SCROLL DOWN FOR Updates #1 Feb 25th & #2 March 1st
Feb. 20, 2017
The plug may be pulled on the longest running outdoor Christian worship event in our nation’s history due to a bureaucratic snafu!
DavidsTentDC (DTDC) is a Jesus centered worship and prayer vigil that has been running 24/7 continuously on the National Mall over 500 days since the kickoff September 11, 2015. Currently it is located at Constitution Gardens Plaza, 1700 Constitution Ave NW Washington DC. With a theme of “Jesus is Worthy” over 500 worship teams from around the nation have participated in this worship and prayer vigil, signing up in two hour segments.
DTDC was notified Feb 9, 2017 by the National Park Service (NPS) that their next permit application will not be granted for Constitution Gardens Plaza due to a reconstruction project. When DTDC sought the NPS permits office for help in relocating to a different place, it was confirmed Feb 15th, that due to newly (March 2016) instituted turf protection regulations, there was no place for DTDC, effectively putting DTDC on the brink of being shuttered, March 10 2017, when their current permit ends. DTDC does not think this is religiously malicious in any way, but simply the result of over regulation.
The conviction of DTDC is that now is the time to stoke the fires of worship and prayer, not put them out. DTDC is based off of the Biblical King David that put a worship tent right beside his palace and hired 4288 musicians and singers to minister to God 24/7 for 33 years, until Solomon built the temple. It’s notable that those were the golden years of Israel’s History.
DTDC is currently seeking help to contact your Senators and Representatives in Congress to help keep this vigil alive. Possible actions could be:
Congressional inquiries to the NPS, or higher in the Dept of Interior, to see if they’d give us a turf exemption, and take the responsibility to relocate us.
Congress has jurisdiction over the Capitol Grounds. Union Square, just east of the Capitol would be a great location for DTDC to move, but would take congressional action to over-ride some of regulations of the Capitol police. Upper Senate Park could also work.
Find and Contact your representatives Here:
U.S. Senators – Get contact information for your Senators.
U.S. Representatives – Find contact information for your Representative
The other option would be for someone in the executive branch to act, to over-ride the actions of the NPS that led DTDC to a dead end. The NPS is part of the Department of Interior. Rep. Ryan Zinke, the sole representative from Montana in the House, is the President’s nominee to be Secretary of Interior, part of the executive cabinet.
“Beyond all things”, David’s Tent founder Jason Hershey requests, “Let’s pray. God will open a door! And let’s not let anything hinder our joy in the Lord and our praise of his Name forever!”
Here are the longer details of DTDC’s permitting journey:
DTDC is legally permitted as a 1st Amendment activity (Prayer vigil) on the National Mall.
DTDC’s first permit was granted for 40 days on the Whitehouse Ellipse, the fall of 2012. Over 150 worship teams came that fall. DTDC’s second permit was the following fall of 2013 for 42 days. The third permit was the fall of 2014, for 50 days. It was then that DTDC asked two key questions of the NPS.
What is the maximum time limit for a permitted activity on the Mall, on one permit? The answer was 120 days, four months.
Is there any regulation against putting permit applications in one after the next? The answer is that there is nothing hindering from doing that.
At that point DTDC began putting in permit applications a year in advance every 120 days, this time for the NW quadrant of the Washington Monument grounds, preparing, a year in advance, for 14 months of constant vigil from Sept 11, 2015 – November 8, 2016 (Election Day). Permits are given for particular plots of ground for events on the mall on a first come, first serve basis, but the rule is that one can’t put in an application earlier than one year out from the first day of the proposed permit date.
Everything was set for DTDC’s kickoff. In one of the logistics meetings with the NPS previous to kickoff, it was acknowledged by all the intent of DTDC. The representative from the Park Police inquired for understanding, “So with multiple permits in a row, we are talking about a permanent structure on the mall for over a year?” “Yes,” Jason Hershey clearly replied. Everyone shook their heads and acknowledged that was understood.
It was also understood from the beginning that DTDC would be paying up to $10,000 to the NPS for the restoration of the grass under the footprint of the tent that would be killed while we there for such an extended time. DTDC agreed to that, with total understanding.
DTDC kicked off Sept 11 2015, on the Washington Monument grounds fully with the understanding that their permit applications were valid and had no reason to be denied in the future. One permit expired and the next one was given as planned. All was well, except for a short hick up due to security for the Papal Parade.
Suddenly, late March of 2016, 6 months in, DTDC was summoned to a meeting with the NPS and told that their next permit starting April 12, would not be granted for the Washington Monument grounds, because the were on grass. The NPS had just changed the regulations that no event can be on the turf more than 5 days total due to protecting the grass. They offered us Constitution Gardens Plaza as the only “hardscape” solution for us.
Interestingly, they disclosed in the same meeting that they had just received three congressional phone calls complaining about DTDC. This also came just as DTDC started to put in permit applications for past November 8, 2016 proposing an unending perpetual vigil for years to come, with the explanation “Jesus is Worthy, not just on election years!”
Left with no other option, on April 12, 2016 DTDC moved to Constitution Garden’s Plaza, where it currently is. DTDC did have to move to John Marshal Park, for May 10 – July 10 2016 due to previously planned events by the NPS on the plaza. DTDC was billed for over $4000 by the NPS for grass restoration at the Washington Monument grounds. As understood, DTDC paid the bill, but the grass was never restored.
In April 2016, DTDC inquired if they could be “grandfathered” and given more time at Washington Monument grounds, as they were given just a couple weeks notice. The NPS response was a clear “no” citing the need for securing the grounds immediately to begin restoring the grass. As of Feb 21, 2017 nothing has ever been done to footprint of DTDC by the Washington Monument grounds. DTDC paid for it. NPS was very clear that restoration had to begin immediately, but no action was ever taken.
Things have worked well for DTDC at Constitution Gardens, though the location was not as central on the mall as at the Washington Monument grounds. When DTDC was informed Feb 9, 2017, that they would not be granted their next four month permit due to a reconstruction project, DTDC knew immediately that they had few options.
There are a couple other hardscape, gravel, non-grass, walkways on the main stretch of the mall by the Smithsonian Museum that would be suitable for DTDC, but since DTDC’s applications, put in a year in advance, were for Constitution Gardens Plaza (amended from Washington Monument grounds), at a different location, DTDC would now be at the back of the line. With only 4 weeks to find another location, those other hardscape places have all been reserved by other groups making it impossible for DTDC to relocate there for the next 8 months at least.
Feb 10 2017 it was acknowledged by the NPS that DTDC didn’t have any options. However, the NPS asked for more time, for someone to get back from an extended weekend off. It was then confirmed Feb 15th 2017, that their were no options for DTDC on the mall, but affirming us to go ahead and seek congressional approval for Union Square, on the Capitol Grounds, or any other option.
In summary, DTDC does not think that the NPS has been malicious. But circumstances, regulations and timing has put DTDC on the brink of being shuttered, March 10, when their current permit runs out. DTDC is seeking any help in finding a place to relocate.
Why not just get a church? DTDC is based off of the Biblical King David that put a tent up by his palace, hired 4288 musicians and singers to minister to God’s heart 24/7 for up to 33 years, until Solomon, his son, built the temple. It was a key part of the vigil that Jesus would be given a central, significant place, on federal soil, just like David made the Lord central in His governmental administration. The very location has been part of the non articulated prayer. In essence saying, “Jesus we want you to be central in hearts of America.”
For interviews or more information contact Jason Hershey via email@example.com.
UPDATE 1 FEB 25TH
Dreaming of the New Jerusalem
David’s Tent is caught between two competing, but both valuable, visions for the National Mall, and Capital City. King David’s vision for His Capital City: A place for all Israel to gather, worship and give thanks to the Lord! (Psalms 122)
Thank you all that have been praying for David’s Tent DC’s new location. We consider every prayer part of our worship and declaration that Jesus is Worthy of the highest, centermost places of our lives and culture. Through this all, we’re still singing at the Tent!
Thank you for so many that have put their efforts together to contact members in Congress too. Your efforts opened up a great dialogue with the National Park Service (NPS) yesterday. They didn’t give us an option, but there was a discussion about the possibility of an option.
The possibility of the option floated, would have us stay where we are at Constitutions Gardens Plaza, but be coexisting with the construction trailers and equipment for the restoration project of the lock-keepers house on the corner. They warned us that we have to measure it out to see if we’d all fit there and there would be much noise throughout the day, but it’s a possibility of an option for us. (This would only be to buy us time, not a long term solution. Eventually a restaurant will be build on our spot.) This will be further explored as we walk the site all together next Wednesday afternoon, making measurements to see if we’d even all fit there. It’s a tight squeeze for sure.
In my guts, I’m skeptical this is “it.” But we will be considering it in the meantime. Let’s contend for His best in faith, prayer and action! Yesterday’s meeting was bountifully productive though. We were honored to have a great candid dialogue with those that we are working with at the NPS permits office.
The NPS permits office wasn’t notified until recently that this reconstruction project of Constitution Gardens is starting. It was planned for a long time, but on hold. Suddenly the funding came in and triggered the quick beginning, The notified us as soon as it was handed to them. The permits office hasn’t been given a solid start date yet, just a commission to not permit anybody there after our current permit runs out March 10.
The NPS permits office is bound to the constraints put on them from higher up. They explained their conundrum with us. Several years ago, congress gave them the mandate to make the mall area beautiful and fulfill the vision of George Washington to have the Capitol in the midst of rolling green hill spaces. The NPS just in the last couple years put 8 million dollars into the reconstruction of the sod on the main stretch of the mall. Next is Washington Monument Grounds, as piece by piece, they are redoing the turf. Which is why the new turf regulations were enacted last year, and our tent can’t be on grass any more than 5 days at a time now.
So why not just make more hardscape places? With each new monument, museum or restaurant, that vision of a Capitol surrounded by rolling green spaces is being chipped away. The NPS was mandated by congress to defend that vision and get the mall area looking beautiful.
On the other hand, the NPS is also to be permitting 1st amendment demonstrations on those same areas. These two visions, beautify the National Mall and make room for 1st Amendment demonstration, conflict greatly, at great cost and stress for all involved.
This is why your calls and letters to congress were and are so important. Keep them rolling! I want to be clear: I do not think the NPS is being malicious toward us. I would say the opposite. I really trust they are trying to find a solution, but their hands are tied. We need Congress or the Executive Branch to act. What is OUR GENERATIONS vision for our Capital City? Will 24/7 worship and Praise, and Jesus Himself, be part of our vision for the Capital going forward?
We’ve come full circle back to the vision of David’s Tent DC! King David made the Lord the central vision in his administration. With a 24/7 worship tent employing 4288 musicians and singers adjacent to his palace, David wanted to be sure God knew, that he had enthroned God over his administration. Will the David hearts arise!?
So far, from the response that I’m getting. I’m encouraged! There is a remnant in congress, and around America, that loves Jesus with all their hearts and not only do they know that He’s the Lord, but have also made Him their Lord.
And that Remnant… is only getting bigger.
Stay tuned… We will update you as we know more.
Dreaming of the New Jerusalem!
UPDATE 2 MARCH 1ST
Daniels wisdom is that he asked for more time! (Daniel 2:14-16) Today we learned from the NPS that we have 12 more days! We don’t need to move now, until March 22, when the load in for the reconstruction of our park actually begins!
They are working on two options for us past March 22, that they will formally present to us next Monday:
- Be part of the construction site at Constitution Gardens Plaza, where we are now. The issue with this is safety and crowd size. With construction vehicles wheeling around the tent, it would no longer be a place I’d want to take my children for sure. We would not be able to accommodate more than 60-80 people. There would be no overflow room from our 40 ft. square tent.
- Moving back to John Marshall Park. If you recall, that was where they made us go without amplification for 6 weeks last summer, due to complaints from the neighboring Court of Appeals. I was clear that we’d want our sound system back if we were going to move back there. The attorney for NPS is looking into that issue.
Though we appreciate the efforts of the NPS to offer us what they can, both of these options don’t sit well for me. In both areas, we would have neighboring interests that would not appreciate our presence. We may have the right to be there, but it would be an uncomfortable existence for us.
Currently we have one additional option:
A living room on Capitol Hill.
We have been offered a living room in a private residence across the street from the back side of the Supreme court, just two blocks from the Capital dome. The tone, tenor and posture of this vigil would change dramatically to move it inside, from public land to a private residence, and into a room that can hold a limited amount of people. However it would be a bit of a respite for our long term, full-time staff, to be out of the public eye.
This may be quite uncomfortable too though. The whole idea of a “church worship team” would have to give way to more of a living room perpetual worship time.
All that to say:
Let’s keep praying! So far a clear, “This is the way forward!” has not appeared. Please pray for me and our leaders that we would know what to do. We gained 12 more days! Extra time saved Daniels neck!
Pray that all of this wouldn’t distract us from Jesus, the purpose of it all, and the real intercessory prayers that need to be prayed every day.