Tysons, VA

A rally will take place outside the First Baptist Church of Vienna Friday evening on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

“Many of us have been inundated by the news. We’ve watched the reports. We are in mourning,” Vernon Walton, the senior pastor at the church, said in a video. “We are upset as we’ve watched the death of George Floyd, as we watched the family of Breonna Taylor mourn, as we’ve watched the family of Ahmaud Arbery mourn. We mourn with them.”

Participants are asked to social distance, wear masks and bring signs. The “Juneteenth Rally of Remembrance” will offer time for prayer and protest to celebrate Black lives, according to the event description.

“Come expecting to be empowered by the fellowship by the brothers and sisters of our community,” Walton said in the video. “You don’t want to miss this experience.”

The rally is set to take place in the parking lot at 450 Orchard Street NW from 6-8 p.m.

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A McLean resident and her two kids recently decided to help a local non-profit while also providing neighbors with spring flowers to adorn their yards.

Lynley Ogilvie and her two teenagers, George and Jayne, who attend McLean High School raised more than $5,000 for SHARE of McLean by selling flowers and plants to neighbors who wanted to start gardens.

SHARE is based in McLean and helps people who are struggling with food insecurity and poverty, according to its website, adding that the organization can assist with paying bills, clothing and other needs.

As a professional landscape designer, Lynley said she was inspired to start the fundraiser after receiving questions and inquiries from friends and clients asking for recommendations places to find plants.

Her kids helped her mobilize by designing programs such as order forms through Google Forms and coming up with the idea to buy in bulk from a source out of Maryland and resell the greenery — ultimately making a profit which could benefit SHARE, she said.

“People were very excited to support SHARE, and they were struggling to get donations,” Lynley said.

As a member of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Lynley said that the church frequently donates to SHARE, and the non-profit saw a lack in donations after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy.

According to Lynley, several other religious groups around the area are also bolstering efforts to support the local organization.

“One of my good friends is actually the Rabbi at Temple Rodef Shalom,” Lynley said. “She came to my sale and said they are also trying to support SHARE.”

People who bought plants from the family paid in advance through Venmo, according to Lynley, who added that people then signed up for a pickup time slot so they could practice safe social distancing.

Throughout Friday (April 10) and Saturday (April 11), roughly 90 people came by to pick up their greenery, Lynley said.

The funds have already been delivered to SHARE, she added.

Going forward, Lynley said she hopes people will continue to build and foster gardens because they help people maintain a “sense of control” in their lives and allows them to “reconnect with nature.”

Photo courtesy Lynley Ogilvie

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UPDATED 03/23/2020 — Now includes information from Holy Comforter Episcopal Church and the Wesley United Methodist Church.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, places of worship around the Tysons area are going digital for people who are self-isolating or quarantined.

Many of the centers are closed to the public, but a few are still holding events for regular attendees. Here’s what Tysons Reporter has found in the area.

McLean

The McLean Baptist Church decided to cancel all of its services except for an upcoming live-streamed ceremony on Sunday (March 22), according to its website. People interested in watching can email the pastor to request a link to the church’s Vimeo. The digital service will begin at 11 a.m., according to the announcement.

Saint Luke Catholic Church pointed followers to a televised Mass Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WDCW-50, according to the church’s website.

The McLean Islamic Center announced on its Facebook page that it will be closed until further notice due to concerns over the virus. The announcement added that anyone associated with the center in need of help can reach out for support through email.

The Lutheran Church of McLean announced that it will not hold a service on Sunday (March 22). The website added that staff will update the website as the church makes further updates to its policies.

Vienna

Our Lady of Good Council, a Catholic Church in Vienna at 8601 Wolf Trap Road, will be open for people to participate in the stations of the cross and certain prayer services, according to the church’s website. However, Mass is canceled.

The prayer services will take place Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 8 a.m. until noon for prayer groups of 10 people or less, the website said.

Stations of the cross will be available for self-guided tours from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Fridays.

New Song Church in Vienna will be hosting live streams of its services every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., according to the center’s website. People with questions about the live stream can call 703-972-6688.

Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Vienna invites people to a short prayer at 12:10 p.m. every Wednesday for the next few weeks, according to a spokesperson.

Wesley United Methodist Church is hosting weekly online services, according to a church spokesperson. Links and video recordings can be found on the church’s website and Facebook page.  They are also seeking online donations to help community members in need. Services will begin at 11 a.m. throughout the week.

Falls Church

The Falls Church Anglican has also suspended in-person events but has digital sermons.

Christ Crossman, a United Methodist Church, also canceled in-person gatherings, but people can take part in Zoom sessions, which is a type of conference call software. The events will take place on Sundays at 10 a.m. and people can get online by entering the church’s phone number (7035324026) when prompted to enter the “Meeting ID.”

Photo via Aaron Burden/Unsplash

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After several months of delays, plans to redevelop the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church property in the Falls Church area may go before Fairfax County planners in the spring.

Developer Toll Mid-Atlantic LP Company is seeking permission to redevelop 10 acres of the property at the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Idylwood Road into a residential neighborhood.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission’s public hearing for the project has been postponed several times this year since the application was first submitted in April.

“The St. Paul’s Lutheran Church SPA public hearing and concurrent Toll Brothers rezoning public hearing were moved since the applicant has yet to resubmit plans to the County for review,” Senior Planner Kelly Posusney told Tysons Reporter.

The Planning Commission is now scheduled to consider the application in the spring — if the plans are resubmitted to the county, Planning Commission staff told Tysons Reporter.

Posusney said that the resubmitted plans are now tentatively expected in January.

“If they fail to resubmit in January, the public hearings would most likely need to be moved again,” Posusney said. “The project has only completed our pre-staffing review, which is the initial review by staff. They never submitted plans for a staffing review, and that is why they need to resubmit.”

Image via Google Maps

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Former Manager of Tysons Corner Center Dies — “The mall’s former general manager worked there for only seven years in two different stints. But during the first of those, he oversaw an expansion and renovation that made Tysons Corner Center one of the largest and most successful malls in the country. Charles R. Cope, a native of Indianapolis, died Nov. 20 from complications related to a liver transplant. He was 71.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Head of McLean Elementary School — “Cherith Pierson, who currently serves as assistant principal at Cooper Middle, has been selected as the new principal of Churchill Road Elementary, effective January 2, 2020.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Vienna Fire Chief Celebrated — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recognized our very own Chief John Morrison for being named the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ 2019 Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year. [Vienna Volunteer Fire Department/Twitter]

History Behind Pleasant Grove Church — “For more than seven decades, the little white church on Lewinsville Road was a hub for the African-American community, hosting Sunday services, picnics, weddings–and funerals, like the one held for Joan Lewis’s father in 1949.” [Arlington Magazine]

Part of Tysons Highway May Become Park — The inside of the Chain Bridge Road (Route 123) and Leesburg Pike (Route 7) interchange could become a park. [Greater Greater Washington]

Future of Freddie Mac’s Tysons Space — “A joint-venture between Northridge Capital and KAMCO Investment Co. has acquired 1550 Westbranch Drive, a 151,949-square-foot office building in Tysons, Va., for $80.5 million… Freddie Mac signed a full-building lease in May, and is in the process of building out the space and moving in.” [Commercial Observer]

Layoffs Coming to Closing Clothing Store — “Lord & Taylor stores at Tysons Corner Center and Dulles Town Center will lay off 117 and 79 employees, respectively, according to Work Adjustment and Retraining Notifications filed with the Virginia Employment Commission.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Local Charging Station for Electric Cars — EVgo recently opened a new charging facility in Tysons. [NVRC/Twitter]

Polling Center Moved — “On Dec. 3, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved moving the polling place at the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church to the Lewinsville Senior Center at 1613 Great Falls Street, McLean.” [Fairfax County]

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The Pennywise Thrift Shop found a new home in Vienna — just around the corner from its previous location.

The shop originally resided nearf the corner of Church and Mill streets, but was forced to move after a fire ravaged the 100-year old building in January. The new location (214 Dominion Road NE) has been open for roughly a month and offers slightly more retail space, Mary Coulombe, a shop spokesperson said.

The shop sells a variety of everyday items including clothes, kitchen items, books, shoes, glassware and small furniture.

The shop is run by the Church of the Holy Comforter, and all of the proceeds go to charities, Coulombe said, adding, “We are here as a mission.”

This year marks the thrift shop’s 57th anniversary, Coulombe said. Another staff member told Tysons Reporter that the new location will be the thrift shop’s home for at least the next couple of years.

The shop plans to celebrate its new spot with a grand re-opening ceremony on Saturday (Nov. 23) from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Pennywise Thrift Shop is open from Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The shop is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

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The Falls Church Anglican built a new church along Route 50 in the Falls Church area after losing its former sanctuary space.

The new location (6565 Arlington Blvd) is nearly complete and began holding services in September, Zach Kincaid, the church’s spokesperson, said. Now they are looking to finish certain cosmetic projects around the church, including landscaping and interior design. 

The Anglican Church built a new space because they lost their original sanctuary (115 E. Fairfax Street) in a legal battle when they split from the Episcopal Church due to political and religious differences. The Episcopal Church declined to comment.

The new church cost around $16 million, which came from contributions by the congregation and parishioners, Kincaid said.

Before deciding on the Falls Church spot along Route 50, they considered following other parishes that built churches in Loudoun County, where real estate is less expensive, Kincaid. 

“The glue that stuck us to something around here was to be part of this neighborhood still,” he said. “It was a fleeting thought.” 

In total, the new space consists of 16,000 square feet of space divided between two stories, Kincaid said. About 6,000 square feet will be used for a gathering space for children and family, while the remainder will be worship space.

The church has around 900 chairs but typically seats around 1,200 worshipers each Sunday, Kincaid said.

“Lots of people tend to turn their attention to church as Advent comes up,” he said, explaining that membership and attendance tend to increase around Christmas time. 

To engage with the surrounding community, the church invited surrounding neighborhoods to stop by for open houses.

The church shares an office space next door with other professions, such as doctors.

Renovations should be completed soon, Kincaid said, but they currently do not have an exact date. The church is finishing up the permit process with Fairfax County.

Photo courtesy Craig Thoburn

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Columbia Baptist Church is ironing out parking and height issues linked to its expansion plans in the City of Falls Church.

The church wants to add a one-story, 33,000 square-foot building addition, along with a new sanctuary space with 1,192 seats, expanded paved surface parking and relocation of the parking lot and driveway along N. Maple Avenue.

The church (103 W. Columbia Street) is also seeking a variance that would allow the steeple to go 55 feet above the maximum height of 70 height to help bolster’s the church’s presence as a gateway to the city. The church argued that other churches have steeples above the maximum 70 feet.

Most of the discussion at the city’s Planning Commission meeting last night (Tuesday) focused on concerns that the church would have problems updating one of its ramps to make it ADA-compliant.

“On W. Columbia, both curb ramps at the midblock crosswalk need to be replaced,” according to the staff report.

“Since there are offsite parking agreements, all infrastructure that is being utilized in the right of way is required to be brought into current ADA standards.”

Facing the possibility of the proposal getting deferred because of the ramp, the team behind the church’s expansion said that they will figure out a way to meet the requirements for ADA-accessible ramps.

To address previous concerns about parking, the applicant added an extra 10 feet between the planned area for the parking spaces and nearby homes. The parking lot at the church was also redesigned to move the landscaping buffer between the parking lot and historic structures.

The Planning Commission approved the site plans and variance recommended.

The Board of Zoning Appeals will take up the church plans — decide if the church’s claims for the higher steeple will be allowed — at their meeting on Thursday, Oct. 17.

“Overall, I think it’s improved,” Andrew Rankin, the vice-chair of the city’s Planning Commission, said.

Image via Google Maps

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The editor in chief of the Falls Church News-Press released a book earlier this month exploring a gay perspective on feminism.

Author Nick Benton released his book “Gay Men in the Feminist Revolution: Articles, Pamphlets and Reflections on My Gay Activist Days in San Francisco, 1969-1972” on Sept. 17 through Amazon. Benton told Tysons Reporter that he hopes it will educate people on the power of feminism in politics.

Though this isn’t his first book discussing perspectives from the LGBTQ+ community, Benton released his latest book for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969.

“This is my two cents in terms of what happened 50 years ago,” Benton said.

Benton began his career in the San Francisco Bay Area writing for different gay media outlets and spent several years as an LGBTQ activist before moving to D.C. to become a White House correspondent.

Later in his career, he decided to set up shop and start a newspaper in Falls Church to cover a local news gap.

Benton told Tysons Reporter that he thinks feminism will be important for switching up the political culture in 2020 and hopes his readers will walk away with a more comprehensive background through historical documentation.

Readers might be surprised about “the depth of the commitment to feminism by gay men,” he said, adding that people often think about the topic as “one-dimensional,” but in reality, the gay community is very thoughtful and supportive when it comes to feminism.

When asked how people in the City of Falls Church will react to the book, he referenced the former FCNP column “Anything But Straight” saying that LBGTQ perspectives were well received by readers and he expects the same for his book.

During the writing process, Benton said he struggled to find the time and energy to complete the book, adding that much of it is based on extensive research he did himself.

The “Stonewall 50” event, hosted at the Falls Church Episcopal Church back in June, inspired him to finally finish the book. The event attracted several dominant figures in the larger community who spoke about the importance of LGBTQ advocacy, Falls Church News-Press reported.

Going forward, he hopes new generations will learn from and engage with his book.

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Columbia Baptist Church wants to expand in the City of Falls Church — but residents and Planning Commissioners have concerns about parking in the area.

At a Falls Church Planning Commission meeting on last Tuesday, Sept. 3, residents and commissioners discussed how parking expansion might affect not only the already-strained street parking situation but also how it might encroach on neighboring historic buildings.

In a zoning proposal application, the church requested two waivers concerning parking. They proposed to expand into a required 10-foot easement of a historic property near the back of the church, which would circumvent the city ordinances for shared parking. The church claims they have agreements with local property owners and that their services often take place during off-hours.

Along with growing membership, Brett Flanders, the executive director of the church, said the plan for extra parking would benefit its child development center. The on-site parking expansion would make it safer for parents to pick up their children and allow staff members to avoid street parking, he added.

Reducing the easement by 25% would provide the church with room for 15-25 more on-site parking spots, Planning Commission Chair Russell Wodiska said.

During the discussion, several commissioners including Melissa Teates were not convinced by the statements.

“I think the integrity of the historic houses are more important than the parking,” she said.

Teates said that she is familiar with the church and took the time to observe daycare pick up one day, finding that many parents like to park on the street anyway — saving them time in the long run.

“I just think regardless of the use, putting the parking lot so close to the historic house seems to go against the spirit and the letter of the ordinance put in place to protect historic properties,” Planning Commission Vice-Chair Andrew Rankin said, adding that he doesn’t see parking as a high priority.

Community member Keith Thurston also spoke up at during public comment and addressed the Planning Commission about his concerns, agreeing that the integrity of the historical protection ordinance is more important than expansion of church parking.

Besides parking, commissioners also discussed issues with the height ordinance, including whether or not the cross on top of the chapel would violate city code.

Though the commissioners did not settle on a decision, they prepared a list of suggestions for Columbia Baptist to consider and allowed them to revise the proposed plans.

If the church stays on schedule with their adjustments, the Planning Commission will vote on the proposition in October.

Map via the City of Falls Church Planning Commission 

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