September 3: Margaret Gwendolyn Barge (2008)

In the early 1960’s when Margaret Barge transferred to Epiphany from a predominantly African American parish, she became a racial bridge builder of sorts. Dr. Martin Luther King had once said, “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Through the racial unrest that followed Dr. King’s assassination and for the rest of her life, Margaret became a pillar of the church. For more than 20 years, she served as the parish’s liaison to the Episcopal Center for Children and also helped out at the home of an elderly couple. She served as President and Treasurer of Phillips Chapter, a parish service group for business and professional women. She was a long-time member of the Altar Guild. She helped raise money for the parish through her participation in the annual Christmas Bazaar and for the wider church by serving as the parish representative for the United Thank Offering.

Margaret Barge was born in July 1909 in her parents’ home on Newport Place near Dupont Circle. She attended Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School (a school that originally opened in 1868 and was the first in the District built with public funds to educate African American children), and then graduated from Dunbar High School. She attended Howard University for two and half years. After taking a government service exam, she was hired at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In her more than 18 years of federal service there, her tasks were many and varied, such as examining whiskey stamps, currency and invitations. Upon retirement, Margaret joined the local chapter of the AARP, serving as financial secretary and a member of its board. Following Margaret’s passing in 2008, just months shy of her 100th birthday, her funeral was held at Epiphany, a parish she loved and served so faithfully.

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