By Mary Dempsey
Christ the King on Quaker Lane Started from the Ground Up
This September, Christ the King Anglican Church (CTK) will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. The celebration will occur on the weekend of Sept. 23 and 24 and will feature events for parishioners and the general public alike, including a fall festival on Saturday afternoon, a special Sunday service, and a Sunday evening reception for members.
Slated to be a family-friendly picnic, the fall festival will happen at 1801 N Quaker Lane and will feature a carnival with live music, food, and activities for kids, including a dunking booth, moon bounce and obstacle course.
The 10 a.m. Sunday service will highlight some of the Church’s partners and former leaders, including Rector John Yates from Falls Church Anglican.
“It’s a time for spiritual renewal and commitment,” said CTK’s Pastor David Glade.
“The celebration is also a kind of homecoming for past parishioners and church leaders who have since planted elsewhere,” added Robbie Pruitt, CTK’s youth minister and pastoral associate.
CTK began a decade ago when Glade, then a curate or associate pastor at Falls Church Anglican, felt called to begin his own neighborhood parish.
“I had in my mind the image of a neighborhood church,” Glade said. “That’s what I grew up with. That type of job I was looking for as a pastor at a neighborhood Anglican church didn’t really exist in the area, so I realized it had to be created.”
Many of the Falls Church members were coming from Alexandria and felt that the distance was somewhat prohibitive.
“We could come to Sunday services but couldn’t do things at the church during the week because of the traffic,” said parishioner Barb Nelson, who lives in Old Town.
Glade also felt that Alexandria would suit his vision for a neighborhood church because it “embodies that sense of community.”
Creating a parish from the ground up was a new experience for Glade and those who had followed him from Falls Church. They initially met just once a month to worship together and plan for the future.
“It was actually a lot of fun,” Glade said, despite the inevitable nervousness of starting a new endeavor. “I had some good advice from Tom Holliday, who is the senior pastor at Alexandria
Presbyterian. He told me to enjoy the stages of growth as they come. I had to check my desire for the church to grow right away and enjoy the moment.”
The church began with a core of about 30 individuals and continues to grow. They began to worship on a weekly basis at the Alexandria Country Day School, but soon after the school began construction and CTK had to relocate again. Eventually, they found their current space, which they rent from Convergence, a faith-based arts community.
“I am so grateful for the generous hospitality of the Convergence family,” said Glade.
The location has been a boon and has provided just the neighborhood feel that Glade and his parishioners were seeking.
“Historically, a church would be the heart of a community,” Pruitt said, who moved to Park Fairfax soon after becoming part of the CTK staff in order to be close to his parish. “The proximity helps us grow together as God’s family. We all know each other and are connected. You don’t get that when you are spread farther apart.”
Now the church has a regular Sunday attendance of between 200 and 250 people.
“It’s still possible to know everyone’s name at that size,” Glade said.
In addition to regular services, the parish has expanded to include a variety of activities such as bible study classes, children and youth ministries, retreats, local ministry partnerships and even an international mission.
“There are a lot of different kinds of bible study classes,” Nelson said. “There’s one for just women. There’s one for men. There’s one for young mothers. It’s a healthy thing to do. We need to keep learning and growing. It’s also a great way to get to know people.”
The parish has partnered with Casa Chirilagua, the Carpenter’s Shelter, Operation Christmas Hope and the the MaRiH Center in order to connect with the community give church members a chance to serve.
“Being a weekly volunteer for an organization can be daunting,” Glade said. “We’ve tried to put together specific events to support each of our partners. For Casa Chirilagua we put on a 5k race. Not everyone can be a mentor but we can all give a Saturday afternoon.”
Glade is especially proud of the work that CTK members have done with international outreach.
“Recently, we have been involved with someone in the asylum process,” Glade said. “This person came to us with nothing. Our church is hosting him and he is staying with parishioners. It’s been so encouraging to see a family take in an unknown individual for two or three months. It’s not about a political statement. It’s about a person.”
Glade added that Alexandria Presbyterian has been CTK’s model for this kind of work.
CTK also gives parishioners the opportunity to go on yearly missions to East Africa as well local mission opportunities.
“I’ve gone on six mission trips to Kenya,” said Nelson, who is in her seventies. “We build relationships and friendships while there. We go out and spread the word of God to different small villages.”
In addition to his commitment to locality and hospitality, Glade also emphasizes the joy and beauty of worship through his work at CTK.
“Objectively speaking, the Christian faith has inspired so many beautiful things, for instance Handel’s Messiah,” Glade said. “There’s a lot of beauty that has been inspired by Jesus. We want to help capture the beauty of the Christian faith which comes in all shapes and forms.”
To emphasize this sense of joy and wonder, music has become an important aspect of the services at CTK. Vell Rives, the director of music, was the first person officially hired to be part of the CTK staff. Rives accompanies the church choir on piano and pipe organ and likes to make sure that the music at services is varied.
“We do a lot of hymns, some Gregorian chant, some folksy and gospel inspired music as well as more popular and contemporary works,” Rives said.
The 10th anniversary celebration will include special musical performances from the adult and
children’s choirs as well as a live band called the Primers.
The musical variety at CTK reflects the parish’s overall approach to worship, blending the traditional and contemporary.
“It’s a meeting of worlds,” Pruitt said. “It’s a place for someone who is looking to feel like they are in a more traditional church but still wants to be somewhere casual and comfortable.”
For Glade, the celebration is an opportunity to thank the community and fellow church leaders for their support.
“So many people have given sacrificially to the church,” Glade said. “There are so many, many souls who have given so much over the years, from John Yates at Falls Church to Tom Holliday at Alexandria Presbyterian. They have been a real light for us.”