Rixey Memorial Window.
Rixey Memorial Window.

The 2000s

In a time when many Episcopal churches have seen their membership shrink, St. Mary’s remains a healthy, vibrant, and growing church community. Its estimated membership continues to grow, surpassing the church’s previous high mark from the 1950s. By the end of 2014, St. Mary’s membership stood at approximately 2,200 members, with almost 200 children registered in the church school and an average attendance of about 500 at the weekly worship services.

This reflects both changing demographics and natural population growth in North Arlington, as well as the church’s steady presence in the community. Even as the tumultuous debate over gay rights has divided many Episcopal congregations, St. Mary’s has stayed focused on welcoming people through worship, liturgy, and service, no matter who they are, an approach that ultimately has served the parish well.

Throughout, St. Mary’s has remained committed to outreach in Arlington and beyond. In addition to maintaining the budgetary standard set in the early 1990s of 25 percent going to outreach, St. Mary’s has played a leadership role in a variety of other ways. In 2008, St. Mary’s co-founded Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement – better known as VOICE – a multi-faith, non-partisan organization dedicated to organizing citizens to bring about social change, such as access to affordable housing, healthcare, and child care, in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Prince William counties. St. Mary’s also partnered with other local churches to raise money for the Culmore clinic, a free health clinic in the Bailey’s Crossroads area, Santa Maria Episcopal, a parish for primarily Latinos on Arlington’s Columbia Pike, and a cathedral in the Diocese of Renk in Sudan.

The church also has continued to be a training ground for new pastors under the guidance of Fr. Merrow. The Rev. Anne Turner, who now serves as St. Mary’s Senior Associate to the Rector, came to Arlington in 2009 from Grace Church in Amherst, Mass. Her ministry includes support for Christian formation, and families. After 20 years working for the government as a therapist and a program and organizational specialist, the Rev. Tim Malone joined the St. Mary’s clergy in 2010. He currently works with the St. Mary’s youth and pastoral care volunteers.  Rev. Malone is also a Senior Associate to the Rector.  Other clergy who were assistant and/or associate rectors included the Revs. Grant Ambrose, John Runkle, Elizabeth Melchionna, Jennifer Strawbridge, Kristen Barkerding Sullivan, Robin Dodge, and Tracy Bruce. Gregory Hooker has been music minister since 2003.

Well into the 21st century, more than eighty-five years after its first worship service, St. Mary’s continues to thrive in the heart of Arlington.