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Lewinsville Presbyterian Church was founded on October 17, 1846 at our current location – the corner of Great Falls Street and Chain Bridge Road. In 2021-2022, we are celebrating our 175th year through a number of activities and the written word.

The paragraphs below appeared in our Bulletin or Newsletter and provide a glimpse of life at Lewinsville over 175 years.

Lewinsville is known for sending out members to start new churches. “Why not right here,” someone said. Thus, no one was surprised when Session made the decision in 1978 to allow the fledgling Korean Central Presbyterian Church to hold worship services at Lewinsville. Their services and Sunday School classes were always held on Sunday afternoons. The original 40 Korean families quickly outgrew Lewinsville’s facilities and moved in 1985 to a 12-acre site in Vienna. By 2010, the KCPC moved again to an 80-acre campus near Centreville, Virginia where today it serves a congregation of more than 4,500! – January 30, 2022 Bulletin

Lewinsville’s original 1846 church was a white clapboard chapel, warmed by a single potbelly stove, with room for over 100 congregants in the pews.  An oil lamp, precariously balanced on the lip of the pulpit, enabled the pastor to read Holy Scripture. That small lamp provided the only illumination in the chapel until electricity was installed in 1908. The chapel, with its “Quaker-hard” pews, served as the home for Lewinsville Presbyterians for 110 years. A strong emotional attachment to the chapel grew during those years and made the decision to build a new sanctuary in 1956 all the more difficult. Indeed, the controversy surrounding that decision nearly caused an irreparable divide in the membership. – January 23, 2022 Bulletin

Long before there was “livestreaming” of worship services, Lewinsville broadcast music and worship services to the community via the Schulmerich Tower Music System, a gift from the family of Dr. Jackson B. Anderson, prominent McLean physician. The gift was dedicated on Palm Sunday, 1946, the 100th Anniversary of Lewinsville Presbyterian Church. It was described as “a system that can be heard over a distance of four miles radius, although it has been heard as far as six miles away. It has already been used to amplify the entire Easter service to an overflow crowd on the church lawn.” The system, no longer in use, was installed to “bring the ministry of word and music to the entire area for many years to come.”  Our neighbors are probably pleased that it is no longer in use. – January 16, 2022 Bulletin

One of the more interesting characters in Lewinsville’s history is Miles C. Munson, perhaps best known as the Lewinsville Elder who served four Presbyterian churches in Northern Virginia. In addition to Lewinsville, Elder Munson helped establish Falls Church Presbyterian, Ballston Presbyterian, and First Presbyterian of Arlington. At Ballston, he also taught a Sunday School class. Altogether, he held the office of Elder for 50 years. His vocation was Clerk in the Pay Division of the U.S. Treasury Department, a post he held 47 years. He also owned a farm near the present intersection of S. Glebe Road and Columbia Pike. When he died in 1914, he was buried next to his wife, Kate, in Oakwood Cemetery of Falls Church. Elder Munson lived 83 years.  – January 9, 2022 Bulletin

Upon the 1842 death of prominent Fairfax physician Dr. Mottrum Ball, his heirs began making plans to establish a Presbyterian church on a small corner of their inheritance adjacent to Barrett’s Crossroads. For many years, his wife, Martha Turberville Ball, and her niece, the late Elizabeth Lee Jones had dreamed of such a church on the site. Working with Commander Thomas ap Catesby Jones (brother of Elizabeth), and his wife, Mary Walker Carter, they carved out 2.5 acres for a church on the forested hillside, and filed for a charter from Winchester Presbytery.  The charter arrived, dated October 17, 1846, and construction began in earnest. The new Lewinsville Presbyterian Church was dedicated January 3, 1847—and the rest is a 175 year history of ministry and service from faithful Christians on Lewinsville Hill.   – January 2, 2022 Bulletin

A Lewinsville Christmas in 1857: Rev. C.B. McKee, noted in his diary that it snowed on Christmas Eve, 1857. One of his members dropped by the day before with a “turkey and two minced pies.” He concluded his Christmas Eve entry with, “I have a sense of gratitude to the Lord for placing me among such a kind people.” Christmas day was quiet and uneventful, according to his diary. “Not a soul called upon us today,” McKee wrote. And so, he spent a good portion of Christmas day preparing his sermon for the following Sunday. For dinner he went to the home of a parishioner and stayed until midnight. “But the conversation was too much of a worldly nature—this always grieves me.” – December 26, 2021 Bulletin

Our little white frame chapel sat nearly alone at Barrett’s Crossroads when it was dedicated on a snowy Sunday, January 3, 1847. Across the street, Mankin’s General Store could be seen through the trees.  A couple of horse-drawn carriages were tied up outside the church. Several congregants arrived by foot, and were late. Another came on his mule. Inside, a single pot belly stove struggled to keep the chapel warm. Elder Amzi Coe had arrived early to light the fire. Rev. Levi Christian preached that first Sunday, and although his sermon topic is not recorded, its length was likely a full hour—typical for the time. Just 30 feet wide and 40 feet long, the new Lewinsville Presbyterian Church quickly became a cherished spiritual refuge for the 17 Presbyterian founders. – December 19, 2021 Bulletin

In 1966, Lewinsville Trustees paid $91,000 for four acres of land adjacent to church property. The purchase was made with a prayer that the Holy Spirit would guide them to its best use. A committee was formed. Ideas considered for the site included a home for runaways, a retreat for retired pastors, space for a new sanctuary, even a parking lot. But there was no consensus around any suggestion. The committee was disbanded and another appointed. The second committee unanimously recommended a home for the elderly. Even then, there was some hesitation when church leaders worried about our ability to fill it. If the project failed, the church would owe $4 million. Fear was replaced by Faith, the same Faith that enabled Lewinsville to overcome every obstacle it had ever faced. LRR opened at full capacity in September 1980. – December 12, 2021 Bulletin

Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, having suffered severe damage during the Civil War, applied for compensation from the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, DC. When the claim was finally heard in 1903, Martha Jones, daughter of founder Commodore Jones, was present to attest to the damage suffered. “The parsonage was destroyed,” she told the court. “The church and school house so damaged that nothing but the frames of the buildings were left standing. Windows, doors, siding, fences, and seats from the church were either taken from the premises or destroyed. It was not possible to hold a service in the church, the whole place being dismantled: seats, pulpit, carpet, stove, windows and sides having disappeared.” The Government paid $1,760 to return the church to “usable condition.” – December 5, 2021 Bulletin

The 1940 Lewinsville Presbyterian Church that installed Rev. Franklin Gillespie that year was, in his words, a “self-centered” church that “did not support the work of the presbytery or the larger church.” Indeed, total giving beyond local church expenses totaled $80 per year with $5 designated to Foreign Missions. Gillespie was paid $1,800 per year. Under his leadership the church adopted its “first ever annual budget of $3,200 with 10 percent going to benevolences.” Some members questioned their decision to hire this “starry-eyed young dreamer” who dared to recommend such a budget.  Today, Lewinsville supports nearly 100 mission initiatives beyond its doors. – November 28, 2021 Bulletin

For many years, the story told around the church was that pastor William R. McElroy left all church records on a trolley in 1923, and the upset over losing the records forced him to leave. But the “real reason,” according to an interview with longtime member Frances Kennedy in 1990, was wrapped in a Session debate over whether dairy farmer Albert Mack should be invited to join Session. Mack was mentioned in a newspaper story about dairy farmers who “watered the milk.” McElroy said he didn’t think anyone who watered the milk was qualified to serve on Session. McElroy didn’t know it but every dairy farmer on Session watered the milk. And that’s why he was asked to leave. – November 21, 2021 Bulletin

As the community was growing rapidly around them, the congregation of 1955 split into two camps—those who wanted to remain in the small white frame church of their ancestors and watch the rest of the world grow around them, and those who said, “We don’t think that is our mission.”  The latter group of stalwarts could not see the future but knew Lewinsville must prepare for it and let God reveal their future in his time. The new church was dedicated at Easter 1956, and the rest is truly our history. – November 14, 2021 Bulletin

The church operated with no prepared annual budget until the arrival of Rev. Franklin Gillespie in 1939. Expenses were paid from receipts only. Financial assistance for survival came from the Presbytery. The largest recurring expenses in the early 1900s were wood for the pot belly stove, oil for the pulpit lamp, and wine for communion. – November 7, 2021 Bulletin

On Thursday, May 23, 1861, the Lewinsville precinct voted 86 to 37 in favor of remaining in the Union. Lewinsville members who voted to reject the bill of secession were Jonathan Magarity, James Frizzell, Mason Shipman, James and Jackson Magarity—all men of considerable influence in the community. (You have seen these names on streets in our community)The church remained loyal to the Union, and, indeed, became an outpost for troops charged with defense of the Capital city. – October 31, 2021 Bulletin

For many years, the Ladies Aid Society provided the only funds from the church to support mission programs, and all such funds were generated by community dinners the ladies hosted at the church. The major beneficiaries of their gifts were Home Missions, Foreign Missions and the Freedman’s Society. – October 24, 2021 Bulletin