Reeve Spotlight: The Church Of The Epiphany

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on December 04, 2015 # Quality of Life Grant Spotlight

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can have an incredible impact. For those who need mobility assistance, easy access can be one of those little things that makes all the difference. Just a few steps into a building can be one of the most surprising and frustrating challenges to overcome.

“When someone is elderly or disabled, so many places become limited but going to church shouldn’t be one of them,” said Catherine Manhardt, parish administrator at The Church of the Epiphany in downtown Washington, DC. “Several years ago, the church underwent a major renovation and adding a ramp for disabled and elderly community members was a top priority.”

To build the ramp, the church reached out to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grant Program.

Christopher Reeve’s family had a long-standing relationship with The Church of the Epiphany. His great-grandparents were married there in 1891, and his great-great grandparents were married at Epiphany in 1861. Moreover, numerous great and great-great aunts and uncles were baptized, confirmed, and eventually buried there during the 19th century. The church archivist’s interest in Reeve and his ancestors’ contributions to Epiphany led the staff to the Reeve Foundation website where they discovered the Quality of Life grants program.

In 2012, the Reeve Foundation awarded the church $10,470 to add a new, ADA-compliant ramp to the 1910 building.

“The ramp has allowed our many worship and community programs to be accessible to those who want and need to use them,” says Manhardt. “We are a busy urban church and our ability to offer outreach to those in need is very important.”

First organized in 1842, the Epiphany Church has a long history as a mission church in the Washington DC community. In 1857, the congregation unanimously dedicated itself to outreach projects for the community’s neediest, with missions to help the sick and poor starting in 1858. Today, the church offers a wide variety of programs ranging from Bible Study and Sunday breakfast to youth services and free weekly music concerts.

A major goal in building the ramp was to never again have to see anyone have to be lifted and carried up a series of stairs to navigate into the church for services. The congregation wanted to be sure that no one chose not to come to church or to skip a social event because of not having a safe and dignified way to enter the building.

As a result of better accessibility, attendance at the church’s outreach activities has grown. More than 300 church members attend the five weekly services including Sunday services.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.