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.
Update at 4:40 p.m. — Chlorinated water leaking from a water main near Shirlington has seeped into Four Mile Run and killed “dozens” of fish, an Arlington County official told ARLnow.com this afternoon.
We first reported the leak near 2400 S. Walter Reed Drive this morning, after Claremont and Fairlington residents reported widespread low water pressure in the area. Now we’re told that the leak — in a 12-inch pipe — has resulted in a significant fish kill.
From Arlington Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel:
Residents may notice dead fish in portions of Four Mile Run downstream of the break due to the chlorinated water being released. This water is not harmful to humans or pets, but unfortunately resulted in a fish kill. Residents should follow the County’s normal precautions for safe use of urban streams.
McDaniel said repairs on the water main are expected to continue into tomorrow. Residents may continue to experience low water pressure but “no one is expected to be without water,” she said.
Less than seven months after a car ran into his house in the Claremont neighborhood, Patrick Lee is dealing with a similar problem. Somebody hit his car overnight, likely while trying to speed through the crash-prone traffic circle at S. Chesterfield Road and S. Dinwiddie Street.
Lee said his father woke him around 5:00 a.m. asking what happened to his car. That’s when he went outside to find the banged-up vehicle. The other driver left nothing behind except a few shards from a smashed headlight, which Lee hopes will eventually help police find the perpetrator.
Lee’s car had been parked on the street in front of his neighbor’s house when it was hit. He explained that three houses on the block, including his, had all recently sustained property damage from vehicles speeding through the traffic circle. The next-door neighbors escaped a car slamming into their home when the vehicle rammed a tree in the front yard instead.
Lee says when his home was hit in April, the person behind the wheel didn’t end up paying for repairs. A loophole voided her insurance because she uses the vehicle for work. That meant Lee and his parents had to pay about $5,000 out of pocket for repairs. The total estimated cost for damage, both outside and inside, ended up being about $28,000.
Neighbors are concerned not only for their own property and safety, but also because of the traffic circle’s proximity to Wakefield High School.
“I drive for a living and spend a lot of time in traffic,” Lee said. “Never, not anywhere in Northern Virginia, Thailand or other countries, never have I seen such a poorly maintained and dangerous intersection next to a school.”
The intersection has two stop signs and two yield signs for drivers entering the circle. People in the neighborhood say drivers speed through the circle without stopping or even slowing down. Lee mentioned that the layout of the intersection has been changed several times, but a good solution has yet to be found.
“You really have to be flying through these stop signs for something like this to happen,” Lee said. “This is right next to a school and everybody is going 45 to 50 miles per hour and not stopping.”
Lee said he talked to the responding officers about fixing the intersection when his house was hit in April. Although he doesn’t have an easy solution, he said a good start would be a four-way stop. In the meantime, Lee is going to contact his insurance company about his car, and hopes to find the driver who hit it.
A Toyota Camry somehow hopped a curb, smashed a small stone wall and hit the side of a house in the Claremont neighborhood this afternoon.
The crash happened near the traffic circle at the intersection of S. Chesterfield Road and S. Dinwiddie Street, across the street from Wakefield High School. Only one vehicle was involved and there were no reported injuries. No word on whether any charges will be filed against the driver.
The car wound up in a homeowner’s garden, about five feet above street level. A large crack was visible in the base of the home’s brick chimney, about where the car struck, but it’s not known for sure whether it was actually caused by the collision.
Roads were temporarily blocked while a tow truck worked to extract the car from the yard. More photos, after the jump.
A pit bull that attacked a pet sitter and then went after another dog was Tasered by police Friday evening.
Police were called to a home on the 2400 block of South Dinwiddie Street in Claremont for a report of a man being attacked by a dog. By the time officers arrived, just after 5:30 p.m., the dog was no longer attacking the man. Instead, it had another pit bull by the throat.
An officer attempted to separate the two dogs. When those attempts were unsuccessful, the officer used a Taser on the aggressive dog, according to police spokesperson Det. Crystal Nosal.
The man, who had been hired to watch over the two dogs, was injured and required medical attention. The pit bulls were taken to an emergency veterinarian.