Frequently Asked Questions about


(Note: Things change. If you see something here that seems wrong, please send a message to Ron Brandt)


How do I get to attend a meeting of a committee or group?
Most meetings at Mount Vernon Unitarian Church are open to all interested church members and friends, although in meetings of groups elected by the congregation (Board of Trustees, Program Council, Search Committees) there may be guidelines for how others can participate. Contact the leader or chair of the committee or activity to ask about it. In nearly all cases you will be warmly welcomed.

How do I start a new activity or group?
If you want to start a group of some kind, you can certainly do it without permission from anybody. But if you expect to use church facilities or list events in church publications, you should probably “go through channels.” A good way to start is to contact the appropriate Program Council coordinator (usually Our Home Community). Georgia Pourchot, chair of Adult Activities, will offer any help you might need.

How do I recruit members for a committee or other group?
Put announcements in church publications (see “Publicity.”) But also look around and spot people who you think might be interested. Personally invite them to get involved.

How do I find who does what?

Phone numbers and email addresses of church members and friends are listed in a printed directory available from the church office. The first few pages are called Who’s Who (also on this website), with names of people who have responsibilities such as committee chairs.


Where should I look for materials left for my church group, and how do I leave them for others?
All church leaders and committees have mailboxes located in the hall across from the office.


How do I schedule a room for a meeting?
Before making a request, view the full church calendar to see what other events are scheduled at the time you want, and their locations. Choose a location that will not conflict and then click on the Quick Link on the home page of the church website called “Request Room for Mount Vernon Unitarian Church Meetings/Activities.” The link takes you to a form for requesting meeting space. As the form says, the room has not been reserved until the information has been entered on the calendar. You will be informed when the reservation has been made. In unusual circumstances requiring special arrangements, contact Susan Samuels,

How do I arrange to hold an event?
Check the Event Planners Guide on the church website, listed as a link on the Governance page under “Church Life.” Most events are sponsored by an existing committee, but whether you represent such a group or not, if you have an idea, go for it!

How do I request that furniture be set up for an event in a special way?
For routine meetings, most people do their own setup. For special events, fill out a “Custodian Work Order Request” form and put it in the Custodian’s mailbox as early as possible but at least a week in advance. Work Order and other blank forms are in mailboxes across from the church office.

How do I arrange for childcare for an activity?
Contact one of the childcare providers on the list of eligible providers available from the Director of Lifespan Spiritual Growth, Ann Richards, or her assistant, Jim Kerr. They can also give you a copy of the current MVUC policy covering matters such as the type of events for which childcare must be offered and arrangements for payment of providers.

How can I be sure my group can get into a locked building?
At least one door to the Meeting House is usually unlocked from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Many church members in leadership roles have keys to the Meeting House and Hollin Hall. If your meeting is in Hollin Hall or in the Meeting House in the evening and you do not have a key, ask members of your group if one of them has a key and is willing to arrive a few minutes early to let others in. If you will need a key frequently in the future, ask the Church Administrator or Property Manager to check one out to you. Keys must be handled with care.

How do I keep doors unlocked for other group members?
To fasten Meeting House doors in the unlocked position, use the unlocking tool that hangs on a chain beside the door. Insert in the hole in the center of the wide bar on the back of the door. Hollin Hall has a regular door lock and a deadbolt, both of which use the same key. The deadbolt is currently not used. After unlocking the regular lock, make sure it is set so that it will open freely for others.

How do I turn on the gas fireplace in the Commons?
If it’s cold outside and your meeting is in the Commons, you may want to have a fire in the fireplace. The switch is on the wall above the fireplace. It may be behind an item displayed there. Be sure to turn it off when you leave.

What are my responsibilities when I am the sponsor of a meeting or an event?
All church property should be left in good condition: clean and orderly. Unless you’ve made special arrangements, chairs should be stacked so that the custodian can sweep the floor and future users can set up the room as needed. If there is garbage it should be put in the dumpster near the parking lot. Lights shoulsisd be turned off, windows closed, and outside entrance doors locked.


How do I publicize a forthcoming event?
Our primary means of communication are the monthly church newsletter The Windmill, theWeekly Bulletin inserted in the Order of Service on Sunday mornings, the email newsletter This Week at MVUC sent on Fridays, this website,, and the MVUC group on Facebook along with other social media. You can also makeposters and leaflets.

How do I get an announcement in The Windmill (the monthly newsletter)?
Send the announcement, preferably by email, to (notice the s on newsletters). The deadline for the next month’s issue is about the 15th of the month. To make special arrangements contact the editor, Margaret Graham.

How do I get an announcement in the Weekly Bulletin and the Friday Email Newsletter?
Announcements about major events (not routine committee meetings, etc.) can be sent by email to If they are to appear in the Weekly Bulletin on the following Sunday, they should be sent no later than noon on Wednesday. Announcements sent to this address will also be included in the Friday email newsletter, This Week at MVUC. Bill Cassidy edits the Weekly Bulletin; Sally Lindfors edits This Week at MVUC.


To promote your event/activity, please forward information for publication to the appropriate emails: All weekly announcements need to be submitted by 12 Noon on Tuesdays. – All newsletter articles need to be submitted on the 15th of the previous month for inclusion in the next month’s newsletter. – All information for the Order of Service should also be submitted by 12 noon on Wednesdays. – To get information placed on the digital screen in the commons. – For questions concerning your posted event/activity posted online on MVUC calendar.  Please complete online Meeting Room Request form.


How do I get an item posted on the website,
Send any requests to web administrator Keith Brophy,  being sure to include “MVUC Website” in the subject line. Requests should include all details of the event and be written as though the reader is not a member of MVUC, and not familiar with the goals and purposes of the event, committee or activity. If outsiders are invited to attend but if we don’t make clear how this may be of interest to them, they likely will not. Along with Communications Coordinator Bill Cassidy, Keith is working to share the information, if relevant, on the church’s social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.


How do I handle money collected at an event?
Cash and checks should be put in a sealed envelope along with a completed Deposit Form with your name, the amount and its purpose. (Blank Deposit Forms are in one of the mailboxes outside the office.) The sealed envelope should be put in the slot in the office door leading to a locked deposit box.

How do I get reimbursed if I have bought something for the church?
Fill out a “Request for Payment” form, if necessary have it signed by the appropriate committee chair or other responsible church official, and put it in the Church Administrator’s mailbox. Blank forms are available in the mailboxes in the hall across from the office.

How do I determine what accounts to be charged for items bought or ordered for my committee?
If you are a committee chair or other person responsible for a budget item, confirm with Carolyn White, Church Administrator, the account(s) for which your committee is responsible. If you are not the responsible person, give the Request for Reimbursement form to that person so that he or she can specify the correct account and sign the form.


What should I do if there is a fire?
In an emergency, leave the building and call 911. Activate one of the fire alarm pulls located beside each exit door even if you have already called 911. Fire alarms in the Meeting House are connected to the fire department, but to be sure, also call 911. Fire extinguishers are located throughout all the buildings but are to be used only if the fire is very small. You can also call Fairfax Center dispatchers at 703-691-2131 and report our address: 1909 Windmill Lane, off Mason Hill Drive.

What should I do if a fire alarm goes off?
In the Meeting House, if a false alarm has been triggered by smoke (such as from cooking in the kitchen) and there appears to be no immediate danger, shut off the alarm by going to the coat closet in the Commons, retrieve the key in the magnetic key box, and use that key to silence the alarm at the control panel in the closet (Alarm Silence slot). The magnetic key box is attached to the top of the control panel. You should then call the Call Station at 1-800-877-3624 to try to cancel the fire trucks which should already be on their way. You will need to give them our account number, OD5896, and password, 896. If a pull station has been pulled, you may have to reset the pull station before resetting the alarm. The pull station key is also in the magnetic key box in the coat closet.

What should I do if someone has cardiac arrest?
Call 911 immediately. While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, use one of the two automated external defibrillators (AEDs). One is in the Meeting House in the small office next to the kitchen. The other is in the kitchen of Hollin Hall. Although it is preferable that the user should have received training in how to use an AED, the procedure is simple and the equipment has clear step-by-step instructions.