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Last year a former homeless man was buried at the prestigious St. John’s Episcopal Church, across from the White House. St. John’s is called the “church of presidents” since nearly every U.S. leader since James Madison has worshiped there. In an unusual memorial, former members of Congress and prominent professionals attended the burial of William Wallace Brown, Jr. Someone had swindled Brown out of his house 15 years ago, and he had lived on the streets ever since. One Sunday morning he spotted, then president, George H. W. Bush entering the church and asked the former president to pray for him. Bush looked at him for a moment and said, “No. Come inside with us and pray for yourself.” After that, William Brown became a regular attendee at the 8:00 a.m. service and always placed a crumpled dollar bill in the silver offering plate. At his funeral, Dolph Hatfield, a member of the church who befriended Brown, said: “the homeless and the most important are one and the same.” Hatfield introduced himself to Brown after another parishioner snubbed him. He became Brown’s best friend, inviting him for a meal or taking him grocery shopping after church. The pastor who conducted the service said that Brown, “really understood that the kingdom of God is for all of us. It doesn’t matter about ethnic background, race, or class — all the things that we allow to divide us, but that in God’s eyes are not really important.”

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