St. John’s Church has been in McLean since 1866. We began as a Sunday School in what was then known as Langley Village. Originally located in a log cabin near the current intersection of Dolley Madison Boulevard and Kirby Road, Cordelia Slade welcomed children to Sunday School. Among those who joined Miss Slade as teachers were three Smoot sisters, Hallie, Helen, and Katie Smoot whose descendants are still active in the parish.
Miss Slade met a young student at Virginia Theological Seminary, Sewell Hepburn, who held the first services. Hepburn was the grandfather of actress Katherine Hepburn. After his ordination, he was assigned elsewhere. The parish, however, was off to a good start, and a church building was constructed near the log cabin and consecrated on June 24, 1877.
In 1896, after a three year period of part-time assistance, the Reverend John McGill was called as the first Rector, and the first Vestry was subsequently elected. The parish, however, had difficulty sustaining itself and was sometimes referred to in its difficult years as St. John’s in the Wilderness.
One approach for revival that seemed promising was to move the church to a location near the newly-created trolley line. Land was obtained near what is now downtown McLean (and the Bank of America branch), and the church building was pulled on logs by a winch in August of 1908. St. John’s Church prospered in its new location.
By 1955, the limited seating of 111 people in the church was inadequate for the needs of the parish for worship and Sunday School. The search for new property was concluded in 1953 when approximately twelve acres of land on Georgetown Pike was purchased for $2,000 an acre. The new church was dedicated on September 23, 1956. This transition took place during the term of service of the longest tenured Rector, the Reverend Alfred St. John Matthews. (1943-1978).
By the mid-1990s, the building had aged enough and facilities had become inadequate once again. Renovation and expansion of the building was completed in June of 2000 to provide up-to-date facilities for the transition to a new century.
Throughout its history, St. John’s Church has had worship as the cornerstone of its mission along with a focus on youth, education, and outreach. During the era of rapid growth in the population in the local area, the parish helped found and support several other Episcopal congregations.
Today, St. John's Episcopal Church is a vibrant congregation in the Diocese of Virginia with people of all ages actively engaged in parish life.