WELCOME TO SAINT JOHN’S CHURCH

Welcome to St. John's Church, Lafayette Square—a vibrant historic Episcopal church located across from the White House. We invite you to join with us for worship, Christian fellowship and outreach.

History

From our organization as a parish in 1815 to today, St. John's Church has provided a powerful symbol of faith in the heart of our nation's capital.

Mission

At St. John's, we believe Christ is calling us to be a renewed church in a changing world. In worship, education, parish life, and social action, we seek to expand our horizons by serving God by loving one another.

Clergy & Staff

Meet St. John’s diverse and engaging clergy, vestry and staff.

Directions & Parking

Located at the corner of 16th and H Streets in Northwest Washington, St. John's is near the McPherson Square and Farragut North Metro stations. Limited street parking is available; free valet parking is offered for certain hours.
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A Message from the Rector and Wardens

June 25, 2020 | 5:45 p.m.

Dear Parishioners,
In its 200-plus year existence, our beloved church has witnessed history, in its many forms, from our corner of Lafayette Square. That holds true today with the protests associated with the murder of George Floyd and other innocent Black citizens across our country.
We as a parish support the protesters’ fight for an end to systemic racism. As is often the case in these situations, we have also been faced with significant challenges. Our historic buildings have been damaged by fire and graffiti. Individuals have built encampments on the church grounds, pitching tents, cooking on open fires in close proximity to the buildings, and relieving themselves in inappropriate places, resulting in a risk to the health and safety of protesters and others. At times, our staff have not felt safe traveling to and from work, or in their offices.
At its meeting last week, the Vestry discussed the tension between support of the Black Lives Matter movement and keeping our staff and property safe. As a result of that discussion, we met with City leaders last Friday. The meeting was productive, and we came away with a plan to peacefully relocate the individuals camping on our grounds that was based on engaging the protesters in conversation. We did not have the opportunity to finish executing that plan because on Monday the police began clearing H Street, NW. We were not aware they would do this.
After renewed violence on Monday evening, the City contacted us on Tuesday and offered to provide fencing around our buildings. After a thorough discussion, and in consultation with Bishop Mariann, we reluctantly agreed to the fencing. While we hate both the fencing and the boarded-up windows, one of our main responsibilities as rector and wardens is to protect the buildings. Our hope is to remove both the fencing and plywood as soon as practicable.
We have much work to do. In the coming weeks we must return our attention to regathering and reengaging our congregation, while continuing the conversation on racial healing that we started the past two Sundays. Our Regathering Task Force is hard at work planning for our safe return to in-person worship. A survey on that topic will be released shortly.
We ask for your continued prayers for our parish, but also for our staff, who have been working under extremely difficult conditions.
In faith,
The Rev. Robert W. Fisher, Rector
Paul Barkett, Senior Warden
Jeff Hantson, Junior Warden

PREVIOUS UPDATES

June 9, 2020 | 3:10 p.m.

Affirming that Black Lives Matter: A Message from the Rector and Wardens

Dear Parishioners,
Starting today, St. John’s will proudly display two banners in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that has captured the attention of America and, finally, focused its attention on the systemic racism that exists in our country.
As followers of Jesus and his way of love, we need to lend our voices to this principle. If we believe that God loves all of God’s children, we must speak out and work to make sure that justice and equity is extended to all people as well.
The banner quotes the words of the prophet Micah:
  And what does the LORD require of you
  but to do justice, and to love kindness,
  and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
This is a small step in the long and proud tradition of St. John’s. From our earliest days, when William Hawley baptized and married African Americans of all legal statuses—slave and free—through John Harper keeping the doors of the church open during the 1963 March on Washington and announcing, “This church building is open, as it has always been, to all who want to worship here” to the current Ministry of Presence distributing water, snacks, and spiritual support to those standing against injustice, St. John’s has long stood against racism and in support of civil rights.
Since the senseless murder of George Floyd on May 25, we have all seen the protests that started in Minneapolis quickly spread throughout the country and around the world. St. John’s has stood as the backdrop for some of these protests.
As people of all colors, ages, and backgrounds continue to pour into Lafayette Square to demand equal justice, the vestry felt it was important to let all know where St. John’s and its congregation stand. We discussed what exactly our message should be and how it should be communicated. At the end, we put the matter to a vote. Now, we proudly say “Black Lives Matter.”
In peace,
The Rev. Robert Fisher, Rector
Paul Barkett, Senior Warden
Jeff Hantson, Junior Warden

June 9, 2020 | 2:36 p.m.

Ministry of Presence Transition – Action for Change & Healing

Dear Friends,
On behalf of St. John’s, I would like to thank you for your incredible witness over the last week. We have had over 250 volunteers engage in offering a continued, visible Christian witness to justice, equality, and dignity for each and every person as a child of God. In her sermon on Sunday, Bishop Mariann called us “to bring some good out of the nightmare we’ve been in, to wrench grace from unspeakable tragedy.” That is exactly what your ministry has done, and I invite you to join us as we shift from daily physical presence to the next phase of our collective witness.
While the daily demonstrations may wind down, our work as a people of faith does not. We are now called to transition from demonstration to concrete action for change, including within our own hearts and communities. We at St. John’s are committed to leading a process of racial healing as we discern how we as Christians can be agents of hope and healing at a time of division, hate, and injustice. I invite you to walk with us on that journey. If you would like to receive updates from our parish, please visit our website. You are always welcome at St. John’s.
As we move forward, the voice of prayer must never be silent. I invite you to offer continued presence through prayer by lifting your voice in the Collect for Social Justice, asking:
Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Let us move forward together, continuing to live out Christ’s love by working for justice, equality, and peace. Thank you again for your witness.
With prayers for healing,
Rob+
O God of every nation,
     of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation
     with your almighty hand.
Where hate and fear divide us
     and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us,
     and heal our strife-torn world.
Keep bright in us the vision
     of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division
     give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious
     when truth and justice reign,
and Christ shall rule victorious
     o’er all the world’s domain.
-From “O God Of Every Nation” by William W. Reid, Jr.

June 6, 2020 | 5:29 p.m.

Join us Sunday at 11:00 a.m. – Ministry of Presence

Dear Friends,

We at St. John’s are so moved by the volunteers from across the Diocese who continue to help us offer a visible presence of God’s love in action for justice.

Please join us Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. in front of St. John’s for morning prayers for peace and justice. We are honored that Canon to the Ordinary, Rev. Paula Clark has agreed to lead us in prayer as we ask God’s blessing on those demonstrating against injustice. We will remain in front of the church in witness through the early afternoon, offering prayer at regular intervals.

All volunteers should wear masks and maintain social distancing. We also recommend everyone bring water, sunscreen, and to fully charge your phones beforehand. Clergy are encouraged to wear collars. We also invite you make a sign you can hold in solidarity with those demonstrating.

We welcome donations of water or non-perishable snacks, but donations are not required. Your presence and prayers are the most powerful witness we can offer in support of justice, love, and healing.

I want to thank Rev. Glenna Huber from Church of the Epiphany for joining us this morning to pray on the steps of St. John’s. For those of you who were unable to be there in person, I invite you to join by watching here.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Clayton McCleskey at 214-673-1731 or cmccleskey@gmail.com.

I hope you can join us tomorrow in front of St. John’s to offer prayer, solidarity, and witness.

With prayers for peace,
Rob +

For the healing of the nations,
Lord, we pray with one accord;
for a just and equal sharing
of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love in action
help us rise and pledge our word.

Lead your people into freedom,
from despair your world release,
that, redeemed from war and hatred,
all may come and go in peace.
Show us how, through care and goodness,
fear will die and hope increase.

-From For the Healing of the Nations by Fred Kaan

June 5, 2020 | 10:06 p.m.

Images from the Plaza

Dear St. John’s Community,

This morning was yet another memorable day. As you may have read in the news, the Mayor decided to name the block of 16th St. above H St. as “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” She also had the entire two blocks between Eye and H painted with yellow lettering. I arrived while the painting was still happening, and upbeat music was blaring from speakers set up by the city between St. John’s and AFL-CIO. It was positively celebratory. What made it an even more personally moving experience for me was the gathering of black pastors, along with a number of rabbis, all gathered in front of St. John’s, and every person I encountered looked me in the eye and thanked me for what St. John’s has been doing to gracefully and steadily witness at this time. Our daily presence is being noticed. They told me that they are standing with us, too.

Below are some pictures from the day, including the afternoon prayer and presence we offered, this time led by Rev. Savannah!

God’s peace,
Rob+

June 5, 2020 | 7:17 p.m.

Ministry of Presence Update – Saturday & Sunday

Dear Volunteers,
On behalf of St. John’s, I invite you to join us this weekend as we continue to offer our prayer and presence as a witness to Jesus’ Way of Love.
We will gather Saturday and Sunday mornings at 11:00 a.m. in front of St. John’s for morning prayers for peace and justice. Please join us as we ask God to bless the demonstrations taking place throughout our city and country. After opening prayers each morning, we intend to remain in front of St. John’s as a visible presence into the afternoon.
All volunteers should wear masks and maintain social distancing. We also recommend everyone bring water, sunscreen, and to fully charge your phones beforehand. Clergy are encouraged to wear collars. We invite those who are able to make a sign you can hold to show support.
We welcome donations of water to distribute throughout the day, but donations are not required. Your presence and prayers are the most powerful witness we can offer in support of justice, love, and healing.
Given the projections of the crowd size anticipated for Saturday, our plans could change with short notice. Please check the St. John’s Facebook page for updates. If you have any questions, please reach out to Clayton McCleskey at 214-673-1731 or cmccleskey@gmail.com.
I look forward to joining with you as we demonstrate the love of God in action through our prayers, witness, and solidarity.
With hope,
Rob +
Rector
O God of every nation,
     of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation
     with your almighty hand.
Where hate and fear divide us
     and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us,
     and heal our strife-torn world.
Keep bright in us the vision
     of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division
     give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious
     when truth and justice reign,
and Christ shall rule victorious
     o’er all the world’s domain.
-From “O God Of Every Nation” by William W. Reid, Jr.

June 5, 2020 | 2:00 p.m.

Ministry of Presence Update
Dear Ministry of Presence Volunteers,
We plan to gather again today at 16th and H Streets — on what Mayor Bowser has now named Black Lives Matter Plaza — starting at 3:00 p.m. to offer peaceful, prayerful presence in support of justice and healing in our country.
St. John’s Deacon for Ministries to Children, Youth, and Families Rev. Savannah Ponder will lead a prayer vigil at 3:30 p.m., and we will then pray on the steps of the church every thirty minutes until at least 6:00 p.m., weather permitting. For those who are not able to join in person, we plan to go live on St. John’s Facebook page during the vigil, so do join us in prayer virtually.
We ask all volunteers to wear face masks and maintain social distance. We also encourage everyone to bring sunscreen, water, hand sanitizer, and to fully charge your phone before coming. As rain is in the forecast, you might also bring rain gear . If you have the ability to make a sign that shows our solidarity, feel free to make one to carry.
We welcome donations of water to distribute, but volunteers are not required to bring anything. The most powerful support we can offer is the ministry of our presence, witness, and prayer. Note: we are unable to store anything at the church.
The situation remains fluid, so please keep an eye on the St. John’s Facebook page for updates. If for some reason we are unable to access the space in front of the church, we plan to move to 16th and I Streets.
We do plan to be present this weekend, and will be sending out an update soon. Thank you for your continued support for this ministry as we witness to Jesus’ Way of Love.
If you have questions, please contact Clayton McCleskey at 214-673-1731 or cmccleskey@gmail.com .
With prayers for peace and justice,
Rob +
Rector
O God of every nation,
     of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation
     with your almighty hand.
Where hate and fear divide us
     and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us,
     and heal our strife-torn world.
Keep bright in us the vision
     of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division
     give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious
     when truth and justice reign,
and Christ shall rule victorious
     o’er all the world’s domain.
-From “O God Of Every Nation” by William W. Reid, Jr.

June 5, 2020 | 9:35 a.m.

Special Announcement – Event this Morning

Dear St. John’s Community,

Mayor Bowser’s office has alerted us to a special surprise that she will announce at 16th and H St. in front of the church today, Friday, June 5th at 11:00 a.m.

All are invited. I will say a few words at the event. It is expected to last only 30 minutes.

If you choose to attend, please wear a face mask and be mindful of physical distancing.

God’s peace,
Rob+

June 4, 2020 | 4:00 p.m.

Dear Friends in Christ,
Thank you for your ministry and support as we continue to demonstrate solidarity and witness for racial justice, equality, and Christ’s love.
I invite you to gather with St. John’s and volunteers from across the Diocese today in front of St John’s to offer support and prayer for those demonstrating for racial equality and against injustice. We are gathering now, and plan to maintain our presence into the evening.
We ask everyone to please wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and bring hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and water. Clergy are encouraged to wear a collar. I’d also suggest you fully charge your phone before coming.
If you are able, we welcome donations of water that we can hand out in support of our allies. Please note we are unable to store anything at the church, so all supplies need to be distributed day-of.
Please feel free to come and stay for whatever time you are able — we are thankful for whatever presence you can offer. For those who are unable to be present in person, your presence will be felt by your prayers for healing, unity, and justice in our country.
We plan to gather again tomorrow in front of the church at 3:00 p.m. to minister through our presence, with a prayer vigil scheduled for 3:30 p.m. As we have seen, access to the church can be blocked with little notice. If that happens, we intend to move to the corner of 16th and I Street, NW. Thank you for your flexibility as we adapt to an ever-shifting situation.
We will send out an update with details for our ministry plans this weekend in the coming days.
If you have any questions, please reach out to Clayton McCleskey at 214-673-1731 or cmccleskey@gmail.com.
On behalf of St. John’s, I thank you for your witness.
Every Blessing,
Rob+
Rector
O God of every nation,
     of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation
     with your almighty hand.
Where hate and fear divide us
     and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us,
     and heal our strife-torn world.
Keep bright in us the vision
     of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division
     give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious
     when truth and justice reign,
and Christ shall rule victorious
     o’er all the world’s domain.
-From “O God Of Every Nation” by William W. Reid, Jr.

June 3, 2020 | 9:21 p.m.

Some Images from Today

Dear St. John’s Community,
Today we saw the perimeter expand to beyond St. John’s, which is guarded with a full line of shielded personnel. I went in briefly within the perimeter, and being on our campus was a chilling experience that is hard to describe.
At 3:30 p.m., we joined with an interfaith gathering for a prayer vigil. There were many priests and lay people that I recognized from across the diocese. The bishop and I spoke, along with others. It was a difficult event and did not go as planned, due at least in part to the tight crowd who were all close up to the perimeter set up across 16th Street.
The protest was peaceful and passionate. I will share some photos below.
I wish you all a safe and restful night.
God’s peace,
Rob+
(photos courtesy of Andrew Clarke, John More, and Jon Rania)

June 3, 2020 | 1:56 p.m.

Ministry of Presence Update – Vigil Today

Dear Friends in Christ,

Thank you for volunteering to join St. John’s ministry of presence as we join in solidarity to witness Jesus’ Way of Love by standing for justice, peace, and equality -and against racism, violence, and hate.

I invite you to join Bishop Budde, me, and other faith leaders in front of St. John’s today at 3:30 p.m. for a solidarity prayer vigil. We plan to remain in front of the church to continue our ministry of presence until curfew this evening. The situation remains extremely fluid, so please keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates.

Due to the security situation, we are unable to store any supplies at the church. So we are not asking volunteers to bring water or food to distribute. The most powerful witness we can offer right now is our collective prayerful, peaceful presence. We do ask that all volunteers wear a mask and maintain social distance. We also encourage you to bring water for yourself, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer.

Going forward, we plan to gather daily at 3:30 p.m. for prayer in front of St. John’s, and then offer our solidarity and presence until curfew. On behalf of St. John’s, thank you for volunteering to join us in countering racism, inequality, and injustice by witnessing Christ’s love through presence and prayer.

If you have further questions, please contact ministry of presence volunteer Clayton McCleskey at 214-673-1731 or cmccleskey@gmail.com.

In Christ,
Rob Fisher
Rector

O God of every nation,
of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation
with your almighty hand.
Where hate and fear divide us
and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us,
and heal our strife-torn world.

Keep bright in us the vision
of days when war shall cease,
when hatred and division
give way to love and peace,
till dawns the morning glorious
when truth and justice reign,
and Christ shall rule victorious
o’er all the world’s domain.

-From “O God Of Every Nation” by William W. Reid, Jr.

June 1, 2020 | 12:00 noon

Dear Parishioners,

We are writing from the Parish House where we’ve been able to fully assess the damage from last night’s protests.
As we know many of you have already heard, there was a small fire in the parish house basement. Thankfully, it appears to have been contained to the nursery—though, as you might imagine there is smoke and water damage to other areas of the basement.
We’re very happy to report that the rest of the church and parish house is untouched except for some exterior graffiti, which the city’s graffiti team has already covered up.
Fire investigators are still working, but once they are done, we have a crew standing by to secure the buildings.
Please know how grateful we are for the support and messages we’ve received in the past days. Please continue to pray for our community and our country.
In peace,
Rev. Rob Fisher, Rector
Paul Barkett, Senior Warden
Jeff Hantson, Junior Warden

June 1, 2020 | 9:00 a.m.

Dear St. John’s Community,

It has been a difficult night. If you have not seen it yet in the national news, a fire was set to St. John’s nursery tonight, but I am happy to report that the fire is completely out. I have just returned home from the church, and it is 1:58 a.m. as I begin writing this note.

My family and I had in fact left town on Friday for what we hoped would be a long weekend of R&R. We were essentially camping, almost totally off the grid. This morning our plan was to drive to where there was cell reception and watch the Pentecost service together. However, word got to me that the protest activity was intense and growing, so we quickly changed plans and drove back here as fast as we could.

In the car I was in touch with the wardens and also Bishop Mariann, with whom we have begun plans for making St. John’s a place for offering a ministry of presence—against racism and for God’s healing and compassion in the days ahead. I hope that many of you will join in this. (Please contact help@stjohns-dc.org to join this effort!)

The protests that began peacefully grew to something more, and eventually a fire was lit in the nursery, in the basement of Ashburton House.

Like many of you perhaps, I had little access to information about how bad the fire was while it was happening. It felt horrible to see glimpses of smoke rising by the stairs to our entrance on national TV, and then to have it confirmed with an up-close video showing the flames in the basement.

Fortunately, it was in fact completely extinguished. I just assessed the damage as best I could, in the semi-dark and with a flashing, bleating alarm system that I could not figure out how to shut off. My ears are still ringing, and I am still coughing a bit from various fumes I inhaled. But I am happy to share with you that I could see no other real damage besides that one room, and quite a bit of graffiti and debris around the exterior of the church. Protestors easily could have done a lot worse to our buildings, but they chose not to do that. (The damage I saw to other nearby buildings illustrated this point.)

None of this changes our purpose to be an instrument for God’s work through all of this, and in fact now more than ever. I pray for our collective wisdom, grace, courage and compassion as we move forward into what God is calling us to do and be next.

To the many of you who have reached out in various ways—thank you!

Shalom,
Rob+

May 31, 2020 | 5:03 p.m.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Collect for Social Justice
The Book of Common Prayer, p. 823
Dear Parishioners,
We write to you with heavy, but hopeful hearts. Our community and our country are in anguish and unrest. And yet, we can see that thousands of people are lifting their voices and organizations are engaging in peaceful, meaningful action to ensure the life of George Floyd and countless others are not lost in vain. As Bishop Curry wrote, in the upcoming days and weeks, we will unite as a church community to follow the path of love and to channel this anguish into concrete, productive and powerful action.
Given the recent media coverage of the protests, you may be concerned about our beloved church and parish house. We are fortunate that the damage to the buildings is limited. There is some exterior graffiti, and the protective glass over one of the more modern stained-glass windows on the north side of the narthex has been broken (the stained glass itself is unharmed). Thankfully, there is no damage inside either of the buildings. This morning we secured, as best we could, our most valuable items.
As you know, today is Pentecost, one of the church’s primary feasts. If we had been in church, we would surely have sung Sweet, Sweet Spirit, a St. John’s favorite. You know the words: “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, and I know it’s the spirit of the Lord. Sweet holy spirit, sweet heavenly dove, stay right here with us, filling us with your love.” Hymn 120, Lift Every Voice and Sing, II. It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate prayer for the place in which we as a nation find ourselves.
We promise to keep you up to date on any developments over the coming days. When it is possible, we will repair the physical damage to our church. Please pray that our country can heal the wounds laid bare by the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd.
We are proud to be a church that welcomes all and champions the path of love.
In peace,
The Rev. Rob Fisher, Rector
Paul Barkett, Senior Warden
Jeff Hantson, Junior Warden

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