A pink ribbon in the woods along Route 29 in Centreville delineates phase one of the new Centreville Presbyterian Church. And on a small stump is a sign saying, "Pastor's Office."
For now, these things symbolize the new church that will be built there, just west of Pleasant Valley Road. But the $5.1 million project took a step closer to reality, Saturday morning, when some 200 people gathered under a tent for its official groundbreaking.
"What a wonderful day this is — it's been a long time coming," said Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). "The belief that it was going to happen and the persistence to make it happen was remarkable."
Hopefully, by May-June 2004, a 27,715-square-foot building will arise on that 20-acre lot. There'll be a 400- 450-seat sanctuary, 15 classrooms, nursery and childcare facilities, a library and a fellowship hall with a 300-seat capacity. The parking lot will hold 158 vehicles.
Robson Group Architects of Centreville found and master-planned the property, secured the zoning approval and designed the building. Present for the ceremony, architect Bill Robson said the groundbreaking marked the culmination of something the church members have "pursued and patiently waited for," for more than a decade.
"They have made it this far because of their determination, their faith in God and their desire to minister to this community," he said. "This building will be a testimony to their faith and trust in the Almighty. It is truly a great day."
Also attending the event Saturday were Supervisor Elaine McConnell (R-Sully); First Virginia Bank's Chris Neal, who helped the church obtain a $4 million loan for the construction — the church's internal, capital fund-raising campaign yielded $968,000 — and Kevin Sullivan of Dietze Construction, which will do the work.
Centreville Presbyterian began here on Jan. 18, 1987, meeting in Cub Run Elementary. It moved to its current spot, off Route 28 near I-66, in March 1992, after Centreville United Methodist Church left there for its new building off New Braddock Road.
Then Frey let Centreville Presbyterian lease CUMC's old property while looking for a new site of its own. Its first attempt to relocate fell through but, said Frey, "This is a better and more prominent site and will provide a better home in the long run." Referring to the gray, rainy Saturday, he added, "The warmth, spirit and happiness in this tent overcomes any clouds."
Church elder Steve Schuneman recognized the past and present members of the church's building committee. Holding bricks symbolizing the raw material the church started with, he invited the children to come forward because "they represent the future of the church."
They carried cement, gravel and water with them — the ingredients needed to hold the church together. Said Schuneman: "Our building will be made of bricks and mortar, and our church will be made of this congregation dedicated to Christ."
The Rev. Rob Bromhead led everyone in prayer and thanked God for the "living mortar" that will keep the church going. "In many ways, this is our Thanksgiving," he said. Giving thanks for both the living and literal stones of the church, he also thanked Robson and his staff for the "functional, yet beautiful" building they designed.
Bromhead thanked his wife Nancy, too, for all her support, saying, "Jesus is one cornerstone — she's the other — in my life." He then dedicated the building to God. "May we build a place that will honor and lift up Your name," he said. "May we build a place where Christ's presence and love is in every corridor and every room ... May we build 'a place in the Son.'"