Today at 1 p.m., WAMU’s Metro Connection airs a six-minute segment on St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church, the progressive house of worship in Columbia Heights that’s long served as one of D.C.’s most important punk venues.
Reporter Jerad Walker, a staffer at WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, talks to Bill MacKaye—father of Ian—who’s been a member of the radical church since 1960. He says the church went to great lengths to open its doors to the local community.
“I came at the same time as a very adventurous and forward-looking priest came to be rector or pastor of the church,” MacKaye remembers. “His name was Bill Wendt. His sense of what he needed to do with this congregation was get them ready for major change.”
At the time, Wendt presided over the first racially integrated Episcopal Church in D.C.— then, a radical concept in and of itself.
“Father Wendt came in here with a mission to open up the church to the neighborhood,” says MacKaye. “He not only was going to welcome in black people, but he was going to go up and down the streets and say ‘You’re really welcome. Come in.'”
Walker also talks to the younger MacKaye as well as Positive Force founder Mark Andersen, whose activist group has hosted many, many punk shows at the church over the years.
Metro Connection airs today at 1 p.m. and Saturday at 7 a.m., but you can stream the entire show online now.