It took 15 months for the Korean Central Presbyterian Church (KCPC) to get Fairfax County's approval to build a huge, new place of worship in Centreville. But it got the OK in April 2006 and, last Saturday, finally broke ground.
"In this house of worship, we will pray for our nation, our mother country, the Centreville community and our missionaries around the world," said the Rev. Danny Ro. "We know that nothing is impossible with God, and we will pray to our Heavenly Father ... that we will be a channel of blessings to others."
AT LEAST 1,000 church members braved the 90-degree heat Saturday, July 14, to attend the groundbreaking service and ceremony. And the speeches of the Korean pastors and officials were said in both English and Korean.
Dignitaries included the Korean ambassador, Tae Sik Lee, as well as U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf (R-11th) and Tom Davis (R-10th), Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly, former Board Chair Kate Hanley and At-Large Planning Commissioner Jim Hart.
Other dignitaries included: WFCCA President Ted Troscianecki, Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce President Eileen Curtis, WFCM Executive Director Dorothy Fonow, Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-37th), Del. Tim Hugo (R-40th), Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-34th), Clerk of the Court John Frey, Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, and Providence District Supervisor Linda Smyth.
KCPC has been in Vienna for 33 years but, with 4,500 members, it's outgrown its facility there. So it bought land here and will build a new, 173,000-square-foot place of worship.
The church will arise on 80 acres along Route 29, next to Bull Run Elementary. Planned are a sanctuary, chapel, private school for grades K-2 and a child-care center. Construction is expected to take about 18 months, with the church opening for services in early 2009.
"ON BEHALF of everyone involved with KCPC, I'd like to express our sincere thanks to the Sully District residents for your support, patience and understanding during the long, county-approval process," said the Rev. Won Sang Lee, also of KCPC.
He also thanked Supervisor Frey, Sully District Planning Commissioner Ron Koch, county staff, Board Chairman Connolly and VDOT for their support. And he acknowledged the hard work of the church's architects and engineers who had to keep revising their plans.
"Through this relocation of our church, it is our commitment and desire to bring our faith community to Centreville," said Lee. "And it is our prayer that we will become true disciples of Jesus Christ and examples in the community."
Tae Sik Lee, the Korean ambassador to the U.S., said Saturday's groundbreaking marks the beginning of a new history for KCPC, and he congratulated the church on it. "The reason why this church has grown so big and successful is because God has blessed it," said Lee. "Now it's entering another important phase for it and for the community."
Then, apologizing for bringing up a sad topic, he said, "When the Virginia Tech incident took place, April 16, we came to know that Cho and the victims were Centreville residents. And I wrote condolence letters afterwards to the families of the victims."
The ambassador said KCPC sends its love "to our local community, as well as to the families of this tragic incident. And if we can extend our help and love, it will be consistent with what this church is going to do now and in the future."
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III said it was "a great privilege to represent this church since 1991. And it's with some sadness that I see you moving out of my district and into Congressman Wolf's district."
Davis said he and Wolf had an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of KCPC, and he presented it to the church during Saturday's event. Sen. Devolites Davis called it a "bittersweet" day for her, as KCPC prepares to leave her district. But, she added, "I hope God blesses your new church with great happiness for your congregation."
THEN WOLF took the podium and said, "May God bless all who enter and worship here for the years to come." Following him was Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly.
"A church is not a building," he said. "A church is the people and the spirit that resides therein, and it's important to match faith to deeds."
"In the life cycle of a community, there's both joy and tragedy," continued Connolly. "But in worshipping together after the Virginia Tech tragedy, we learned we weren't two communities. We were one community in mourning, remembering, binding our wounds and moving on together."
Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey said that, when people ask him about this new church, he tells them, "The building is coming, but the congregation has been here for some time. So many of the people who have gone to Vienna to worship will [eventually] be able to stay home [in Centreville] and do it."
In his 16 years as Sully supervisor, said Frey, one of the things he's been happy to see here is the growth of the faith community. "I know there was concern about the traffic impacts this church will have [on the local roads], but we can manage that," he said. "To me, the bigger concern would be if we didn't have people in the community going to church. It will be truly a joy to watch this building as it goes up, and God bless you all."
Next came the Rev. Rob Bromhead of Centreville Presbyterian Church, across the street from the new church. Quoting from Ephesians, he said, "There's one body and one spirit ... one faith, one Lord over all."
"And what a blessing it is that He has called us together to join hands across Lee Highway — to minister together, to be the light to this community," said Bromhead. "May God's richest blessings be upon you, and thank you for the partnership we have in ministry."
Then the Rev. Danny Ro, KCPC's senior pastor, thanked everyone who attended the ceremony and recognized those who'd spoken in support of the building project at all the public hearings.
Afterward came the actual groundbreaking, with church officials and invited dignitaries manning shovels to turn over spadefuls of brown dirt. Then Ro gave a prayer of blessing, thanking the congregation and the Lord for "making this day possible."