Many years ago, a friend and I were talking about how we identify people in conversation.  Steve said, “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said ‘So, I was with my friend Tim—he’s a black guy’…I’ve never said ‘So, I was with my friend Bob, he’s a white guy…’  Why is that?  Why do we feel the need to identify anyone who isn’t white?” 

That conversation has stuck with me over the years and to this day, I am conscious of when I offer that extra description and when I don’t.  My ruminations resonated with the words Debby Irving offers in the Introduction of Waking Up White.  She writes:

“For years I struggled silently to understand race and racism.  I had no way to make sense of debates in the media about whether the white guy was ‘begin a racist’ or the black guy was ‘playing the race card.’  I wanted close friends of color but kept ending up with white people as my closet friends.  When I was with a person of color, I felt an inexplicable tension and a fear that I might say or do something offensive or embarrassing.  When white people made blatant racist jokes or remarks, I felt upset but had no idea what to do or say.  I didn’t understand why, if laws supporting slavery, segregation, and discrimination had been abolished, lifestyles still looked so different across color lines.  Most confusing were unwanted racist thoughts that made me feel like a jerk.  I felt too embarrassed to admit any of this, which prevented me from going in search of answers.  It turns out, stumbling block number 1 was that I didn’t think I had a race, so I never thought to look within myself for answers.”

CA-CHING!  It’s that last sentence that got me.  As one in the majority race, I tended to think of race as something everyone else had—Asian, African American, Indian, Latino—you get the idea.  “White” or “Anglo” really wasn’t “race.”  

Now, I am aware some of you may be beyond this thinking—and I am glad for that!  You can help those of us who need to catch up.  I am looking forward to reading Waking Up White.  For me, it is going to be challenging and eye opening.   A number of you have already expressed interest in this and here’s my suggestion of how we’ll gather around it.  Add Waking Up White to your summer reading list.  Let me know if you need help buying the book and let me know you’re reading it.  In September, we’ll begin conversation groups around our reading.

Irving’s book is a compliment to the Belhar Confession, the most recent Confession in our Book of Confession.  The mental image that keeps running through my mind is from Sunday—Elizabeth Bull holding up the printed copy as she’s offering witness to what our future ministry should be.  Racial reconciliation, inclusion and equality, speaking truth to power—it’s all there.  How does this new confession frame and guide our conversation about future ministry?  Should it frame and guide our conversation?  Intentionally digging into the confession is the only way to find out!  

This study will also begin in September.  A copy of the confession can be found here.  Add this to your summer reading list as well.  And let me know if you’re reading this too.

So, what’s the discernment about here?  For me, it has to do with that edgy, uncomfortable feeling—I’m being invited to consider something new, to change my outlook or behavior.  From my perspective so much of what is happening in our country and in the church has to do with our inability, unwillingness to address the issue of race.  I, for one, am tired of feeling inadequate and apprehensive about participating in that conversation and working to bring about change.  A first step for me is to educate myself and work to understand my own thoughts and reactions.  I invite you to join me.


Arlington Presbyterian Church is imagining a new way to be a faith community.

AG Curtis photoTo live out God’s radical call to “love neighbor as your love yourself”, Arlington sold their building to make room for much-needed affordable housing on the Columbia Pike corridor of South Arlington. This vision came to be after intentionally listening to our neighbors. We walked around the neighborhood and talked with neighbors. We rode buses with an observant eye. We asked questions about our neighbors work and family life. 

Now our old building is torn down, and Gilliam Place, the soon-be apartment building of 170 units of affordable housing and where Arlington will eventually reside, is under construction. In the process of all of this, we bought back two parcels of land behind the building to create a green space for us and our neighborhood. 

Arlington is using this “in-between” time to imagine itself in new and creative ways. We worship in the chapel at Arlington United Methodist Church center located at 716 S. Glebe Road, just a few blocks from our future site at Gilliam Place. 

Arlington is a faith community where all are welcome. Join us for worship at 11am on Sundays to share in of our work of welcome, nurture, service, and proclaim as we share in love that is the community of God.

For Life, 

Rev. Ashley Goff 


Glebe Bannera

“I am about to do a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” – Isaiah 43:19

We are moving forward with our Vision.  This page will keep you up-to-date on the latest happenings around living into our Vision at Arlington Presbyterian Church.  To follow our journey or to join us, click on a link below.  The most recent events are at or near the top.

Gilliam smFor over 100 years, Arlington Presbyterian Church has been a place where people of vision, connected with the community, have heard and responded to the needs of our neighbors. Ronda A. Gilliam is one among many who had the courage to step beyond the comforts of the status quo to serve our neighbors.

Ronda A. Gilliam (1906-1970) resided in Arlington View, served at Ft. Myer and worked at the National Archives. In 1960, one year after the desegregation of Arlington County schools, he became the first African American member of Arlington Presbyterian Church. He served as a church Elder as well as an Elder Commissioner to the Washington City Presbytery. In 1970 Mr. Gilliam founded a clothing assistance program to serve school children and those in distress. After his passing in 1970, the Clothing Bank at APC was named in his honor. To this day, the Clothing Bank distributes thousands of clothing items each year.

What follows are documents provided to the Administrative Commission on Congregational Property (ACCP) of National Capital Presbytery.  After reviewing these documents, ACCP acknowledged the Pre-development agreement between Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Inc. and Arlington Presbyterian Church Corporation and received this proposed partnership with enthusiasm.  If you have further questions, please contact any member of session:  Jon Etherton, Lauren Freed, Kristine Gabster, Lorraine Gardner, Mary Helen Harris, Jay Kennedy, Linda Peebles, Judy Robb.  

  1. APAHACCPpackage070813.pdf
  2. APC2008.pdf
  3. APC2009.pdf
  4. APC2010.pdf
  5. APC2011.pdf
  6. APC2012.pdf
  7. APC2013M.pdf
  8. APC-APAHPresentation_25June2013.pdf
  9. CopyofFiveYearTrends.xlsx
  10. cover letter for ACCP packet 070913.docx
  11. Final.APAHACCPpackage070813.docx
  12. MinutesJuly7.docx
  13. PredevAgreementBinder.pdf
  14. Statementremissionrev070213.docx