National Community Church to Open Movie Theater on Barracks Row – The Peoples’ Chuch Sold
by Larry Janezich
Lead Pastor Mark Batterson of National Community Church (NCC) announced to ANC6B Commissioners Tuesday night, that the NCC had purchased The People’s Church at 535 8th Street, SE, and will take possession on June 1.
In the spirit of being a good neighbor and adding something to Barracks Row, Batterson said NCC will turn the space back into the theater it once was from 1910 until 1960. The Church has seven other locations in the DC area; church members meet in theaters in six of them. Services will be held Sundays, but at other times it will be an entertainment venue.
Upon taking possession, the Church will begin transforming the property immediately. Batterson noted that the first movie was screened there on October 10, 1910 – and that “if we get to that point, it would be fun to show a film on the same date” more than 101 years later. The façade and interior will be renovated to reflect the theatrical theme and, he said, the NCC is “committed to doing it right.”
The intent is to build it out to be a live performance space with lights, sound, and acoustics that can accommodate other types of entertainment. There will be concessions to contribute to the theater atmosphere, though the concession area might have to be in the basement since it is not possible to increase the size of the lobby.
The genres of film the theater might screen include family, classic, and first run films. Batterson is actively soliciting suggestions from the community and asks that any ideas be emailed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The purchase price for The Peoples’ Church was $3 million. Batterson said they were willing to pay top dollar because it would help The Peoples’ Church move to Maryland where the majority of their congregation is. Most of the National Community Church congregation lives on Capitol Hill. According to Wikipedia, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations – about 70% of NCCers are single adults in their twenties.
Asked by Commissioner Brian Pate if this purchase would affect NCC’s plans south of the freeway, Batterson said it would – “We didn’t see this coming.” NCC has purchased three parcels of land below the freeway, including the Miles Glass Company property. The plan was to build the theater there and anchor the area with an Ebenezer’s Coffee House on 8th Street. He said that a day care center and retail had also been planned. Now, “we’re in a spin cycle” and have to rethink what to do there.
According to Wikipedia, NCC was recognized as one of the Most Innovative and Most Influential Churches in America by Outreach Magazine in 2008. Batterson and the NCC staff are known for their use of new media – since 2005, sermons have been available via podcast.