Pender Church History
100 Years Serving God
Methodism came to Fairfax County in 1770, with families meeting together in small groups in what became known as the "Fairfax Circuit". Sometime after 1800, a regular preaching appointment was established at Fairfax Court House. After a school was built in the Pender area (about 1900), a Sunday School began in the schoolhouse, and the Minister of the Fairfax Circuit conducted occasional preaching services there. The Pender Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was established on the Fairfax Circuit in 1903, as an outgrowth of this Sunday School.
In the fall of 1906, as a result of continued growth in membership, the congregation began to think in terms of erecting a church building. On June 4, 1907, on the land donated at the corner of what is now West Ox Road and Route 50 near Fair Oaks Mall, the cornerstone of the Pender Church was laid. By November 16, 1907, the building was completed and valued at $2,000, with only $200 indebtedness against it. Rev. Francis Strothers (appointed to the Fairfax Circuit in March 1907) was the founding pastor. The church record lists sixty-one members as founding members of the new church.
Fifteen clergymen served Pender on the "Fairfax Circuit" (1907-1951), the "Wesley Circuit" (1951-1952), the "Burke-Centreville-Pender Circuit" (1952-1953), and the "Centreville-Pender Circuit" (1953-1956). In 1956, Pender became a station appointment with membership at 181.
In the early 1960s, the growth of the congregation was outstripping the facilities of the little white church on the hill, and plans were laid for a new building on property just west of the original church location. In 1964, the work on the new church was completed, and the first services held on Palm Sunday of that year. The Pender congregation continued to grow, and in 1968 an addition doubled the size of the 1964 building.
Burgeoning growth in Fairfax County and along the Route 50 corridor was reflected in the need to expand again the Pender Church building. By early 1982, plans for the building and financing were in place, and the membership (then more than 500) launched into construction of a new sanctuary and staff offices. Ground breaking occurred in 1984; the new building completion was in 1985. The Educational Wing addition began with planning and a funds drive in 1990 and became operational in May 1994.
Twenty-one ministers have served Pender since it was founded in 1907, and the original membership list of 61 has grown to over 1300. Throughout the years, many men and women of faith and dedication have used their talents to the glory of God. We continue to be inspired by the commitment and faith of our forbearers as Pender grows to meet the ministry needs of the greater Fair Oaks area.