Band members played trombones, preachers in black robes kept step, and the streets of Northwest Washington were filled with the sights and sounds of celebration as the United House of Prayer for All People continued its annual Memorial Day tradition in honor of its founder and late leaders.
The District is the headquarters of the 1.5 million-member church organization founded by the late “Daddy Grace” in 1927. Since that time it has grown to be one of the largest and most affluent church organizations in the country, with 150 congregations in 25 states.
The church has had only had three other leaders since Daddy Grace: Bishop Walter “Sweet Daddy” McCollough, Bishop S.C. “Daddy” Madison and now Bishop C.M. “Sweet Daddy,” Bailey, who was elected as the head of the church when Madison died in 2008.
The parade featured young and old, from little boys tooting trombones to vintage limousines that once carried church leaders. Participants marched from church headquarters, “God’s White House,” at 6th and M street north to U Street, then back again.
The United House of Prayer used to be located in the heart of the black community. The neighborhood is now more diverse, but the parade still attracted onlookers.
“I think it’s a great day for everyone to come out,” said Ivey Wohlfeld, who lives acoss the street from the church. “I am usually out of town on Memorial Day. I didn’t know that this event was that big.”
The weekend activities, which last until Monday, will include musical programs, religious services and the meeting of the church’s General Council — and plenty of old-fashioned fellowship.