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Wesley United Methodist Church

The following Historical writup was done specifically for our 60th Anniversary celebration. Additional historical information can also be found here: Early History of Wesley

In The Beginning:
The need for a church building and a gathering place for people to practice and grow in Christian Faith were conceived in 1953 as four neighborhood women discussed over their back fences, the need for a church in the Mount Zephyr area. The founding members met in the old Mount Vernon High School which is today leased from Fairfax County by the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA). Easter Sunday, April 17, 1954 was charter Sunday. The church was named in memory and honor of Charles and John Wesley, founders of the Methodist Movement in England in the early 1700's...
Prior to charter Sunday, the first church service was held three months earlier on Jan. 17, 1954 with 30 adults and 54 youth in attendance. The current church grounds were purchased by the Methodist Virginia Conference Trustees for 12,800 dollars in 1954. Within two years, the founding congregation cleared the land, leveled a parking lot and built a building with Sunday school classes downstairs and a sanctuary, parlor and administrative offices upstairs. Cost in 1956 was 104,500 dollars. The parking lot was not paved during the start-up years and it became known as "the big muddy" after a rain.
Research of the land records shows this historical area, of the church grounds was once part of George Washington's Muddy Hole Farm. Old Maps show the land was once used for growing clover and wheat during the 1700s. Fairfax County land records show 18 owners over the past 365 years of the land on which WUMC stands today:
 
1649-1673 Lord Thomas Fairfax received land grant from Charles I of England for all land between the headwaters of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers
1674-1677 Colonel John Washington- (GGF of GW)
1677-1698 Lawrence Washington (G.F. of G.W.)
1698-1726 Mildred Washington (Aunt of G.W.)
1726-1743 Augustine Washington (Father of G.W.)
1743-1752 Lawrence Washington (Half Brother of G.W.)
1752-1802 General George & Mrs. Martha Washington
1802-1831 Bush rod Washington (Nephew of G.W.)
1831-1840 George C. & Ann T. Washington (Nephew of B.W.)
1840-1848 Samuel & Lydia Whitall Quaker Businessman from New Jersey 1
1848-1860 Aaron Leggett a Quaker Businessman from New York
1860-1875 Hugh Whitton, of Delaware
1875-1885 Fairfax County Court Receivership
1885 1885 John Burroughs Purchased from Thomas Moore (court officer of Fairfax County Court) for 12 dollars an Acre
1886-1899 Fairfax County Judge Park Agnew
1899-1940 Margaretta L. Agnew (sold 8.8 acres to the Fairfax County School Board, on Dec 1,
1938 for Mount Vernon High School (MVHS).
1940-1954 Katherine Bein and Emmett H. Markwood
1954-Present--Methodist Church of the Virginia Conference
 
The Early Years::
In the early years while holding services in Mount Vernon High School, Rev. George Henley, delivered sermons from a portable pulpit that a member borrowed from the US Navy. The sponsoring church, Washington Street Methodist Church supported the new church by loaning their associate minister and superintendent of Sunday schools for the first year while holding services in Mount Vernon High School. On December 17, 1956 the date plate was placed on the northeast corner of the new church building. The original structure still serves as the main sanctuary today. The young congregation felt they could not afford to buy a cornerstone so the plate was installed as a practical approach to the date mark for the new building. The first service was held in the new building on March 3, 1957. The first few years the young church rented an apartment in Bell Haven for the first pastor, Rev CL East, and seven years later in 1963 the current personage at 8532 Richmond Ave was purchased. Eight years later the Fellowship Hall behind the main building was built in 1971 for 100,000 dollars. Sunday, 14 May, 1972, the Fellowship Hall was used for the first time after worship services. The fellowship hall has been used for over 40 years by various community groups from the scouts, the AA, the Mount Zephyr Civic Association, and at times has been used as a shelter for homeless before the South County Homeless Shelter was established.
 
Ministers:
WUMC has had 15 members of the clergy assigned over the past 60 year period. Our current minister is the Reverend Lydia Rodriguez Colon recently assigned in June from the Arlington UMC.
George C Henley (Acting) 1953 -1954
C.L. East, Jr. 1954-1958
W.N. Colton, Jr. 1958-1961
O.K. Brooke 1961-1965
A.E. Roughton 1965-1969 (Methodist Church renamed United Methodist Church in 1968)
M.H. Elliott 1969-1971
W.S. Tongue 1971-1981
J.B. Godwin 1982-1988
W.T. Kessler 1988-1991
R.L. Miller 1991-1995
G.H. Gravitt 1995-1996
T.S. Smith 1996-2004
W.T. Forstall 2004-2010
Janet Salbert 2010-2014
Lydia Rodriguez Colón 2014-Present
 
WUMC Involvement in Charity Activities and Social Justice Missions:
Over the last six decades, Wesley UMC has been involved with community support to organizations doing Christian works. Some of these groups supported are:
Meals on Wheels, Bread Run for the Hungry, Rising Hope Mission Church Hypothermia Shelter, Pancakes & Praise, South County Homeless Shelter start-up & sustainment support, Troop 993 BSA, Alcoholics Anonymous, Rock Kitchen, UCM, Art for Humanity, Saint Andrews Club, Gleaning Programs, Crop Walk, Cancer walks, Angle Tree Projects, Monlock House for Abused Women's Shelter, Cuban Refugee Program, DC Walk for Homeless, Parenting training, Rising Hope Mission Church start-up and sustainment support, summer program work team support to Katrina victims, summer work team support to Appalachia, Heart Haven, Conference comfort packages for Africa, New Hope Housing and Wesley Community Peach Festival.
The Wesley United Methodist Church invites our community to share in our worship service at 10:00 A.M. and the potluck picnic and activities following the service. We celebrate 60 years of working together in the spirit of Christ and service to others in our community. You are welcome to join us on September 7 in worship and fellowship.
This research was conducted by: Charles Anderson a long time and current member of this Wesley United Methodist Church in Alexandria, VA.

Click to Look Inside Wesley's March 3rd 1957 Bulletin