How Christians Can Be Resilient in Challenging Times?
This Sunday's Sermon:

How Christians Can Be
Resilient in Challenging Times?

Transcript of Last Sunday's Sermon below
Uprooting Racism
Zoom Video Call in at 5pm EST
I know it has been a very tough week for everyone. I'm looking forward to our time together Sunday.

Many of you have texted, called and emailed as to whether the church was damaged during the riots. The church is untouched. I'm including photos of our neighborhood. Action took place all around us.

There's a vigil tonight, Friday, June 5th on 16th Street for churches. Please join if you can. Annabel Park will be recording it.


We'll use Zoom again on Sunday.
Here's the link to the Sunday Prayer Service:

Joining by Phone: 
Meeting ID: 87614737117#

Thanks again to Kateryna Pyatybratova for her help each week!

I will be online starting at 4:30 PM if want to work out any challenges getting on. If you aren't sure, get on early and meditate.

Social Hour is Discussion Hour
Discussion Hour last week was on one of our most somber and emotional we have ever held as we discussed strategies each of us can take on to combat racism. Thanks for all who joined and shared honestly and openly.

Guidelines for a Good Discussion
This week I'll be speaking about ways your faith can help you be resilient in challenging times.

Come to the discussion time with a curious mind. Be less interested in sharing what you know and more curious about what you want to learn.

Feel free to share differing viewpoints than what you heard in the sermon, but begin you comments with phrases, such as,
"While I found what you said interesting, I came out with a different perspective. Can I share that?"

Use your comments to encourage learning and participation. We are unique among many services that we hold discussions, so avoid combativeness and embrace curiosity.

Remember there's no need to agree with differing viewpoints, but it is important to demonstrate respect for all viewpoints.

Summer Services
In past years, Memorial Day would be the final service for the summer due to the heat in the church, Because we are online and in this crisis, we've decided to continue Sunday worship through June. The church board will come up with ideas to stay connected in July and August when the pastor takes his summer vacation. Let us know if you have an idea.

Service Order
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Please take a minute and send in an offering by using our new link to GoFundMe

We need each other. Please consider joining our church. Let me know if you're interested.

Hang in there. I know these are challenging times. I’m glad we have each other and the Lord.

Physical Distancing

Social Outreach

Spiritual Connection

Your Pastor
Rev. Richard L. Tafel


Uprooting Racism

Ephesians 6

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—  3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  a
4 Fathers,  b  do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.  6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.  7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,  8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Swedenborg Insights

The African people are more capable of enlightenment than all other peoples on this earth, because they are of such character as to think interiorly and thus to accept truths and acknowledge them. Others, such as the Europeans, think only externally, receiving truths in their memory, but not seeing them interiorly in any light of the understanding—a light which they also do not acknowledge in matters of faith. (The Last Judgment 118)

. . . Moreover, the Africans are more receptive than others in this earth, of the heavenly doctrine. . . . These willingly receive, from the angels, the doctrine concerning the Lord. They, more than any others, have it implanted in themselves that the Lord must appear altogether as a man, and that it can by no other means happen otherwise. They are in the capacity of receiving not only the truths of faith, but especially its goods. They are of the celestial genius. (Spiritual Experiences 4783)

Matthew 25

45 Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’
46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Uprooting Racism
This past week has been heartbreaking in America. It may be one of our worst weeks in modern times. I’m preaching today with a lump in my throat.
After surpassing 100,000 deaths in this pandemic, we watched a Black man murdered live by a police officer in Minneapolis. The protests and riots these past few nights give a sense that our nation is unraveling. I wonder to myself would I believe it if I hadn’t seen it. What else haven’t I seen?
An African American colleague walked into my office in tears asking me, “When will this stop?” She wasn’t asking about George Floyd. The year was 1991 and she was reacting to the beating of Rodney King. That was almost 30 years ago. This isn’t new. Today marks the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre.
The murder of George Floyd requires followers of Jesus to ask why the killing of African Americans continue in America and what is our role in ending racism.
Swedenborg wrote that the two most challenging sins in our lives have roots deep beneath the surface, hard to acknowledge but need to be uprooted.
Those two sins were domination and greed.
Racism is founded in those two powerful sins. We need to understand how deep and hidden these are in our society.
We cannot understand racism today without understanding the evil of slavery. Slavery is an old institution which read about in the Old Testament. By the 1500’s it was decreasing as an institution.
Then the demand for cheap labor in the Caribbean and the Americas created a powerful economic incentive for slavery. The colonization of Africa combined with new technologies, such as, the cotton gin and shipping routes transformed slavery into a profitable, dehumanizing industrial process. The first slaves arrived in Virginia in 1619.
The first sin driving slavery was greed.
To justify the first sin of greed, there came a second sin of domination.
All societies have their limits to what cruelty they will tolerate to other innocent humans. The cruelty in slavery is beyond our imagination. The industrial slave trade from Africa required capturing innocent people, torturing these human beings by shipping them across the ocean knowing that many would die in the process. It then required separating families and memories. It then required selling human beings as animals. Finally, it required working them often to death through torture.
The only way a human being can justify the cruel treatment I just described is to convince yourself and others that Africans are not people. Africans were described as sub species to humans often depicted as a type of monkey the way Jews were described as rats in the holocaust. Many of our greatest enlightenment thinkers of that time, such as Kant, defended the science of white supremacy over Africans. To justify the sin of slavery white people developed the sin of dehumanizing Africans that created racism.
Greed and dehumanizing are the two sins that racism is built on.
The role of the church is to help followers of Jesus become aware of their sins, confess them and experience redemption through changed behavior. But, sadly, the church more often than not, reflects the sins of society instead of standing against them.
In the case of slavery, the church sinned by defending the greed and dehumanization by creating a theology in defense of slavery creating a made up theology based on the a passage in the Old Testament about Noah’s son Ham who is cursed. They tied this to dark skinned people saying they were destined to be cursed. Christians pointed to slavery in the Old Testament as proof that God was good with it. But, to really seal the theology churches looked to quotes in the Epistles. Just to show how this was used, I included it in the readings today from Ephesians where it says “Slaves obey your masters.”
The combination of the sin of greed and domination was not justified through a theology creating racism as we know it today.
Fortunately, the true teachings of Jesus could not be completely suppressed. Quakers were early pioneers against the slave trade. The abolitionist movement against slavery was led primarily by church leaders. The Swedenborgian Church has its own unique story.
Swedenborg, based on his revelations of heaven, offered the most radical of all of his views on Africans. We read this today. He described Africans as spiritually superior saying, “ They are of the celestial genius.” and the most beloved in heaven. This viewpoint in the mid’ 1700’s was radical both because few Africans were Christians and because it ran against the common belief in the church of white Christian superiority.
Some of the earliest followers of Swedenborg became some of the earliest abolitionist and even worked to create a free slave community for freed slaves in Liberia, including Carl Bernard Wadestrom who testified before the British Parliament that lead to ending slavery there.
In our country the roots of racism in defense of slavery were much deeper. Some Swedenborgians in the US, however, did take Swedenborg’s teachings on Africans seriously and acted on it. Lord Fairfax who was the largest landholder in Virginia freed his slaves. In fact, the current Lt. Governor is an ancestor of his freed slaves. The Fairfax family played a critical funding role in building our church in Washington. Other wealthy Swedenborgians also released their slaves, but not all.
My great-grandfather, Rev. Louis Tafel, left Philadelphia as a young man to be a Swedenborgian family to tutor the Cabell family of central Virginia. When the civil war broke out, he joined the Confederacy and fought against his own brothers in the Union army, one of whom was killed at Gettysburg.
The issue of slavery split most Christian denominations.
Despite having a unique revelation of the value of Black people, the Swedenborgian Church was not an outspoken champion of abolitionism. One prominent exception, worth noting, was a famous Presbyterian turned Swedenborgian Minister whose name may sound familiar—Rev. George Bush. Yes, you got that right an ancestor of our two George Bush presidents was a Swedenborgian minister who fought against slavery but most in our church were silent despite Swedenborg’s insights.
Our own church built in the early 1900’s shortly thereafter created a mission church at 10th and V. St NW called the “First Colored Society of New Jerusalem.” The logic of our large church needing a separate church for Black Washingtonians suggests segregation motives in a city divided that was segregated by neighborhoods until the 1950’s.
Slavery was the most brutal forms of industrial torture, murder and dehumanization in our nation’s history. Ending slavery didn’t end racists views. For the next one hundred years, racist laws, terrorism and cultural values worked to maintain control over Black Americans.
As a nation, we’ve made progress in ending racist laws, but we’ve yet to come to terms with the well-hidden racism in ourselves, our churches, our economic system and judicial system.
I’ve spent my career working with social change organizations. What I’ve seen is that the racist systems continue today. Systematic racism of the perpetuates themselves in continued economic injustice. Poor housing, health care and schools are the exception, not the rule. While we enjoy pointing to Obama and Oprah, the reality I can tell you from my work is that if you tell me what zip code you are going to raise your child in, I can tell you that in many of them the children will end up in jail, poverty or early death.
I don’t condone violence and riots. When people feel they have nothing left to lose by playing by the rules, they give up on them, and society falls apart. Worse, evil, hellish forces of destruction who love conflict will thrive on these moments. I’m sure you saw videos of Black protestors yelling at white anarchists to stop destroying things. Add to all of this the anxiety of the pandemic, through the loss of income and disproportionate deaths in the Black community and we are sitting on tinderbox.
What Can We Do?
I share this history because we have to know that we’ve been steeped in a racist system.
For a sin to be forgiven, it must be recognized. Then, the forgiven person must act in new ways. We must recognize it in our own lives and pull it by its roots.
When we see a white police officer hired to protect us, kneeling on a Black man crying out for air and calling out his late mother’s name, we see this racist mindset manifest itself and we must reflect on ourselves.
As Christians, we need to be able to recognize the intense and unique trauma within the Black community and stand in support of them. The National Council of Churches is taking steps of repentance on the issue of racism within the church. I represented our denomination in Hampton VA at the 400th anniversary of slavery coming to our shores in 1619 as a day of lament and repentance. Our denomination passed this statement last year saying, “We encourage one another to advocate for those who face discrimination and to address these expressions of bias in our personal interactions and in the larger society. “
In the current moment, we need to all be diligent to see that justice is carried through. We are all indebted to the police and our military for keeping us safe at great risk to themselves. They also have a much higher level of responsibility. We give them weapons and authority. We must trust them. When that trust is abused, they must be punished publicly to discourage repeats and to remind everyone that no one is above the law. The white community must champion this call for justice.
Host Dialogue
At Church of the Holy City we’ve already done some sermon discussions with my friend Rev. Joseph Smith on race and we’ve done a podcast on this with Annabel and Joseph. We need to up our game as a training center for peacemakers in ending racism. We need to move the sin of racism from unseen to seen.
We are good at facilitating dialogue. We should look for ways to partner and host. I’d love to hear other examples of things we could do in our discussion time.
But the biggest changes start in our personal life.
We have inherited a racist DNA.
We need to ask God to make us aware of our sins.
We need to resist the temptation to deflect, rationalize, excuse them.
We need to look deep within our own hearts.
We can only change that if we are aware of it.
We must confess it, seek forgiveness and,
We must live differently to uproot racism.
Order of Worship

Light your own candle.

Set up your Bible or holy book at home.

Opening the Word
Open your Bible at home.

Welcome from Rev. Tafel

Rev. Tafel will greet everyone and ask for readers of the texts.

Read at home.

All: Eternal God, in whom we live and move and have our being,
whose face is hidden from us by our sins,

and whose mercy we forget in the blindness of our hearts:
cleanse us from all our offenses,

and deliver us from proud thoughts and vain desires,

that with reverent and humble hearts we may draw near to you,

confessing our faults, confiding in your grace, and finding in you our refuge and strength;


May almighty God have mercy on us,  forgive us our sins,  and bring us to everlasting life,  through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Isaiah 40
Do you not know?
     Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
     the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
     and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
     and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
     and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
     will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
     they will run and not grow weary,
     they will walk and not be faint.

Philippians 4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Swedenborg Insights

Can anyone fail to see quite clearly that the goals of creation are useful functions? Simply bear in mind that nothing can arise from God the Creator—nothing can be created, therefore—that is not useful. If it is to be useful, it must be for the sake of others. Even if it is for its own sake, it is still for others, because we are useful to ourselves in order to be fit to be useful to others. Anyone who keeps this in mind can also keep in mind the thought that functions that are truly useful cannot arise from us but from one who brings forth nothing but what is useful—the Lord. ( Divine Love and Wisdom  #308)

Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


We will save the discussion for after the service in our discussion hour.

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Mail to checks to: 1611 16th St NW WDC 20009

Community Prayers
Here you can simply say your intention with a word or phrase. There's no need to explain details. The Lord knows what's on your heart. All of us will respond together after a prayer is made by saying,
"Lord Hear Our Prayer."

Pastor Prayer

Lord's Prayer (in unison)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


Discussion Time
Please stay as long as you like to update each other on how you are doing. Rev. Tafel will stay until the last person has shared. You can ask the minister anything!
16th Street Vigil Against Racism - Tonight!

Friday, June 5
5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
The Entire Length of 16th Street NW

People from all houses of worship and are invited to gather on 16th Street to join in a physically distant vigil tonight at 5:00 PM.

Join in on the blocks of 16th Street (both sides), maintaining a distance of 6 feet and wearing masks. If the blocks near you are covered, please move to another location on 16th Street. The hope is to cover as much as 16th Street as possible, bearing witness to the love that grounds us as people of faith and good will.  Please bring a sign.

Dupont's Foundry Church  on 16th Street will be among those to ring the church bells at 5:45 PM. Places of worship are invited to toll the bells, beginning at 5:45 PM and lasting 8 minutes, 46 seconds, in remembrance of the brutal killing of George Floyd. Those standing on 16th street may kneel during the tolling of the bells. 

For more detail on the event click  here .
Peaceful protestors march past Church of the Holy City this past week. (above. below) Thanks to Maria for sharing these.
Police Arrest Hundreds Blocks from the Church

Here's the article

Lincoln Monument

Happy Birthday to our President Helen Sioris.
This photo is a flashback to 2006.
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