Religious Diversity Transforms Montgomery County

April 22, 2004

Source: The Washington Post

On April 22, 2004 The Washington Post reported, "The gold-plated dome of the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring gleams in the afternoon sun. Next door, the bright Mediterranean-blue roof and golden-topped spires of the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church shine in sharp religious and architectural contrast. Beside it are the simple white buildings of the Heritage Christian Church. These three religious institutions are among nearly two dozen lining a busy stretch of New Hampshire Avenue, forming a microcosm of the diverse religious landscape of Montgomery County. From parishioners who attend the so-called mega-churches to the members of small start-up congregations of immigrants that rent space in schools and elsewhere, the diversity of the county's faithful is growing, reflecting the changing demographics of the population... Several hundred congregations representing dozens of denominations call the county home. Montgomery County has the largest concentration of Jews in the Washington area, and in 2000 it became the site of the first Roman Catholic church in the United States built in a Vietnamese design when Our Lady of Vietnam Roman Catholic Church opened in Silver Spring. The world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is in Silver Spring, and the white spires of the Mormon Temple in Kensington are a familiar landmark to drivers along the Beltway. 'What we're seeing in the United States and including Montgomery County that's most interesting to me is the growth in the Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic religions in this area,' said the Rev. Roger Fritts of the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, who has worked with county groups and officials on zoning issues concerning religious organizations."