Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Image courtesy NAD Archives Statistics and Records

What was the Peoples Church in Washington, D.C.?

Story by Shannon Kelly

‘The People’s Church’ | 2105 Tenth St., NW, Washington, D.C.

Following the split of the Washington church congregation, Adventism’s foremost Black evangelist, Lewis C. Sheafe, preached a series of evangelistic meetings in 1902, held in a tent on 16th and R. Streets, NW. Sheafe empowered Black Adventists in D.C., forming “The People’s Church.” The congregation grew and formally organized itself in December of 1903, purchasing a three-story brick building, originally built in 1896. 

Located at 2105 Tenth St., NW in downtown D.C., the church could seat 250 people. The lower floor had space for a printing office and a kitchen for cooking schools. Sheafe was also part of the Niagara Movement, which led to the formation of the NAACP in 1909 and for voting rights. 


The original building of the church now sits in a highly gentrified, expensive neighborhood and is home to million-dollar condominiums. The stained glass, once part of the church, is still seen in some of the windows.

Not far from the former “People’s Church” and Freedman’s Hospital, is a spot near Howard University and Georgia Avenue, where Adventist women formed the Committee for the Advancement of Worldwide Work Among Colored Adventists—where they discussed how Black people would have full representation in the Adventist Church. These conversations, combined with Lucy Byard’s story, were the catalysts for the formation of regional conferences. 

Dodson’s Bookshop on Georgia Avenue (which has since been torn down) was the first site of the Allegheny Conference. 


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