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Morning Notes

The sun shines over Crystal Drive and the Crystal City Water Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington Is Getting an Eruv — “Two ritual enclosures that allow Shabbat-observant Jews to carry items beyond their homes are nearing completion in Northern Virginia. Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown is expanding its eruv, or ritual enclosure, into Arlington. Rabbi Hyim Shafner said the completed eruv will enclose Congregation Etz Hayim, Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington and Kol Ami: Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community, as well as Arlington National Cemetery and The Pentagon.” [Washington Jewish Week]

County Leaders Reject ‘Defund’ Call — “At the Nov. 13 Arlington County Board meeting, speaker Evangelia Riris called on elected officials to eradicate much or all of the police department and sheriff’s office, rerouting the $119 million in annual funding to other uses. ‘We could put the money into social services that would provide a more meaningful effect onto people’s lives,’ said Riris… Arlington board members and County Manager Mark Schwartz said, in effect, thanks but no thanks.” [Sun Gazette]

Activists Want New Tree Study — “Activists are continuing to press their effort to get the Arlington County government to initiate another study of tree canopy in Arlington, but seem at best to be receiving a lukewarm response. ‘There are surplus funds available” to conduct a new study,’ said Mary Glass of the Arlington Tree Action Group, who wants the county government to move beyond a 2016 study that showed a largely stable canopy of trees in the county.” [Sun Gazette]

HQ2 Honcho Meets Governor-Elect — From Amazon’s Brian Huseman: “As part of the Team Virginia econ development effort, today I met with Governor-elect @GlennYoungkin about his vision for Virginia. He will be a great leader for VA and Amazon looks forward to working with him as we invest & grow across the Commonwealth and in our Arlington #HQ2.” [Twitter]

Fill the Cruiser Tonight — “Our next Fill the Cruiser event is [Wednesday] evening at Lee-Harrison Shopping Center (2425 N. Harrison Street)! Help us brighten the holidays for children in need and Stop by from 5-7 p.m. to donate new, unwrapped toys for kids aged newborn-17.” [Twitter]

Inflation Hits Local Food Bank — “All this week, @AFACfeeds is giving free turkeys to families in need ahead of Thanksgiving. Last year, the nonprofit spent $37,000 on about 2200 turkeys. This year? That same order cost them $47,000.” [Twitter, WJLA]

Road Closures for Weekend 5K — “The 7th Annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson Memorial 5k & Family Fun Day will take place on Saturday, November 20th, 2021. The Arlington County Police Department will conduct the following road closures from approximately 8:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in order to accommodate the event.” [ACPD]

It’s Wednesday — Today will be mostly sunny and warmer, with a high near 66. Sunrise at 6:53 a.m. and sunset at 4:52 p.m. Tomorrow will start off sunny and warm, with a high near 72, before rain moves in later in the afternoon and evening. Wind gusts as high as 26 mph on Thursday. [Weather.gov]

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Tucked away in an Arlington County storage facility is a shattered Tiffany Studios stained glass window of Jesus Christ in the act of blessing those who gaze on him.

For decades, it adorned The Abbey Mausoleum that once stood near Arlington National Cemetery. Light would have pierced the 12-paneled, 9-foot by 6-foot window, casting jewel tones on the burial site of the man to whom the window was dedicated — E. St. Clair Thompson, a wealthy Mason interred there in 1933.

Surrounding “Christ in Blessing,” fittingly, were 12 windows with a simple geometric border and a floral design in the middle.

The Abbey Mausoleum was once “a prestigious burial ground,” built by the United States Mausoleum Company in the 1920s, according to a write-up of the mausoleum and windows Arlington Arts provided to ARLnow.

“However, with the bankruptcy of the managing Abbey Mausoleum Corporation in the 1950s, the building fell victim to vandalism and neglect,” the report says.

So too did “Christ in Blessing,” which has lost many panels. When the U.S. Navy acquired the mausoleum site in 2000, it decided to tear down the Romanesque structure due to its poor condition.

“Arlington was permitted to salvage architectural features from the building, including the windows,” the document said. “At the same time, the enormous task of relocating remains and contacting the families of those interred at the mausoleum began.”

While removing the window, the county discovered a signature in the bottom right-hand corner — “Louis C. Tiffany, N.Y.” — tying the window to the famous Art Nouveau artisan, son of the founder of Tiffany & Co., and his stained glass studio.

“The inscription coincides with those used by Louis C. Tiffany at the time this window was created, confirming its authenticity to the degree possible absent written documentation regarding its commission,” the Arlington Arts document said.

The window was likely commissioned by Thompson’s family, although no records of that exist, Arlington Arts says.

Today, visitors can view some of the geometric windows at Arlington Arts Center and Westover Library. Those that were too damaged were broken into fragments to restore other windows. Visitors to the Fairlington Community Center can see a stained glass skylight that also ornamented the mausoleum.

For two decades, however, the county has held onto “Christ in Blessing,” which it has not displayed because it’s in poor condition and needs the right setting.

“Significant damage to the panel was sustained from vandalism during the four decades that the mausoleum sat abandoned, and it definitely needs restoration before it can be safely and properly displayed,” Arlington Arts spokesman Jim Byers, Jr. said.

Now, the county is on the cusp of finding a restorer and a permanent home. This Saturday, the County Board is slated to approve a loan agreement with Central United Methodist Church in Ballston, which has agreed to pay for restoration work and display the window after the church is rebuilt.

“The restoration is being overseen by Ballston Limited Partnership and the Central United Methodist Church, which can offer the liturgical setting that is ideal for the restored work,” Byers said.

The church is set to be redeveloped by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. The new, 8-story building on Fairfax Drive, near the Ballston Metro station, will include 144 committed affordable housing units and a childcare facility for up to 100 children. Construction is slated to start this fall and APAH expects work to finish by winter 2023-24.

All that would remain is to adorn the church with the resurrected Tiffany window.

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For the second year in a row, the pandemic is preventing the annual Easter sunrise service at Arlington National Cemetery from being an in-person event.

This year’s service, hosted by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, will be live-streamed on Facebook starting at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, Apr. 4.

The event will be a Protestant service celebrated by Chaplain (Col.) Michael T. Shellman, Command Chaplain for the Joint Force Headquarters and Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Andrew R. Harewood, Deputy Chief of Chaplains for the Army Reserve.

“The Easter Sunrise Service supports military families and service members by providing spiritual enrichment and supports the joint base command’s mission to provide for the free exercise of religion in the military,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Scott Kennaugh, Deputy Chaplain at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in a statement.

To comply with COVID-19 guidelines and keep the number of people at the service as low as possible, a brass quartet and four vocalists from the U.S. Army Band will be on-site along with a sign language interpreter.

In case of inclement weather, the service will be live-streamed from the joint base’s Memorial Chapel, also in Arlington. 

A Facebook account is not required to view the event.

Photo by Tim1965

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools is set to add four non-Christian religious holidays to its calendar during the next school year.

The school system is currently surveying families, community members and employees about the draft calendar, which calls for a school year that starts on Aug. 23 and runs through June 17.

The online survey is open through Friday, Oct. 30.

The 2021-2022 calendar includes the following holidays:

  • Rosh Hashanah — September 7, 2021
  • Yom Kippur — September 16, 2021
  • Diwali — November 4, 2021
  • Eid — May 3, 2022

The Arlington School Board is expected to hear a presentation about the calendar on Nov. 17, before a vote on Dec. 3, a school spokesman said.

The Fairfax and Prince William county school systems are also considering adding the same four religious holidays. If approved, it would be the culmination of a long-running effort to have local schools close on major holidays for the Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim faiths.

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Christian community based in a North Arlington neighborhood is the focus of a new Netflix docuseries called The Family, which alleges that the group is a shadowy right-wing cabal with an immense sphere of influence.

The series premiered on Netflix last Friday (Aug. 9) and has sparked discussion across the internet. The Family alleges that the group called The Fellowship, whose most public role is organizing the National Prayer Breakfast, plays a nebulous role in swaying public policy and government leadership for religious purposes.

The Family is based largely on two books by author Jeff Sharlet, whose time in the organization’s complex in the Woodmont neighborhood is the subject of the first episode of the show. Much of the first episode is reportedly an inside look at the group’s facilities at the end of 24th Street N., near Fort C.F. Smith Park.

At The Cedars — the group’s mansion headquarters — and its grounds, The Fellowship hosts international dignitaries and operates a pair of group homes for young men and women. As in all things, the group has kept a fairly low profile in the neighborhood, though trouble did arise in the early 2000s when some residents of the facility were arrested and pled guilty to two burglaries in the neighborhood.

The show spotlights some conflicts with the neighbors, with members of the Woodmont Civic Association saying The Fellowship has a registry of which neighbors support and which neighbors oppose the organization.

Some of the residents who are critical of The Fellowship have said in the past that the VIP traffic to and from The Cedars is disruptive. Among the high profile visitors to the facility, as detailed by Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark in 2011:

Hillary Clinton in her memoir wrote of an uplifting lunch in the mansion as a new first lady in 1993; singer Michael Jackson borrowed its rooms soon after the 9/11 attacks; conscience-troubled Republican strategist Lee Atwater and disgraced United Way chairman William Aramony took refuge on its bucolic grounds; so did Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his Anita Hill ordeal.

Some attention was focused on the organization in recent years as high-profile sex scandals involving politicians pointed back to The Fellowship. The second episode of the show focuses on the Arlington group’s connection to the C Street Center, a townhouse in D.C. reportedly operated by The Fellowship that housed members of congress at discounted rates.

The show also questions the tax-exempt status of an organization that operates, according to the documentary, more like a private club than a church. According to Arlington County records, the Arlington locations owned by Fellowship Foundation Inc. are considered tax-exempt.

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A local interfaith organization is holding a meeting this weekend about how to ensure Amazon’s second headquarters benefits the local community.

Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement is holding the public meeting at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) this Sunday, June 9 from 4:30-6:15 p.m. and is encouraging residents from Arlington and Alexandria to attend.

Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson are expected to attend the event, per a VOICE press release. Other attendees slated to be there include local clergy of various religions, teachers, students, and business owners.

The topics of discussion include affordable housing and equal opportunities in education.

“Arlington and Alexandria officials have talked about the need to work together to mitigate negative impacts and maximize public benefits,” VOICE spokeswoman Marjorie Green told ARLnow. “This VOICE gathering will mark the first public joint event addressing potential actions in any detail.”

The event is free but attendees are asked to RSVP to [email protected]‐iaf.org.

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Altar'd State clothing (photo via Facebook)Christian clothing store Altar’d State is coming to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, according to building permit applications filed just before Christmas.

The retailer offers women’s clothing and accessories with a God-centric mission statement. Founded in 2009, the company has about 60 stores nationwide and donates one percent of all sales to local and international charities.

At Pentagon City mall, Altar’d State will serve both local customers and the throngs who visit the mall by the busload during school and church trips.

The permit application says the store will be 4,700 square feet and on the second floor of the mall.

Here’s how fashion website Racked described the retailer:

Altar’d State does not sell Christian apparel. The company sells feminine and flirty womenswear that taps into boho-chic trends for the Instagram set. Its stores push both in-house brands and external labels, all showcasing looks that are big on antiqued lace, soft tulle, and crochet detailing, with plenty of flowy layers in muted colors.

Which is to say that for a self-described Christian fashion company, there’s a surprising dearth of religious iconography when it comes to its clothes. Instead, there are graphic tees best worn by weekend warriors sipping on mimosas that read “Will Work for Brunch” and “I Hate Mondays.”

But Altar’d State’s faith is never far from view. Stores pipe in contemporary Christian music and the dressing rooms feature those aforementioned prayer request books. There are plenty of wood-block wall hangings with snappy messages like, “Just Sayin’,” “Be Nice or Leave,” and “I Totally Agree with Myself” — but the larger blocks displayed in-store include text like, “Be Patient. Our prayers are always answered but not always on the exact day we’d like them to be,” and “Don’t tell God that you have a big problem. Tell your problem that you have a big God.” A display near the front entrance of the Austin store features hand towels with Philippians 4:13 alongside joke linens (all stitched in the same distressed Courier font) that define a calorie as, “A tiny creature that lives in your closet and sews your clothes a little tighter every night.”

Hat tip to Chris Slatt. Photo via Facebook.

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Rock Spring Church (via Google Maps)

The Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ (5010 Little Falls Road) will discuss the intertwining of race and religion this month through sermons and evening session called “Starting the Conversation.”

The sermons and conversations were sparked by the deaths of Freddie Gray and Eric Garner while in police custody, which made national headlines and sparked a national dialogue on race, Rev. Kathy Dwyer said.

“I think we have just really been struck by the shocking events that have put the spotlight on racial injustice,” Dwyer said.

Starting on Sunday, Sept. 13, Dwyer will talk about racial justice through a series of three sermons about the story of Esther. The sermons will be a “broader brush stroke” about race and prejudice, she said.

“This series is based on the book of Esther, a dramatic story in the Hebrew Bible that is about an imbalance of power, privilege, prejudice, and taking risks to effect change,” Dwyer said. “In her sermons, Rev. Dwyer will reflect on Esther’s story and its connection with our lives, especially as it connects with the concerns about racial justice in America today.”

The church will also hold a series of three evening conversations about race and religion starting on Sunday, Sept. 20, which will be led by Dwyer and church leaders Susan Henderson, Laura Martin and Dale Dwyer. Each conversation will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Saegmuller Room at the Rock Spring church.

The conversations are open to youth, teenagers and adults, she said, and are part of a larger, “year-long focus on racial justice” that will extend into 2016.

Through the sessions, the church and its congregation will “explore the fundamental issues of racism, connecting the discussion to our church’s and denomination’s histories, to our our individual beliefs and actions, to the role of race in society and to the themes of race in religion,” according to the Starting the Conversation event page.

The discussion on Sept. 20 is called “Whose Story?” and will address what sparked the Church to talk about race. Participants will also talk about how race connects to the church and themselves in terms of their “denominational histories, identities and commitments.”

On Sept. 27, the church leaders will look at language and behaviors in terms of racism. The group will also look at the difficulties in talking about racism as part of the “Racism 101 and Beyond” conversation.

The last planned discussion, “The Bible and Racism” on Oct. 4, will examine the role of race in the Bible. Church members will also talk about how racial and cultural themes in the Bible are different than today’s experience with race.

“In our core values, we proclaim that we are an inclusive community, and a justice-seeking community. When we sing our centennial hymn, we pledge to loose the bonds of injustice,” Dwyer and church officials said in an email to congregants Thursday night. “We look forward to the start of this exciting program of learning, sharing, and taking action in support of our core values.”

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Our Lady of the Vanishing Arts, photo courtesy of Artisphere

A new art piece will lambast the closure of Artisphere on the venue’s final day of live performance.

Artist Carolina Mayorga can neither confirm nor deny that she will assume the form of the Virgin Mary apparition during a performance titled “Our Lady of the Vanishing Arts.” But Mayorga, who’s dressed as the holy figure before, says there’s a good possibility a divine apparition could materialize at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.

“[The Virgin Mary] is thinking about making an apparition at Artisphere,” Mayorga says, chuckling. “She might appear. She’s thinking about it.”

During the performance piece, which lasts an hour and precedes a musical performance by Stooges Brass Band and Black Masala, Mayorga will perform mock holy rituals and anoint Artisphere attendees.

“I have these cardboard letters that spell the word art,” explains Mayorga. “and I’m going to burn them in a little metal tray, mix that with oil, and use a brush to [paint dollar signs on attendees’ foreheads].”

A live organist will play Catholic mass classics such as “Ave Maria” alongside the performance.

“I call it Ash Saturday,” says Mayorga.

The point of the performance, explains Mayorga, isn’t to belittle religion. Instead, it’s to mourn the loss of a local artistic institution.

“I benefitted from Artisphere for a long time,” she says. “I did an artist in residency with them in 2013. They’ve always been supportive of my work.”

Some of the art from Mayorga’s residency still clings to the gallery’s walls as a permanent installation.

“When you want to do a special performance, you need a venue like Artisphere,” Mayorga says. “It really hurts to lose it.”

Photo courtesy of Artisphere.

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Bishop Paul LoverdeA small group of local Catholics is asking Pope Francis to consider selecting a new Arlington bishop who will bring a “fresh view” to the area.

The current bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, Paul Loverde, is 74. As is customary for Catholic bishops, after he turns 75 in September he will be expected to submit his resignation for the pope’s consideration.

“A few faithful Catholic individuals who live in the Arlington Diocese” have created a letter of “requested considerations in selecting the next bishop,” to be sent to Pope Francis, and are asking for those who agree with them to sign on to the letter online via a dedicated website, novabishop.org.

(The site has been taken down since ARLnow.com declined the request of one of the organizers, Frederick Pugarelli, to discuss the contents of this article before its publication.)

Loverde has been outspoken in his opposition to abortion, gay marriage and pornography. The letter does not mention any of those sometimes-divisive issues. Instead, it references local issues like poverty, diversity, hunger, homelessness and affordable housing.

The letter supports the pope’s stated criteria for bishop selection and asks the Church to consider a bishop who will emphasize humility over politics.

“Being a satellite of Washington, there is a natural focus on power, influence, and bureaucracy,” the letter states. “Unfortunately, this can permeate clergy and laity attitudes resulting in clericalism on the one hand and politicalization of the laity on the other. The Gospel message of humility and servant ministry is needed as a counter-balance to both clericalism and politicalization.”

“We further urge… the new Bishop be someone who comes to the Diocese with a fresh view of the challenges and the potential of our Catholic community,” the letter concludes. “Thank you, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you, with the assurance that we will welcome with love and respect whomever you appoint.”

Via email, Pugarelli said the following of the letter and its writers:

This was not done by a group; just by a few faithful Catholic individuals who live in the Arlington Diocese. Recognizing that Bishop Loverde will be taking a well-earned retirement at some point in the future, we wanted to specifically support Pope Francis’ criteria for selecting a new Bishop and to note some of the challenges that exist in the Northern Virginia community as a whole.

Hopefully as lay people we have crafted a request that is respectful and also supportive of the Church’s selection process for new diocesan bishops. We purposely avoided seeking any group label or even associating it with particular individuals’ names lest people try to discern whether this is “moderate,” “liberal,” conservative,” “traditional,” or any other label other than just “Catholic.” This is simply what it is, a respectful request we wanted to offer to other lay Catholics in the Arlington Diocese to show their support for Pope Francis’ criteria and the selection process. They can choose to sign it or not; to create their own letters/requests or not.

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