The Beginnings of Fairfax Church
In order to determine the beginning of this church you first have to study the history of the Town of Fairfax. According to The Fairfax County Courthouse by Ross D. Netherton and Ruby Waldeck (pub. July 1977 by the Fairfax County Office of Comprehensive Planning) a courthouse was first built here in 1800 but no name given to the village until 1805. At that time, in an Act of the Assembly a town at the Fairfax Court House was to be established as Providence.
It is impossible for us to know exactly when our church was established. We believe we were in existence as early as 1800 but are unable to prove it. Legend is that we first met in a log cabin dating from about 1822. Legend also has it that we later shared the use of Payne Baptist Church at Fairfax Station with other congregations.
Fairfax UMC During the Civil War
In a lawsuit filed in April 1909, we get some insight into the church during the Civil War. In this lawsuit testimony is given by three people: Fannie B. Taylor, a member who is 83 years of age; David A. Steele, a 62-year-old farmer and W. H. Pettitt, a 78-year-old carpenter. All three claimed that the church as a church gave no aid or comfort to the enemy. They describe the building as 30 x 40 feet and built of brick. The church had a balcony for black people and could hold upwards of 200 people. Fannie B. Taylor says, in a lawsuit testimony over questions of loyalty during the Civil War, claims the building was begun in 1849 and finished in 1853. She further states that in 1861 the Confederates occupied the building as a hospital until October of that year.
In the fall of 1863 Union troops from New York took over the building. They first used the floor as a stable and the balcony for officers. Later, as winter approached they completely dismantled the building. They used the bricks for building walkways and ovens for their winter quarters located outside the town.
New Buildings for a Growing Population
Following the war erection of a new church began. By 1879 a new building was in existence and our earliest church registers and quarterly conferences begin at this time. The new name for our church is Duncan Chapel and our town is now called Fairfax.
The year 1955 was the beginning of the end of all services and functions to be held in our old frame church. We had simply outgrown our facilities and with no room for expansion were forced to go elsewhere. The dedication service for our current home was held 5 August 1956 and our membership was now over the 1,000 mark. Our old facility was sold to the County of Fairfax and at one point was used for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Later, it was razed to enlarge the road which would lead from Rt. 123 to the new Massey Building. Since 1956 the sanctuary has been well extended and no less than three additions have taken place. By 1989 the membership had grown to over 3,000 and the staff greatly increased.
Fairfax UMC Today
In the last two decades, the church has continued to be a presence in the community and tries to be Christ to the greater Fairfax Community. We have been certified as a welcoming congregation in the United Methodist Church, our Preschool was recognized in Northern Virginia Magazine, and we continue to work with organizations in our community to fight homelessness and poverty in the Fairfax area. The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and Fairfax UMC lives out that call through its ministries and its interaction with all people.
In June 2016, the Church Council approved the FUMC 2016 Strategic Plan. We believe that implementing this plan with fidelity will ensure that FUMC moves forward with a preferred future.
The Church Council has recommended to a Charge Conference a new leadership and governance structure for FUMC. The purpose is to reduce the levels of bureaucracy in the church, have fewer meetings and more ministry, increase efficiency in decision-making and effectively carry out strategic planning. Our District Superintendent has authorized a Charge Conference for Sunday, March 19, at 5:00pm in the sanctuary. All Church Council members and retired clergy with their affiliation at FUMC are voting members of the Charge Conference. Anyone may attend. Please send any questions or comments to Rev. David Bonney, firstname.lastname@example.org, or our Strategic Planning Chair, Linda Burke at Llburke70@gmail.com.