A former youth minister at a Reston church faces multiple charges related to the unlawful filming of a minor.
Douglas Johnson worked as a youth minister at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Reston from 2005 to 2018. The Chesapeake Police Department told Reston Now that Johnson voluntarily turned himself in to police on Sept. 25.
He faces six criminal charges related to unlawful videotaping a female minor in Chesapeake, according to a statement released by the church.
In a statement, the Catholic Archdiocese of Arlington stated that he underwent a criminal background check and completed training to prevent and report abuse as a condition of employment.
Prior to his employment, he volunteered at both St. John Neumann and St. Thomas à Becket Catholic Church in Reston.
Here’s more from the archdiocese on the issue:
No known complaints or allegations have been made against Johnson related to his time as an employee and volunteer at St. John Neumann and a volunteer at St. Thomas à Becket. If you are aware of misconduct or abuse on the part of any cleric, employee, or volunteer of the Diocese, immediately notify civil authorities and reach out to the diocesan Office of Child Protection and Victim Assistance at (703) 841-2530.
The Diocese of Arlington has a zero-tolerance policy for abuse and is fully committed to training our clergy, staff and volunteers to identify and report suspected instances of abuse. All clergy, staff and volunteers undergo mandatory abuse prevention and awareness training, and safe environment training is also provided to students in the Diocese’s schools, religious education and youth programs. Anyone who works with minors must also undergo background checks every five years. The diocesan Office of Child Protection and Victim Assistance works with parish staff to ensure training and prevention policies are followed throughout our parishes and schools. No one with a credible allegation against them is serving with minors in the Diocese.
A 50-member church proposed for 459 Herndon Parkway is nearing approval by the town of Herndon’s planning commission.
In November, Christ Fellowship Church applied for a special exception to take up residence in suites 7 and 8A at a facility owned by Parkway Crossing Condominiums.
A special exception is needed because religious institutions are not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts. 459 Herndon Parkway lies in the office and light industrial zoning district.
However, parking concerns delayed a vote in December until later this month.
Earlier this week, though, planning commission staff said they’d recommend approving the application, provided certain conditions are met. Many on the commission also seemed to be in agreement that once the special exception is up for a vote, they’d vote to approve.
Concerns were brought up that discussion of parking logistics should actually be between the church and the condo association, rather than be subjected to a debate during the town’s planning commission meeting.
In mid-November, the condo’s Board of Directors voted to begin a study to explore ways to relax parking restrictions on first-floor condo units. This could open up more spots for the church.
That study is ongoing, according to the planning commission staff.
As for certain conditions, prohibiting daycare or school use and limiting the attendees to 44 at a time are the recommendations of the staff.
The church would be allowed to submit separate special exception applications for both of these in the future.
Christ Fellowship Church has been part of Herndon for almost 30 years and was worshipping at Arts Herndon, a local art gallery 750 Center Street. Currently, they are worshipping virtually.
The church has approximately 50 members, no full-time staff, and one part-time staff.
Photo via the handout/Town of Herndon Planning Commission
A decision on Christ Fellowship Church, a church planned on 459 Herndon Parkway, has been delayed to late January.
The church is working with the Parkway Crossing Condominiums to sort out a pending parking issue, according to a Dec. 14 meeting with the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission.
The church, which has been a part of the Herndon community for almost 30 years, currently has roughly 50 members. The new facility, however, would accommodate a growing congregation. If plans are approved, the church will occupy suites 7 and 8A at the condominium’s facility.
In mid-November, the condominium’s Board of Directors voted to begin a study to explore ways to relax parking restrictions on first-floor condo units. The applicant is currently working with the condominium to work through parking rate restrictions.
Currently, the condo association is working out ways to increase the ratio of parking units for first-floor units. The applicant anticipates that the parking ratios allotment will be sorted out by the commission’s Jan. 25 public hearing.
Photo via the handout/Town of Planning Commission
The Town of Herndon is currently considering plans to welcome a new church to the neighborhood. A planning commission public hearing took place virtually to discuss the arrival of Christ Fellowship Church this week.
In Herndon, religious institutions are typically not allowed in any of the town’s zoning districts. The church is applying for a special exception to permit a religious institution with a capacity of 300 persons, according to the Planning Commission’s Staff Report.
The church plans to occupy suites 7 and 8A at the Parkway Crossing Condominiums (459 Herndon Parkway).
Christ Fellowship Church has been a part of the Herndon community for almost 30 years, according to the staff report. As of now, the small congregation has approximately 50 members, no full-time staff members and one part-time staff member.
The church plans to hold small gatherings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some activities taking place on weekday evenings, but primarily over the weekends.
Photo via handout/Herndon Planning Commission
Several local faith-based groups are partnering to take part in a car rally for racial justice.
Congregants from area churches will gather on Wednesday, Aug. 26 for the rally, which is intended to raise awareness about “persistent and pervasive racial inequities that have led to violence and discrimination against people of color,” according to event organizers.
Amanda Andere, an event organizer, said all community members are invited to attend the event, which builds on the momentum of national, state and local protests following the death of George Floyd.
“As a church we have been in reflection to our response to the continued racial justice awakening since May and have been asked by local faith leaders to do something as one of the original Black churches in Reston. We feel the call for racial justice needs continued attention,” Andere said.
So far, the following congregations are set to take part in the rally:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church
- St. Thomas a’ Becket Catholic Church
- Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation
- Reston Unitarian Universalists Congregation
- Washington Plaza Baptist Church
- Rev. Jerome
The event takes place from 6-7 p.m. in the parking lot of the St. Thomas à Becket Church (1421 Wiehle Avenue).
“As a church we have been in reflection to our response to the continued racial justice awakening since May and have been asked by local faith leaders to do something as one of the original Black churches in Reston. We feel the call for racial justice needs continued attention.”
Photo via of Herndon Car Rally via Deborah Smith Reilly/Facebook
Local congregations are banding together to provide takeout meals from local restaurants to those in need of food.
Since the second week of its launch, the program, Herndon Cares, has fed more than 400 people. More congregations and businesses are joining the effort, including Christ Fellowship Church, Herndon United Methodist Church, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, St. John Neumann Catholic Community, Trinity Presbyterian Church, and Washington Plaza Baptist Church.
The First Baptist Church of Herndon spearheaded the effort after Pastor Sean Roberds pitched the idea of raising funds for meals in an effort to support local businesses and local residents.
Within a week of suggesting the idea, the church’s community outreach coordinator launched the effort and recruited volunteers, including Renee Maxwell from Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon.
“I’m thrilled that more and more faith congregations are patterning in this effort and that businesses are very enthusiastic,” Maxwell said.
Restaurants that are within the zip code areas of 20170, 20171, 20190, and 20194 can participate by pitching dinner for $10/person or less. Some local participants include:
- Amphora’s Diner Deluxe
- Apple Spice
- A Taste of the World Restaurant
- Charcoal Kabab
- Enatye Ethiopian Restaurant
- Great Harvest Bread Company
- Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern
- Mellow Mushroom
- Mr. Pepperoni
- Virginia Kitchen
- Willard’s BBQ
- 100 Bowls
Photo via Herndon Cares
UPDATED at 2 p.m. — Tysons Reporter received new information from area hospitals about current needs and shortages. At this time, area hospitals are NOT in need of homemade medical masks, according to the spokesperson from Reston Hospital Center.
A Reston father and his two sons teamed up to make a group to help people who could be severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
After feeling bored in self-isolation, Colin, Hayden and their dad, Ray Whitney, researched how they could best assist their community and discovered a group called Caremongers out of Canada. After some guidance from its volunteers, the trio founded one of their own chapters for the Reston community.
Caremongers Reston VA is a group that writes letters and shares ideas with others on how to help and delivers groceries or medicine to people around the area who are elderly or immuno-compromised, according to Ray.
Ray said he founded the Facebook page for the group around March 18, and already, the group has helped roughly 40 people — and continues to grow its outreach efforts through a partnership with the United Christian Parish Reston, where the family attends services.
“Right now it’s really just me and my sons trying to push things through and get things set up,” Ray said.
The group said they were able to write a letter to a 100-year-old WWII veteran who celebrated his birthday on Sunday (March 22) without a group of friends due to health concerns.
Currently, Ray said Caremongers Reston isn’t accepting donations.
“This is a unique opportunity for everybody to help,” according to Ray, who added that everyone is in a position to do something, even if it’s digitally reaching out to someone who might feel lonely in self-isolation or quarantine.
For people posting on social media, the group is using the hashtag #SpreadLoveNotCOVID19 to promote thoughtfulness during this time.
To protect themselves, the family is ensuring that they wear gloves during curbside deliveries, leaving the house only when they have to and making sure to practice social distancing — i.e. keeping 6 feet away from people — when they are out, Ray said.
Ray added that they are trying to be cautious but not fearful.
For kids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that not every child will react the same way to stress from the pandemic and suggests that parents share facts with their kids and reassure them that they will be safe.
Colin is a 4th-grade student at Lake Anne Elementary and Ray said he is simply excited to be helping his community and that he seems to be handling everything okay. Hayden is currently a 9th-grade student at South Lakes High School.
“We are really proud of the fact he wants to step up and help people,” Ray said.
Photo courtesy Ray Whitney
During the COVID-19 outbreak, places of worship around Reston and Herndon are going digital for people who are self-isolating or quarantined.
Many pastors, priests and religious leaders are taking on leadership roles to help guide their following through stress and uncertainty associated with the outbreak.
May you find peace within you. May you be grateful for what is good even in uncertainty. May you be kind to another. May you remember to wash your hands. You are loved. #COVIDー19 #prayer #WednesdayThoughts
— Rev.Debra Haffner (@RevDebra) March 18, 2020
Reverend Debra Haffner is associated with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston. Her sermons are available for download on the church’s website.
Many religious centers are closed to the public, but a few are still holding events for regular attendees. Here’s what Reston Now has found in the area.
The Reston Presbyterian Chuch is offering live-streamed services for the congression now that in-person ceremonies have been canceled until further notice. Worshipers can tune into the service at 11 a.m. beginning Sunday (March 22), according to the church’s website. The event will be hosted through Facebook Live.
Oakbrook Church, a non-denominational gathering, is taking several steps to support followers during this time, according to the group’s Facebook page. Today (March 19) at 7 p.m., the congregation will host a Zoom session for people seeking digital companies.
St. John Neumann Catholic Community canceled gatherings of 10 or more people but is keeping its doors open for people who want to pray at least 10 feet apart from one another, according to the church’s website. Congregation leaders are also encouraging followers to watch digital Mass online on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.
“The priests at SJN will continue to offer private Masses and remember the intentions of parishioners,” according to the website.
At the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, people can attend live-streamed services beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“We have modified our sanctuary setup, service plan, and camera placement to make our online congregation feel more intimate,” the website said. “Instead of using Mishkan T’filah, which we know many people do not own personal copies of, we have put together our own little siddur to guide us through tonight’s service.”
The Reston Islamic Center will remain open for men only, according to its website.
Shaolin Temple, a Buddhist place of worship, decided to close its center until further notice, according to the website.
Southview Community Church is doing Facebook Live events throughout the week, according to the web page. Each day, people can follow along with the church’s Facebook for announcements when church leaders will go live.
Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash
A Clifton-based priest has admitted to sexual abuse of a minor at Reston church.
According to a release by the Arlington Diocese, Father Christopher Mould told the Bishop of Arlington, Michael Burbridge that he had sexual contact with a minor between 1992 and 1995 at Saint Thomas à Becket Catholic Church in Reston. Mould was a parochial vicar at the time.
The release stated Burbridge reported the incident to the Fairfax County Police Department.
Here’s more from Bishop Burbridge:
Father Mould has expressed deep contrition for his actions, and he accepts that there will be serious and severe consequences for them.
The Diocese of Arlington is fully committed to a zero-tolerance policy related to sexual abuse of minors. Any such incident is a grave sin and a profound betrayal of trust. I express my heartfelt regret to the individual who was harmed by Father Mould’s actions. As is the case with any instance of sexual abuse of a minor, I have ensured that the counseling services of our Victim Assistance Coordinator are available to anyone who may need them.
The Diocese encourages anyone who knows of any misconduct or abuse on the part of any cleric or employee of the Diocese to report it to the Virginia Attorney General hotline (VirginiaClergyHotline.com) and local police, and also to contact the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at (703) 841-2530.
I realize that this information is difficult for you to receive. While justice and a commitment to the protection of children and young people make these actions prudent and necessary, it also brings me sadness to know the impact they have on your community.
Mould has since resigned as Pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Church and currently holds no church office. He is also barred from practicing priesthood, according to a statement by the Diocese.
A new nursery school and day care program could be coming to Dranesville United Methodist Church.
The church, which already has a permit for a private school, is seeking to replace the current private school with a nursery school and day care program.
In an application submitted to Fairfax County on June 19, William Bliven, chairman of the church’s board of trustees, said the switch would “more broadly serve the surrounding community.”
The church is proposing no changes to its facilities, grounds or telecommunications facilities. However, 19 spaces for staff and parents — which are available on site — will be needed. The nursery and childcare program would have a maximum enrollment of 99 — 51 seats less than the previously approved private school.
The hours of the church would be tweaked slightly to accommodate working parents. The new program would be open on weekday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The application was accepted by the county earlier this month. Dates for future county meetings have not yet been docketed.
The church is located at 1089 Liberty Meeting Court in Herndon.
Photo via Google Maps
A silent auction will also take place during the event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is the second year the free event has taken place.
Family activities include Zumba by the YMCA, book readings for children and an activity led by Beloved Yoga.
Event organizers are no longer accepting applications from vendors. For more information, email [email protected].
Flickr pool photo via J0nathan
The family-friendly, alcohol-free event aims to support and celebrate Reston’s LGBTQ community, said the Rev. Debra Haffner, a minister at UUCR.
Her son, Greg Tartaglione, will emcee and perform as Mama Celeste, a drag performance artist, at the festival. Mama Celeste will also host Oakland’s first drag festival this month.
“As someone new to Reston, I was surprised to discover that despite Reston’s founding commitment to diversity and inclusion, there had never been a Pride festival in Reston. I am delighted by the enthusiastic response and support we are receiving for Reston Pride, often from groups and organizations that have never spoken out before on LGBTQ issues,” Haffner said.
The festival, which takes place at UUCR, includes more than 10 performers, presentations by area political and faith leaders, exhibits, booths, food, and music.
Reston Community Players will perform “Rock the Ages and “Hairspray” at the festival. State Del. Ken Plum and state Sen. Janet Howell will speak alongside Lisa Merkel, the mayor of the Town of Herndon.
Eighteen cosponsors are supporting the event, including six churches and synagogues, Cornerstones and the YMCA.
Photo via Myers Public Relations
Public Art Reston’s fourth annual ChalkFest kicks off today with professional artists beginning their work, but the big day for the event is Saturday. That’s when, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the event is open to artists of all ages and talents.
That’s just one of many events going on around the area this weekend, though. This is officially the last weekend of summer, as the autumnal equinox comes a week from today and brings with it the fall season. The weather forecast calls for plenty of sun and temperatures in the 80s all weekend, though there are chances of a few afternoon showers.
Have fun out there!
(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)
- The JamBrew series continues tonight in Herndon. Aslin Beer Co. will be pouring frosty mugs, Weird Brothers Coffee will be offering tasty drinks, Nordic Knot Pretzels will provide tasty snacks, and there will be much more. Live music will be offered from DJ Ragz, The DuskWhales and JUXT. The free event is slated for 6-10 p.m. at the Herndon Town Green (777 Lynn St.).
- Speaking of Aslin Beer Co., it will be celebrating its two-year anniversary Saturday at 771 Elden St., which will become its permanent home in the coming months. The event, slated for noon to 6 p.m., will feature dozens of guest breweries along with food trucks, live music and much more. General admission is $35, which includes an anniversary glass and five 6-ounce pours.
- There will be an improv show, presented by Reflex Improv, tonight from 8-9:30 p.m. at Café Montmartre (1625 Washington Plaza).
- Traditional music trio Lulu’s Fate will perform Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at ArtSpace Herndon (750 Center St.). Tickets are $15.
- “Sue Wrbican: Well Past the Echo” will be on view at Greater Reston Arts Center (12001 Market St.) through Nov. 18.
- The Reston Farmers Market will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Lake Anne Village Center.
- Lake Anne is also hosting Sunday Yoga on the Plaza each week, at 9:30 a.m.
- The Herndon Kids Triathlon is scheduled for Sunday at 8 a.m. at the Herndon Community Center (814 Ferndale Ave.). Registration for the event is full; however, volunteers are still needed to help.
- The Susco 8K and 2K fun run, to promote brain aneurysm and organ donation awareness, will take place Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. at South Lakes High School. Registration ($40 for the 8K, $25 for the 2K) can be done the morning of the event.
- Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will host Kevin Patti from Clara Barton National Historic Site (National Parks Service) from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. He will present “Between the Bullet and the Hospital,” using photos from the Civil War era to explore the dangers Barton faced and the accomplishments she achieved.
- Explore the history of Lake Audubon on a guided canoe/kayak exploration from 4-5:30 p.m. Saturday. No experience is necessary, and all equipment (including canoes and kayaks) will be provided. Cost is $10 for RA members and $12 for non-members.
- Curiosity Day at Scrawl Books (11862 Market St.), Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will include an appearance by Curious George himself, story time, crafts and more.
- Pulitzer Prize-winner display “Disgraced,” exploring Muslim assimilation and identity in America, will be performed at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) tonight at 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m.; and at a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets range in price from $17.50 to $55. A package experience for the Sunday matinee that includes brunch at PassionFish (11960 Democracy Drive) is available.
- Floris United Methodist Church (13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon) will present a concert of Christian music through the decades from 5-8 p.m. Sunday. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in an outfit from their favorite decade.
- Many restaurants and bars in Reston will have live music this weekend. These include: Vinifera Wine Bar and Bistro (11750 Sunrise Valley Drive) from 7-10 p.m every Friday and Saturday night; Crafthouse (1888 Explorer St.) every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and Tavern64 (1800 Presidents St.) every Friday from 6-10 p.m.
- Kalypso’s Sports Tavern (1617 Washington Plaza N.) will have live music from Rusty Cage tonight from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.; and DJ Kram will play Top 40 hits during those hours Saturday night.
- Musician Patty Reese will be performing Saturday from 8-11 p.m. at The Tasting Room Wine Bar and Shop (1816 Library St.).
United Christian Parish (11508 North Shore Drive) will host a panel of community and faith leaders on Sunday, Sept. 10 at 2 p.m. for what it is calling a “post-Charlottesville town hall.” According to information provided by the church, residents are invited to take part in the “[discussion of] bigotry and unconscious bias as we seek to work together to heal the wounds.”
Panelists scheduled for the event include:
- the Rev. Debra Haffner, Unitarian Universalist Reston
- Imam Ali Siddiqui, the Muslim Institute for Interfaith Studies, Virginia
- the Rev. Dr. Ken Brooks Langston, Disciples Justice Action Network
- the Rev. Michele Nickens, Washington Plaza Baptist Church
- the Rev. Russell Heiland, Unity Fairfax
- Minister Wendy Hamilton, Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia
- Ronald Lapitan, the Center for Health and Human Rights
- the Rev. Marcus Leathers, United Christian Parish-Reston
Registration is also open for the church’s Justice & Inclusion Conference, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11. Workshops will include Justice of Anti-Racism, Immigrant Sanctuary Cause & the Law, LGBTQ Students, Employees and Families in Public Schools, Troubling the Waters: Intimate Violence & the Church, Movement for Health & Human Rights, Think Global Warming: Act Local, Social Justice and Islam, Social Witness & Justice Advocacy, Transgender Advocacy, Immigrant/Refugee Advocacy and more.
“In light of recent events, it seems more important than ever for people to come together to discuss and work together for justice, inclusion and peace,” the church says in a press release. “We will not agree on all of the issues, but we can find common ground and we can work together to advance justice, inclusion and peace.”
Singer/songwriter Bobby Jo Valentine will also perform at the free conference.
For more information about either of these events, contact James Dean at [email protected] or 571-830-8730.
The potential for a nursery school at St. John Neumann Church looks a lot more likely.
On May 17, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals approved a special permit amendment that will allow the addition of the nursery school. Located at 11900 Lawyers Road, the projected nursery and pre-school would be one of several in the Reston area.
The Rev. Joseph T. Brennan made the official announcement in the church bulletin last week.
“I want to share an update on the potential of a preschool at St. John Neumann. On Wednesday, May 17, 2017 the Board of Zoning Appeals for the County of Fairfax, Virginia approved the proposal to permit the addition of a nursery school. This is a significant step towards the possibility of a pre-school opening in the Fall of 2018. Please stay tuned as we continue to work out the next steps and examine the feasibility of this endeavor.”
A parish survey that was conducted last year indicated an interest in pursuing the school.