Beginning in 1952, a religious service program called Hand to Heaven aired on WTTG-TV, channel 5. The Hand to Heaven Evangelistic Association paid to have the half-hour-long program carried on Sunday afternoons and evenings. Rev. Joe Uhrig, perhaps one of the earliest televangelists, hosted the program, which also aired in Richmond and Lynchburg.
Contributions from audience members helped finance Hand to Heavens new church in Alexandria. Built in less than 12 weeks for an estimated $75,000, the Little Country Church, seen in this postcard image from around 1958, was a nondenominational house of worship located on North Quaker Lane, one block north of Duke Street. It was a modern facility inside, equipped with air-conditioning and wired for broadcasting, but the exterior and grounds were designed to imitate a small church in a rural setting.
Stone markers shaped like tombstones were installed in front to mimic an old graveyard but there was no one buried there. Rather than epitaphs the stones displayed scripture like the Ten Commandments.
The Little Country Church was dedicated in October 1957. In its first weeks, attendance was heavy. The church had an approximate capacity of 250. It had a music ministry featuring a pianist, organist, trumpeter and vocal trio and produced a special television edition book of hymns.
In early 1959, when WTTG proposed a change to Hand to Heavens airtime, Uhrig took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to protest. The program went off the air in Washington and the New Apostolic Church acquired the church property a couple of years later.
Out of the Attic is provided by the Office of Historic Alexandria.