The Fisherman of Men Church (FOMC), whose pastor is Bishop Clarence Groover, is a mainstay institution based in the heart of metropolitan Washington, D.C. for over 44 years, and faithfully serves the spiritual needs of an expanding and changing local and regional urban community. Located in the former long defunct York Movie Theater Building erected in the early 1900s, FOMC, with the dedication and energetic support of its congregation, has executed its multi-year plan of extensive renovation, and modernization of its physical structure, and amenities over the last decade with emphasis on its interior, as well as continuous improvement efforts to enhance its presence in the coming months along the Georgia Avenue corridor through upgrades of its exterior.
As our immediate neighborhood along Georgia Avenue has attracted increasing numbers of majority inhabitants, followed by the moneyed interests of builders and gentrifiers, FOMC began to experience a growing number of challenges to its work and mission. The most serious and significant was an undercover attempt in 2012 to declare the Church building a Historic Landmark. This action brought a host of unnecessary, unwanted, frustrating and costly municipal challenges and delays to the church’s external, improvement plans, and, indeed, its viability. Yet, by the Grace of God, all of these challenges, one by one, were met with stalwart Christian resolve, as FOMC responded as a body of God-fearing people and our faith was rewarded with victory!
|12/29/2012 Victory: DC Historic Preservation Review Board Favors FOMC||Bishop Groover and FOMC Family Celebrate Following Compelling Argument|
The proposed Historic Landmark Designation was the brainchild of a neighbor, as well as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC), whose close ties with the building industry we believe, foreshadowed his actions. Without any knowledge, notification or coordination with the church, the commissioner filed an application with the Washington, D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to declare the former York Theater, now the FOMC, a Historic Landmark. This action immediately halted all efforts to work on the building, and denied all efforts to secure permits for any additional work planned for the building while the application was under consideration.
Previously, the commissioner had made calls to the Metropolitan Police Department complaining unjustifiably of excessive noise, and asking that parked cars of parishioners and leaders during church services, and funerals be ticketed. He also unsuccessfully challenged the legality of the Bishop’s use of a portion of the church’s property for parking spaces. Regrettably, the use of the Historic Landmark Designation by the HPRB in the city had been employed to the benefit of agents of builders, to force home owners and small businesses to relocate so that their properties could be replaced with major new construction. Recently, this practice had adversely impacted the ability of several churches in the city to maintain or improve their facilities. The Bishop and his church congregation, however, had simply refused to permit this scenario to occur at FOMC, and informed the HPRB that the church soundly opposed the pending application for a Historic Landmark designation.
While awaiting the scheduling of a hearing for the FOMC’s pending application for Historic Landmark designation, the Bishop and his congregation informed, and energized the local community, and met with numerous area pastors and other local clergy, securing their support, and obtaining signed petitions from one hundred churches in Washington, D.C. to join with the FOMC in opposition to this pending application. Bishop Groover also received letters of commitment and support from sixty pastors in Washington, D.C., endorsing the Bishop’s efforts in opposition. Bishop Groover compiled the information along with a fact-filled narrative, describing the lack of evidence of the historic nature of the currently occupied building that would qualify it for a Historic Landmark designation. He also described and documented the deleterious impact that such an unwanted, unnecessary and burdensome action would have on the operation of the church. The Bishop also documented the several unsuccessful efforts of the ANC Commissioner to negatively impact the operation of the FOMC since his arrival in the neighborhood, and each of the church’s counter actions including copies of legal drawings and official city documents supporting the Church’s lawful position in response to each challenge. With input from Anthony M. Rachal III, the church’s lead attorney, Mr. David Edge Sr., a leading architect and friend, and Dr. Charles Moore, a long-time friend and university colleague, the Bishop compiled a fact-filled 257 page, professionally prepared hearing document which argued effectively in opposition to the pending application before the HPRB.
|Mother Groover Encourages Supporters at FOMC Press Conference||FOMC Stalwarts Demonstrate Against Historic Designation of FOMC|
At the November 29, 2012 hearing of the HPRB, Bishop Groover, many of his church members, and others, including a number of professional and community supporters, stood their ground in articulating their profound opposition to the proposed historic status of their church building. Following the Bishop’s compelling oral presentation buttressed by the submission of several copies of his impressive 257 page supporting document, the HPRB voted down the proposal in a 5 to 3 decision agreeing with the Fisherman of Men Church, that the age of a building is not sufficient reason to designate a Historic Landmark.
|Judy Groover Speaks To Large Crowd at FOMC Press Conference||Bishop Groover Confers With Long-Time Friends Moore and Walker|
Bishop Groover and the members of the Fisherman of Men Church thank God for his mercy and his grace in bringing this matter to such a favorable conclusion. The Fisherman of Men Church is truly grateful for the powerful broad-based ecumenical response from the many fellow clergy, congregations, friends and community supporters locally and, indeed, across the nation for their encouraging words and deeds as several media outlets followed these developments as they occurred:
The leadership and congregation of the Fisherman of Men Church firmly believe that the success that this church has experienced in challenging this unwanted historic landmark designation can be helpful to other churches and religious organizations similarly challenged, and, consequently, Bishop Groover offers his assistance and extends an invitation to these organizations to contact him at (202) 723-2216 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Beyond that, the Bishop and his members are convinced that the victory in this matter could not have been won without the Lord’s blessing as requested in the sincere prayers of a great “cloud of witnesses” locally, and across the nation, whose collective spirit in celebration shouts “Let the church say ‘Amen’.” Now all efforts to work on the building have been resumed and a church dedica