Over the years as I have been riding a bike during my lunch breaks at work, I have periodically seen a large white tent erected in different parts of the downtown area of the city. On it’s side there has been a sign which reads, “davidstent.dc.org“. I first saw it about four years ago in President’s Park on The Ellipse near the White House. Since that time I have intermittently seen it near John Marshal Place Park just off Constitution Avenue, as well as various other sites. It is currently located on the National Mall just east of the pond in Constitution Gardens and about 100 yards due north of the National World War II Memorial (MAP), and within view of the White House. On this ride I stopped in to learn more about it.
Jason Hershey founded David’s Tent DC in 2012 as a non-denominational Christian non-profit organization dedicated to performing public worship services. That first year a service was to be held in the park at McPherson Square, but at the suggestion of the National Park Service it was moved to The Ellipse instead. And although the Park Service had never given a permit for more than 14 days in that area, they granted David’s Tent a 45-day permit. So it was that David’s Tent began with 40 days of continuous worship and praise.
When the organization decided to hold another event the following year, it again was located on The Ellipse. However, that year the Federal government shut down due to the fact that no budget had been passed. And in addition to closing most Federal departments and agencies, the first things to close were the National Parks, including the National Mall and The Ellipse. I vividly remember during that time the news stories of attempts to keep World War II veterans from being allowed to visit the closed memorial that had been made to honor them. Amazingly though, David’s Tent was allowed to continue uninterrupted. That year they did it again for 42 days, which equates to being 1,000 hours long.
David’s Tent has continued ever year, and gotten bigger and longer in each consecutive year. In 2014, the service was extended to 50 days, during which they prayed for each state for one day.
This time is the organization’s most ambitious event to date. The tent was pitched in its current location last September 11th, and David’s Tent is committed to performing nonstop worship music on the National Mall for 14 months straight, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, until Election Day this November. This weekend, they will reach the one year mark on their way to the goal of a 422-day worship service. Hershey, the founder of David’s Tent, says there’s no political agenda behind the vigil despite its significant start and end dates, and its notable location in the heart of our nation’s capital.
David’s Tent is inspired by the biblical story of King David, who pitched a tent near his palace and hired more than 4,000 musicians and 288 singers to worship there continually throughout his 33-year reign. David made worship central for his nation, and it is said to have brought blessing on the whole nation. David’s Tent DC is attempting to do the same here in America. So if you’re in downtown D.C. during the next few months, I encourage you to stop in, learn more, and participate.