Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Church Tour

Sanctuary

Coming up the hilly driveway from Franconia Road, one of the first things you'll see is the A-frame structure of the current sanctuary building.

All Saints Sanctuary

Dedicated in 1973, this building serves as home to a diverse Episcopal congregation, as well as Hispanic and Korean congregations which use the space for worship for their worship services. The building also occasionally plays host to special events such as musical performances, featuring the 100+ year-old pipe organ, members of the choir, and other singers and instrumentalists.

Good Shepherd Window

"I am the Good Shepherd of the sheep . . ."

We begin our tour of the interior of the church at the rear of the sanctuary, looking up at the Good Shepherd Window.

The image is Jesus as the Good Shepherd, bringing home his sheep (John 10). The window itself was a part of the sanctuary of the previous church building, which was razed in the late 1960s to make room for the current parish hall.

Preaching the Word

Next, we walk into the church towards the pulpit. To the left of the pulpit is a door named for Phillips Brooks, former Bishop of Massachusetts who served at Sharon Chapel while a student at Virginia Theological Seminary. (See Church History.)

As the story goes, Brooks felt that he preached his first sermon at Sharon so badly that he opened the window located behind the pulpit in the first chapel, climbed out, and ran all the way back to the seminary. A "Phillips Brooks Door" has been included in every incarnation of the sanctuary since.

Facing forward

A look at the altar as it appears on the 4th Sunday of Advent.

The royal blue hangings and the matching vestments are used only during the 4 weeks prior to Christmas. The color symbolizes the hope inherent during the season of preparation for Christ's birth. Visible behind the altar are the flags of the United States, the Episcopal Church USA, and of Scotland. All Saints has a partnership with St. Mungo's Parish in Alexandria, Scotland; as part of the agreement, the two parishes pray for each other, and celebrate St. Andrew's Day (Nov. 30) and Independence Day (July 4) in common. A large wooden cross hanging above the altar was once part of an oak tree which graced the property. Also visible behind the altar is the organ, an 1893 Hook and Hastings tracker which was acquired in 1973 when the present sanctuary was built.

The altar

The altar as it appears before a typical Sunday morning service.

The purple hangings are in use during the Lent. The image on the reredos directly behind the altar is of the Last Supper.

Make a joyful noise

This is the console for our 1893 Hook and Hastings tracker organ.

It was acquired by All Saints when the present sanctuary was constructed in the early 1970s. In the capable hands (and feet) of our  organist and music director, the organ accompanies hymns and choir anthems, as well as provides music for before and after the 10:30 worship service.

What is a tracker organ? A tracker organ, like the one at All Saints, is electrical in the sense that it has an electric motor that powers a blower that forces air into the organ's pipes — but when a key is pressed to sound a note, the mechanism that operates the valve to admit air into the pipe is strictly mechanical, not electrical. This tracker action is a combination of cranks, levers, and trackers (thin strips of wood). Typical modern pipe organs are electrical in two ways: they have electric blowers, and the valves are operated by electric mechanisms connected to their keyboards.

Gunnell Hall

Welcome to Gunnell Hall and the adjoining kitchen, the site of coffee hour, socializing, and many other parish events.

Gunnell Hall is used for Sunday School classes, choir, Catechesis, and other group meetings separately. Newcomers find the after-worship-service "coffee hour" reception warm, the coffee good, and the people friendly.

The Cemetery

Walk out the back door, and up the stairs to the cemetery and ash garden.

The first burials in our cemetery occurred during the Civil War. Many decorated veterans of wars abroad, as well as people associated with Sharon Chapel, are buried in the cemetery.

The ash garden was begun in the 1980s as a resting place for the cremains of some of our parishioners and friends. The Sharon Chapel cemetery is one of the most peaceful places amid the hustle and bustle of Fairfax County.


Also see the photos of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium at All Saints.