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16th Street’s Church of the Holy City to Present Free Concert

Sun., Dec. 6 (7pm): The Church of the Holy City (16th & Corcoran Sts., NW) will be presenting another in its “Music with the Angels” series. This month featuring winners of multiple piano competitions Michelle Richardson Faith Zùñiga performing works by Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninoff. A reception to meet the artists will follow.

For more information, call (202) 462-6734 or visit Admission is free, with suggested $10 contributions to the Tower Restoration Fund welcome. (For background on the tower restoration project, see, “Historic Dupont East Church Raising Funds to Restore its Landmark Tower,” InTowner, February 2011 issue pdf, page 1.

Effective this same day, December 6, Rev. Richard L. Tafel to become Minister of the Church of the Holy City, the National Swedenborgian Church

Church Committee Chair Malcolm Peck announced the appointment, noting “We’re looking forward to growing our community with the help of Rich’s leadership.”
The Swedenborgian faith is uniquely inclusive, believing that a person should live a life of love and seek to fulfill their greatest purpose with a vision of an infinitely loving God, whose warmth and light can deepen our inner life and give direction to our spiritual journey. The first Swedenborgian congregation in Washington, DC gathered in 1846 and built its church where the Senate Office Buildings now stand. The iconic English Gothic structure at 1611 16th Street, NW was dedicated in 1896, with the Dupont family as part of the original founders.

Reverend Tafel has achieved success in politic, faith and social entrepreneurship. Following graduation from Harvard Divinity School, he served as Assistant to the Minister of Harvard’s Memorial Church under the leadership of the Reverend Peter J. Gomes. Later he was ordained as a Swedenborgian minister and currently represents the denomination on the governing board of the National Council of Churches. For the past decade he has served as Chairman to Wayfarers Chapel in Los Angeles, a national monument to Emanuel Swedenborg designed by Lloyd Wright.

Tafel’s strong religious faith inspired his leadership in the arenas of social justice in the public policy. As founder of Log Cabin Republicans, Tafel was one of the earliest advocates for gay marriage. Through his work he played a major role in combating the AIDS crisis and in fighting for equal rights for gays. In 2003, he created his own strategy company offering leadership coaching to world changing leaders on important issues such as AIDS programs for Africa, civil rights programs in Latin America. In 2013, Reverend Tafel helped launch the nation’s first statewide social entrepreneur competitions with a focus on rebuilding Detroit. He is a regular guest contributor on the Melissa Harris Perry show on MSNBC.

Tafel has summed up this opportunity saying, “Church has gotten a bad reputation among the rising generation and often for good reason. We hope to build something new — a welcoming community of people inspired by their faith who are active in making much needed change in our world. We want to be a home for a next generation of spiritual entrepreneurs.” As he seeks to realize that goal, he cites his experience in bringing together parties with seemingly intractable differences toward positive change.

Chairman Peck noted, “Church of the Holy City is proud to have served as location where Helen Keller, a Swedenborgian, preached, challenging Christians to become active in changing the world. We look forward with excitement to the leadership of a pastor who shares that vision and provides his own uniquely relevant array of talents and experience to the challenge of fulfilling our mission.”