A New Church For Hip H Street? (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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A New Church For Hip H Street?

INTERVIEWER

00:00:08
I'm Rebecca Sheir. Welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today our theme is Faith. And in just a bit we're going to hear from a Virginia minister whose church sanctuary burned to the ground in January, and find out how the rebuilding process is renewing his faith. But to kick off this part of the show, we're going to meet a D.C. pastor who's trying to build a new church from the ground up. His name is Kevin Lum. And shortly after turning 30 he knew he was ready to lead a congregation. The only question was, where?

MR. KEVIN LUM

00:00:38
One of my beliefs is, is that God not only calls you to a vocation, but God also calls you to a place.

INTERVIEWER

00:00:44
So, as Emily Berman tells us, Kevin and his wife Charla set out on a road trip to find the place where their church should be.

MS. EMILY BERMAN

00:00:53
When the road trip started out, Kevin says, they had no idea where they'd end up.

LUM

00:00:57
You know, we started out in Denver, Colo. And I think we hit Ft. Collins. And then began to drive down south and went to New Mexico.

MS. CHARLA LUM

00:01:04
New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah.

LUM

00:01:08
Utah. And I particularly was really praying that California would be where God called us, maybe San Diego or someplace warm all year long.

BERMAN

00:01:16
Every night they'd arrive in a new city, Find a restaurant for dinner, walk around, and wait for some sort of sign that this was where God wanted them to be.

LUM

00:01:25
We like to joke we were basically giving God some suggestions of places we might like to go.

BERMAN

00:01:30
They were on the road for a month, and still, no sign. Then they got back home to Washington.

LUM

00:01:36
It was unanimous. We looked at each other and said, no, like, we're supposed to stay in D.C.

BERMAN

00:01:40
And that's how the church started.

LUM

00:01:43
If we were going to stay we had to take responsibility to make D.C. the place that we wanted it to be.

BERMAN

00:01:55
Now, just one year later, Kevin is the pastor of his own congregation, called The Table Church. Members meet on H Street Northeast, right near the Lums' apartment. It's called The Table, Kevin explains, because of the bond that forms over shared meals, an idea that comes up again and again in the Bible. Services are held inside a more established church, Douglas Memorial United Methodist. A year ago, Kevin says he had no clue how he'd go about starting a church in a historically African American neighborhood.

LUM

00:02:25
I kind of felt a little bit awkward as, you know, the white kid going into this neighborhood to say, here I am, I've got a new church for you.

BERMAN

00:02:32
He sent emails to pastors in the area, not expecting anyone to write back. But by the end of the evening, Douglas' reverend, Dr. Helen Fleming, wrote back.

LUM

00:02:40
And we probably met an hour, an hour and a half. We prayed together. And it was this great meeting. But she ends by saying, well, why don't come partner with us? We've got lots of space. You could hold your services in our church. And one of the beauties of it, is it gives us a root in the community.

BERMAN

00:02:56
The next step was attracting church members. The Lums threw parties, brunches, dinners and talked with their friends and friends of friends about a vision for a new church. It would be a church devoted to helping everyone in their neighborhood, connecting over meals and meeting not just on Sundays, but throughout the week at gatherings like this, ten people in a basement apartment in Bloomingdale, sipping hot tea from mismatched mugs, talking about how to grown and distribute food in a Christian way.

BERMAN

00:03:29
The group is making plans for a produce market, where both church members and neighbors can buy fruits and vegetables on a sliding scale. Approaching this issue as a faith community, Charla says, bonds people together for the cause.

LUM

00:03:41
Faith communities can speak into the myth that I am a completely separate entity from everything going on around me.

LUM

00:03:51
The call we hear from Jesus is that true change only happens in the context of community.

BERMAN

00:04:00
The Table Church is now pulling in about 60 people to services on Sunday evenings. The crowd is a lot of young professionals, but also some members of the host church, Douglas, and some children as well.

LUM

00:04:11
Probably three-fourths found out about it through some sort of social media. Yeah, I saw one of my friends liked your Facebook page and I thought, well, I trust them, so I'll come check it out.

BERMAN

00:04:19
Corey Self is a member and says finding a group of people committed to staying in D.C. has changed the way he practices his faith.

MR. COREY SELF

00:04:28
Because there are so many negative things that go along with the church. And church being this institution that oppresses and manipulates. But being a group of people who want to love each other, because we're called to love each other, with no exceptions.

BERMAN

00:04:45
And after only a month of gatherings, Kevin says, that's just about the best response he could have wished for. I'm Emily Berman.
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