Our Call Story

Here is our call story for our proposed redevelopment! 


Proposed ReDevelopment Project - An expression of our Faith

On April 13, 2024, Clarendon Presbyterian Church celebrated being part of the Lyon Village and Clarendon community for 100 years. (Our church building though, is not 100 years old!) In line with the church’s deep history of supporting affordable housing, LGBTQ communities, and seniors, in 2021, the church relaunched a visioning process of how we might invest our most valuable physical resource, our church property, for the good of the community. 

In 2022, the congregation voted to partner with Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH), and has proposed a 5-to-6-year path to redevelop our property less than half a mile from the Clarendon Metro station to build:

a) Separate affordable housing run by APAH open to all seniors, with design elements and programming that would be welcoming to LGBTQ seniors. Seniors are either 55+ or 62+. Building designed to meet ADA standards and universal design.   

b) A new modernized space for innovative onsite child care through the Clarendon Child Care Center (CCCC) who has operated at the church for over 60 years.  They are run independently from the church by a parent co-op board.  There are currently 40 children ages 2.5 to six at CCCC. The new amount could range from 40-58.

a) A modernized and smaller church space for church and community uses. The church would like to continue to host local groups during non Sunday morning times and live further into the vision of being a place for community building and advocacy. 

June 2024 Update! 

We are pleased to provide you with an update on our ongoing efforts and plans regarding the proposed Clarendon Presbyterian Church project in Arlington County. We have been studying and evaluating the design of the building and best methods for pursuing this project. After careful consideration, we believe it is possible to achieve our objectives within the parameters of the current General Land Use Plan (GLUP) designation. This route is consistent with the existing land use guidance for the Church property. For this reason, the decision was made to withdraw our earlier GLUP Study application.

As part of the exploration we explained in our last message, we have submitted a preliminary concept plan to Arlington County. This submission is an early, concept-level drawing that will help us determine the viability of the project and gather essential feedback from County staff. This feedback will guide us in refining our proposal to better meet County guidelines as part of a formal site plan application. 

APAH aims to submit a site plan application that is thoughtful, comprehensive, and considers County technical input. Once we finalize our site plan application a public process will commence. During this period, the surrounding community will be encouraged to provide feedback directly to County staff about the proposed design.

You can review more details and the complete conceptual plan application in Permit Arlington at https://archives.arlingtonva.us/publicaccess/permitarlington.aspx (navigate to "Project ID" and type in the code SPLC24-00005). Please be aware that this design will likely be revised before the site plan submission. At this time, we do not have additional updates regarding specific time frames or the County's analysis of the project, but we will be sharing more information as we receive meaningful input from County staff.

This redevelopment will create the only affordable senior LGBTQ welcoming housing in Arlington.  If this project is not built, affordable LGBTQ senior housing will not be built elsewhere in Arlington or in our region.

This redevelopment project will make a major stride in the Arlington Affordable Housing Master Plan goal towards housing for lower income seniors, will protect a much needed existing child care center, and will launch Clarendon Presbyterian Church into being a hub of community connection, support and advocacy well into the future. 

Please see the APAH website for more information on affordable housing.

Redevelopment for Affordable Senior LGBT Welcoming Housing an Expression of Our Faith and History as a Church

Clarendon Presbyterian Church’s decision to redevelop the church's land for affordable senior housing is how the church is living out our faith.  We often speak about the story of when God provided Naomi, an elder, and her daughter in law, Ruth, housing when they had lost everything.  It started with one neighbor who opened his doors; from there, the rest of the community followed in support. The prophet Isaiah in chapter 58 speaks about the call of God to welcome the vulnerable, especially those who are economically poor.  In the Gospels, Jesus Christ in Matthew 25 commands us to welcome the stranger as our neighbor.  The Bible is full of many more stories of housing justice! 

Especially since since the 1960’s, Clarendon Presbyterian Church has sought to be a supporter and advocate for those in need.  During that same era, the daughter of the pastor at the time started Clarendon Child Care Center as a way to serve families with less economic means so their parents could work outside of the home.  To this day, we highly value Clarendon Child Care Center providing life-changing childcare to families throughout Arlington.  

In the 1970’s Clarendon Presbyterian Church was an advocate with Arlington County to allow for higher density housing.  In the 1980’s Clarendon Presbyterian Church became one of the few churches that would ordain women as elders and pastors.  Also in the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, Clarendon Presbyterian Church first opened its doors to the Whitman Walker Clinic and then to LGBT groups followed by LGBT people joining as members and leaders of the church.  From the 1990’s to the present, the church has been an advocate to eliminate food insecurity and provide for affordable housing through our Plot Against Hunger Garden, and support of local groups including AFAC. 

This approach aligns with the church’s historical progressive mission for our Arlington community, including early support for LGBTQ persons.

In 2017, the church started what would become stage one of a visioning process of how the church could be a more effective community advocate.  From there, the church welcomed Impacto LBGT, a mostly Spanish speaking advocacy group, LGBT service provider, and in 2022 a new worshiping community of the Presbyterian Church USA.  Also, out of that stage one visioning process,  in 2020, the church joined V.O.I.C.E., Virginians Organized in Interfaith Community Engagement, and quickly became active advocating alongside residents at the Serrano Apartment building for just living conditions in 2021-2022 and for the passing of Missing Middle in Arlington in 2023.  

Stage two of the visioning process kicked off in 2021 with congregational conversations on how to best invest the church property for the good of the community.  

Our top two criteria in deciding a path forward was that a new proposal must:

  • 1.) Empower Clarendon Presbyterian Church to demonstrate its faith in God’s love by giving tangible and ongoing support to neighbors with great unmet needs
  • 2.) Demonstrate attentive stewardship by leveraging all church assets in a faithful and purposeful way.

Deep Need for Affordable Housing for Seniors and LGBT Seniors, Childcare and Community Space

Deep Need for Affordable Senior LGBT Welcoming Housing in Arlington

From 2022 Arlington Affordable Housing Plan Master Plan Implementation Framework, we learned that  affordable housing from 30-60% of the area median income is difficult if not near impossible to find in Arlington. 

75% of single seniors paid more than 30% of their income on housing. Moreover, the segment of the population forecasted with the highest growth rate is that of households 85 years of age and older, which is anticipated to grow by 80.8%, from 1,800 households in 2015 to 3,250 by 2040.  

We also learned that for LGBTQIA+ elders, the statistics are even more daunting.  One-third of LGBTQ+ people over 50 live at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, compared to one fourth of non-LGBTQ+ people.  

When compared to older heterosexual adults, older LGBTQ adults are; twice as likely to live alone; half as likely to have life partners or significant others; half as likely to have close relatives to call on for help; and are themselves caregivers for older loved ones, but four times less likely to have children to help them.

48 percent of older same-sex couples have experienced discrimination when seeking housing, according to a 2014 Equal Rights Center study. Due to sometimes-rampant homophobia in retirement communities, it’s not uncommon for LGBTQ elders to hide their sexual preference and gender identities. Those settings contribute to social isolation, which is deadly(SAGE, Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders).

As a church, we also focused our time together researching the housing history of Arlington including the property the church owns.  

Through attending sessions with the NAACP, the League of Women Voters,  Alliance for Housing Solutions, and V.O.I.C.E.,  and through close attention to D. Taylor Reich’s (they/them) article published serially by ARLnow.com, March - June 2021 titled “Lyons Legacy,” we studied the racial history of housing in Arlington.  

As a church, we engaged in neighborhood walks in Lyon Village, Halls Hill, Green Valley and Columbia pike observing first hand the legacy of discriminatory housing policies.  In a multi-week sermon series, we particularly focused on Frank Lyon who we learned did all he could to keep Black People out of Arlington through restrictive covenants, exclusive zoning, and automobile-oriented design.  Clarendon Presbyterian Church was built one year after the founding of Lyon Village; our church property redevelopment to include affordable housing welcoming to LGBT seniors takes a step to address this racist founding, very disturbing to many in Arlington.  

Deep Need for High Quality Preschool Child Care in Arlington

Looking at the younger end of the age spectrum, we are also deeply concerned about the well being of families raising preschool aged children.  Families across across all backgrounds often wait on long wait lists for a limited number of PreK seats.  The redevelopment proposal must pass in order to protect the sixty year community preschool provider, the Clarendon Child Care Center.  

There are currently 40 children ages 2.5 to age six in the preschool. We envision between 40 and 58 children of the same age in the new building. 

The Clarendon Child Care Center, Inc. (CCCC) is a unique preschool program for children age 2 ½ to 6 years old.  CCCC is run by a parent-board, the Director, teachers and staff.  Clarendon Presbyterian Church provides a creative environment that nurtures the social, emotional, physical and intellectual development of each child.  Highly-qualified teachers engage children in developmentally appropriate activities that are directed by the children’s interests and needs.  Learning is fostered through exploration and play.

In CCCC’s multi-age setting, children learn to become members of a community while developing independence and social skills.  The atmosphere of openness goes beyond the physical environment of the classroom and playground – responsive teachers encourage the children to develop social awareness, creativity and problem solving skills. The unique parent cooperative structure provides all parents – including parents who work full-time outside of the home – opportunities to be involved in CCCC.  

Deep Need for Places for Community Engagement and Support

As one of the longest property owners in Lyon Village directly across the street from the Clarendon neighborhood, Clarendon Presbyterian Church has been an excellent neighbor and provider of community space. 

Currently, we house three non-profits as daily use tenants, the Clarendon Child Care Center, Impacto LGBT, and Center for Pastoral Counseling.  

Most evenings and over the weekends, our building also hosts LGBT advocacy groups, other advocacy groups, support groups, family, exercise, and musical groups.  In the new church space, we hope to expand our mission to offering much needed community space especially to LGBTQIA+ and senior groups. 

Essential for the Arlington Community

Our Church has been an active part of Arlington County for close to 100 years. Our faith resides in hope in the God who makes all things possible for the common good.  

For the common good, we know that LGBTQ persons and seniors have such a tremendous need for high quality affordable housing especially in highly walkable and accessible neighborhoods.  

We know that childcare seats, especially in high quality programs, are desperately in need by those of all backgrounds and income levels in Arlington.

We know that community space for gathering, support and advocacy, especially in the metro corridor, is desperately needed. 

This redevelopment of the church’s property is a lived expression of our faith in the God who through Jesus Christ says in Matthew 25: 35-36, 40:  

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’... ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these siblings *of mine, you did it to me.’  *brothers and sisters in NRSV

Thank you for your time and attention reading about the background of our proposed development project.

Legacy of LGBTQ Support and Advocacy

Click here for an oral interview of the history of Clarendon Presbyterian's support and advocacy of LGBTQ persons. 

“They have come from churches where they had been abused and kicked out, and many of them had been kicked out of their families. It’s just atrocious the stories you hear. And what is the church if it isn't a family, if it isn't a place where, as the old (Robert Frost) poem said, if you have to go there, they have to take you in?  Well, that's not what the church has been. (Many have the attitude), if you go there, you better shape up or they will not take you in. So it seemed to me that the bottom line of what the church ought to be doing is to take in the people who needed to be taken in, who wanted to be taken in.”  

- Rev. Madeline Jervis (she/her)

Previous Town Hall Meeting Dates

In July and August of 2023, we invited the neighbors to attend one of three town hall meetings to get more information about Clarendon Presbyterian Church's proposed redevelopment project. We scheduled three town hall meetings because of busy summer schedules. Here are the slides from the presentations.

Completed Town Hall Meetings at Clarendon Presbyterian Church

Townhall 1: In the sanctuary, Thursday,  July 27 - 7:00 -8:30 pm

Townhall 2: On Zoom, Saturday, August 12 - 9:00-10:00 am

Townhall 3: In the sanctuary, Tuesday, August 29 - 7:00 - 8:30 pm