Once upon a time (as all good histories begin) a fourteen-year-old girl had a strong desire to start a congregation of the Church of Christ in Dale City. She begged and pleaded with her family but there was always an excuse why not -- we don't know enough, we don't have time. Then time ran out for Larri Lynn Stringer who died March 13, 1970 (just two days after her father acquiesced and said he would try and three days after her fifteenth birthday.)
Two families began the Church of Christ in Dale City, Virginia, on the first Wednesday evening in September 1970: the Bill Kings and the Charles Stringers. Both the Kings and the Stringers were members of the congregation at Springfield, Virginia, at the time. For the first couple of months. Two families, the Bill Kings and the Charles Stringers, visited with families in Dale City on Wednesday evenings. These people had been members of various congregations in the area but were no longer attending church anywhere. An effort was made not to deplete the other congregations but to encourage members who had fallen away to re-establish their faith. There were Bill and Joyce King, their children Mary Lou and twins Billy and Betty; Charles and Pat Stringer and their children Mike, Jay, Janet, and Gail.
Soon we were meeting for midweek services at the Stringer's home at 14708 Cloverdale Road. At this time, Dale City consisted of Ashdale, Birchdale, Forestdale, and a small portion of the Cloverdale sections. Before long, all three services were held there. Bedrooms became classrooms, the den became an auditorium, and enthusiasm abounded.
Early in 1971, with the active support of the Elders and members at Springfield, a Saturday morning door-knocking campaign was begun. Once a month, the ladies at Dale City cooked breakfast at the Stringers for all workers and then we would spread out to one of the subdivisions. Back for lunch and then two more hours work.
Our next step was to rent the Civic Center at Birchdale for Sunday morning worship service. By this time, Maurine and Al Weeks, Joe and Sue Bilbrey, Juanita Hensley, Corky and Pat Corsand, Rene Caldwell, Marge Ethridge, Bill and Ginger Morrison were all members and Harry and Birdie Moss, and Robbie and Nancy Bowers had been converted.
In 1971, the congregation was swelled by Joe and Hazel Beaty, David and Judy Hines, Tom and Lulu Utter, John and Elaine McGuire, John and Norma McGee, Mick and Sandy Trammel, Jack and Suzie Spence, Troy and Clara Moore, and others who had all moved into the area with their families. Thanks to Al and Maurine Weeks underwriting his salary, our first preacher was hired -- Calvin Henry and his wife Linda came up here from Texas. We bought a house on Daley Lane across from Mike Stringer's home, and we expanded to classrooms in all three houses for Wednesday night and Sunday morning classes.
In 1973, the building at 13130 Hillendale Drive was begun. We put down a $500 deposit for an option on a prime piece of land on Dale Boulevard, but the option expired before we could build. When the two-acre lot on Hillendale was purchased for $30,000, Charles Stringer and Al Weeks met with Mr. Hylton and he graciously agreed to apply the option money to the new lot. When they approached Mr. Hylton again, he agreed to deduct $2,500 for the 1/4 acre Arrington family cemetery on the property that was not usable. Once again, they met with Mr. Hylton and he agreed to subrogate his note on the land to make it possible for us to get financing to build. If it had not been for Mr. Hylton's assistance and faith in us, we would not have been able to build for several years. Five families of the congregation also had enough faith in God to co-sign the note for $127,500 putting up their homes as collateral so the Lord's work could move forward.
Just before the building was completed the Hines family bought a home in Stafford. In the basement, was a podium and a table that the former owner lovingly handmade for his son's church, which they did not want. When he sold the house to David and Judy he gave these to David to be used in our building.
The "prime" lot on Dale Boulevard we didn't get to buy? It has a water treatment plant behind it and would be totally undesirable now. The Lord truly does work in our lives for good!
The building was completed August 1, 1973, with Mr. and Mrs. Hylton as guests for our first service. Gail Stringer and Steve Meredith were married in the building August 25, 1973, and Kathy Weeks and Ken Peck were married here October 10, 1973.
Calvin and Linda Henry left in late 1974. Our second preacher, Del Elkins his wife Barbara, moved here from Warrenton, Virginia in 1975. He left in 1976. The congregation had no full time preacher until Gene Chumley and his wife Joyce moved to Dale City in 1978, and he became the full time preacher. John Snoderly did most of the preaching for those two years, with help from Joe Beaty and other men of the congregation. During most of these years, we had been partially supported by the Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ in Alabama. One year after Gene began working with our congregation, we were fully self-supporting. Gene labored with the congregation until November 2003. Gene's retirement from the pulpit opened the door for a new minister for the first time in over 25 years. Jeff Harris, his wife Patty and their two childen William and Thomas, began working with the congregation in December 2003. Dessain and Stephanie Terry have worked with the congregation since 2006.
Our first Elders, Gene Chumley and Joe Beaty, Sr. were chosen March 3, 1989. Alfred Johnson was chosen to serve in this capacity on June 26, 1994. Joe Price was chosen to serve as Elder on February 8, 1998, Mark Clardy, and Paul Nix 2005,Rufus Flemons 2009.
On July 7, 1985, four men were chosen to serve as Deacons: Joe Bilbrey*, Willie Gore**, Stuart King, and Dan Willis**. On October 18, 1987, Peter Burnett** and John Pierson** were chosen to serve. Mark Clardy was selected on October 10, 1993. On February 8, 1998, Hal Creech, Ken Johnson, and Leonard Reynolds were chosen. 2001:Al Foxx, Rufus Flemons, Bob Shirk and John Canfield; 2002: Maroco Morales; 2005: Rob Wilson; 2008: Jimmy Crawford; 2010: Goodman Bellamy; (Spanish) congregation 2010: Nelson Abarca, Narciso Carrion, Victor Valle.
Expanding the dream
In 1995 the congregation wanted to begin a Spanish-speaking ministry. Marco Morales, who was in Arlington, Virginia, contracted Marlon Grande, and all were in areement. In 1996 Marco and Martha Morales and Marlon and Celina Grande and their families began a Hispanic congregation, inviting others to come. The first year they had ten people: now there are fifty to sixty Hispanic brothers and sisters worshiping together.
Once a month the congregation has a combined service conducted bilingually and enjoys a fellowship potluck meal aftterward.
A busy 38 years have passed. Struggles have been overcome: joys and sorrows have been shared. The mortgage for the building was paid off in April 1994, nine years early and now we are reaching forward again with plans to expand the building.
In the past, different members have worked in a local prison ministry (Joe Beaty, Gene Chumley). and served on the board for Camp WAMAVA (Stuart King, Tom White, Gene Chumley). The Dale City church is currently involved locally with the Woodbridge Nursing Home, Woodbridge Senior Center, Prince William County Police Department (Gene Chumley, Chaplain).
Reaching out, the church helps people in such places as Nigeria; Pohnpei; Galion, Ohio; Fowle, California; and the work of Reconciled Ministries in Texas.
Other current activities include benevolence work and the food bank, where on average 180-200 familties are fed each month, and Eastern Regions Leadership Training for Christ, a program for our young people.
Each family who has moved into Dale City and worshiped with the congregation here have brought joy and love to this congregation and to God's heart.