Sunday morning in Fauquier County is not what it once was.
Gone are the days when the morning was defined by leaving the farm for church services and downtown window-shopping afterward. Now the Sabbath has become much as it is in closer-in suburbs -- church attendance is only part of the day's agenda, and only for some residents.
Yet on a recent Sunday, a few blocks from where a roller hockey game was in full swing, a sign of constancy remained: The strains of a hymn rolled out of Warrenton Presbyterian Church.
The red-brick church with white trim was used as a hospital during the Civil War. It was the birthplace for the county's Head Start program for underprivileged children and a program for local senior citizens. And this weekend it celebrates 150 years on Main Street.
"The celebration is about fellowship, remembrance and thankfulness. It is very important to remember the past so we can go forward into the future," said Catherine Cox, a member of the church for 25 years.
Today, Warrenton Presbyterian is a four-story complex with two chapels, a fellowship hall as big as a basketball court, many classrooms and offices, a choir room, a nursery and a kitchen that would do Washington's finest chefs proud. And a library.
The growth has been "phenomenal," Cox said. "But the church has not changed much in church doctrine. Our mission is still the same."
On Saturday night, a DVD depicting the church's first 100 years, made from a 1955 film, will be shown in the fellowship hall. Speakers will discuss the church's history, its connections to Fauquier County and the evolving role of women and music. And a variety of desserts will be served. Angelica Sudduth, organizer of the celebrations, said, "Like all good Presbyterians, we can't gather without eating."
Sunday's services will recognize former pastors and honor members who died in the past year. They will also celebrate the church's role in Warrenton since the first building was completed in 1855, at a cost of $4,901.
"We will be dedicating ourselves to the next 150 years," Sudduth said. "We need to call ourselves back to the beginning, to our heritage. Warrenton is in such a fast-growth area. We need to stop and pause and reflect."
For the Rev. Carl Schmahl, the pastor of Warrenton Presbyterian for the past 17 years, the reflections will focus on what he calls "an incredible experience" of serving a congregation that has doubled, to 600 members, during his tenure and has blended longtime county residents with newcomers seeking to escape the suburbs.
"We are keeping up with the changes at a time when everybody is programmed up to their eyebrows," Schmahl said.
The church itself isn't immune to such extensive scheduling.
A recent weekend found church members holding a craft bazaar that raised $2,000 for community organizations, participating in the annual crop walk, which brought in thousands more dollars, and discussing missions to Virginia Beach, Haiti and Papua New Guinea.
One bulletin board details members' milestones and accomplishments, ranging from serving in Iraq to winning a high school cross-country race and getting married in the old sanctuary. Another shows off thank-you notes from organizations supported by the church's many fundraising activities.
From its early days -- the church traces its beginnings to a deed dated April 22, 1771 -- community outreach has been central to Warrenton Presbyterian's existence.
During the Civil War, the church was pressed into service as a hospital. The steeple served as a lookout tower and the basement a stable when federal troops occupied the town. The pastor, the Rev. John W. Pugh, was arrested on suspicion of being a Confederate spy, and by the end of the war, church membership had dropped from 116 to 55.
In 1915, 50 years after the fact, the church received a payment of $741.68 from the U.S. government for damage caused by federal troops during the occupation. The church had asked for $1,200.
By 1939, membership was up to 169, a pipe organ had been installed and gas heating had replaced a coal furnace.
At the time of the church's 100th anniversary in 1955, it had seven new classrooms, a pastor's study, offices and restrooms. The church expanded again in the 1970s at a cost of $190,000. A new sanctuary and the fellowship hall were built in 1999.
"As one of the oldest continuing institutions on Main Street (with the county courthouse), the building has witnessed wars and peace, economic booms and depressions, the passing of slavery and segregation; it has been the stage for countless weddings, baptisms, funerals and -- of course -- sermons," Schmahl wrote in the October church bulletin.
"Even though the world has changed," said Lucy Lindsay, the director of Christian education, "the church is still here, and it will be here a long time to come."