Photo: Windmill on the Hill against a partly cloudy sky

For more than 65 years, Mount Vernon Unitarian Church has been the home of liberal religion in the Mount Vernon area.

Founded in 1955, the small but growing Congregation took a bold step just four years later by purchasing a ten-acre estate atop one of the highest points in Fairfax County. For the first 20 years, Sunday worship services were held in the small but picturesque space that had formerly been the main room of the guesthouse. In 1983 that building and three acres of land were sold to help pay for construction of the present Meeting House, which was completed in 1985.

With its unusual origin, our church setting is different from that of most churches. In addition to a modern Meeting House, we have a hundred-year-old mansion, a Carriage House, a windmill, and even a greenhouse.

The Carriage House, used for children’s Religious Education on Sundays, has also been the home of the Fort Hunt Preschool since shortly after the Church was formed. And because the grounds are so attractive, our property has hosted numerous weekend rental events, mostly weddings.

Expand each section below to read more about our history:

Chronology

2011-Present
2011
  • Becky Brandt is elected Chair of the Board.
  • SST installs geothermal equipment for heating and cooling the Meeting House and solar panels to generate electricity.
  • Carol Graves is appointed as Church Administrator in spring 2011, replacing Branka Bijelovich, who had departed in November. Birgit Robbert offers to serve as volunteer bookkeeper.
  • The Adult Religious Education Committee is folded into the Lifespan Spiritual Growth Council and the title of Meagan Henry’s position is changed to Director of Lifespan Spiritual Growth.
  • Yee Von Ng, choir accompanist during the regular church year, is appointed as Summer Music Associate to organize and play for summer services in summer 2011.
  • The Membership Council is established as a program of the Program Council. Dianne Brown is chair.
  • Amanda Casey is appointed as the new Rentals Coordinator replacing Nina Tisara.
2012
  • Eric Pourchot is elected Chair of the Board.
  • The Congregation votes to use funds remaining in the Building Fund for three projects: renovation of the kitchen, construction of a new permanent platform for worship services, and enlargement of the Commons. The kitchen is renovated in the spring of 2012 under supervision of Wendy Burns and Tamara de la Camp.
  • The Congregation also approves incorporation. Becoming a corporation affords better legal protection and allows MVUC to buy, sell, encumber, or transfer land without Court approval.
  • The Endowment Committee, led by Joan Darrah, establishes the Legacy Circle, composed of those who have committed to make a future contribution to the Endowment Fund.
  • Meagan Henry resigns to accept a position at All Souls UU church in Washington, DC.
  • Ann Richards is appointed Director of Lifespan Spiritual Growth.
2013
  • A new platform for Sunday worship services and other ceremonies is completed in February with leadership from Aesthetics Chair Jeanne Gayler.
  • Contractor Harry Braswell begins work on remodeling the Meeting House.
  • Kristine Erickson is elected Chair of the Board.
2014
  • The Board approves a plan for achieving long-term financial viability recommended by the Pillars and Foundations Task Force.
  • Remodeling of the Meeting House is completed. The remodeling project to expand the Commons was designed by architect Bob Larson under supervision of a committee chaired by Doug MacCleery.
  • Custodian Norman Comfort retires. Derick Spencer is hired.
  • The congregation adopts a statement of concern about Climate Change.
  • Ken Pilkenton is elected Chair of the Board 2014-15.
  • Office Manager Anne Bredeck resigns to spend a year in India.
  • Susan Samuels is hired to be Data and Administrative Assistant.
2015
  • Rev. Kate Walker is on sabbatical leave January-May.
  • Pam Koger-Jesup is elected Chair of the Board 2015-16.
  • Alice King begins a two-year term as Intern Minister.
  • The Congregation observes its 60th Anniversary in a celebration planned by Ruth Heimburg.
  • The Commons remodeling project is completed.
2016
  • Rev. Kate Walker is awarded a Doctor of Ministry degree by Virginia Theological Seminar.
  • Doug MacCleery is elected Chair of the Board 2016-17.
2017
  • Alice King completes her term as Intern Minister.
  • Carolyn Dunlea is elected Chair of the Board 2017-18.
  • Four new underground pipes are installed to correct a malfunction in the geothermal heating and cooling system.
  • Carol Graves retires. Carolyn White is appointed Church Administrator.
2018
  • MVUC becomes debt-free as a result of a final Capital Campaign chaired by Joan Darrah and Al Robbert. The campaign raises enough money when paired with about $300,000 from the Endowment Fund to retire the debt of about $500,000 remaining from the capital improvements completed in 2015. The Endowment Fund is able to make this contribution because it has reached its target of a million dollars and expects to receive another $700,000 from the estate of Gertrude Kornfeld.
  • Ann Richards is on sabbatical leave beginning in January.
  • Marty Bredeck is elected Chair of the Board 2018-19.
2019
  • Linda Walton becomes Chair of the Board 2019-20.
2020
  • Beginning in March, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, all meetings – including Sunday Services, are no longer permitted to be held in-person. Most are held instead using Zoom video conferencing.
  • In October at a Congregational meeting, the congregation votes to ordain Affiliated Community Minister Eleanor Piez and Intern Minister Tyler Coles.
  • Lynette Millett becomes Chair of the Board 2020-21.
2021
  • Rev. Dr. Kate Walker announces that she will be leaving MVUC because she has been called by the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania beginning August 1.
  • Dr. Kate Walker’s June 13 goodbye service is held under a rented tent in the parking lot due to continuing Covid-19 pandemic gathering restrictions.
  • Rev. Christian Schmidt begins 2-year interim ministry.
  • Dave Breen becomes Chair of the Board 2021-22.
2022
  • A Ministerial Search Committee is voted on at the May Annual meeting. The 7 members of the search committee are: Donna Gold, Chair; Tony Barkume, Vice Chair; Oscar Castro, Carolyn Evangelista, Tom Griffin, Laura MacCleery, and Evan Wallach.
  • Karen Delmonico becomes Chair of the Board 2022-23.

Acknowledgment

This publication builds upon the original histories of Hollin Hall and Mount Vernon Unitarian Church compiled by Lucy Walsh Phinney in 1994.

Church members and friends are indebted to her for creating this precious legacy.