Church Parking and History

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1957ChurchMapI hope that by looking at old documents regarding the history of the neighborhood, I can dispel some bad histories or myths that get told to gobble up some present day gain. A neighbor and fellow Christian presented two articles regarding parking and churches for discussion. One being the recent Atlantic "A Separation of Church and Parking", the other "Parking conflicts prompting churches to flee D.C." from the Examiner. The bad history, I believe, is the idea a majority of worshipers lived in walking distance of their churches.
It is a multipage document, and I didn't copy all the pages of the Church Survey, Northwest Urban Renewal Area, from 1957 (PDF). If you're at the Yale library you can borrow a complete copy. But I did get a few important pages. If you go to page 5, of the 42 churches reporting in the NW Urban Renewal area (see map), only 14 had 40% or more of their membership in the renewal area in 1957. Yes, that is 56 years ago, but as present day churches grousing about parking dredge up members who've been attending for 40-50 years as an excuse to ignore parking violations of members of undetermined tenure, I say it is fair to look at membership patterns from way back then.
In the Examiner article Lincoln Congregational Temple is mentioned as one of the complaining churches. On page 39 of the 1957 survey only 25% of its congregants lived in the area and supposedly of that, most were elderly, people who should be by now at home with Jesus. With the Savior and not driving and trying to find a parking spot. In '57 a majority of their membership where up in Brookland and over in Kenilworth. It is possible that the church recruited a ton of members in the Shaw area since the survey, who then moved out of the area and come back on Sundays.... However, I don't think that gives anyone a moral right to a parking spot, no more than having the right to use the toilet in your first apartment years after you turned in the keys and gotten your deposit back.
Shaw is chock full of churches, and some of them have figured out how to worship without double parking and the like. Sadly it is the ones who haven't seriously looked for solutions, other than breaking the law, who seem to scream the loudest. It is embarrassing as a believer, when some church leaders try to make parking a theological issue. Parking ain't in the Bible.

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