We’re celebrating Accotink’s 40th year as our spiritual home beyond belief.
The theme of this year-long recognition is “Looking back with gratitude, looking forward with hope and love.”
We would like to hear your thoughts about your favorite memories or milestones of the church, as well as hopes for the future here; please send them to us at [email protected] We are interested in displaying photos of such milestones if you have ones you would like to share. With permission, we will share thoughts and images with the congregation. Watch this space for regular inputs as well as posts on our social media.
Click here for a very brief history of our beloved community.
We confidently anticipate an in-person celebration when it is determined to be safe to do so.
Happy Big 4-0, Accotink Community!
Memories & Hopes
Herb B & Shirley L
For several years during the 1980s we held an “All Church Retreat” in the fall at Prince William Park. Counting the children, there were about seventy attendees. People signed up to cook in shifts, clean up, provide entertainment, and run activities. Forest rangers provided educational tours during the day. The afternoons involved discussion groups and, in the evenings, we enjoyed entertainment programs. Sunday, after lunch, we headed home to Northern Virginia.
In 1987 Shirley and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We were assigned what was called the “Honeymoon Cabin” and we got special recognition during the evening program. These early memories reinforce our deep commitment to AUUC.
When I joined Accotink —wow, can it have been 11 years ago? I was welcomed into Sacred Wheel, but Sacred Wheel wasn’t really part of the life of the church. Today we present services on a regular basis, participate in many parts of church life, and are delighted to have Rev. Pippin as part of Sacred Wheel. My hope for the future is that we will all work together to ensure that Accotink UU Church sees another 40 years at least!
Don and Peggy E
We joined AUU in the spring of 1981 (the C wasn’t added until later) and by the fall found ourselves in charge of the family retreats which were always held at one of the CCC camps in Prince Willian Forest Park.
When Lynn Easterwood arrived at the retreat that fall, she had made herself a cross stitch name tag and had brought enough supplies for everyone who attended to make their own. One of the assignments for the weekend was to make one or more name tags. Many of those tags are still hanging in the church foyer.
As you can see from the photos below, we had great fun at those gatherings. Everyone had assignments from cooking for the group to keeping the fire going and there were performances to attend and square dances and, of course, Sunday morning services.
A few questions, now, for our readers:
- Everyone, can you spot the Eckermans, the Easterwoods and a Wanderer in the pictures below?
- For the old timers, can you spot the now Rev Mike, a Rodgers, a Taylor, a Heitov, a Thomas, a couple of Shermans, a third Easterwood and a couple of McFaddens?
And then there was the search for the church land….. But, meanwhile, here are a couple of pictures of the land and Pohick Rd just after acquisition.
Dean and Kate W
We joined Accotink in June 1984. In those early days, individuals took initiative to organize social events. Ginny Moser was instrumental in organizing Circle Suppers in our homes. The hosts would provide the entrée and guests would provide the rest. These dinners were a great way to get to know each other. We would also gather at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield and Prince William Forest park where we would have sporting events, kids’ activities, held discussions of church interest, and share meals together. I first joined the communications team and ran the mimeo machine and helped publish the newsletter. I also worked on the pledge campaign and then helped organize our annual auction. These small group social events and volunteer activities cultivated lasting friendships.
Quang T & Scott L
Accotink has become our extended family. We never seriously looked for a spiritual home because we have always felt unaccepted and out of place since most religious organizations do not accept our sexuality. From our research online, we saw that AUUC was a welcoming congregation so we decided to give it a try. We were welcomed with open arms and have never felt anything but respect and kindness from this community. We weren’t just looking for a place to show up every Sunday for service, we wanted to contribute and be part of this church. We were given the opportunity to help set up the church for Sunday service. After two years going to Accotink, we’re happy to have been even more involved with other activities and responsibilities. It is our hope that we can continue to learn, grow, and contribute to this community. We hope that Accotink continues to make an impact in the community and strengthens its goal of improving social justice.
As this congregation celebrates Accotink’s 40th anniversary, I realize that Dick and I arrived at its midway point, about 20 years ago. We’ve seen AUUC go through some upheavals, changes in ministers and boards, and struggles to modernize our systems to keep up with the times. But I think we’re a stronger, more compassionate and better prepared church body as we emerge from this pandemic. I look forward to us finding new ways to serve our congregation and community — with outreach for social justice, religious education programming for children and adults, activities to engage our LGBTQ+ congregants and advocates, and connections to our environment. I appreciate the church’s mission statement that says in part: “We foster each individual’s spiritual journey, and we share common values while honoring a diversity of beliefs.”
Over the last few months, it has been a real pleasure for me, and I hope for you, to read and listen to reminiscences and aspirations from our loving congregation. We are fortunate to have the vivid memories of our church elders who have been here for decades, as well as from our more junior members who will sustain the viability of this church for the decades to come. A sturdy foundation has been laid. The depth of our good intentions, inspirations, and expertise will continue to refine and execute the vision of our mission.
We have overcome big hurdles in the past and we are weathering this year of pervasive challenges. We have changed, adapted, and persevered. The future is ours to influence and shape, both within our loving community and as active participants in our county, state, country, and our planet.
In the summer of 1980, feeling that they had too far to travel to attend UU churches in Arlington, Mount Vernon, or Oakton, a group of Unitarian-Universalists from the
Springfield-Burke area gathered at the Kings Park Library to form a congregation in their immediate area. They chose “Accotink” for our name because Accotink Creek
and its tiny tributaries wend their way through virtually every neighborhood that housed our members. READ MORE
An Accotink Retrospective
Memories & Hopes
I have so many great stories going back to the beginning. Here are just a few. When we started holding Sunday services in the school cafeteria, I would disassemble my own sound system and bring it in every Sunday until we were able to purchase an amplifier for the church. Sharon Jaffee was one of our four pianists and she started a campaign to purchase a piano. We sold 88 keys to raise the funds. At the beginning of each pledge campaign, I enjoyed writing lyrics to well-known songs and hymns (for example “Rock of Ages”) that we performed during a special program that we put on to start the pledge drive. My dear wife, Ginny, and I served in many capacities. As did others. we were each responsible for an entire year’s program, including finding speakers, selecting hymns, and drafting the Order of Service, which we did long-hand, deliver it to a typist who would type it up and we ran it off on the mimeograph machine –sometimes at the Mount Vernon church. Our church offices were on the 2 nd floor of a building in a strip mall in Springfield. We held Board meetings in a neighboring law firm’s conference room. Meetings sometimes ran until 1:00 AM. For a number of years I was responsible for writing checks for the church. Ginny organized Circle Suppers – they went really well. On Christmas eve we always had a big affair at the school.
Jim G and Connie D
We joined Accotink around 1994. Living close by, we watched as the building was built and started attending Sunday services when it opened. After listening to the wonderful and insightful sermons from Becky Edminston-Lange, and looking at the RE program for our kids, we decided to sign our names to the book. Accotink and UU made a great place for us to be in a spiritual environment together while having different faith traditions. We became active in the community with Jim serving as board president in the late 1990’s, and Connie serving from 2014 to 2017. We both have been on numerous committees and task forces throughout the years. As our children grew and left the “nest” we became more and more involved with AUUC life and formed our closest friendships there. For the future, we both envision AUUC as a growing and thriving community, working hard for social justice, maintaining a safe space for all members, and providing a rich foundation for the children. Our hope is that others in AUUC have found as comfortable a spiritual home as we have.
It was the rainbow imagery that led me to consider AUUC— the stained glass windows and the hangings in the sanctuary. I hadn’t been looking for a place of worship and, in fact, had a pretty negative view of organized religion. But then I attended the Solstice service, and the part of me that honors that deep connection to the Earth and nature felt uplifted. And I volunteered to help during the hypothermia shelter, and the part of me that loves service felt elevated. I wasn’t looking for a church, but as I sat listening to Brad play Queen’s “It’s a Kind of Magic” during the offertory, a song from my favorite movie/tv franchise, I knew I’d found a home in which my soul could feel comfortable; I gave extra to the basket when it came around that time.
As an introvert, the experience of suddenly being thrown into this large community was overwhelming. I already had a full schedule with meetup groups, work, and volunteer projects and, again, I hadn’t been looking to add anything to my life. But I threw myself in anyway, and had a great time listening to people’s interpretations during poetry group, contacting elected officials about critical topics in Write Here Write Now campaigns, sharing during small covenant groups, and joining the assembly line for meal packs. Getting to know the members of the church community, people who had many of the same values that I held dear, became a pleasure. I miss holding hands at the end of service and feeling the energy in the room as we’re all connected to each other for that minute of acknowledgement and reflection, but it has been great to find ways to stay connected to each other and our principles virtually this year.
Moving forward, I can’t wait to see where AUUC goes next. The volunteering opportunities and social justice initiatives are what really touch my heart, as we not only acknowledge the worth of every person but work toward equity, justice, and peace in society as a whole. I look forward to hearing more voices of our youth and having everyone of all ages participate in our services and projects. I’m excited to help with renewing our church’s LGBTQ+ welcoming congregation status, and I really need to just start that LGBTQ+ book club I’ve been thinking of putting together for a year now. Speaking of books, which are my passion, I would love to help us have a Little Free Library on the grounds. Most of all, I’m excited for our community to reflect the passions of all of our members, so I can’t wait to read everyone else’s wishes and dreams!
Joe & Olivia T
When we started coming to Accotink in 2014, our focus was on our little family. Initially, the relationship that mattered to us was between our family and the AUUC community. Over time, as the Accotink community became more and more like our extended family, a different relationship grew in importance to us — that of our church community to the broader community around us. We have seen this manifest in activities like the Hypothermia Shelter, the Crop Walk, VOICE, UU the Vote, and so many more. Accotink always manages to have an outsized impact!
Our hope for the future is to see Accotink increasingly engage in activities to promote universal freedom for all people and to counter white supremacy and other systems of oppression. There’s nowhere else we would rather share this journey.
After attending AUUC in Keene Mill elementary school for over a year, I became a member in 1985. There was only a very part-time minister so many services were lay led. Our first “regular” minister, Rev. Becky Edmiston-Lange gave inspiring sermons. However, I enjoyed her stories for children almost as much because she told them without a script. She had an amazing gift for writing rhyming stories and delivering them with much gusto and flair. Because the school system’s rental fees were exorbitant and increased every year, there were major fundraising efforts to get money to build our own building. After much hard work, AUUC opened its doors in the late 1990’s. I can still feel the joy as “Becky” led the procession into our building for the first time. And today if you wander to the downstairs closet below our memorial tree, you will find written on the rafters the signatures of those of us who were members at that time.
Over these many years I have received support and strength from belonging to this religious community for which I am and will be, forever thankful.
Lynn and Oliver E
We have been members from the beginning of our wonderful church. From the days when we had to pack up and bring church to the school every Sunday. One of our fondest memories early on is the weekend retreats we had at Prince William Forest Park where we spent a weekend camping in the forest and bonding our families together. We spent the time learning about each other, children and adults, young and old, growing our relationships and building our church. Much time and effort went into making these events memorable, from the games to the hikes, the meals to the crafts, from the campfires to the square dancing. Much fun and laughter ensued and this was a wonderful way to build our church foundation.
I hope that Accotink will continue to increase the diversity and inclusion of our community and partnership with other organizations locally and more broadly to advance our mission. I hope that we will be viewed as a tremendous resource for social justice initiatives and information including racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and environmental justice, etc.
Richard and I joined Accotink in 2010. I am so grateful for the friendships, support, opportunities to serve, and fun Accotink has brought into my life. When Richard had his stroke and was in home hospice, more than 20 people from Accotink came to sit with him and brought food. Rev. Linda came to the hospital and lovingly facilitated a difficult meeting with his daughters and me. Accotink has been a focal point of my life these past ten years and I will continue to contribute time, talent, and treasure to our beloved community.
Chris & Mike F
We joined the Accotink Community when we moved back to the Virginia area in 2015, because we were looking for a UU church where we could raise our (soon to be) two girls with UU values. When Alexi was born, she was born very healthy, but I had a lot of complications, and was in the hospital for a long time. Rev. Scott came to visit us in the hospital, and was so very supportive throughout the whole ordeal. When I needed to get a last-minute procedure done, but Mike was at work, Ed Kringer dropped everything to come watch the baby so I could get the test done. We were new to the church, but everyone treated us like family right from the beginning. Looking forward, we intend to continue to raise the girls to adulthood within this community. We get involved as much as we can, because we love interacting with this great community, and being a part of this family, especially since our actual relatives are all very far away. We think fondly of a future where we can all have fun in person again, enjoying good food and good fun, while making great memories!