A Ministry of New Hope Presbyterian ChurchThe area that now makes up the City of Fairfax was first settled in the early 1700s by farmers migrating from Virginia's Tidewater region for religious and economic reasons. Fairfax County was established in 1742, when Alexandria, where the county court was located, temporarily became a part of the District of Columbia. The new county court was established at the corner of Little River Turnpike and Ox Road, a major regional crossroads both then and now. The little town surrounding the court was known as Earp's Corner, but in 1805, by an act of the state legislature, it was named the Town of Providence. The town was officially renamed the Town of Fairfax in 1874.
Where did the name "Providence" come from? In this context, the term surely refers to the Bible's teaching that the God of creation rules over all, a teaching as profound as it is precious to those who embrace it. Likely this understanding inspired the naming of the town: many who first settled Virginia had been instructed by biblical teachings such as those summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith, "God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy." (5.1)
Contemporary theologian J.I. Packer explains how this teaching has been a source of comfort and courage to believers in every age in these words: "The doctrine of providence teaches Christians that they are never in the grip of blind fortune, chance, luck, or fate. All that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to trust, obey, and rejoice, knowing that all is for one's spiritual and eternal good (see Romans 8:28)."
It is especially fitting, therefore, that an historically Presbyterian congregation in the City should name a house for ministry "Providence." Here, in the home of Dave and Jennie Coffin, one may find a gathering-place for fellowship and instruction between New Hope's weekly gatherings on the Lord's Day--a place to enjoy family hospitality, as well as informal and formal meetings for Christian nurture. Here, too, folks considering the claims of Jesus, or membership at New Hope, find a warm and welcoming atmosphere for questions and conversation.