Chronological History of Fairlington United Methodist Church

Chronological History of Fairlington United Methodist Church

Updated July 2017


May 15, 1943                          Fairlington community opened its first unit of apartments


June 1943                               Miss Margaret Rue, missionary on leave from China, was

                                                Sent to Fairlington by the Virginia Methodist Conference to

Contact Methodist families. She helped organize the church, circles and the Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS).


October 1943  The Virginia Conference sent the Reverend Don L. Cole as pastor to Fairlington to organize a Methodist Church.  During that winter, Sunday Vesper services were held each Sunday night in homes. Church bulletins were printed and distributed to all apartment units in Fairlington.


February 5, 1944        The Organizing Conference of the Fairlington Methodist Church was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Lee, 3429 South Utah St. Dr. A.P. Williams, District Superintendent, presided. The first official Board and Trustees were elected.


February 28, 1944      A special session of the Quarterly Conference was called to petition the Court of Fairfax County for permission to borrow $3,000. From the Board of Church Extension of the Methodist Church to purchase land on Leesburg Pike.


April 9, 1944   Easter Sunday: The first service of Fairlington United Methodist Church was held in the Fairlington Elementary School. Dr. Williams gave the sermon. The twenty-eight charter members of the church were received at this time. The first session of the church school was held at 10:00 am. The average attendance during the year was 200.


July 21, 1944   The third Quarterly Conference of the year produced time agreements or resolutions drawn for borrowing and accepting gifts for a total cost of $37,000 to build the church. The total cost to build the church was $ 42,414. 97.


August 4, 1944            Mr. H. Eugene Peacock came as the second pastor to advance building the church. Mr. Cole left in the fall.


December 17, 1944    A ground breaking ceremony was held.


May 1, 1945    The church corner stone was laid.


August 26, 1945          The church was consecrated and the first service was held.


August 29, 1945          The first organ was dedicated. It was financed through WSCS fund-raising activities.


1950    Plans began for expansion of the physical space.

            The Methodist Men’s group was established


1951    Two and one half acres of additional land were purchased from Brooking Estate.


March 11, 1951          Dual services for both church services and church school began – 9:30 and 11:00 am


November 27, 1951    The first joint Thanksgiving service was held with Fairlington Presbyterian church.


September 19, 1952   A loyalty dinner was held at Washington Lee High School.


April 26, 1953 The ground breaking service for the new sanctuary was held.


September 13, 1953   The ceremony for laying of the cornerstone was held. A copy of the early history of the church was sealed in the stone.


February 21, 1954      The last Sunday morning worship service was held in the “Little Church”.


February 28, 1954      The first Sunday morning worship service was held in the new sanctuary.


March 6, 1954 On Saturday evening the official Board held a banquet to celebrate the completion of the new church. The honored guests for the occasion were the Rev. and Mrs. R. Beverly Watkins, District Superintendent and Mrs. John H. Pearson, and Mr. and Mrs. John H. Lee, in whose name the church was founded February 5, 1943.


March 7, 1954 An open house was held. That Sunday all 1200 members attended and 100 more were received into membership on the same day.


1954    The old sanctuary was converted into church school classrooms and office space.


1957    A parsonage at 1416 Key Drive, Alexandria was purchased.


December 5, 1957      The Methodist Men began sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop No. 120.


May, 1959       Plans began for a new educational building.


May 20, 1959  A loyalty dinner was held at Wakefield High School.


April 24, 1960 A groundbreaking ceremony for the new educational building was held in the afternoon.


September 11, 1960   Dedication of the chapel as a memorial to V. Elizabeth Foster


February 4, 1961        An official Board dinner was held in the Fellowship Hall.


February 5, 1961        The 17th anniversary of the founding of Fairlington Methodist Church was held along with the consecration of the new educational building.


August 1961    The parsonage at 1416 Key Drive, Alexandria was sold.


August 1961    A four bedroom, split level house at 1317 Juliana Place, Alexandria was purchased as the new parsonage for the senior minister and his family.


September 1967         Two rooms on the ground level of the educational wing were redecorated as a recreation area for youth. They chose the name “Blue Potato Coffee House.” This preceded the Fellowship Hall.


October 16, 1968        A charter was issued for the United Methodist Women


February, 1972           The Heritage room was dedicated


October, 1973 The Fairlington United Methodist Women became active in the downtown ministries Tele-Help project which later became known as ALIVE


1974    Wesley Housing Development Corporation established an office within the FUMC building


March 23, 1975          An entry ramp making the sanctuary accessible to people with disabilities was dedicated


September, 1978        In collaboration with Wesley Housing Development Corporation Fairlington UMC supported Strawbridge Square Apartments in Lincolnia, opened as rental housing for low-income families.


1978    Friends and relatives of Marie King Smith and John Edward McLean, Sr. contributed hand bells to the church.


January 7, 1979          An FUMC organ fund promotional committee was appointed        


November 1, 1981      Fairlington UMC became a covenant member of Bread for the World. William Schminky was the FUMC liaison with this hunger abatement movement


August 1, 1984            The sanctuary communion table was dedicated in memory of Jack Miller.


August 13, 1984          The Holtkampf organ was installed in the main sanctuary


October 1, 1984          Karen Marquardt Gardner became the first woman Associate Minister of Fairlington United Methodist church.


August 24, 1986          the sanctuary altar cross was dedicated in memory of Emily Hakel


1987    FUMC hosted a health clinic for adolescents until the County could complete arrangements for a longer range location


July 2, 1987     First youth participation in Mountain Top project in the Cumberland mountains, Tennessee


July 22, 1987   A Social Hall Renovation Task Force was appointed


February, 1988           Three FUMC congregational meetings on HIV/AIDS were held: “A Theology of AIDS,” by Rev James S. Petty; “How to talk with children about HIV/AIDS,” by Anne Wilson, MSN; and “How will we respond to AIDS” by Rev Wendy Tate. After these meetings FUMC agreed to establish a nursery and day care center for children affected by or infected with HIV in collaboration with the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (NOVAM)


November 12, 1991    The Board of Trustees reported that the FUMC land, buildings and equipment had a value of $4.2 million.


December 29, 1992    The Social Hall renovation was completed and consecrated as “Fellowship Hall”


June 6, 1993    Celebration of Fairlington’s Golden Anniversary


1997    The Open Your Hearts to Open Our Doors campaign began to make the church building more accessible to people with disabilities. Two bathrooms and several water fountains were renovated and two handicapped accessible doorways as well as a lift were installed.


2013                                        FUMC became a formal reconciling congregation


January 2014  The Church Council established an Exploratory Building Committee “to explore the linkage between our mission and our current facilities” including best practices for identifying and growing the congregation’s strengths.


May, 2015       Participation in the Bi-District 75th anniversary celebration. Fairlington submitted the following “brief”: 

“Founded in February, 1944 Fairlington has been a social justice advocate for more than 70 years, partnering to support the establishment of Wesley Housing Development Corporation, Strawbridge Square apartments in Lincolnia to provide low income housing, and ALIVE! and became a covenant member of Bread for the World that evolved into the St. Andrew Club to address hunger.  Fairlington has sponsored a health clinic for teens, meeting and education space for children affected by HIV/AIDS, children with disabilities and for more than 35 community and multi-faith groups.  In becoming a reconciling congregation in 2013 our church continues to live out its calling to welcome and serve all people.”


July 2015         The Council approved the formation of a formal Building Committee as described in the UMC Book of Discipline (See also the full description of other activities related to this long term planning effort in a notebook titled, “Long Range Planning” in the Heritage Room.


2015    In consultation with the pastors and the Church Council FUMC’s Blueprint for Mission Team identified the church’s mission focus areas as Education, Worship, and Service; conducted numerous congregational conversations to identify renovation priorities; and generated and distributed a report of Congregational Input for a building renovation in May (2015).


September 2015         Heritage Room renovation was completed


September 27, 2015   Long-range planning retreat to begin discussions of mission and 5 yr goals and objectives


January 2016  Conducted 360 degree survey of staffing, programs, potential gaps and unrealized opportunities


April 2016       Church Council completed vision statement: FUMC welcomes all to a nurturing faith community that serves God by serving others


June 2016       Feasibility study conducted by the UMC/Wesley Development Corporation


August 23, 2016          FUMC begins participation in the District’s Next Level Innovation (NLI) program


September 2016         Council approved 5-yr goals (2017-2021):

•          Nurture meaningful and diverse worship experiences to facilitate a closer relationship with God inside and outside the church walls so that Fairlington UMC more effectively responds to God’s mission for us in the world.

•          Improve outreach to neighbors within a 5-mile radius of our church through increasing communication outlets with our community, and improving those already in place; looking at the overall “look” and “feel” of our communications to ensure that they are effective in welcoming those we wish to reach; and improving relationships within the church and with neighbors not yet connected to Fairlington UMC.

•          Develop and implement a Leadership Training program to equip and empower all those chosen to lead the ministries of FUMC. Impart knowledge of the United Methodist Church’s organization for carrying out the church’s mission to make disciples for Jesus Christ, and to further Fairlington’s vision of serving God by serving others.

•          Increase by (25 percent) over the next 5 years the number of members engaged in small group ministry at Fairlington UMC, wherein small gatherings of individuals meet regularly to establish welcoming and nurturing community through avenues such as conversation, prayer, and study, growing in their faith in, love of, and relationship with God.

September 7, 2016     Special meeting of Trustees, Finance, Building Committee, Council and clergy to discuss the future of FUMC’s facility


May 10, 2017  Charge Conference to request approval to convene a formal Building Committee for the purpose of moving the church building renovation work forward.


May, 2017       Lemay Erickson Willcox selected as the architectural firm to lead the FUMC building renovation


June 10-15, 2017        Focus groups and town hall meetings to collect

            Congregational input for the building renovation