Groundbreaking Celebrated for Southwest’s St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church

photo: Elaine Graves

Corey Katz, junior steward, Timothy A. Hamric, senior Construction Manager, KCM; and Pam Collins, senior steward, listen to the Rev. Martha Clark, pastor explain where the sanctuary, the community room, the kitchen and the Thurgood Marshall Library will be located in the new church's building which should be finished by mid-2016.

The construction of a new home for St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church began ceremonially with a groundbreaking service on Saturday, May 30 at the church’s old and new site at 6th and Maine Avenue, SW.

The Rev. Martha Clark, rector, along with church and southwest community members and others involved in the building’s design and construction gathered in the extraordinary heat of late May for the occasion. James P. Clark, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, principal with MTFA Architecture, attended along with Lisa Benjamin, senior managing director of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, real estate advisor for the project, and construction officials Glenn Klingerman, senior project manager with Scott Long Construction, and Timothy A. Hamric, senior construction manager of KCM.

The Rev. Martha Clark, standing at the site of the altar, marked an “X” (chi) in the ground, the symbol both of the cross and of the name of Christ, and became the first to break ground with a spade while saying,  “Architecturally, this building helps to give us an orientation and meaning to our life as a faith community.  Its long shape is a traditional symbol of the Church as Ship or Ark with its two large glass ‘sails’—a wonderful symbol to be on the waterfront.”

Pointing to the various directions within the church, she explained, “From our new second floor Sanctuary we will have a direct westward view of the Washington Monument.  Among other things, the monument stands as a symbol of power and  that reminds us as a community of faith we are always called to speak truth to power and to stand with those who are most marginalized from that power.  A little further south, we will see a beautiful view through trees and a park of the Washington Channel.  That reminds us we are part of a larger and good creation and that we are called to be caring stewards of our natural environment, to enjoy its beauty and to work to sustain it.

Rev. Martha continued, “At the other end of our building, facing east, will be our large community hall and kitchen on the first floor and above it will be the Thurgood Marshall Library.  From this vantage point, we open our doors and look out over the Southwest DC residential neighborhood, and we are reminded of the call to be a servant church, offering hospitality and welcome to all, feeding the hungry, and working for justice and peace in all aspects of our common life together.”