An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia

The City of Alexandria was founded in 1749, and a chapel-of-ease, or branch church for the ease of parishioners distant from the main parish church at Falls Church, Virginia, was located there by 1753. In 1765 the growth of local population led the Virginia legislature to divide the parish, which included Alexandria, into two. A new parish was created out of the northern end of Truro Parish and named Fairfax Parish. The vestry of Truro Parish decided that the main church at Falls Church and the chapel-of-ease at Alexandria were inadequate and would be replaced. Two similar churches were built from one set of plans at those two locations. The church built at Alexandria is Christ Church today. The construction of the Georgian-style church began in 1767 and was completed in 1773. The first services in this building were celebrated on Feb. 27, 1773. The galleries were added in 1787. Virginia Theological Seminary used Christ Church buildings at first, as did Episcopal High School. George Washington was a parishioner at Christ Church. However, he served on the vestry of Truro Parish where his home, Mt. Vernon, was located. He once bought and then rented a pew in Christ Church. Washington attended services at Christ Church when he was in Alexandria. Robert E. Lee was confirmed at Christ Church and married Mary Custis, Washington's step-great granddaughter, at Christ Church. On Jan. 1, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited Christ Church for the World Day of Prayer for Peace during World War II.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.