The treasure that is Christ Church

The treasure that is Christ Church
Christ Church has celebrated its 250th anniversary this year with many events. (Courtesy of Christ Church)

This has certainly been a momentous – some might say monumental – last few weeks in Alexandria. 

From City Council’s unanimous passage of the divisive “Zoning for Housing/Housing for All” initiative, to the stunning announcement last week that Ted Leonsis plans to move the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals to Potomac Yard to the abrupt deferral of the controversial 301 N. Fairfax St. redevelopment project, a lot has happened in a short time frame. 

We are all bracing ourselves for next year, which promises more of the same. We have the upcoming local elections for mayor, City Council and School Board. The N. Fairfax project will be debated and voted on. Battles are still to be fought over the road narrowing Duke Street in Motion proposal. And we have the national election looming, which has left many careening between fear and outrage. 

In the midst of all of this change and strife, we have the consistency of Christ Church. 

Alexandria was only 24 years old when Christ Church opened its doors to worshippers. Through the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and Union occupation, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and the COVID-19 pandemic, Christ Church has been a pillar and a place of solace to congregants and visitors alike. 

The church’s colonial architecture is beautiful, its graveyard peaceful. Despite its colonial legacy, Christ Church has also remained relevant during changing times. 

During the 17 years that Rev. Charles William Sydnor was rector from 1959 through 1976, the church didn’t shy away from controversial topics, including a performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” when that interpretation of Christ’s life was shunned by many other churches. 

Similarly, current Rector Rev. Noelle York-Simmons has sensitively helped her congregation navigate many controversial issues during her seven years at the helm. 

It’s fitting that 250 years of prominence in and service to Alexandria have been recognized throughout 2023 with a series of special lectures, performances and gatherings. 

In our relatively new country, it’s difficult to put 250 years into perspective. We see and marvel at all of the changes that have taken place since 1773. And looking backward 250 years from the establishment of Christ Church, in 1523 the world was in the early years of the Renaissance Era. Newton’s apple was yet to fall; Galileo’s telescope was almost a century distant. 

Clearly, a lot can happen in 250 years. 

During this holiday season, Christ Church is helping its congregants await the birth of Christ during Advent, while continuing to lead them on the spiritual journey that has been its mission since the first day its doors opened. 

Congratulations – and thank you for being a bedrock of Alexandria during good times and bad, during war and peace, through strife and harmony