It’s not every day that a new church starts in Arlington, but musician-turned-pastor Scott Maurer of newly formed West City Fellowship has a background even more unique.
Maurer, 46, was raised Jewish, played in a rock band for five years in the mid-Atlantic region and worked in the D.C. tech industry for 10 years before deciding to join the ministry.
West City Fellowship, which is a nondenominational Christian church, held its first official service Sunday morning in a lecture hall at Wakefield High School, where it will continue to hold weekly services at 10:30 a.m.
Raised in Alexandria, Maurer’s father was a “very religious Jew,” but his mother wasn’t observant, so when they divorced, Maurer said he was drifting spiritually. As he grew up, he had a natural curiosity; studying Eastern philosophy and several other Western religions, but shunning Christianity.
“I was extremely hostile to Christianity, very cynical to anyone that claimed to be a Christian,” he said. “I had the idea that you couldn’t be an intellectual and believe any of that nonsense.”
As Maurer got older and entered graduate school, he met a lay pastor and began gravitating more toward Christianity. In his late 20s, after marrying his wife, Julie, Maurer finally “gave his life to Christ.” He said he woke up in the middle of the night and realized he was meant to be a member of the ministry. He trained and was ordained at Fair Oaks Church and moved to South Dakota, where he led a church for four years. A few years after Maurer’s conversion Julie, also Jewish and a one-time groupie of Maurer’s band, converted.
“Not exactly what I signed up for, this Jewish girl, a Pastor’s wife?” she said.
Scott, Julie and their two children moved to Arlington in June and decided to start his own “plant church.”
“This area in general, it’s not a Bible Belt by any means,” Maurer said. “It’s just the opposite. A lot of people share the attitude I had for a long time. Anywhere from a skeptical hostility toward Christ, or more just a neutral, apathetic condescension, with not too much interest. I get it, I really do, I understand where they’re coming from, I understand the hostility.”
“I’ve come to believe,” Maurer continued, “that the really most important question that anyone can ask is, ‘is God real and can I know him? What does he want from me and what can he give me?’”
Maurer and his small congregation have gone around the neighborhoods near Wakefield High School and left flyers on doorsteps and “prayed for the people inside,” he said. He said he plans on writing a blog to draw interest from those skeptical or curious about the church.
Saturday, from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m., St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church will hold blessings for pets on the grassy area at the Clarendon intersection of Fairfax Drive, Washington Blvd and Clarendon Blvd, next to Northside Social. The service is being held in honor of medieval animal lover St. Francis of Assisi, and “Catholic and non-Catholic pets and people are welcome,” according to the event announcement.
On Sunday, the Rock Spring Congregational UCC will hold its own Blessing of the Animals, at 3:00 p.m. The service will be held on the church’s lawn at 5010 N. Little Falls Road. Visitors are encouraged to “come with the pets who share their life with us.”
Image via St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church
Prayer Vigil for Navy Yard Victims — St. George’s Episcopal Church in Virginia Square will be holding a 40 minute prayer vigil and candle lighting for victims of the Navy Yard mass shooting tonight. [ARLnow Events]
Va. Is Test State for Gun Data Sharing — Virginia is a test state for a nationally-linked system that will share information on guns used in crimes across law enforcement agencies. The system is intended to skirt federal law that prevents the sharing of federal gun trace information. As of Monday, twenty-five Virginia law enforcement agencies had signed on to the program. The Arlington County Police Department was not on that list. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Dedication for New Wakefield HS — A dedication ceremony will be held for the new Wakefield High School on Sunday. Students, staff and community members are invited to the ceremony, which starts at 1:30 p.m. It will be followed by tours of the school, an opening ceremony for Wakefield’s new aquatics center, and an aquatics center open house. [Arlington Public Schools]
Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ and the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center of Falls Church will co-host a “Day for World Peace” service this Sunday.
Hosted at the church (5010 N. Little Falls Road) and starting at 10:00 a.m. on Sept. 8, the service’s theme is “Two Faiths, One Creation.” It’s the third consecutive year the two congregations have organized the event, which was started on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The service will be followed by a social hour, after which many congregants will go to Washington, D.C., for the 9/11 Unity Walk, which starts at noon at Washington Hebrew Congregation (3935 Macomb Street NW) and travels down Massachusetts Avenue.
Below is the press release for the interfaith service:
A Day for World Peace will be observed on September 8 at an interfaith service involving two congregations — one Muslim, the other Christian. The service will take place at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ in Arlington, which will be joined by the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center of Falls Church. The theme for the day will be “Two Faiths, One Creation.” It recognizes that all people, regardless of faith tradition, are citizens of a single planet.
This exciting occasion builds on the memorable interfaith service observed on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 in September, 2011 by the congregations of Dar Al-Hijrah and Rock Spring, followed by another in 2012. The service will involve elements from each faith, and after a social hour, many congregants will join the 9/11 Unity Walk in DC, which “seeks to create a world where we are united, rather than divided, by our many faiths”
All are invited to attend: Sunday, September 8, 2013, 10:00 a.m. Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ, 5010 Little Falls Road, Arlington, VA 22207.
For information: 703 538 4886
Restoration Anglican Church in Cherrydale began demolition on its 150-seat church this morning, clearing the way for a new church building in the same spot.
Rubble already covers the church’s grounds at 1815 N. Quincy Street, as construction crews quickly tore down the small, brick building. Temporary church services will now be held at 5:00 p.m. on Sundays at Little Falls Presbyterian Church at 6025 N. Little Falls Road.
When Restoration Anglican Church congregation formed in January 2009, with less than 100 members of its congregation, it rented space for services from Trinity Baptist Church at the Quincy Street location. When Trinity disbanded in 2010, Restoration bought the building and has called it home ever since.
The building permit for Restoration’s new church was issued Aug. 12, and construction crews wasted no time in getting started. The congregation raised more than $2.4 million toward the design and construction of the building, according to Restoration’s website.
The new building will house a 375-person sanctuary, classrooms and will have a front porch for post-service gatherings. Whereas the old church was “quaint” and centered on the property with grass surrounding it, Parish Administrator Kat Vinson said the new one will be almost to the limits of the property.
“It was exciting to watch [the demolition begin] this morning,” Vinson said.
The construction of the new church is projected to take 8-12 months, Vinson said. Restoration hopes this building will last its congregation, which is about 500 strong, for years to come.
Legislators Holding Public Meeting Tonight — Arlington County’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly will hold their annual public legislative hearing tonight (Friday). The public is invited to address the delegation at the meeting, which starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Arlington County Board room on the third floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd. The delegation includes three state Senators and four members of the House of Delegates. [Arlington County]
Changes to ART 42 Schedule — Minor schedule changes to the ART 42 bus route will take effect starting Monday, Jan. 7. The changes in scheduled arrival times are designed to “improve on-time performance.” [Arlington Transit]
Camel to Visit Arlington Church — A live camel will be visiting an Arlington church this weekend in celebration of Epiphany. Chewy the Camel is scheduled to show up at the Church of the Covenant (2666 Military Road) around 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 6, and the public is invited to the event. “Join everyone that morning at 10:45 a.m. for a celebration and parade, as well as the Spanish and English telling of the Wise Men’s visit, accompanied by goodies and crafts for children in Fellowship Hall,” the church said on its website. [Church of the Covenant]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
BonChon Chicken Coming to Arlington — BonChon Chicken, a popular Korean-based chicken chain, will be coming to the ground floor of the new 2201 Pershing apartment building. The restaurant, noted for its wings, expects to open in the summer of 2013. [Washingtonian]
Galaxy Hut Goes Vegetarian — Galaxy Hut has introduced a new menu and meat is nowhere to be seen. The revamped menu is all-vegetarian and includes
tofu seitan and vegetable-based cheesesteaks, burgers and barbecue sandwiches instead of the genuine article. Some meat-based meals are still available, but by request only. [Washington Post]
Wakefield Half-Way Finished — Construction of the new Wakefield High School has hit the half-way mark. The new $115 million high school is expected to open next summer in time for the 2013-2014 school year. [Sun Gazette]
Church Prepares Meals for the Hungry — Instead of a traditional Sunday service, members of Arlington-based Grace Community Church prepared nearly 100,000 meals for those in need. The church meets at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. [WUSA]
Restoration Anglican Church (1815 N. Quincy Street) hasn’t been in existence for long, but it’s already looking to expand into a larger building.
The church congregation formed in January 2009, when it was around 100 people. At that time, it rented space for one service per week from Trinity Baptist Church, as did a third congregation which ended up relocating to Reston. Restoration bought the church building when Trinity disbanded in 2010.
Now, the congregation is closer to 450-500 people and the number of weekend services has increased to three. The Rev. David Hanke says the congregation has reached its threshold for expansion in the current facility.
“Our ability to keep adding services has hit its end so we need to build something larger,” he said.
Last month, Restoration began its capital campaign in an effort to raise a portion of the $4.5 million budgeted for the project. Although a design has not yet been finalized, the goal is to build a facility that would seat around 400 people, instead of the current 150 person capacity.
The existing church building will be razed and the new facility will be built on the same plot of land. So far there is no hard date for breaking ground, considering a final design hasn’t even been approved yet, but the hope is to start construction in early 2013.
While construction takes place for an estimated 12 to 18 months, the congregation will use space at Little Falls Presbyterian Church for one service per weekend.
Rev. Hanke reports having a good relationship with the surrounding community, and mentioned attending a Cherrydale Citizens Association meeting to address any concerns about a larger church. One of the issues that has come up as a concern among some residents is the lack of parking.
Right now, there are only 13 parking spaces at the church but there is a shuttle on Sundays that runs to the designated parking lot adjacent to Washington-Lee High School near I-66. The parking plan is in compliance with a county code allowing churches to run such shuttles to nearby parking lots. Rev. Hanke says the new church will house the same number of spots and the Sunday shuttle service will continue. Church goers will be reminded, as they are now, to appease neighbors by not parking on Quincy Street or nearby side streets.
Although a finished church facility is far in the future, the congregation is looking forward to its larger, permanent home.
“In the ongoing conversation we’re having with our community, one of the parallels I’ve drawn is to being a homeowner. There’s a big difference between renting a space and owning a space,” said Rev. Hanke. “Since we became owners, we became much more invested in the Quincy Street area. We love being on that street and we love our neighborhood. We are excited we have the opportunity to be there for a long, long time.”
Local Parties to Hold Debate Watching Parties — Local Republicans and Democrats will be holding viewing parties for the first of the 2012 presidential debates tonight. The Arlington Republican viewing party will be held at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon (3100 Clarendon Blvd). The Arlington Democratic viewing party will be held at Bailey’s Pub & Grille in Ballston (4238 Wilson Blvd).
Parents Say Bus Changes Are Taking a Toll – Students are not performing as well academically and at least one mom lost her job as a result of changes to the County’s school bus policies, according to a group of parents. Parents of Campbell Elementary students are planning to carpool — to Thursday’s School Board meeting, to voice their concerns. [WTOP]
More Local BRAC Moves Coming — According to one estimate, government agencies with leases expiring between now and 2015 as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act occupy more than 4.5 million square feet of office space in Arlington and Alexandria. The BRAC move-outs are impacting the bottom line of some commercial property holders. Vornado, with office space in Arlington and Fairfax County, expects earnings to be down as much as $60 million as a result of BRAC. [Bloomberg]
Church Series on ‘Restoring Political Civility’ — The Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ (5010 Little Falls Road) will be holding a four-part series that will “discuss how citizenship is a responsibility rather than a privilege, and how to restore civility to the political process.” [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Keithhall
Strawberry — who struggled with drugs, prostitution and other vices before he found God in 2006 – will host a sermon at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, at the Church at Clarendon (1201 N. Highland Street).
The church issued the following press release about the event.
On Sunday, September 23, 2012 at 11am, the Church at Clarendon, located at 1201 N. Highland Street in Arlington, welcomes 8-time All Star and 4-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry to address the question, “What does God have against sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll?”
Strawberry’s sermon is the third in a five week series the Church has titled “Blunt Questions” in which the Church challenges believers and non-believers to honestly wrestle with tough questions of faith. All are welcome to participate in the discussion.
An athlete perhaps known as much for his controversial behavior as for his legendary baseball, Strawberry will speak from a unique and personal perspective. “I was once very lost and tormented but now I am found and free in Christ Jesus. I want everyone to experience the saving and transforming power of Jesus Christ,” notes Strawberry in discussing his current life purpose.
Prior to Strawberry’s sermon, the Church will open its doors on Saturday, September 22 from 11am to 5:30pm to offer water and a cool place of rest for those visiting the Clarendon Day neighborhood festival. This year’s festival is the first since the church re-opened its doors at the Highland Street location in the heart of Clarendon after more than 2 years in exile while the building was torn down and rebuilt.
“As a church, we exist in large part for those that are not yet part of us—to connect with those outside our church and offer them something of the goodness of God,” Pastor David Perdue said. “We’re excited to be hosting Darryl Strawberry because he is a well-known star who can also address a question that many people struggle with.”
The public engagement continues on Monday, September 24, when the John Leland Theological Seminary, a ministry partner of the church, hosts the 40th Annual Faculties’ Convocation of the Washington Theological Consortium on the topic of Theology in the Public Square. Events run from 3:30pm to 7:30pm.
Through song, prayer and poetry, the Hall’s Hill community came together Tuesday night to mourn the loss of two of its own.
A candlelight vigil was held for double homicide victims Keefe Spriggs and Carl Moten at the Hall’s Hill/High View Park Memorial Garden. Dozens of people young and old — including friends, family and neighbors of the victims — attended the somber vigil, which was organized in part by the Calloway United Methodist Church (5000 Lee Highway). Speakers included pastors and community members.
On the morning of August 7, 59-year-old Spriggs and 31-year-old Moten were found murdered in an apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street, in Hall’s Hill — the neighborhood in which they were both born and raised. So far, police have not released any additional information regarding the ongoing investigation into the homicides.
Spriggs, known as Kee-Kee to friends and family, was divorced and was working at a body shop. Moten, also known as Pooh Bear, was an acquaintance of Spriggs and had been working as a cook at a restaurant in Falls Church.
Calloway pastor Rev. Sonja Flye Oliver said Spriggs and Moten both came from families with “extremely deep roots in the Hall’s Hill community.”
“Both of these families are families of faith, families of character,” she said. “These people exemplify what it means to be a close knit community.”
Rev. Oliver said it has been more than a decade since a crime like this has happened in the area.
“This is just shocking, it’s a shocking thing to have happen,” she said. “I’ve heard over and over again: things like this just don’t happen in Hall’s Hill.”
“When one of us hurts, all of us hurt, because we’re all related,” she told the gathered crowd. “We’re related by blood or we’re related by the Spirit. I like the feeling of family that this community exhibits all the time. You feel the love and the presence of God here.”
The families of both men are “not strangers to loss,” Rev. Oliver said. Spriggs’ mother had previously lost a son to a motorcycle accident and another son to an illness, she said.
The funeral for Spriggs was held on Tuesday. Moten’s funeral will be held at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in the Arlington View neighborhood on Thursday.
Rev. Oliver said Arlington County Police have been responsive to the community during the investigation into the homicides.
“We have faith that they are working diligently and trying to piece everything together,” she said. “I think the community will rejoice when we have an answer. We would just like to know who and why.”
In the meantime, she said, the “outpouring of love from the community” has been helping the families of Spriggs and Moten cope with their loss.
Father Paolo Dall’Oglio is an Italian Jesuit priest who had lived in Syria for 30 years, but was deported last month. He was reportedly targeted because he spoke out against the Syrian government’s crackdown on the widespread public uprising.
“The very fact that I am for change, for democracy, for human rights and dignity, this is very provocative,” said Father Paolo after his expulsion was ordered.
While living in Syria, Father Paolo had helped to restore the 1,000 year old Mar Musa Monastery and to establish it as a center for interfaith dialog and Muslim-Christian understanding.
Father Paolo will speak at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ (5010 Little Falls Road) on Monday, July 23, at 7:00 p.m. He will highlight his experiences while living in Syria, current conditions in that country and the circumstances surrounding his deportation. Everyone is welcome to attend.
On Sunday a group of Civil War reenactors set up camp outside the Mount Olivet United Methodist Church at 1500 N. Glebe Road, part of a “living history” event intended to draw attention to the church’s role as a field hospital during the war.
The event included a display of medical tools and practices from the Civil War era, talks by actor portraying historic figures, and the opportunity to mix and mingle with the reenactors, who discussed the ins and outs and camp life.
Among the reenactors was Seth Black, a Thomas Jefferson Middle School student and avid Civil War buff who portrayed a wounded Union drummer boy, according to the Sun Gazette.
Photos courtesy Fred Dunn
This Sunday (July 15) the Mount Olivet United Methodist Church at 1500 N. Glebe Road will be transformed into a Civil War encampment, in honor of the church’s role as a field hospital during the war.
Reenactors from 49th Virginia Infantry Regiment organization will be on hand for a Civil War living history event that will feature displays of medical tools and practices from the Civil War era, along with a wreath-laying, talks by actor portraying notable historic figures and opportunities to discuss “the boredom, hardship and daily activities of camp life” with the reenactors.
The event, sponsored by the Arlington Historical Society and the Arlington Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, is free and open to the public. It will run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
In an email, organizers described some of the history behind the event:
On July 15th, 2012, Mount Olivet UMC along with the Arlington Sesquicentennial Committee and Arlington Historical Society will host a Civil War Living History and medical display to honor the church’s use as a field hospital following the First Battle of Bull Run, or First Manassas. As Union troops fled back to Washington, DC in disarray after their rout on the battlefield, Mount Olivet was commandeered to treat the wounded.
Re-enactors from the 49th Virginia Regiment will set up an encampment on the Mount Olivet Green at the corner of Glebe Road and 16th Street. Visitors will meet and converse with soldiers about life in the camp, hardships they face, burdens, daily activities, drills, combat and boredom. Guitar and banjo music will help to carry the visitor back to an earlier day.
Inside the church, visitors can explore the state of Civil War medicine at a detailed display of medical tools and practices assembled from a member of the 49th Virginia’s extensive collection. Guests will gain an understanding of the primitive treatments and appalling conditions the sick and wounded experienced at the time.
The theme of the event is Mount Olivet: A Place of Comfort at a Time of Suffering. “The First Battle of Bull Run was a significant early battle in a conflict that would usher in the horrors and suffering of modern warfare,” says Dr. Bill Carpenter, Archivist and Chair of the Mount Olivet History Team. “The vast numbers of battlefield dead and wounded were unprecedented; the war would transform how Americans thought about death and suffering.”
In July of 1861, pews were broken apart and used as operating tables. Ultimately during the fall, the church was consumed by the surrounding Union encampments’ need for firewood and flooring in tents.
“Although Mount Olivet could no longer serve as a church for a time,” says Dr. Carpenter, “it is important for our community to remember its use to bring comfort and healing to wounded soldiers.”
Other special events during the morning will include:
- Commemorative Sermon. “A Christian Response to Suffering” by Rev. Tim Craig. 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM
- Living History Program. Wounded soldiers carried across 16th St. on stretchers into the church for treatment. 10:30 – 11:00 AM
- Remembrance of Civil War Dead. Laying of wreath on new monument honoring Civil War dead buried in our cemetery.
- “Sleeping Sentinel of Chain Bridge.” Living history presentation, George Dodge. On the stage throughout the day.
- “Lydia Bixby.” Anne Sedula portrays the grieving mother who lost 5 sons during the Civil War. Throughout the day.
- Georgia Meadows in authentic Civil War era widow’s mourning garb available through out the day to discuss 19th century mourning traditions.
Obama Speaks of Peace in Arlington Speech– In his Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery, President Obama spoke of a “milestone” reached in the past year with the end of the Iraq war. “After a decade under a dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon.” Mr. Obama also spoke of protecting veterans’ benefits. [Los Angeles Times, Associated Press]
Arlington Church Hosts Rolling Thunder Riders — The Arlington Assembly of God church, located just off Route 50 in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, hosted 300-400 Rolling Thunder riders over the weekend. The motorcyclists made camp outside the church or slept in the church itself. [Arlington Mercury]
Artisphere Gets First Artist-in-Residence — Local artist Beth Baldwin has been selected to be Artisphere’s (1101 Wilson Blvd) first artist-in-residence. Baldwin’s residency will stretch between now and November 11. Her 500 square foot studio will be located off of Artishpere’s main entrance lobby. “Baldwin will collaborate with Artisphere to create programming that involves her work and allows for visitors to learn more about her artistry, including ‘Plushie Design’ classes for all ages,” Artisphere said in a press release.