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The Bible Way Church was founded in 1927 by Smallwood E. Williams when Williams began preaching on Seventh Street, NW. At the time of his death in 1991, he was director of the Bible Way Church World Wide, with 330 churches, more than 100,000 members, and a radio ministry. A civil rights activist, Williams worked with multicultural groups to end segregation in Washington. In 1963 he used political connections to save the church from demolition for the scheduled construction of Interstate 395. The highway now bends around the site. In 1988, on the 25th anniversary of the saving of the church, two local streets were renamed Bible Way Plaza and Bible Way Bend.

Williams moved easily and effectively in the city's political circles and helped found Citizens Against Police Brutality. He also headed the Washington chapter of the NAACP, chaired the local Democratic Central Committee, and co-chaired a committee that rallied support for President Johnson's DC reorganization plan, which led to the imposition of the mayor-council form of government in 1967. Preaching self-help, Williams's church built the 184-unit Golden Rule Apartments near the church, a Golden Rule Center of 40 town houses, and apartments and supermarkets.


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