We celebrate God’s gift of diversity and value the wholeness made possible in community equally shared and shepherded by all. We welcome and affirm people of every gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation, who are also of every age, race, ethnicity, physical and mental ability, level of education and family structure and of every immigration, marital and social status and so much more. We acknowledge that we live in a world of profound social, economic and political inequalities. As followers of Jesus, we commit ourselves to the pursuit of justice and pledge to stand in solidarity with all who are marginalized and oppressed.
Advancing Racial Justice
Reducing Poverty, Hunger, And Homelessness
Seeking LGBTQ+ Justice and Equality
Whether we take action as a congregation, as small groups, or as individuals, we work together to engage with the world’s needs through acts of justice and compassion. We invite you to be a part of this work with us.
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!”
From “Let America Be America Again,”
A poem by Langston Hughes, 1935
In the fall of 2020, Dumbarton joined with other churches in the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church and pledged to be an Antiracist Church. Re-endorsing the denomination’s long-standing principles, we joined in proclaiming the value of each person as a unique child of God and committed to the healing and wholeness of all persons. We recognize that the sin of racism has divided the Church throughout its history and continues to leave too many people of color painfully undervalued. We pledged to confront racism in the Church and society at large. We reaffirmed our commitment to live out our baptismal vows “to resist evil, injustice and oppression, in whatever form they present themselves.” To view the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference Video on Embodying Antiracism as well, click here.
Mission Statement: To implement its 2020 pledge, Dumbarton created a standing task force on antiracism to fulfill this mission:
We commit to being an antiracist church linking arms with others who are engaged in reflection and action to dismantle racism:
**Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of the world as a large house” in which “we must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”
In the fall of 2022, DUMC’s governing church council approved the task force’s plans to undertake a number of anti-racist initiatives, beginning with a comprehensive, congregation-wide audit of the church’s worship services, governing structure and policies, institutional culture, and business practices. For more, see our proposed Framework for DUMC Antiracism Work for 2023 here
In response to a white man’s horrific May 14, 2022 premeditated murder of eleven African-Americans in a Buffalo, NY grocery store, Dumbarton condemned the “Christian Nationalism” ideology he espoused. Read Dumbarton’s Statement and Action Commitments denouncing “Christian Nationalism” and Racist Violence here.
For those interested in fighting this malignant pseudo-religious ideology, there are many excellent resources for deconstructing “Christian Nationalism.” We particularly recommend Christians Against Christian Nationalism, articles in the publication UM Insight, and Organize All of Us.
Dumbarton repents that for generations after our founding, we treated our African-American members as second-class citizens. We made them unwelcome by preventing them from participating fully in the life of the church and relegating them to sitting in the balcony each Sunday. Rightly offended, many Black members split off to form Mount Zion Church in 1816, although their minister remained under Dumbarton’s white supervision until 1855. We now rejoice that Mt. Zion overcame our and other white Americans’ bigotry to become the oldest predominantly-Black United Methodist Church in Washington. For more on Mt. Zion’s history, click here to go to its web page on this subject.
From 1816 to the 1860’s, both Mt. Zion and Dumbarton continued to bury their dead in the same cemetery, but it took another 150 years and a financial crisis for the cemetery to bring the two churches closer to a mutually respectful relationship. Researching their cemetery’s history, both churches came together to push for the cemetery, along with the adjoining Female Union Band Society cemetery, to be declared a national historic site. Both churches eventually managed to survive their respective financial crises, and the cemeteries are now recognized as an important stop on the Underground Railroad for enslaved Americans escaping to freedom. For this part of Dumbarton’s more recent history, click here.
As part of Mt. Zion’s 200th Homecoming Celebration, DUMC’s then-pastor Rev. Mary Kay Totty read a letter to the members of Mt. Zion Church, acknowledging and repenting of our racist actions. You can read that letter here. But DUMC also recognizes that to be genuine, our repentance cannot be just about Mt. Zion, cannot be just in words, and cannot be just a one-time thing. We must remain alert to the many and evolving ways that the social, cultural, economic, legal, and political systems we live in perpetuate racially unjust outcomes, and we must remember our history, recall our commitments, and take actions of repentance against these outcomes on an ongoing basis.
For believers of all faiths seeking to fight racism better, the librarian of Foundry United Methodist Church has compiled an extensive resource list which Foundry has graciously offered to anyone who would like to use it or promote it on social media. We cannot thank them enough! To download this comprehensive resource list, entitled “Journey to Racial Justice,” click here.
There will come a time when Americans will realize that the only thing wrong with Black people is that they think something is wrong with Black people. There will come a time when racist ideas will no longer obstruct us from seeing the complete and utter abnormality of racial disparities. There will come a time when we will love humanity, when we will gain the courage to fight for an equitable society for our beloved humanity, knowing intelligently that when we fight for humanity, we are fighting for ourselves.
Dumbarton supports a just peace for the people of Palestine/Israel, working primarily through the connection of many of our members with United Methodist Kairos Response
At the 2023 session of the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference, a number of Dumbarton members sponsored a resolution noting the abhorrent actions of the current Israeli government that perpetuate violence and the oppression of Palestinians. Click here to read the full resolution, “Identifying and Opposing Apartheid in the Holy Land, and its calls for action.
Local Social Justice: Dumbartonians participate in these and other programs serving the local area and advocating for systemic reform
A joint effort of many Georgetown churches, a synagogue and other organizations, GMC reaches out to unhoused persons in Georgetown. At 1041 Wisconsin Ave. NW, the Center allows people to shower, do laundry, pick up mail, and use the computer/coffee room. Among other things, Dumbarton provides meals for two weeks in the winter. Two Dumbarton members sit on the board, and the pastor and at least one Dumbartonian walk Georgetown neighborhoods to visit with the unhoused one afternoon a week.
Dumbarton is one of the founding churches of WIN, a multiracial, nonpartisan District-wide network of more than 50 churches, community groups, labor unions, and other organizations. WIN is committed to training and developing neighborhood leaders, addressing community issues, and holding D.C. elected officials and corporate interests accountable. Over the years, WIN has built affordable housing, started after-school programs and promoted jobs for D.C. residents on D.C.-funded projects.here
Where We Stand
As a Reconciling Congregation, Dumbarton welcomes all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA, or LGBTQ+) people and allies as visitors and members. In 1987, Dumbarton was one of the first churches in the Washington DC area to become a Reconciling Congregation, and every year we reaffirm our calling to be a fully inclusive church.
Since 1984, Dumbarton members have published popular introductory books on sexuality and gender, including And God Loves Each One and Dios nos ama por igual (on sexual orientation), Made in God’s Image (on gender diversity), and All God’s Children (on talking with young children about sexuality and gender differences). These books are currently out of print, but a few copies are available. Contact the church office at 202-333-7212 for more information.
A 2019 Special Session of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference voted to retain policies barring the ordination of openly gay LGBTQ seminarians and prohibiting ordained clergy from officiating at same-sex weddings. GC2019 also, among other things, approved a “disaffiliation plan” with guidelines for congregations wanting to leave the Church “for reasons of conscience” regarding issues of human sexuality.
In North America, many congregations are in the process of deciding whether to disaffiliate or stay in the denomination and keep fighting its homophobic policies. Dumbarton’s congregation has chosen to stay and fight.
To help us make this decision, we also developed Labyrinthing Together as a film resource. For other United Methodist individuals, groups, and congregations grappling with LGBTQ+ justice issues in the wake of the 2019 General Conference, we hope it might help to broaden their perspectives as they prayerfully discern a way forward. Drawn from a series of 2020 online forums, the video weaves together perspectives from:
to highlight increasingly complex perspectives on interdependent justice issues facing the church.
Designed to be exploratory rather than prescriptive, Labyrinthing Together can be viewed in its entirety or in shorter sections devoted to particular issues. Our study guide download can also serve as an aid for personal reflection or group discussion.
Every year in February we observe Reconciling Sunday, a festive worship celebration, followed by a pancake breakfast (for Mardi Gras) in the social hall. Dumbarton also hosts a table at the D.C.’s Capital Pride Festival in June.
Dumbarton was the first United Methodist congregation in Washington, D.C, to pledge to honor and celebrate same-sex weddings after they were legalized by the District on March 3, 2010. The pastor and a number of other ordained clergy affiliated with Dumbarton are available to conduct weddings for any and all couples.
• “The Reconciling Congregation is an island of hospitality for many people who otherwise find themselves unwelcome in the United Methodist Church.”
• “Having been members of a Reconciling Congregation, we can’t imagine participating in one that is not.”
• “It pleases us no end that our son is honest with himself, with us, and with his world, and that he lovingly and graciously accepts and affirms who he is.”
• “Being part of a Reconciling Congregation allows me to serve Christ with honesty and dignity.”
• “When I first moved to Washington DC in 1990, I wanted to find a Reconciling Church. There were only two at the time. I joined Dumbarton and never looked back!”
• “There is so much trust, love, acceptance, and positive energy in this congregation—we can’t imagine worshipping anywhere else!”
• “I’d been excluding people without even knowing it. I’m so glad that all of that opened up for me.”
• “Several same-sex couples are some of the best parents we know.”
Dumbarton supports the work of Just Neighbors, an affiliate of the Immigration Law and Justice Network, and encourages others to do so as well.
Just Neighbors is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to serving and supporting the immigrant community of DC, Maryland, and Virginia. It fosters mutual understanding between immigrants and the larger community they live in.
Mission: To provide high-quality immigration legal services to low-income immigrants, asylees and refugees in DC, Maryland, and Virginia; and to build community among clients, staff, volunteers, and the larger society through education, advocacy, and volunteerism.
Vision: All immigrants in DC, Maryland, and Virginia are able to live with dignity and full membership in the community.
We commend to you these resources provided by the BWAC.