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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

April 7, 2008


HAMIL R HARRIS, WASH POST Bishop S.C. "Daddy" Madison, who for 17 years guided the United House of Prayer for All People, an affluent African American denomination based in the District, died Saturday night at his home in Northwest Washington. He was 86. . .

During his tenure, Madison erected and dedicated more than 100 sanctuaries throughout the country. He continued to build affordable multi-family housing, assisted living facilities and commercial retail establishments. He also created scholarships for young people and enhanced minister-education programs.

The House of Prayer has deep local roots in Washington's Shaw neighborhood. At a time when many congregations have left downtown, the House of Prayer continues to be an economic force. It was among the first institutions to rebuild after the 1968 riots sparked by the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. . .

During services at the church yesterday, men, women and children cried and danced in the aisle as the Lively Stones, a brass ensemble organized by Madison, played hymns and gospel music dedicated to a leader the congregation called "Daddy." Before becoming bishop, Madison was pastor of the D.C. church for many years. . .

The House of Prayer was founded by Bishop Charles Manuel Grace, who was born in Cape Verde. Sweet Daddy Grace, as he was called, built the first United House of Prayer in West Wareham, Mass., and incorporated the United House of Prayer for All People in Washington in 1927.

When Grace died in 1960, Bishop Walter "Sweet Daddy" McCollough took over as head of the denomination. He served for 31 years until his death in 1991. Madison succeeded McCullough after winning a close election against McCollough's son, the Rev. Leon McCollough. . .

Madison lived in a large Tudor house on North Portal Drive NW that belongs to the church. For decades during the Christmas season, members of the church have decorated the house and grounds with angels and toy soldiers and a life-size manger scene, all lighted by a dazzling array of lights. It attracts residents from throughout the area, as well as buses from House of Prayer congregations across the country.

SAM SMITH, 2005 - Every time I get totally fed up with Washington, something happens to remind me that some of the best of the city isn't gone, only hidden.

Like the big house on Portal Drive across the street from the one towards which I was heading for a holiday party. I had never seen in this city such an enormous display of Christmas decorations complete with "Seasons Greetings" in lights larger than on any local store.

It was explained to me that the house belonged to Bishop S. C. Madison, patriarch of the House of Prayer for All People, an institution deeply rooted in the history of the city and now spread from California to Florida to New York.

Because of the spectators, it was almost impossible to drive up the street and find a place to park. Later the crowd grew as a brass band began playing jazzed up Christmas carols and other music outside the home. A bus pulled over and let more visitors out. All without a single mention in the media, another part of America that survives underneath the radar.

After awhile, a minister came across the street and invited us to greet the bishop. A small group of us, including another black preacher, A. Knighton Stanley, made our way through the crowd and towards the long steps atop which stood an elderly Bishop Madison flanked by several security men.

Madison and Stanley are both significant figures in local culture, both have roots in the Carolinas, but are quite different in their stories. Madison is a native of Greenville, South Carolina, reared from childhood in the House of Prayer where he later served as a deacon. He became a minister at age 17 under the guidance of Sweet Daddy Grace and by 23 was already on the general council of the church, becoming its bishop in 1991.

A. Knighton Stanley, has been senior minister of Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington since 1968. He is a graduate of Talladega College and holds a master's degree from Yale University and a doctorate from Howard University. Active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Stanley has become a familiar name on civic boards.

As we walked across the street, I mentioned to our minister host that I had covered the 1960 funeral of Madison's penultimate predecessor, the remarkable Sweet Daddy Grace. The minister lit up and said, "We've got to talk."

He led us up the steps and introduced the bishop to Stanley, then to the host of the party that was our original destination, and finally to a white couple who just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

The bishop offered blessings and It occurred to me that while I may never meet the Pope this wasn't bad for seconds. We were invited into the house where perhaps 20 smiling, gracious men and women stood around with that ambivalence of those alternatively responsible for security and hospitality. After a tour of the dining room, we were shown an alcove where stood a white statue of Sweet Daddy Grace. I admired it, but couldn't help the sacrilegious observation that his fingernails were a lot shorter than when I last saw him lying in his coffin. Behind us, a young man sat at a tiny spinet playing the quietest Christmas carols I had ever heard. We turned and went to the living room where Bishop Madison was now seated, exchanged greetings again and departed.

SAM SMITH, MULTITUDES - In 1960, a reporter friend called me at 2 a.m. the morning after the funeral of Sweet, Precious Daddy Grace, the colorful bishop of the United House of Prayer for All People. "I'm down here waiting for them to choose Daddy Grace's successor," he whispered into the phone, "and I'm the only white person here. How about coming down?"

I had covered the funeral earlier that day and had been struck by the jewelry bedizening the lifeless and red, white and blue long finger-nailed form of the late charismatic who one paper said resembled Buffalo Bill. I got dressed and joined my friend at 601 M St. NW -- two young, unwelcomed white guys sitting quietly in the pre-dawn darkness of a church basement hallway waiting for the end of a seven-hour deliberation. Finally, the 224 elders from as far away as New Bedford, Mass., and Miami selected Bishop Walter McCullough by about 30 votes.

Daddy Grace has been born Manoel da Graca, a Cape Verde immigrant to New Bedford and a cranberry picker who would come to claim that God had also come to America in his body. He would eventually give baptisms to up to 1,000 at a time and accept "love offerings" from female followers. Among the tenets of his theology: "Salvation is by Grace alone. Grace has given God a vacation. If you sin against God, Grace can save you, but if you sin against Grace, God can't save you."

Daddy Grace, came to DC in 1927 and, according to Molly Rath in Washington City Paper, left this world a debt-burdened $25 million estate including an 85 room mansion in Los Angeles, a farm in Cuba and a coffee plantation in Brazil. Along with quotations like, "If Moses came here now he would have to follow this man," pointing to himself.


Anonymous tyrone adderley on of your sheep said...

R.I.p daddy

April 9, 2008 6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was informed today of your passing, although it has been sometime since I have been to the House Of Prayer, I do remember vividly when you came to the New York House of Prayer and I was introduced to you only for you to come to the one in Hartford years later and still remember my face it was priceless how your eyes lighted up when you saw me and I was the same. I am forever going to hold on to the memory and I pray for your family and Rest In Peace.. Sweet Daddy Madison.

April 9, 2008 6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daddy, we will miss you dearly. We all loved you, but God loves you best.

April 10, 2008 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The memory of you will always be in my heart. Your leadership and dedication to the House of Prayer will be greatly missed. You cannot be replaced physically, but God will find someone to fill your shoes and continue His works. Thank you for all of your teachings and love that you have given me and the members of the United House of Prayer. Rest in Peace Dad, and get the rest that you so rightfully earned.

April 10, 2008 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good riddance to the passing of a false prophet.

April 11, 2008 6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You mean so much to me. I thank God for giving me the mind to put my name on the House of Prayer roll at 14 years old. Without your spiritual guidance, not alone your natural fatherly love for me, I would not be the person that I am today. I will forever cherish the memories and keep them close to my heart where you will always be.

April 11, 2008 5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You inspired us ALL!! Inside the House of Prayer and out. I thank you for all you've done for me and my family. I know that Daddy McCoullough is welcoming you home, Singing - "Sit down and rest a little while". You will always be missed.
Love your child of god

April 15, 2008 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daddy Madison,

A great leader you were and we will never forget the love and dedication you had the House of Prayer and all of its members. We love you for all that you have contributed to our spiritual and natural growth. You have done as promised, served until your last days. Rest in peace. We will miss you deeply.

April 15, 2008 9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it had not been for your prayers for me because you cared so much about us in the House of Prayer i know it got Gods Atention and he had mercy and blessed me to be in my right mind today wanting to serve God with my whole heart so i thank you sweetDaddy Madison For i have peace understanding and i am living a good christian life because you taught us to stand and through Jesus Christ we will have the victory i am going to miss shouting and praising God with you in the natrual body but your spirit in Christ i will have forever in my heart I Love U Dad

April 20, 2008 2:55 PM  
Anonymous Minister Ross Hailey said...

Oh what a joy it has been seeing Bishop Madison for over 25 years, as a pastor, Senior Minister and Bishop. I remember the conversation we had downstairs of the Motherhouse Newport News, the year before he was chosen as Bishop. His love remained the same. My son and I will always remember you.

May 23, 2008 12:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

daddy madison was a good man i as was 1 of his maids and u peple can say good things or bad things but we the people of the house of prayer really cared about daddy and if u would of saw how many people were hurt i was hurt
but our special sweet sweet sweet daddy's daddy grace daddy mcllough and daddy madison are in peace now and we the house of prayer lov all 3 of still and we lov our new bishop daddy bailey and his wife queen bailey as much as we loved alot

June 13, 2008 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not understand calling this man Daddy or even daddy, for Jesus Christ clearly said and stated for all the world to see and I quote here "And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

The most we can ever call each other would be sir or maam, outside of this we are clearly being exalted by others around us, and it is the individual’s responsibility to correct such addressings.

Take for example the angel in Revelations who clearly stated, do not worship me, so direct your worship totally and completely to Jesus Christ.

The one who diminishes him or herself and points to Jesus Christ will be exalted within that exact act of self diminishment.

Remember that we are ALL but mere creatures, and we must remember and constantly remind ourselves that there is but One Creator, Father, Daddy, and He IS the Almighty God Man Jesus Christ!

December 18, 2008 12:01 AM  
Blogger hope said...

if you don't know anything about the uhop and it's faith and its teachings, then i don't think you should comment on this page

May 24, 2009 2:46 AM  
Anonymous A Brother in Christ said...

Just to clear up what I believe to be a misunderstanding about UHOP. I am someone that is a member of the church but was not born into it, so I can understand some people's misunderstandings.

In response to the Anonymous comment of Dec 18... The way I understand the title "Daddy" is this: You are absolutely right about Jesus' command to call no one Daddy except the father in heaven. Notice that we have called all of our bishops "Daddy". The title does not refer to the man but the holy spirit that works through him.

Peace and Grace.

September 1, 2009 5:08 PM  
Blogger siphons_tavern said...

that dosent make any sense the bible says that my gory will i not give unto another does the bishop even pay tithes or does he just keep the money and why does he have maids is he go or something its just not biblical you cant justify it and i know firsthand i used to go there under madison era its ll a load of crap how mustyou be saved what doesthe bible say repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of jesus for the remission of your sins and you shall rceive the gift of the holy ghost acts 238

December 24, 2009 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


March 5, 2010 6:18 PM  

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