Sunday, March 7, 2010

Trip to DC - Day One

Mommy and Daddy spent last Sunday evening through Wednesday in Washington DC, representing the Florida Conference at the General Board of Church and Society's Young Clergy Capitol Hill Leadership Forum. We flew out of Orlando on Sunday afternoon (last day of February) and landed at Reagan National Airport about 8:30. After finding our luggage, we took the yellow line of the Metro from the airport to our hotel in Chinatown, the Red Roof Inn.

Monday morning we were up bright and early. We met for breakfast in the hotel restaurant at 7:30am. There were 55 young clergy from all across the nation gathered together, most under the age of 35. And we met our leader, the Rev. Clayton Childers who works at the General Board as the Director of Conference Relations. Following breakfast, we all took the Metro together from Chinatown to Union Station. Then it was only a few blocks to walk south and east to the United Methodist Building.

The United Methodist building is on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. It has been there since 1923 and is the only non-governmental building on the hill. The land was a gift from some Methodists - the Welch family who makes Welch's grape juice.

The view of the Capitol from the steps of the United Methodist Building.

The view of the Supreme Court and the Library of the Congress from the United Methodist Building.

Inside the lobby.

There are some 14 apartments that are part of the United Methodist building, designed for use by folks on the Hill. Some of the past residents have included Al Gore's mother and Newt Gingrich. We did some orientation stuff when we first got to the building and then we had chapel inside the historic Simpson Memorial Chapel. It is dedicated to Bishop Matthew Simpson of Illinois, who preached President Lincoln's funeral. This chapel hosts open worship every Wednesday afternoon at 12:10pm for anyone on the Hill who would like to attend.

The rest of the day was a blur of seminars. Before lunch as a big group we did a seminar with the Rev. Neal Christie, who is the Assistant General Secretary for Education and Leadership Formation. He talked to us about "Assessing Ministries, Values, Beliefs and Needs in the Conference." Then we met with Susan Burton who is on staff as a seminar designer for groups who come to visit and study at the General Board to discuss our "Constellation of Relationships."
Then we were split into six different groups to help mix us up and encourage us to mingle during lunch - they brought in Armand's Pizza for lunch which was wonderful!!!!

After lunch we met with John Hill, a former corporate lobbyist who now works at the General Board as the Director for Economic and Environmental Justice. He talked to us about the federal budget as a moral document and walked us through an exercise trying to decide how to apportion the budget! Then for the rest of the afternoon our six groups were combined into three and we rotated our way through three one-hour seminars with different board staff members: Biblical and Theological Perspectives on Healthcare Reform, Clergy as Agents of Change, and teaching the Social Principles. By the time 5:00pm rolled around, everyone was exhausted!!!! But our day was not yet over. We traveled by Metro out to the Adams Morgan neighborhood and walked about a mile to get to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner. Dinner was communal - a big bowl shaped table in the middle of four people. The seating was low footstools, but the tables still didn't come up to our knees! Much of what we ate was unidentifiable but good. Each table received a vegetarian combo and a meat combo. And there was no silverware - you unrolled this huge piece of spongy bread, pulled off chunks and scooped up the food out of the bowl.

After dinner was over we were on our own. We walked back to the Metro with a small group of folks by a different way, taking us through Dupont Circle. When we got back to Chinatown we decided to walk around a bit. Just around the corner from our Metro stop was the Verizon Center where the Washington Wizards play as well as a three story mall with a movie theater. We ended up getting some Haagen Dazs ice cream and heading back to our room to call it a night.

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