What Role Can People of Faith Play in Preventing Civil War?

What Role Can People of Faith Play in Preventing Civil War?

This past week I’ve been reading the book by author Barbara Walters, “How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them.” Walters is an expert on civil wars. The book is painstakingly researched with a conclusion that the United States is on a path to civil war. That might sound alarmist, but her research and evidence are compelling.


I also read Jonathan Haidt’s great article in the Atlantic, “WHY THE PAST 10 YEARS OF AMERICAN LIFE HAVE BEEN UNIQUELY STUPID: It’s not just a phase.”


I recommend both the book and the article. Both pieces make power claims that American democracy is unraveling, and we could be headed toward civil war. The anxiety and grievance that both researchers point out are palpable.


As a pastor, I’ve never experienced a time when people are so frayed and on edge.


My sermon this week explores ways house of worship and people of faith can serve as a bulwark against escalating violence and division.

I hope you can make it Sunday for our worship and discussion.




Link to Join Sunday Service
Submit Your Offering
Link to Join Monday's Book Discussion

The Voices of Our Community

Thank you to the Church of the Holy City's Treasurer Tony Raffa for sharing your insights on the true value of community, and our community's true values.

Also, thank you to all those who volunteered to be interviewed by Kateryna Pyatybratova this year, as we learn from each other about what you are getting out of our time together.

If you would like to share your perspective on CHC, please email Kateryna at katempya@gmail.com to set up a time for a one-on-one interview.

Our Community of CHC Spiritual Entrepreneurs is Advancing the Vision of Justice & Inclusion 

Church of the Holy City seeks to become our nation capital’s first spiritual entrepreneur incubator hub.

Last month Rev. Rich Tafel sat down with CHC Secretary and IndigoPathway Founder and CEO Sheri Smith, one of the thought leaders in the field of spiritual entrepreneurship. Sheri’s book, “Spiritual Entrepreneurship: Raw Reflections of a Female CEO” is due to be published later this year.

Check out the Press Release
Extended Interview Transcript

You're Invited: Join Us at the 198th Convention

of the Swedenborg Church in Los Angeles

The Board of Directors of Church of the Holy City voted last week to support any member who needs financial help going to the denomination's convention in Long Beach, CA June 15-28.

If you are interested, please register below.

The church will reimburse you! Just email Rev. Tafel.

Link to Register for the Convention

Join Weekly Movement, Art, Reflection & Community Retreats with Nancy and Julia

Time and again, it has been noted that nature, movement, taking care of oneself and coming together as a community are key to healing and resilience-building, especially during the difficult times we live in.

For the last two years Executive Coach Julia Karpeisky and Integrated Movement Specialist Nancy Sanchez have been leading weekly half-hour retreats via Zoom, combining Movement, Art, Reflection and Community (the MARC Method).

We invite you to join one of their Wednesday sessions (free and open to the public), but RSVPing below.

Link to RSVP for the Wednesday Retreats

Other CHC Notices

  • Big Kudos to Shalonda Ingram for helping the CHC to obtain and maintain its Power Host status on Peerspace! This means that our renter's avg. review score for the space was 4.8 (benchmark being 4.5), with a 94% response rate (benchmark being 90%)!

  • As a helpful reminder, May 22nd is the Last Sunday of Rev. Tafel's sermons until Fall. There will be a "town hall" congregation update for anyone interested in learning what was decided at the Church Board Retreat following the May 22nd Service.

  • Summer schedule, led by members of our own CHC community, is provided above.

Sunday Readings


Genesis 1

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,

    in the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Swedenborg Insights

Let me say something about why divine providence allows people who are irreligious at heart to be raised to high rank and to become wealthy.

Irreverent or evil people can be just as useful as devout or good people. In fact, they can be more ardent about it because they are focused on themselves in the good they do and regard advancement as intrinsically useful. The stronger their self-love grows, then, the more intense is their passion for service for the sake of their own renown.

Devout or good people do not have this kind of fire unless it is subtly fueled by rank. So the Lord controls people of high rank who are irreligious at heart through their concern for their reputation. He inspires them to do what is good for the commonwealth of the country, for the community or the city in which they live, and also for their own fellow citizens or neighbors.

This is the Lord’s government, his divine providence, with people like this. The Lord’s kingdom is in fact an organized realm of constructive activities; and where there are only a few individuals who perform service for the sake of service, he works things out so that people who worship themselves are raised to the higher offices where they are inspired to do good by their own love.

(Divine Providence §250:3)

What the Pastor's Reading

Article of Interest

Some People Turn Suffering Into Wisdom, DAVID BROOKS

How to Make Change, Slowly

Making a difference is not just about charismatic leaders and huge protests. As these books show, social and political shifts are usually the result of sustained, unseen work.  By Gal Beckerman

A nonprofit promotes justice by creating employee-owned enterprises and industrial cooperatives

Inspired in part by Catholic social teachings, The Industrial Commons seeks to create “an inclusive economy rooted in community and dignity.” LINK

The great church property flip: Florida pastors seek salvation in real estate: As membership plummets, church leaders are looking for new ways to make ends meet. Some congregants say they’re selling out LINK

How money from dying churches could breathe new life into communities LINK

Does Religion Make People More Ethical?

Research shows that when it comes to moral behavior, engaging in rituals and practices matters more than identifying with a faith. LINK

One Way to Live Longer: Stop Worrying About Getting Old

New book, ‘Breaking the Age Code,’ aims to reframe how we think about aging, promises benefits. LINK

A Church Without Churches

Does Mainline Protestantism care about the local church? LINK

1611 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20009