30 percent of the area median Income.
  • Mount Carmel Baptist Church was created by members of Second Baptist Church. Like Bible Way Church, they also are contributing to the housing needs of through Liberty Place, a 71-unit affordable housing development that will include 11 units reserved for those with limited mobility, 14 units for formerly homeless individuals, and 7 units for Veterans.
  • Second Baptist Church is DC’s second-oldest African American Baptist congregation. Jeremiah Asher (pictured below) became the church’s first ordained pastor in 1849. He fought for the Union during the Civil War and as part of the clergy was responsible for placing African American chaplains in the Army throughout the conflict. The original church first housed in a large red brick building served as a station on the “Underground Railroad” during the Civil War and established a nationally recognized Sunday School Lyceum, at one point considered the largest in the United States, that included Booker T. Washington as a member and hosted orations by notable luminaries such as Frederick Douglass and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.

Elena Anderson of Mount Carmel Baptist Church and Reverend Dr. James E. Terrell of Second Baptist Church currently serve on MVT CID’s Board of Directors where they help guide the work we do in the community while representing our diverse past and directing us to a better future. And in 2019, long-time Board member Yvonne Williams of Bible Way Church received MVT CID’s Lifetime Achievement Award (photo below) in recognition of her many years of dedicated commitment and faithful service to to the lives of others in our Mount Vernon Triangle community.