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'Friends Forever' gather to remember the Washington Ward

By Brent Yeates

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Nov. 26 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

Some of the more than 50 people who once attended the Washington Ward in the Washington, D.C., area stand in the front of the chapel, which is now owned by the Unification Church.

Provided by Genie Pratt

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of friends who last met for a sacrament meeting in the former Washington Ward in downtown Washington, D.C., 36 years ago recently gathered for a reunion in the area.

Many of them attended the ward as young single adults. The reunion included dinners, local tours, slide shows and a visit to the original chapel, now owned by the Unification Church.

The chapel had included many works of art, such as stained glass windows depicting both old and new world scenes of Jesus Christ and other motifs, and a tile mosaic by Mahonri Young, situated over the front entrance, depicting the Sermon on the Mount.

Since the chapel was sold, there have been many changes in the building. A number of interior additions and restructuring have made it a far different place than when the members attended years ago.

More than 50 former ward members who had been part of the ward in the late 1960s and early 1970s attended the reunion. There was a large contingent who still live in the D.C. area, but several came from distant states, including Ohio, Tennessee, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, California and Washington. They had come to Washington as students, congressional staff members and a variety of other reasons.

In a Sunday evening fireside, there were heartfelt and sometimes misty eyed remembrances of how the ward and its members, now “friends forever,” had been such a welcome and life-changing anchor in the midst of new and challenging surroundings.

A number of singles had met their spouses in the ward and shared their gratitude for that and other spiritual and positive experiences. The reunion became another memorable experience for all who attended and added to their special association with the original Washington Ward.

Genie Smith Pratt lives in the Orchard View Ward, Fresno California North Stake.

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