On Sunday, Jan. 15, 1956, Pastor Alvin Kuhn gave his first service at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in McLean. A lot has changed in McLean since then.
"There were more cows than cars," said Kuhn. "It was all dairy farms along Chain Bridge Road, and Tysons Corner was literally just a corner with a falling-down service station. Dolley Madison didn't exist, 495 didn't exist — Chain Bridge was the main road. There have been so many changes."
On Sunday, Jan.15, 2006, exactly 50 years from the day that Pastor Kuhn gave that first service, he spoke again before the congregation of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. This time it was to celebrate the church's 50th Anniversary.
"It's not too often that the same person gets to do this — speak at the first service and at the 50th anniversary," said Kuhn. "I'm thankful that I am physically able to."
Kuhn, the Mission Developer and first Pastor of the Redeemer Church, moved to McLean in the fall of 1955.
"I just began going house to house, seeing if anyone was interested in starting a new congregation," he said.
Apparently they were. The church initially started out in a Methodist church building off of Georgetown Pike. Services were held out of that location for four years, and then the church moved to its current location at the intersection of Chain Bridge Road and Westmoreland Street. Pastor Kuhn recalls the explosion of development and the influx of people that came after the summer of 1955.
"They put in the first public water and sewerage," said Kuhn. "Until then it had just been septic tanks and wells. Once they put that in place, the cows disappeared and the houses appeared."
This rapid growth in the community also meant a rapid growth in population. The church began with 84 charter members, and today has a congregation of 1300, which is made up of approximately 500 families.
"Overall it was a wonderful reunion for some of our people — especially those who remember the earlier days," said Pastor Jeffrey Wilson. "We had people come back who were charter members and who were still living in the area, and when you start a church together you get to know each other pretty well because you go through a lot together."