By John Johnson
John Johnson, a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Washington, D. C., is the domestic policy analyst for the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations.
On the eve of July fourth, I wondered how many would actually attend: A Conversation with Davis Mac-Iyalla. The venue was St. Thomas’ Episcopal Parish in Dupont Circle and the event was sponsored by both St. Thomas’ and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. As 7 p.m. arrived the sanctuary was nearly filled with some 75 Episcopalians and visitors. I didn’t know who all was there from St. Marks, but I was amazed by the number of non-Episcopalians that attended. Davis spoke to the congregation gathered for nearly 55 minutes before taking questions and answers and the evening was followed by the beautiful Compline service from the Book of Common Prayer.
The altar was adorned with a simple white altar cloth with several black-based candle holders and lighted candles for the evening’s event. The clergy, senior and junior warden were robed in traditional black and white Evening Prayer vestments seated in the first row. Davis, dressed in blue jeans with a cut off sleeveless shirt and rainbow wrist band, joined them.
Davis was invited to be part of the Altar party for Compline after his presentation. The plate was passed as he vested and he was presented with $1000 gift as he concluded his 60-event, 20-city tour or the United States and left for the Church of England’s General Synod meeting. The money is greatly needed because Davis has been hounded from his home in Nigeria and now lives in Togo, where he ekes out a living by running a small restaurant.
Davis sang the Doxology at a reception following the service. For someone who lives in exile, who has been jailed for speaking truth to ecclesiastical power and who has been beaten in Nigerian Police custody, he remains remarkably cheerful, favoring friends with a deep gregarious laugh.
Prior to the evening’s events, I had the opportunity to interview Davis...