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The Church of Clarendon Celebrates 110 Years!

On Sunday, May 19, 2019, my husband and I had the privilege of joining other Baptist leaders from our area in worshipping with The Church at Clarendon and celebrating their 110th Anniversary.

“Clarendon was not even a village and the total population of the county was only 10,000 in 1909, when the First Baptist Church of Clarendon was constituted. Life was simple in those days. Each house had its own well; lighting was furnished by kerosene and gas lamps. Telephones were few, automobiles rare. Bicycles, buggies and trolley cars provided transportation.”

On May 10, 1909, a group of twenty-three individuals from the Clarendon area met to start the process of organizing as a church with Rev. W. S. O. Thomas, the pastor of Columbia Baptist, guiding the process and moving it forward.

One of their first actions was to elect delegates to send to the Potomac Baptist Association (as we were known at that time) for the purpose of joining.

By 1913, with Pastor Thomas’ duties increasing in his church and needing to resign, Clarendon called their own full-time pastor and moved into a new building in 1915. In 1926, they planted First Baptist Church of Ballston, and in 1940, their pastor and a few other members came together to form the nucleus of what became Westover Baptist Church.

In March of 1952, pastors and representatives from all the churches of Potomac Baptist Association were invited to Clarendon for prayer and serious consideration of starting a new association in the more urbanized part of our region by those congregations closer to DC—including Clarendon.

By the end of that summer, Mount Vernon Baptist Association was organized, and it was their pastor at the time, Dr. M. Jackson White, who gave key leadership to this new organization and served as its Moderator for the first two years.

50 years later, in 2002, it was again Clarendon’s pastor, Dr. Alan Stanford, who was an integral part in designing and forming our current association called NorthStar Church Network. (Mount Vernon and Potomac Baptist Associations had both decided to disband in order to come together to create something completely new to our serve churches in this new century.)

We are excited at what Clarendon has done to impact their local community, including planting six churches: First Baptist Church of Ballston, Westover Baptist, Glencarlyn Road Baptist, Vienna Baptist, Westmoreland Church and Washington Plaza Baptist; housing and supporting international congregations (including the first Hispanic Church constituted in Virginia); launching a Child Development Center that will soon celebrate its 50th Anniversary; serving their neighborhood through a clothing center that operated from 1979 until their building renovation in 2000; housing the Arlington Food Assistance Center (now AFAC) when it first began in the church basement; and re-envisioning their ministry and building structure to provide affordable housing for community residents, a much needed resource in Arlington County.

We want to thank The Church at Clarendon for their partnership, leadership, mission and vision in NorthStar Church Network and congratulate them on 110 years of remarkable ministry. We look forward to what God has planned for Clarendon under the dynamic leadership of their current pastor, Rev. Danielle L. Bridgeforth.

The above is a compilation of my greeting given at The Church of Clarendon on Sunday, May 19, 2019, as well as historical information taken from the First Baptist Church of Clarendon 50th Anniversary Booklet and various Mount Vernon Baptist Association Annual Reports.

Katie Harding serves as Associate Director of NorthStar Church Network and Founder/Director of NorthStar Women's Network.