Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Dulin Church Celebrates 150 Years in City of F.C.

By Dave Kirkland

On Sunday, June 2, 2019, Dulin Church celebrated its 150th year at its present site on Broad Street. Mayor David Tartar was present and made the following Proclamation:

“WHEREAS, Dulin United Methodist Church has been a beacon of caring in Falls Church for more than 150 years, ministering to the spiritual, social, and physical needs of the community;

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, DAVID TARTAR, Mayor of the City of Falls Church, Virginia, do hereby proclaim June 2, 2019, as Dulin United Methodist Church Day in the City of Falls Church and urge all citizens to recognize the contributions of Dulin United Methodist Church to the city and region.”

Dulin Church has its roots in Fairfax Chapel built in 1779 and located behind the present Koons Ford on Broad Street. It was rebuilt in 1819 as one of the few brick structures in the village. At the onset of the Civil War in 1861, the location of Fairfax Chapel was incorporated into Camp Buffalo, a Union soldier camp. The chapel was torn down and the bricks were used to build winter quarters. In the wilderness with no church, church members gave the land for a cemetery where Oakwood Cemetery now is. They worshipped in homes and later at The Falls Church from 1867 to 1869.

In 1867, William Dulin, who owned a large farm, gave the congregation, now known as Dulin Church, two acres of land. The church was built on that plot by Dulin members with no power tools or electricity. Women brought lunch each day. The clay from the pit of the basement of the parsonage being built next door was used to make bricks for the church by two young African-American men.

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The Shreve, Febrey, Birch, Brunner, Ball, Gordon, Ellison, and Torreyson families played significant roles, not only in the founding of Dulin Church, but also in local government, commerce and civic institutions. Recognize any street names?

The Bailey family were very active members of Dulin Church. They purchased land in what is now known as Bailey’s Crossroads, where the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”’ were penned during the Civil War. The Baileys founded the Bailey Circus, which later merged with PT Barnum to form the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Dr. D.J. Moran, a member of Dulin Church, was Falls Church’s first mayor in 1873. In 1869, the town of Falls Church’s population was 300. It is now over 12,000.

The Dulin Church building has been modified several times to meet the needs of its disciples and the community. Fifty-six clergy persons have served Dulin Church.

The Church has transitioned from being heated by a wood stove, to coal, then to a gas fired boiler; from gas lights to electric lights; from funeral home fans to air-conditioning; from an outhouse to indoor plumbing; from pump organ to pipe organ; from horse and buggy to cars; from a segregated balcony to a sanctuary seating everyone together.

During the Temperance movement of the late 19th century, Dulin Church women picketed local taverns. Through their efforts, the liquor license was removed from all Falls Church places of business. (Licenses have since returned….)

Outreach in our 150 years has been local, national, and global through a combination of money, hands and feet.

Dulin Church founded the Dulin Preschool in the late 1950s because there was no early childhood education in the public school system. Dulin Church has supported global missionaries and missionaries in the United States. It has provided support for refugee families, especially after the Vietnam War.

It has helped immigrants and visitors to the United States by providing English-As-a-Second Language classes for 25 years.

Dulin Church was a leader in forming the Falls Church Winter Shelter. We now focus on the homeless and working poor with our Ministry of Hope serving 40-60 persons on Sunday mornings with breakfast, worship, and assistance cards.

We support Homestretch, a Falls Church non-profit, which gives families in need a new start; L’Arche, for persons with intellectual disabilities; and Meals on Wheels. We support Pastor Dave as he runs annually in the 5k Run to End HIV held in Washington, D.C. The list goes on and on.

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As we started in the wilderness in 1861, so we find ourselves in the wilderness again as we deal with human sexuality issues in The United Methodist Church. Dulin Church is called to welcome, love, and support all God’s children, no matter their sexuality or gender identity.

Why are we here?

• To make a difference in people’s lives as we bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to love God and neighbor.

• To be empowered by the Holy Spirit to give us strength and resolve to meet the challenges of today and of the future.

No matter what the outcome may be, through it all, God is with us! And for that, we give thanks.


The Rev. M. Davies Kirkland will begin his 20th year of ministry at Dulin Church on July 1, 2019.

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