In 1964, the first industrial tenants and residents came to Reston. Reston encompasses about 7,600 acres of land. This new town was planned and designed to meet particular social objectives and the needs of everyone who chose to join the community. Its physical layout of homes, streets, schools, open spaces and commercial and community areas are aimed at incorporating function with beauty, safety with convenience, and people with nature. It was to be a community where people of all ages, races and many socioeconomic backgrounds live work and play, harmoniously.
Over the years, Reston has become a mature and thriving community. More than 42,000 families live here, approximately 72,700 people. Residents of this community left familiar people, familiar associations and familiar institutions. They brought with them the natural desire to create new alliances, new associations and new visions that incorporate enduring intuitions and traditions. Among these enduring traditions is the church.
Reston's town planners allotted space for religious structures, but they could not build the community's spiritual heritage or history. They expected that the people of Reston, in time, would bring and build these things for themselves. However, planners did not anticipate specific religious needs African-Americans. Historically, the Black Church has been a powerful influence, a dynamic and stable part of African-American life. It is in this setting and out of this tradition that the Heritage Fellowship Church was born.
Christian Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), original name 1978-1984 Heritage Fellowship United Church of Christ (HFUCC) name from 1984 through 2005. Several years ago a group of concerned Christians met in the home of Roosevelt and Thelma Calbert to discuss the religious development of their children, and their community. After this initial meeting, a series of meetings was held to discuss concerns and formulate plans to improve their spiritual/religious life needs. The ultimate need, as expressed by this group, was the establishment of a Church.
The first service of the Heritage Fellowship United Church of Christ was held Sunday, April 2, 1978 in the home of Harry and Bessie Lamb. Twenty people were present, nine adults, five teenagers and six children. The Second meeting was held the following Sunday in the Glade Room with 32 people present. Within two months we had outgrown the Glade Room, and on the first Sunday in June, a third location, Southgate Room, was used. After three years we moved to the Reston Community Center.
Less than two months after our founding we realized that we needed a spiritual leader. Dr. Harold L. Hunt accepted our request to become our Pastoral Advisor. Dr. Hunt was an Associate Professor of Urban Ministries at Howard University. He served as our Pastoral Advisor from May 1978 until January 1979. Dr. Hunt was succeeded by Dr. Ernest W. Armstrong, Sr., the Associate Minister of Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, D. C. Dr. Armstrong served as Pastoral advisor from January 1979 until March 1979. On December 16, 1980, our first full time Pastor, Dr. Joseph Dancy, Jr. was elected. Since Dr. Dancy's tenure, our church has been spiritually guided and influenced by the following men and women of God:
- Rev. Kwame Osei Reed, first elected UCC Minister
- Rev. Deborah McGill-Jackson, Interim Minister
- Dr. William E. Bishop, Interim Minister
- Dr. Lawrence T. Evans, second elected UCC Minister
- Rev. Jesse E. Mayes, Interim Minister
- Revs. Darius and Cynthia Macon-Jones, Co-Pastors
- Dr. Reuben Sheares, Executive Staff Official of UCC
- Rev. Dr. Norman A. Tate, Pastor (October 1995 to present)
The Heritage Fellowship United Church of Christ has been blessed over the years to have some of the most outstanding theologians and trained servants of God serve as advisor and pulpit guests. Among them were:
- Dr. Lawrence N. Jones, Dean, School of Religion, Howard University
- Dr. Philip Wogannan and Dr. James C. Logan, American Univerisity
- Dr. John Satterwhite, Executive Secretary, Center for Black Church Union
- Rev. Henry C. Gregory, Pastor, Shiloh Baptist Church
- Dr. Gayraund S. Wilmore, Director of Black Studies Program, Colgate Rochester Divinity School
- Dr. Percel O. Alston, Executive Staff Official of UCC
- Rev. Carroll E. Kann, Conference Minister of the Potomac Association in The Central Atlantic Conference of UCC
- Dr. Yvonne V. Delk, Associate for Constituency Development, UCC
- Rev. Clarence L. Cave, Associate for Black Mission Development in the program Agency of the United Presbyterian Church
In 1985, the architectural design for a new church building was submitted to the County of Fairfax for an 844-seat sanctuary, office space, a fellowship hall, and classrooms. The building of the new church would be done using a phased approach. The first phase entailed building the multi-purpose room to hold worship services. The 844-seat sanctuary was to be completed during the second phase. The multi-purpose room was completed and dedicated in 1987.
Today, we continue to hold worship services in the room once designated as the multi-purpose room. The administrative and educational wings were added in 1998.
Along with the new Pastor, came immense growth in the membership of the church. To accommodate the new growth in church attendance, the sanctuary was temporarily expanded each Sunday morning by using tents connecting to each side of the sanctuary. When three services and the temporary tents could no longer accommodate the growth, worship services were moved to South Lakes High School in Reston in 2001 and, subsequently to Herndon High School in 2003.
Although the Heritage Fellowship Church has made much progress in the past 29 years, "There remains yet very much land to be possessed." To fulfill the goals that God has established for Heritage Fellowship to accomplish, we have embarked on building a 47,000 square foot edifice, which includes the 844-seat sanctuary. This building is not simply a means to accommodate the congregational growth, but it will enable us to train disciples of Christ who can stand on the Word of God, be sure in the Worship of God, seek the Will of God, and be steadfast in the Work of God. The answer lies in the efforts and the depth of commitment of each of us. Let us pray each day to God to give us the wisdom, vision, vigor, and power to carry to the finish this noble task we have begun. WE CAN DO IT. God has richly blessed us with a powerful and dynamic spiritual leader, Rev. Dr. Norman A. Tate. Under his leadership we can truly say, "Heritage is on the Move....Building a Legacy That Will Endure" For the people had a mind to work....(Nehemiah 4:6)
Roosevelt and Thelma Calbert
Harry and Bessie Lamb
Larry and Judith Perkins
Alvin and Odessa Thomas