History

If a picture is worth a thousand words, our logo may be the simplest way to catch the history and vision of City Gate.

City Gate was formed in October 2001 at the heart of downtown Washington, reflected by the silhouettes of a new building under construction, the Chinatown arch, and historic Calvary Baptist Church.

A Historic Church

Calvary has been both a landmark and community anchor at 8th and H, NW for almost 140 years. A long-ago storm demolished its towering steeple, but the church has weathered the varying fortunes of its center-city location to remain a fortress of faith and source of compassion and hope.

City Gate blank logoIn our logo, the old church (with the steeple that now exists only in fading photos and memories) is balanced by a new building and construction crane. The building and crane reflect the extraordinary renaissance of downtown DC at the turn of the 21st century. City Gate seeks to address the emerging possibilities and creative challenges of this new millennium by carrying forward a legacy of ministry, and by remaining connected to an anchor of faith, that have been embodied in the history of Calvary.

A Contemporary Mission

Calvary sponsored the formation of City Gate to continue and expand a wide range of community ministries to urban children and youth, the homeless and poor, the immigrant and international community, and with other disadvantaged or disenfranchised members of our community. Calvary's pastor from 1987 to 2000, Dr. Lynn Bergfalk, is the founder and director of the new nonprofit City Gate.

The "City Gate" name is emphasized by the oversized silhouette of the Chinatown arch, which stands less than a block from Calvary church. It captures the cosmopolitan character of our city and City Gate's commitment to continue Calvary's legacy of welcoming the stranger and serving the international community.

A Gateway to Community

But this arch, erected right at the heart of downtown Washington, also embodies a profound statement of City Gate's vision. In the ancient world, the heart of the city was literally the city gate. It was the center of community life and its social and administrative functions. It was at the gate that the city elders met to address the needs of the community. There the stranger received hospitality, and widows and orphans and the vulnerable members of the community were to receive justice.

The gate, therefore, was not simply the physical entrance to the city but access to the life of the community. This is the vision and mission of City Gate: To help folks on the margins of our society gain access to benefits of the larger community. And, second, to swing that gate both ways, and provide opportunity for those in the mainstream to understand the experience of the marginalized. Swinging the gate both directions recognizes that we all are fellow travelers in the journey of life. Whatever our personal circumstances may be, the blessing of reciprocity will enrich every person as we give and receive from each other.

How the Pieces Fit Together

The weaving together in our logo of Chinatown arch, historic church, and contemporary construction suggestions a constellation of core values and perspectives, including a synthesis of community and spirituality.

The gate is not simply a symbol of justice and opportunity, but embraces a profound spiritual metaphor about "life in its fullness." The church reflects a community institution that incarnates spirituality in practical help and compassion, amid the often harsh realities of urban life. And towering construction cranes at least subconsciously link concrete and steel with an upward look that sees hope and human possibility as part of the rebuilding of the city.

Turning Vision Into Reality

A picture is worth a thousand words! It gathers history and dreams in with practical actions that each of us can take to shape the present. It helps us see what words might not be able to say. Who knows, the steepled church may be less a symbol of what God is up to today than the construction crane. And who knows, maybe the crane itself is a contemporary cross, reminding us that there is no building of community without love and sacrifice.

But somehow, in the middle of the picture, there needs to be an open gate, a ground-level, grassroots gate that offers everyone the opportunity to share in the life and benefits of the larger community. City Gate is committed to working for that vision in whatever way we can. We believe even small actions and incremental steps make a difference when part of a bold vision.

We invite you to look around our website. If you find yourself interested by our programs or engaged by our vision, we welcome your participation!