Established in 1802, this Baptist Church now worshiping in a sanctuary built in 1955, has a historic past and is at the heart of Embassy and Government offices on 16th Street, NW.
In the spectrum of Baptist worship it might be regarded as “High” Baptist with robed clergy and choir, and a high altar (yes, the information leaflet uses the word altar). On the Second Sunday of Advent the procession of choir and clergy also had one of the church families involved to light two of the purple advent candles. The selection of chorale music included “And the Glory” from Handel’s Messiah and we stood for the reading of the Gospel.
Sadly, though the liturgy was careful crafted and set out with congregational responses and choir verses after the readings, the “Communion” had only one line in the extensive liturgical leaflet and we descended from a rich bouquet of liturgical praise to “mere memorialism” in a hyper Zwinglian form that Zwingli, with his views of transsignification and his high place for the congregational participation around the table, would have hardly recognized.
Though the church claims this liturgical tradition and an ecumenical perspective the communion and great prayer of thanksgiving were perfunctory in the extreme. Sadly, the sense of eucharista was totally absent in an otherwise splendid service and the “dollies tea cup” of grape juice leaving a deep sense of disappointment.
How is it possible to construct good liturgical worship with a reading of the lectionary passages for the day and appear to care so little about the Eucharist which is set alongside the Word as revealing Christ to us as we praise God together? This is one of the deep conundrums of Baptist life today.