On Sunday, June 5, members and guests of Arlington Presbyterian Church (APC) held their final worship service in their church home of 86 years. The congregation plans to sell their entire property located on Columbia Pike to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to build affordable housing on the church site. The church building will be razed to make way for 173 units of affordable housing and retail space in a mixed-use development called Gilliam Place, named in honor of the congregation’s first African American member and community activist. More than half of the units will be studio and one-bedroom apartments targeted to low-income seniors.
Sunday’s service was led by the Reverend Sharon K. Core, Pastor of APC. The 80+ attendees were comprised of APC members, elected officials, affordable housing activists, National Capital Presbytery leaders and members of clergy from supportive Arlington faith communities. This interfaith worship service was intended to be a joyful celebration of a vision realized, but there were several in attendance moved to tears, as members shared their remembrances and prayers in thanksgiving.
"People of God, we gather today to mark a transition for our faith community. Today is the last Sunday in this sanctuary and the first Sunday in new temporary space. Following the leading of God, we are given the opportunity to provide housing for a number of people in Arlington County. Today, we will remember with thanksgiving the many ways in which God has blessed our ministry and our lives in this place. We will lift our voices in praise and song to the One who alone will continue to care for us as we journey forward," welcomed Pastor Core.
In the middle of the service, the congregation processed three blocks to their temporary worship space at the Arlington United Methodist Center Chapel. Worshippers took with them stones from an altar built during Advent and hymnals as they walked or were shuttled to their new space. After construction is complete, the congregation would like to return to Gilliam Place as one of the tenants of the first floor retail spaces. They will continue their period of discernment and visioning for their future during APAH’s three-year development process.
“We are excited to mark this milestone on our journey of faith. Like the Israelites, we will have a time of wandering as we listen for what God is calling us to next. As a congregation with a radical, missional history, we look forward to discovering what is in our future,” said Susan Etherton, elder and leader of APC’s affordable housing team.
APC has been a forward-thinking congregation since 1908. Its legacy has been about the people and the community, and not necessarily about the building. APC has been actively working on re-using their property for affordable housing since 2011. They formed their partnership with APAH to develop the housing in 2013. The plans for redevelopment faced many hurdles over the years and this transition to temporary worship space represents only one leg of this congregation’s long and faithful journey. The members of Arlington Presbyterian invite you to come worship with them on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. at the Arlington United Methodist Center Chapel located at 716 S. Glebe Road in Arlington. For more information on Arlington Presbyterian Church, visit www.arlingtonpresbyterian.net, for more information on APAH, visit www.apah.org.