Best Non-Churchy Church

Westminster Presbyterian
400 I St SW, Washington, DC 20024, (202) 484-7700

Long ago, in a West Philly ghetto sort of far away, church, for me, was a bunch of sanctified folks rolling around and speaking in tongues as the organ, piano, and drums—improvising—pounded out something that sounded vaguely like gospel music but moved more like Bitches Brew. Though anything as secular as jazz was strictly forbidden to the flock, no amount of spiritual slobbering or amen-shouting could obscure how easily Sunday’s instrumental interplay blurred the lines between being a thing of worship and being a thing unto itself. Westminster bypasses the pretense of prosaic hymnals and goes for the jugular of spiritual transformation—gently throbbing Thelonious Monk, for example. Every Friday, Westminster gathers local musicians for Jazz Night in Southwest, which has no problem drawing a non-religious crowd in addition to the sanctified. Despite the spiritual undercurrent, it’s a cool, almost trendy venue. And as an added bonus, these Christians have a philosophical aversion to greed, so the cover charge is a manageable 5 bucks.

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