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Virginia church bazaar offers yuletide traditions and more

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The atrium of Annandale United Methodist Church was filled with handcrafted gifts, fresh ingredients for homemade pies, as well as hundreds of people who came out for the holiday bazaar held annually by the Northern Virginia congregation.

From Evie Gibson, 82, who was selling bags of fresh pecans for recipes like her famous bourbon pecan pie, to members of the church’s youth group selling homemade cookies and other treats, the event brought together generations of church members with crafters and vendors from the community.

“This is a huge deal,” said Cyra Doty, who revived the church’s annual bazaar six years ago. “We have more than 40 crafters and artists and we also give out free spaces to local organizations like Annandale High School, the Boy Scouts and the Cub Scouts because this is our outreach to the community.”

From the Methodists to the Lutherans and from the Baptists to the Catholics, spiritual venues across the region will be filled over the next few weeks with the smells, tastes and charming gifts of the holiday season as people of faith employ holiday recipes and traditions to raise thousands of dollars to finance church ministries.

Doty said the proceeds from the bazaar are managed by the church’s chapter of the United Methodist Women, which over the years has raised money for causes including missionary trips to Mississippi and Mozambique.

The Rev. Clarence R. Brown, pastor of Annandale United Methodist, wasn’t at the bazaar because he was ministering at a prison, but the Rev. Eduardo Carrillo, the church’s associate minister, said the congregation is proud of its diversity.

“Annandale is very mission-oriented, and we are trying to be the church of the world,” Carrillo said. “We have mission trips overseas, in the state, outside the state, because there are so many people willing to offer their time, their strengths and their checks.”

The atrium connects four church sanctuaries, used by the nearly 2000-member congregation, which got its start before the Civil War. The first sanctuary was built in 1846 and, after it was burned by Union forces, the church built a second in 1870.

Standing in the sanctuary known as the “Little White Chapel,” church historians Jim Wall, 79 and Milton Ward, 85, talked about the history of the Annandale community and how the Little White Chapel was rebuilt by a Union soldier who had returned to the community after his regiment burned the original buildings.

“I met my husband in this church in 1990 and we were married in the Little White Chapel,” said Loanne Ponds as she visited the chapel. The church’s founding members included Susan Garges, wife of prominent Annandale farmer William Garges, who was buried there in 1828.

“This event really opens our doors to the public,” said Gibson, the former chairman of the bazaar and church member for 55 years. “Our church is a very hospitable church. We are that church on a hill.”

As she sold colorful jars at the bazaar, Erin McKenny, president of the church’s chapter of the United Methodist Women, reflected on the importance of the group’s effort.

“Women are very powerful as a group; [United Methodist Women] are almost 1 million strong around the world, and our mission is to serve women and children who are in need around the world,” Williams said. “Events like this create fellowship, and we do a lot of good work around the world.”

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