A group of nearly 190 ministers endorsed Mayor Walter E. Washington for reelection yesterday, embarcing the mayor as a beacon of morality in city government and a bureaucratic miracle-worker who had "made bricks without straw."
About 50 of the churchmen gathered in the basement of Asbury United Methodist Church at 11th and K Streets NW. for nearly an hour of praying, preaching and politicking - most of which was heavy on praise for the mayor.
"He talks like a mayor ought to talk. He walks like a mayor ought to walk. He dresses like a mayor ought to dress. He deports himself the way a mayor ought to deport himself," said the Rev. Andrew J. Fowler, pastor of Capital View Baptist Church and executive secretary of the Committee of 100 Ministers.
The committee, an interdenominational group, played a key role in assembling the group of ministers for Washington.
The Rev. John D. McArthur, pastor of Metropolitan Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1712 North Capitol St., lauded Washington as "without question . . . the Matterhorn of his generation."
The Rev. S. Everett Guiles, pastor of Turner Memorial AME Church, 601 I St. NW, said Washington's two major rivals for the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 12 primary - City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker and Council member Marion Barry - should not be in the race.
"They got all of their lessions from Mayor Washington. Where else could they have gotten it from. Mayor Washington was part of it since all of them came here," Guiles said. "It's unfair for them to want to take his job now that he's brought the city to where it is. There's other places where they can go. There are other cities. Go to Alexandria or someplace, but leave him alone."
Washington responded to the endorsement with a 20 minute mini-sermon of his own. He ended his remarks by spreading both arms out wide and saying, "Thank you so much for your support. I need it. I want it. I ask for it."
The vast majority of those listed as belonging to the group, which is the largest religious organization that has announced support for any candidate, were Baptists. In some instances, more than one minister was listed from the same church or denomination was given.
Those who sat at the head table with Fowler and Washington, in addition to McArthur and Guiles. included the Rev. Willie B. Allen, pastor of Upper Room Baptist Church and president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Washington, D.C. and Vicinity; Bishop Samuel Kelsey of Temple Church of God in Christ; the Rev. Charles Albert Johnson of Hughes Memorial Methodist Church: and the Rev. Raymond Robinson of Israel Baptist Church.
Fowler said there is no standard plan of how the ministers would help Washington. "Each minister will do his own thing," he said.
"ultimately, we will get out the voters." Guiles added. "We'll do it in meetings, in fellowship meetings, even in Sunday school meetings."
Washington, whose father-in-law, the late Rev. George O. Bullock, was a prominent Baptist minister, has always been a favorite with the black church community, which is considered by many local politicians to be the best organized political and social force in the city.
Most of the ministers who spoke yesterday embellished their remarks with carefully read descriptions of what they considered to be the accomplishments of the mayor's administration. Washington later added to their listings by mentioning about half a dozen housing projects built along or near the restored 7th Street corridor - many of which are named after ministers whose churches helped to [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]