Our Vision & Core Values

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

After years of faithful discernment, Arlington Presbyterian was challenged with a new three-pronged vision – to create affordable housing, to be a place of crossroads and connection and to nurture disciples of Jesus Christ. APC was called to sell its building and land to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to build Gilliam Place, a 173-unit affordable housing apartment community on the site of our previous building on Columbia Pike. This new vision was inspired by the stories of our neighbors and their struggle to connect within the community and to find affordable housing in South Arlington. As one church member recalls, “the call to create affordable housing was bigger than the old building itself – so, the walls came down.”

We are excited to imagine what comes next! To read more about the journey with our vision, click on the links below:

Read more about our journey at incairnation.org

As a way of continually expanding our vision of welcome and hospitality, Arlington Presbyterian is a More Light congregation, a designation that a congregation takes within the PCUSA to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people in the life, ministry, and witness of the Church and society.

The vision of More Light Presbyterian’s is this:

Following the risen Christ, and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in society.


Arlington Presbyterian believes that formally endorsing this statement and becoming part of the national More Light community of hope and equality is an explicit expression of a value that is fully consistent with who we are, and not a representation of something “new.” As one member put it, becoming a More Light congregation is akin to “turning on the porch light,” that APC intentionally welcomes LGBTQ+ folks.

Our Core Values

Place-Based: We are deeply aware of space and place, and what it means to be “inside” vs. “outside.”

  • Geography: We have a clear appreciation of the geography of APC, Gilliam Place, and Columbia Pike. We are always considering what the “boundary of us” is.
  • Permeability: We are able to flow from inside and out into the community and back inside. The walls and red doors don’t exist anymore, and our garden is our front porch.
  • Community: Our presence is known even if we aren’t in the old church building. Our space is about the community. We’ve transformed the red doors into this community, and it’s so much more of a welcoming space.
  • Land acknowledgement: We are aware of the space that we are blessed with and inhabit, and what that means. When talk about affordable housing, we’re acknowledging that people have lived in Arlington for generations, and that their connection to the land is both physical and emotional. When we sit and occupy our space, we can’t center ourselves. We are aware of what it means to be on Columbia Pike, what/who we are surrounded by, and what history.
  • Social justice: People before us knew how the land was acquired. We now know that our possession of this land/building means someone got hurt, displaced through it. Now we know better and this is what we want the story to say going forward.

I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord. Psalm 122:1

Communal: We desire connection and relationships with our community. We want to help but also be helped.

  • Vulnerability: We are here to be saved, not to do the saving. We need to prepare our hearts for this openness.
  • Collective power: Our work is about creating relationships and connections to promote equity.
  • Life-giving work: We don’t want to burn people out. We recognize that each person has a part to play, and each person can contribute their gifts. Our work is about both giving and receiving, listening and sharing, and recognizing places of connection.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Prayerful: We value listening, reflection, and contemplation.

  • Biblical foundation: Our Bible study informs how we listen, reflect, contemplate. Our congregational life is based in Bible study: worship, Session meetings, small groups.
  • Discernment: We seek to listen through book groups, films, speakers (community leaders) worship, neighbors.
  • Restoration: We know that quiet contemplation is important to the spiritual health of congregation. We believe in self-care, in listening to our own selves and our own bodies.
  • Gift of stillness: We understand the beauty of silence, and through our garden, we are able to offer that to the community.
  • Self-examination: We believe in the importance of acknowledging our sins, our own complicity in inequitable structures and white supremacy. We know we need to confess those sins.

I appeal to you therefore, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Inclusive: We are intentional about how we meet people and welcome them. It doesn’t just happen, and it doesn’t come naturally to all of us - we constantly build the muscle.

  • Prayerfulness: We ground our inclusive practice in prayer, and reinforce this intention together to continually develop that muscle. God gave us eyes to see and ears to hear. We have asked, and continue to ask: for whom do our hearts break? For whom must our hearts be open?
  • Radical hospitality: We bring people together and continue to deepen our understanding of others. We utilize our reach, resources, and voices to build relationships in the community.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10

Relational: Our approach to mission is highly relational, based on listening, finding out what the specific needs are, and meeting those needs.

  • Listening: We want to listen well, listen broadly and listen with love. We listen to both the words and the silence behind the words. We listen to the whole of the story.
  • Meeting needs: We ask what the needs are and seek to meet those needs, rather than the needs we simply assume to exist. We look for clarity about what meeting needs looks like.
  • Liberation: We believe in sharing and building power, rather than hoarding it and meting it out on our terms. This is how we will disrupt systems of inequity in our community.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12

Transformational: We are curious and eager for transformation, and are ready to accept the risks that come with acting decisively.

  • Trust: We act in order to discover what is next. We aren’t going to overthink things to death. We don’t know what transformation will look like, but we know that faith begins by letting go.
    Patience: We recognize that “transformation,” however that is defined, may take time and may take place outside of our awareness. We may never actually see it, but we continue to plant seeds. We let go of needing those seeds we plant to “grow” into more church members.
    Wholeness: We seek different perspectives and a 360-degree vantage point. That comes from Bible study—suddenly seeing the story anew – as well as listening to other voices.
    Awakening: We are excited about letting of things and moving into something that’s new. We’re determined to stay awake, hold things lightly, and remain agile.

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized. Acts 9:15-18

Justice-Focused: We are determined to seek justice, equity and dignity for all God’s people. We understand that we have much to atone for, and much work to do.

  • Anti-racism: We seek to identify and combat white supremacy in all its forms.
    Intersectionality: We recognize people in their full complexity and full identity.
    Visible witness: We are vocal and clear in our commitment to others. We use symbols, signs, words and actions to stand up for others. We embrace this commitment with joy.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10