First Presbyterian Church of Arlington kicked off its sesquicentennial celebration with a picnic and concert on the church grounds on Aug. 28, and has additional events in the pipeline to celebrate 150 years of service to parishioners and the community.
“We have a really interesting history, and are planning several events and activities this year to commemorate the occasion and propel us toward our next 50 years,” said Lynnette Yount, who chairs the steering committee leading the 150th-anniversary celebration.
As the name suggests, First Presbyterian was the first Presbyterian church to be founded in Arlington (then “Alexandria County”) when, in the early 1870s, 29 local residents met at the home of Marvina A. G. Hayes. They formed a Ladies Mite Society and began fundraising to establish the new church.
Each member paid an initiation fee of 25 cents and monthly dues of 10 cents. Members sold articles of clothing, both handmade and gently used, and held several festivals to raise money to build a church in the heart of the community. The church became a mission church of the already established Falls Church Presbyterian Church.
Two months later, in April 1872, a Sunday School was started in the hall above George Mortimer’s Blacksmith shop at the intersection of Glebe Road and what is now Wilson Boulevard.
By June of that year, the church gained its first pastor, Rev. David Riddle, who shared his duties between the Falls Church Presbyterian and the newly formed First Presbyterian.
The original First Presbyterian Church of Arlington was completed in 1895 and stood at the northwest corner of Wilson and Glebe (where Peck’s Chevrolet would be built, and has since been redeveloped as a 10-story mixed-use building in the heart of Ballston). The church moved in 1951 to its nearby site at North Vermont Street and Carlin Springs Road.
Known throughout its history for its many festivals and community activities, the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington will continue this tradition with a series of events in the coming months, including a community-celebration lunch in November and a Snowball dance in the new year. The church plans to continue its role of “serving the heart of Arlington.”