May 14: Opening of Church Doors During Week (1877)

When William Paret became Epiphany’s fifth rector in the fall of 1876, he quickly began to live up to his promise of shaking things up. It will be recalled that when Paret was interviewing with the vestry for the job and was told the parish had no poor, his response was “a church without any poor was too spiritually poor to be useful.” Later, Paret would write that he came to Epiphany with the avowed purpose “to break loose from the old traditions and customs which had made so many of our parish churches only places for Sunday preaching and occasional administration of sacraments, which practically shut out of them all but those who were able to rent pews, and offered no real opportunity to the poor and uninstructed who most needed their blessings.”

In addition to creating a chapel in SW Washington for the poor of the parish, Paret wanted to use the main church on G Street to its maximum, by increasing the number of services and making more of them free to everyone. Epiphany would be an open church, not just on Sundays, but always. Beginning on this day, May 14, in 1877, Paret announced the doors of the church “would stand open every day from 8:00am to 6:00pm so that any that desired might freely enter to find retirement, quiet, and a holy place for prayer and meditation.” And so it has been for the past 140 years.

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