St. Aidan's History
In the Beginning: Origin and Mission
Established in 1962, St. Aidan’s was founded as a mission of the Diocese of Virginia by seventeen families who were parishioners at St. Luke’s, a nearby Episcopal church. Under the leadership of the Reverend Embry Rucker (1963-1969), a traditional A-frame church building, a parish hall, and a two-story classroom building were built. The parish’s primary focus was to serve those in need on the Route 1 corridor. Rucker and the members of the parish were leaders in the quest for social justice in the middle 1960s. Parish members led a diocesan task force on open housing in northern Virginia. They also housed Poor People’s Campaign participants in the parish hall and became involved in the struggle for civil rights. “In visiting this church, I felt a real call. I just felt drawn to this church.” – Charles Jasper, parishioner.
Rebuilding: Church Burning and Life from the Ashes
On Wednesday, April 28, 1971, in the late afternoon, St. Aidan’s church building was destroyed by fire, presumably the result of an electrical storm. The following Sunday found the members of St. Aidan’s congregation holding outdoor services facing the ruins of the church building. For some, it was their first Sunday attending services at St. Aidan’s. “So we drove to the church, and lo and behold, people were setting up chairs outside on the lawn. We said, Oh! They are having an outdoor service!” Then we noticed the gaping, smoldering hole which was the church! So if that says something about us, I don’t know.” – John Schelling, parishioner. Under the leadership of St. Aidan’s second rector, The Reverend Arthur H. (Pat) Underwood (1969-1976), and after a year with no formal worship space, the parish hastened to rebuild and designed the present church to suit the parish priorities: the centrality of prayer and worship; the encouragement of full congregational participation in worship; an openness to various forms of worship; and a desire for the parish and the larger community to use the church building for a variety of functions.
Evolution from Mission to Parish
The Reverend Harold N. (Hal) White served as St. Aidan’s third rector (1977-1997). He remarked on the simplicity of the church building, “Unfinished, just like we are.” During his ministry, parishioners took an even more active role in outreach to the poor and the homeless. Under his leadership, St. Aidan’s became a spiritual resource for many unchurched or transient people in the community. And in 1981, St. Aidan’s asked for parish status and received approval. During Rev. White’s tenure, the rectory was sold, and the new parish hall was built.
Growth and Sustainability:
Welcoming the Community of Fellow Travelers on this Journey
With the arrival of St. Aidan’s fourth rector, The Reverend John M. Baker (1999-2020), St. Aidan’s continued to grow. The 30-year old church building was greatly in need of repair and refurbishment, which was accomplished by 2010. While the parish continued to be Eucharist and outreach-centered, it also became a place of welcoming people wherever they are on their faith journey.
Among us you will find a variety of faith stories and experiences and a diversity of beliefs. What we share in common is a trust that in community, in our worship, and in our caring for others we learn to love our neighbor better and deepen our awareness of God's presence.
“I have always said, whether my faith was in a strong period or a weak period, I just knew that we were led here. That first Sunday we came here and I was home.” – Jane Jones, parishioner