The controversy over the proper use of church property is ancient. The letter from Robert Meyers criticizing our congregation's decision to build new facilities {"The Church Beyond the Building," Jan. 13} is evidence that the dispute lives on.

However, our congregation is comfortable with our decision to continue having a church building in Foggy Bottom that provides, among other things, a place for us and an Ethiopian refugee church to worship God and conduct Christian education; to feed and counsel 200 homeless persons daily; for healing programs for recovering alcoholics, drug abusers, adult children of alcoholics and others; and increased space for additional programs to help others.

Mr. Meyers believes that after 136 years the need suddenly has ended for a Presbyterian congregation to respond to the wants of rich and poor, Christian and non-Christian in our neighborhood and beyond. We disagree. Indeed, given the situation of our city, we believe the presence of an involved urban congregation addressing the needs of its community is more important than ever. To continue feeding the homeless, worshiping etc., we need a building. As a result of an excellent real estate transaction, we have managed to get our new building constructed without spending one dime of church funds and create an endowment that will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for mission work.

Mr. Meyers has picked the wrong example if he wants to talk about the church's sometimes bad stewardship of land and buildings. Further, he creates an unnecessary choice between land or mission. The real issue is whether buildings are used for mission or the self-gratification of a particular congregation. Western Presbyterian Church is a congregation whose ministry is devoted to using its facilities for wholeness, peace and justice in our world. If only we had more buildings devoted to such purposes. REV. JOHN W. WIMBERLY JR. Pastor, Western Presbyterian Church Washington