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Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church, Camp Springs, Maryland: Breakthrough Congregation

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Rev. John Crestwell and members of the ministry staff and leadership team of Davies Memorial Church came to the stage to introduce their video segment. Leaders of the congregation's earth-based ministry program, the Beacon house program, the congregation's board chair, stewardship committee chair, endowment committee chair, and ministry staff, were present on the stage.

The video, which offered a tour of Davies and its life, shared the story of how Crestwell came to the church more than five years ago as a seminarian. He met then-minister Rev. Don Cameron, and they shared a common vision to attract more African Americans to Unitarian Universalism. Crestwell moved from member to co-minister and then to senior minister and, with the help of the Joseph Priestley District, saw "a dream come true." Currently four out of ten friends and members in the congregation are people of color. These people "accepted the challenge of A. Powell Davies to make sure that Sunday worship time is not the most segregated hour of the week," Crestwell said.

The video indicated that changes have not been without stress, but that many positive results have been achieved. The church, said one member, "is like a family." Another member said that she "came back after long absence since I heard about exciting things going on." A general sense of welcome and excitement exists at Davies, said the members, and they were pleased that an African American minister was serving the congregation.

Members reflected on the "bulldogs who made it successful, those willing to take risks, not willing to let risk avoidance get in the way. Those lay leaders acted as bulldogs to take the initial heat so that John [Crestwell] didn't need to." The congregation's new marketing and growth program was also highlighted, along with the congregation's outreach to potential new members.

The congregation has engaged in A Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity (ADORE), facilitated by Paula Cole Jones, a member of All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington, DC, and a Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) JUUST Change consultant.

The picture of this congregation was of a committed multi-racial church, growing and extending its influence in the wider community.

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Last updated on Monday, September 5, 2011.

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