In June 2005, Clifton Presbyterian Church broke ground on a $3 million addition and renovation. And although the new and improved sanctuary won't be ready for use for a couple more months, the enlarged fellowship hall will welcome worshippers beginning this Sunday, Oct. 15.
"We're opening our doors on the new building," said the Rev. Lynn Stanton-Hoyle. "We'll begin worshipping in the fellowship hall while the final phase of the project — the renovation of the sanctuary — is being done."
BUILT IN 1872, this beautiful and historic church sits atop a hill behind the Hermitage Inn restaurant. The manse next door once housed pastors, but later became office space.
A preschool, fellowship hall, meeting area and offices were added to the church building in the 1950s. But in the late 1990s, the church realized it needed more room for all its programs.
"There wasn't enough space for Christian education, and the fellowship hall wasn't large enough to accommodate the whole church or a large meeting," explained building-committee chairman Mark Reimers. But now, said Stanton-Hoyle, "All the classes and other church programs will be held in the new portion."
The church added onto the side of the building where its parking lot was and relocated most of the parking in front of the church. LeMay Erickson Architects of Reston developed the architectural plans.
The new fellowship hall is to the right of the old hall — and is 50 percent larger. Partitions divide the space so different programs may take place simultaneously. The church office is now on the first floor, and the pastor's and associate pastor's offices moved from the manse to the second floor.
The new classroom area is in the rear of the building, near the playground. Babies and toddlers will use it during Sunday School and, during the week, some 90 preschoolers will attend classes on both floors.
The congregation has two Sunday services, and Glory Korean Presbyterian Church worships there Sunday afternoons. So the church plans to increase the sanctuary's seating capacity from 120 to 150 seats.
The area behind the sanctuary will be enlarged. The existing pews will be used, but will be reoriented so the front of the sanctuary will be where the back is now. And more pews, made to match the original ones, will be added.
The front doors will remain the same, but members will enter instead via a side door — the old entrance to the fellowship area. Plans also included remodeling the kitchen area and making the bathroom handicap-accessible.
"We anticipate holding a dedication service and formal open house in mid-January [when the whole project is completed]," said Stanton-Hoyle.
UNTIL THEN, she said, "People are welcome to worship with us Sundays, at 8:30 and 11 a.m., in the fellowship hall. And this Sunday, they may also tour the new section." Refreshments will be available after each service. Nursery care is provided for infants and children, and Christian-education classes are at 9:45 a.m.
"I am thrilled," said Stanton-Hoyle. "You work on a project like this for so many years, and it's exciting to think that in [a few more days], people will be coming and going in it."
The church also plans to start a senior-adult respite center, called the Clifton Senior Friends Club, in January. And Carol Deal — who has a master's in social work from Catholic University, plus experience in this field — will be its director.
"We received a start-up grant from Fairfax County to hire her to do the preliminary work of opening the center," said Stanton-Hoyle. "And we're very grateful to have someone who's done this in other areas of the county and really knows the ropes and can lead us in this."
The center will be for senior citizens with memory impairments and will give them an opportunity to participate in a small, personalized, social setting to share their talents and interests with other seniors. It will also enable them to make new friends in a caring environment.
Offerings will range from art and music appreciation to guest speakers on current topics, physical exercise, field trips and recreational activities. There will also be support activities for the caregivers so they could have some time for themselves and their interests while their loved ones are participating in the program.
Or there might be evening activities while someone else is home to provide the care. Caregivers could also learn about support-group opportunities and could receive caregiving information via seminars and workshops.
The church will begin accepting applications for the center in November. And it's open to anyone in the area. For more information, call Clifton Presbyterian Church at 703-830-3175.