What Our Visitors Say
“Thanks again for allowing us to stay at your site. I believe this is our 8th time staying at the Washington Seminar Center!  It’s always been such a wonderful experience staying at your church. It’s nice because the students have more together time than they would at a regular hotel. ”
– Soraya , leader of 55-member group from Florida, 2013
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Washington Seminar Center (WSC) is a low-cost housing and meeting facility for groups visiting the nation’s capital with educational, social, political, and spiritual objectives in mind.

WSC was established in 1978 as a service ministry of Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church and comprises the lower level of the church’s historic 1869 building.We are located within walking distance of the U.S. Congress, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, and Smithsonian Institution.

While seeking to address the financial needs of the church the congregation founded a new and needed ministry of supporting the local and national community by offering the beautiful resource of its own physical space, a group hostel.

Like many churches in the day, Capital Hill Presbyterian Church was experiencing financial hardship. In 1973 the Session of the church appointed a task force to address the problems of its large deteriorating building. The problems included a leaking roof, failing heating plant, falling plaster and 11 large deteriorating stained glass windows in the sanctuary. The needed repairs would exceed $100,000 and the congregation’s annual income was inadequate to maintain a ministry, repair the building, and pay the utility bills.

In 1977 the Session applied for and received a grant from the Presbytery and General Assembly to establish the Washington Seminar Center in the church basement. The space would be used to house overnight groups who came to Washington and would provide exposure to the Federal Government, and experience and training working with inner city people. A director for the WSC was hired to handle bookings, meet groups, supervise cleaning, oversee maintenance, and arrange programs for its users.

The directors of the Seminar Center (and their periods of service) are:

  1. William Zook (1977-1979)
  2. Rev. Sally Promey (1979-1980)
  3. Estalene Ferrillo (1980-1988)
  4. Don Allen (1988)
  5. Rev. Carla Gorrell (1988-1989)
  6. Rev. Kent Winters-Hazelton (1989-1991)
  7. Meg Mann (1991-1999)
  8. Elisabeth Malphurs (1999-2002)
  9. Rene Ragan (2002-2008)
  10. Anne Nickel (2008-2010)
  11. Deanna Chabay (2010)
  12. Rev. Doris Warrell (2010 to 2016)
  13. Judy Bouché (2016 to present)

The Washington Seminar Center continues to serve the nation and the community while contributing to Capital Hill Presbyterian Church’s utilities, building maintenance, and administrative costs.

Click here to read the story of one of the first groups to stay at the WSC.