National City Christian Church

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National City Christian Church
National City Christian Church DC.JPG
Location5 Thomas Circle, NW
Washington, D.C.
AreaGreater Fourteenth Street Historic District
ArchitectJohn Russell Pope
Architectural styleNeoclassical
Part ofGreater Fourteenth Street Historic District (#94000992[1])
Added to NRHPNovember 9, 1994

National City Christian Church, located on Thomas Circle in Washington, D.C., is the national church of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (often abbreviated as the "Disciples of Christ" or "Christian Church").[2] The denomination grew out of the Stone-Campbell Movement founded by Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell of Pennsylvania and West Virginia (then Virginia) and Barton W. Stone of Kentucky.


The congregation that eventually became the National City Christian Church was organized in 1843. James Turner Barclay (1807-1874), a physician and pioneering Stone-Campbell Movement missionary, helped to organize the congregation.[3]

In the 1950s and 1960s, the church had a congregation of some 800 regular Sunday worshipers. Attendance declined over time, however; in 2011, Sunday attendance was about 125, with mostly older congregants.[4]

In 2004, the church's senior pastor, the Rev. Alvin O. Jackson, resigned following a heated acrimonious dispute. The ouster of Jackson followed the resignation or firings of some two dozen church staffers, and the development of a deep intra-congregational dispute.[5] Jackson was replaced as senior pastor by the Rev. Stephen Gentle, "a soft-spoken pastor of a Florida church."[4]

Subsequently, the church's chief financial officer, Jason Todd Reynolds, was discovered to have embezzled $850,000 in church funds from 2003 to 2008. In 2011, Reynolds was convicted of 12 fraud-related charges.[4][6] He was sentenced to eight years in prison.[4][7] The losses from Reynolds' embezzlement scheme caused serious damage to the church's financial health.[4]

The 2011 Virginia earthquake caused structural damage to the church building, causing financial troubles for the church.[4]

Architecture and surroundings[edit]

The neoclassical church building was designed by John Russell Pope and completed in 1930.[8] The church is very large in size[9] and has a "monumental character" typical of Pope's style and seen in his other works, such as the Jefferson Memorial.[10] The church's design was partly influenced by James Gibbs' St Martin-in-the-Fields church, built at Trafalgar Square, London, in the early 18th century.[11] The building is built of Indiana limestone.[12] Scholar Thomas A. Tweed writes that the building's facade, "high on a terrace overlooking Thomas Circle, a prominent location in the city ... demands the attention of motorists and pedestrians."[13]

The church "features stained glass windows commemorating the two presidents associated with the denomination, James Garfield and Lyndon Johnson."[14]

The church is a contributing property to the Greater Fourteenth Street Historic District.[15]

Across the street from the National City Christian Church is the Luther Place Memorial Church, which is also a historic church. Luther Place Memorial Church's neo-Gothic style sharply contrasts with the Neoclassical style of National City Christian Church.[16] Other historic churches nearby include the Universalist National Memorial Church.[17]

Notable members[edit]

Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, occasionally attended National City Christian Church during his time as president. His state funeral was held here in 1973.[18]

James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, was a member of National City Christian Church in one of its previous buildings.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ "Mission Statement of National City Christian Church". Official Webpage. National City Christian Church. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  3. ^ Paul M. Blowers, "Barclay, James Turner" in The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (ed. Douglas A. Foster et al.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), p. 69.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Del Quentin Wilber, In crisis, National City Christian Church’s members find strength, Washington Post (November 22, 2011).
  5. ^ Bill Broadway, Local Divisions lead National City Christian Church pastor to resign, Washington Post (November 4, 2004).
  6. ^ Maryland Man Convicted of Embezzling More Than $500,000 From District of Columbia Church (press release), United States Department of Justice (August 16, 2011).
  7. ^ Del Quentin Wilber, Prison for former church CFO who stole $850,000, Washington Post (November 9, 2011).
  8. ^ G. Martin Moeller Jr., AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, Part 3 (4th ed.: Johns Hopkins University Press/Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 2006), p. 271.
  9. ^ Moeller, p. 271.
  10. ^ Thomas A. Tweed, America's Church: The National Shrine and Catholic Presence in the Nation's Capital (Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 337.
  11. ^ Moeller, p. 271; see also Pamela Scott & Antoinette Joséphine Lee, Buildings of the District of Columbia (Society of Architectural Historians/Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 295.
  12. ^ Tweed, p. 337.
  13. ^ Tweed, p. 337.
  14. ^ Peter W. Williams, Houses of God: Region, Religion, and Architecture in the United States (University of Illinois Press, 1997), p. 76.
  15. ^ National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Greater Fourteenth Street Historic District (boundary increase); Fourteenth Street Historic District (name change), National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior; see also [Greater Fourteenth Street Historic District map], District of Columbia Office of Planning (April 3, 2016).
  16. ^ Moeller, p. 270.
  17. ^ Tweed, p. 337.
  18. ^
    • Ronald B. Flowers, "Disciples in the White House" in Restoring the First-century Church in the Twenty-first Century: Essays on the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement (eds. Warren Lewis & Hans Rollmann: Wipf and Stock, 2005), p. 174.
    • David Lynn Holmes, The Faiths of the Postwar Presidents: From Truman to Obama (University of Georgia Press, 2012), p. 89.
  19. ^ Flowers, p. 170.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°54′22″N 77°01′55″W / 38.905989°N 77.032045°W / 38.905989; -77.032045