Reading Room: Distances Create Problems for Pastors in 1800's

In the 1870's and 1880's Foundry pastors were busy visiting church members. One writer commented that "pastoral work in this city has nothing like it outside Washington." Distance created problems and 'no one realizes the appropriateness of calling this the 'City of Magnificent Distances' so perfectly as the Pastors of our Churches."

Members were scattered in every direction. A good many people seemed to think, another wrote, "that as Washington is a city of Magnificent Distances, they ought to put magnificent distances between their homes and the churches they attend." Many went past two or three Methodist churches to Foundry or some other church farther from home.

The reason given by some was that people had "no abiding home" in Washington. If they changed their church membership every time they moved, "certificates would fly around like snow-flakes in winter, Boarding makes one's life like an Indian's life—we move our tents when we don't like our fare."

It was concluded that, if a Methodist preacher in Washington did not have the world for his parish, he at least had a large part of the District of Columbia.


This article, originally titled "Pastors' Problems" is provided and used with permission from Papers of Homer Calkin, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.