According to its motto, The Twelfth Street Christian Church is “a place of inspiration where you will discover something wonderful.” When it turned 100 recently, members celebrated the fact that their church has been inspiring people and helping in the community for an entire century.
The church marked 100 years of service with a Centennial Heritage Breakfast at the Sheraton hotel in Silver Spring, where members and supporters came out to honor the heritage and history of the church on the first day of Black History Month.
The Rev. Dr. Paul H. Saddler, pastor of the historic church, said the breakfast gave members a chance to celebrate those who paved the way for its success. He was accompanied by his wife and the church’s first lady, Judge Fern Flanagan Saddler.
“One of the reasons we are so excited about this is because we know our history, we know our founders, and we know we’re living the dream of our founders,” he said. “They strolled before us and did great work in establishing a church with a great reputation and now we’re living that. We thank our founders for where we are today.”
The centennial event was a joyous celebration. Well-dressed men and women shared memories of good times associated with the historic church. The sound of laughter filled the air as participants dined on a hearty breakfast and hot coffee. A live band called Sideshow Project amped up the mood playing music from genres ranging from gospel to jazz and blues to R&B.
“We are working to have a fun Christian experience, still respectful, but blending the traditions of our music from an African experience,” said church Moderator Melva Major Meade, who oversees church operations.
Twelfth Street Christian Church, located at 1812 12th St. NW, has a distinguished history serving the community and its members. The church is the oldest African American Disciples of Christ congregation in the greater D.C Metropolitan area.
On the first Sunday in August 1914, the Rev. Earnest Osborne held a morning worship that was so inspirational that he influenced the start of a Christian mission. Two months later, Elder W.C Smith was selected to lead the new congregation. The goal was simple: for the community to come together and worship Christ.
Congregation Elder Charles Callis said the church has always been committed to being a port in the storm for its members and the community.
“So often at the times when you are most alone, when the crowd has walked off and left you, that’s when your church steps in and brings you the spiritual love that is so important,” Callis said.
Known for its friendliness and hospitality throughout the century of its existence,the Twelfth Street Christian Church has progressed in its outreach to the community, church officials said. The event included a silent auction and raffles which raised approximately $2,000 for projects to help the community.
“The church is more inviting now. They really look to try and get new members and go out into the community to do more fellowship,” said member Paul Ransom, whose wife, Mya, was born into the church.
Event Chair Muriel Stone Nola called the congregation “warm and loving…from the pastor to the down to the youngest child.” Members said they were committed to being good Christian neighbors.
“Twelfth Street Christian Church lives up to its motto and reputation,” Nola said. “It is a friendly environment where all are welcomed. Its history, legacy, and community role will continue to flourish...for years to come.”