In 1966, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia bought four acres of farmland in Dunn Loring, Virginia, a small neighborhood in Fairfax County, with the vision of one day building a new house of worship. St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church of McLean helped establish the Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross as a mission congregation in 1979. Fifteen people held the first service in the foyer of the Dunn Loring Elementary School, less than half a mile from the purchased farmland, with the Rev. Berry Parsons, Vicar, presiding.
In early 1983, the growing congregation moved its Sunday service to the local YWCA, conveniently situated in the same Dunn Loring neighborhood. In September, the Rev. Jonathan Bryan replaced Rev. Parsons as Vicar. The following year, those dedicated Episcopalians focused their efforts on planning a simple structure to house their growing community. Construction of the Church of the Holy Cross began in the summer of 1984, and the first service under the new roof was held in September 1985.
Between 1985 and 1987, the congregation grew from 25 households to more than 50, filling the seats with communicants of all ages. Holy Cross Phase 2—a multipurpose Upper Room and basement for a nursery, kindergarten, and classrooms—was completed by the winter of 1987, giving youth education and other developing ministries space for growth. A Memorial Garden was dedicated in a beautifully wooded area behind the church, adjacent to a new playground.
By 1989, Holy Cross’ membership, programs, and finances had developed enough that it was declared a self-sustaining member of the Diocese of Virginia, and the Rev. Jonathan Bryan was named Rector. Ten years later, Holy Cross had grown to more than 100 households, had moved to 3 services on Sunday, and was bursting at the seams yet again. The congregation decided it was time to build again, and the planning for Phase 3 began. This was a huge leap of faith, as the plans called for a complete new sanctuary, a large welcoming narthex, and additional classrooms, bathrooms, and mechanical rooms below. But with many prayers, a capital campaign, and strong leadership, the beautiful new structure was completed in 2001 and dedicated by the Rt. Rev. David C. Jones, Suffragan Bishop of Virginia. The award-winning design completely transformed the church, both physically and psychologically.
We continued to grow at a comfortable pace while keeping a friendly, welcoming, small-church attitude. A large new kitchen enabled our service ministries to connect even more with our community, and today we prepare meals each month for a nearby shelter. The lower-level classrooms of the Phase 3 addition, along with the original classrooms, are used by a Montessori school in which many parishioners enroll their children.
Jonathan retired in 1999 and was followed by the Rev. Joan Peacock-Clark. In 2003, the Rev. Elliott Waters became Interim Rector, transitioned to Priest-in-Charge, and led the congregation until early 2004, when the Rev. Jane Barr was called as Interim Rector.
We were becoming a program church, learning to lead from within and reorganizing ourselves to better serve the parish and all those who continue to move “inside the beltway.”
After a thoughtful, thorough national search, Holy Cross called the Rev. Walter (“Wes”) Smedley IV in 2005. During the next eight years, our congregation flourished and grew, instituting many new programs and developing an even more diverse group of ministries. We were becoming a program church, learning to lead from within and reorganizing ourselves to better serve the parish and all those who continue to move “inside the beltway.”
In the summer of 2013, Wes was called to lead a struggling congregation in Chicago. The Rev. Elizabeth Tesi arrived last fall from Oregon as Interim Rector and is keeping us moving forward at a steady pace. A wonderful leader, she is helping us maintain our enthusiasm in God’s ministry and loving service as we search for our new Rector.