In 1946, Army Chaplain Gordon Cosby came home from WWII convinced that the Gospel message was more than platitudes and rules. His call was to form a church to take seriously the teachings of Jesus. Seven men and women responded immediately. In 1950, with 19 members, they bought an old brown-stone building at 2025 Massachusetts Ave. where the church had its headquarters and a worship service until 2008, when Gordon retired from preaching.
In the 1960s, following the March on Selma, learning about the dire situation for children at Junior Village in DC., and a growing awareness of the poverty around the newly established Potter’s House in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, members of the church felt a strong call to be in community with the poor and disenfranchised people of DC. Many of the ministries were formed in the 1970s and 1980s to respond to this call.
In 1976, with 120 core members, the church intentionally divided into 6 (now 8) worshiping communities, each with its own call, leadership, and cluster of mission groups. The various ministries of Church of the Saviour have come out of these mission groups which are formed when two or more people are called to address a specific concern.
Many of these missions have become independent 501(c) (3) nonprofits with separate boards and staff in order to broaden their base of service. We estimate that the collective budgets of these independent ministries now total over $4 million.
How It Works
There are four tenets at Church of the Saviour that account for the incredible works of social justice which have blossomed over the past 70 years.
- Call: We believe that everyone is called to do something in our world by using God’s gifts to us. It is the church community’s job to help individuals find their calls and nurture them into being.
- Gifts: We believe that everyone has gifts and no one has all the gifts. The church community must help each person identify their gifts and help them find a place to use them. Gifts range from preaching to hospitality to organizational skills to humor. All gifts are welcome and needed.
- Inward/Outward Journey: Church of the Saviour ministries exist and are sustained because of a commitment to the inward/outward journey as an individual and as a called group. Daily Bible study, meditation and prayer are essential. Spiritual reports, weekly mission group meetings and working together make these mission groups the primary place where spiritual formation takes place.
- Community: Each worshiping community has its own flavor of music, word and sacrament, but all celebrate the inward/outward journey together as we claim our piece of God’s unfolding creation story. We must have a group of people equally committed to the faith journey who will encourage and hold us accountable. Although the missions may be hard, there is joy to be shared at the core.