Church of the Holy City, Washington, DC

As the pastor of this church, I am often asked questions about what we do and what we believe. Here are some answers to common questions. These are my quick answers. If you have other questions you can email me at richtafel@gmail.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, we hold an evening service every Sunday at 5:00PM. You are invited.
We have a beautiful sanctuary, so you’ll like notice that first.

We are in start up mode, so you can expect a small group.

The service usually runs about 45 minutes.

We have classic piano accompanying the service for meditation. The primary parts of the service include the sermon and the prayer. We use the lectionary to pick which Scripture to use each week. The minister preaches for about ten minutes and then engages the group for any follow up questions or discussion. The is a time for silent prayer and we light candles for community prayers. After the service we gather in the parlor for a beverage and conversation.

This church is part of the Swedenborgian Church of North America.
The Swedenborgians are Christian denomination that believes that our purpose here on earth is to live a life of love toward others.

We engage in prayer and personal transformation to constantly grow spiritually.

We believe it is not what you say that matters, it is what you do.

We believe in Jesus as God coming into the world to teach us how to live that life.
We believe the Bible has a deeper meaning than just a literal interpretation.
We believe we are spiritual beings in earthly bodies.
We believe that to the extent you love others, that’s the degree to which you love God.We believe that all faith paths are good.
We believe you can’t judge another person’s faith path.

Here’s one version we use:

We worship God, our loving Lord, who made us; who taught us in the Bible that all people are God’s children, and that we should love God and each other. When people turned away from God, He loved us enough to be born in our world as a baby. He grew up and lived the life He wants us to live. Risen now, He still is with us, our Lord and our God, helping us to grow more like Him. This is why we know Him as our Savior. We are His disciples when we love Him, and show our love for Him by being kind and helpful to one another. 

Yes, we believe it is inspired and holds both literal and spiritual meaning.
Yes, we believe Jesus was God in the flesh coming to us to teach us the proper way
We don’t believe in the blood atonement, which teaches that God was angry at mankind and that required a human sacrifice through his Son.

We don’t believe that a physical second coming or rapture will destroy earth.

 

We believe a second coming has already occurred in a transformation of consciousness.

 

We don’t believe that only Christians go to heaven.

We don’t believe in a final judgment, but instead, believe that at death you transition to the community with whom you share the greatest love.

We believe that all faith paths are good. That’s one reason a Swedenborgian was the creator of the first World Parliament of religions. I serve as a member of the Christian Muslim dialogue through the National Council of Churches.

Again, we teach it is not what you say so much as as what you do that leads you to a heavenly community.

Yes, we were a pioneer in ordaining women in 1972. Our denomination is currently led by a female minister.
Spiritual individuals seeking to transform the world who develop a business plan and seek investment support to accomplish their vision. We seek to support these people. This is a new field.
We share our building with over ten other groups who need space for their spiritual needs. The most prominent is on Sunday morning, when we share our sanctuary with an Ethiopian Christian group. During the week, you’d find meditation, yoga and other support groups. If you are interested in gaining space in the building let us know–preference goes toward members.
Yes, we open our space to weddings. We have a fee for non-members and we can get you details to see if we have the available date.
Yes, we open our space to funeral. We have a fee for non-members and we can get you details to see if we have the available date.
Yes, we open our space to baptisms. In fact, we love them. We have no fees and these are performed during Sunday worship by our minister.
Yes, we have an ongoing book club. We also do dinners on important spiritual topics. Email me if you want to be invited.
We’re a growing group, so every new person is a big deal for us. You’re very welcome to join. At this time, we are building up our board of directors, which we call the church committee. Let me know of your interest and I can send a membership form and/or a board service form.
We accept members two ways; you can either send a letter of transfer from your current denomination stating you’d like to be a member with us as well. Or, you can go through a confirmation class with the pastor and join. You can also be baptized.
Yes, our pastor is trained through theological school in some spiritual counseling. He’s also trained in spiritual coaching. Coaching to members is free. Coaching for non members has a charge.
Here’s this summary from Wikipedia

Emanuel Swedenborg (born Emanuel Swedberg on 29 January 1688;[2] died 29 March 1772) was a Swedish scientist, philosophertheologian, revelator, and mystic.[3]He is best known for his book on the afterlifeHeaven and Hell (1758).[4][5]

Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. In 1741, at age 53, he entered into a spiritual phase in which he began to experience dreams and visions, beginning on Easter weekend of 6 April 1744. This culminated in a ‘spiritual awakening’, in which he received revelation that he was appointed by the Lord to write The Heavenly Doctrine to reform Christianity.[6] According tote Heavenly Doctrine the Lord had opened Swedenborg’s spiritual eyes, so that from then on he could freely visit heaven and hell and talk with angels, demons and other spirits; and the Last Judgment had already occurred, in 1757.[7]

For the remaining 28 years of his life, Swedenborg wrote eighteen published theological works, and several more which were unpublished. He termed himself a “Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ” in True Christian Religion,[8] a work he published himself.[9] Some followers of The Heavenly Doctrine believe that, of his theological works, only those which Swedenborg published himself are fully divinely inspired.[10]

Our church was founded by a group of Swedenborgians back in the mid-1800’s. The  original church was where the Senate offices are now. After a fire the church bought land in DuPont Circle and created this building in 1896.
Emanuel Swedenborg never created a religion. But seekers in England formed a society to study his teachings. Eventually, they formed their own church which spread somewhat in Europe, but took off in the US. The churches were so influential in the US, that a Swedenborgian minister from Baltimore was asked by President Jefferson to address Congress. Johnny Appleseed was a Swedenborgian missionary. Andrew Carnegie grew up Swedenborgian and endowed church organs. Helen Keller was a follower of Swedenborg and wrote My Religion about her experience. Emerson and the transcendentalists were all impacted by Swedenborg’s teachings. The phrase “New Age” used to describe new religions in the US in the 1970’s came from a book written by a Swedenborgian minister. Daniel Burnham designed Chicago based on his Swedenborgian inspiration. The state of Michigan considered Swedenborg as the name of the capital. Ann Arbor was settled by Swedenborgians. The first homeopathic drugstore in the US was founded by Swedenborgians who dominate that movement.

Before he was a mystic, Swedenborg was a great scientist and his airplane drawings hang in the Smithsonian today.

Swedenborg is the most influential theologian you’ve probably never heard of.

Emanuel Swedenborg

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