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3 D.C. churches were awarded preservation grants

Three D.C. congregations, including the oldest Black congregation in the District, have received six-figure grants to preserve their buildings.

The Lilly Endowment Inc .,, an Indiana-based charitable foundation, announced Thursday the grants for Washington National Cathedral, St. John’s Episcopal Church , and Mount Zion United Methodist Church, which is the oldest Black church to be found in Washington, D.C .

The Lilly Endowment said it was providing more than $2 million for 15 U.S. churches — including the three D.C. churches — as part of the National Fund for Sacred Places, a grant program for preserving houses of worship.

Mount Zion, organized 205 years ago and located in Georgetown, will receive $100,000 from the fund.

” I’m very grateful to the National Fund and just excited to have been a part this program,” said Mount Zion pastor, the Rev. Selena Johnson noted that the announcement was made on her birthday. “I’m grateful to all my team members for their hard work and enthusiasm about this whole process .”

Mount Zion hopes to raise a total of $200,000 for this phase of its renovation project, titled “A Safer, Greener Space,” Ms. Johnson said. This project will include the repair of safety railings on the balcony, the repair of the choir loft floors and the refurbishment and re-use of the rear steps.

” We’re working to make things more efficient and look at places that are dangerous and hazardous,” Johnson stated.

The grant will cover half of the project’s cost and Mount Zion will raise half with the help of a fundraising consultant. Volunteers from the congregation will also be involved.

Kevin Eckstrom, a spokesman for the Washington National Cathedral, said the Episcopal church will receive $250,000 from the grant program.

That money “will be paired with a $500,000 match that will be raised by the Cathedral,” Mr. Eckstrom said in an email. All funds will be used to continue earthquake repair. This grant will be used to repair the Cathedral nave on the south side (the long stretch facing the city). In particular, it will be used to repair a tall buttress that is directly above a handicapped-accessible entrance. This entrance was closed since the earthquake. The repair will allow us reopen it to parishioners and visitors who require ADA [disability].

St. John’s Episcopal Church , was set on fire last year by protestors who were angry at police brutality and racial inequalities that escalated to violence. The church will receive $100,000 of a $150,000 request to help restore its historic bell tower.

Other grant beneficiaries include

Amana Church Society, Middle Amana, IA

Arch Street United Methodist Church Philadelphia, PA

Calvary United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, PA

First Christian Church, Columbus, IN

First Indian Presbyterian Church Kamiah ID

First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA

Grace Episcopal Church , Newton Corner MA

Let Freedom Ring Foundation/First Baptist Church Williamsburg, VA

Sacred Heart Parish, El Paso, TX

St. Stephen United Methodist Church, Mesquite, TX

St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, NY

Tabernacle Baptist Church, Beaufort, SC

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